Noted for its large Irish population, massive St. Patrick’s Day celebration and, of course, an enduring love of beer, Boston is home to some of the best Irish bars this side of the Atlantic. But it’s not enough to just pour a perfect pint of Guinness in Boston; these are the very best Irish bars offering traditional Irish music, authentic cuisine and an unbeatable atmosphere.
Bar, Pub, Irish, Beer, $$$
Banshee, Boston | Courtesy of Banshee
The Banshee is a haven for sports fans, especially supporters of European soccer and Gaelic football; no matter the match, you’re sure to find it playing on one of the screens in this large bar. Spreading over two floors, this Irish pub is friendly and welcoming, serving up traditional Irish meals and different beers. Drop by to chat with the friendly bartenders and soak up your Guinness with some classic comfort food.
Set in the heart of Faneuil Hall, the Black Rose is a Boston staple. The decades-old bar is known for its incredible live Irish music, triggering long lines on Friday and Saturday nights. While the bar seating on the first floor is relatively small, there’s two floors of restaurant service, and the restaurant features an open layout so everyone can enjoy the lively Irish folk tunes. Close to some of the more casual Irish pubs in the area like the Green Dragon, Ned Devine’s and Paddy O’s, the Black Rose makes a perfect first stop on your Irish bar crawl.
As the occasional home to NPR’s Celtic Sojourn and the Backroom Burren Series, the Burren is a hub for live Irish music in the greater Boston area; it has previously hosted big names like Lúnasa, The Teetotallers and Mick Flannery. In addition to the music, this large bar features an impressive number of craft beers from around the world, all paired with traditional Irish pub food. Easily accessible by the Red Line, this long-standing and unpretentious Irish bar is located in the center of Davis Square, a haven in one of Somerville’s busiest neighborhoods.
The Druid may be small, but it’s certainly mighty. With only a handful of tables and around a dozen bar seats, it gets very cramped during peak hours and holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day. But there’s a reason people venture from Cambridge and Somerville to squeeze into this tiny Inman Square bar. Top-quality dishes like the sausage, beans and mash, Irish seafood stew and full Irish breakfast are constantly being shuffled out of the small kitchen while busy bartenders dole out perfect pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson. For a true taste of Irish hospitality, you can’t go wrong with The Druid.
Food is king at J.J. Foley’s; this South End eatery and bar has been a favorite of Boston residents for decades and is a great place to start (or end) your night. The space is open and inviting, matched by the stellar service. While Foley’s doesn’t lean heavily on Irish fare, you can still find traditional items like fish and chips and a full Irish breakfast. Their brunch offers treats such as loaded nachos, duck confit hash, Mr. Foley’s sirloin burger, and fig and goat cheese pizza; and the friendly bartenders are at the ready to serve up a morning-after drink or two.
Intimate and welcoming, Matt Murphy’s has shifted away from live music over the past few years, instead choosing to focus on craft cocktails and delectable small plates. However, it hasn’t abandoned its Irish roots: you can still get a great Guinness on tap here alongside dishes like shepherd’s pie, oxtail stew and traditional fish and chips. If you’re looking for somewhere cozy and a little bit special to spend your St. Patrick’s Day, or even a date night, Matt Murphy’s is your spot.
This location is steeped in history; there’s been a bar on this spot since the 1950s. Since 1999, it’s been operated by Conor Brennan and Kenneth Kelly, who completely restored the bar to its turn-of-the-century stylings, revealing tin ceilings and installing a 1930s pharmacy counter as a barback. A craft-beer paradise, the bar’s booze selection is matched by items like bangers and mash, Nashville hot chicken sandwiches and duck wings. Perfect for a night out or a few drinks after the St. Patrick’s Day parade, PJ Ryan’s offers neighborhood Irish gastropub ambiance at its best.
This Irish inn has a truly traditional style; enter this snug space and settle down at one of the dark wooden tables near a roaring open fire or retreat to a cozy corner. The Squealing Pig features live music most days of the week, making it the perfect place for a post-Paddy’s Day celebration. There’s a huge variety of beers and cocktails on offer. While it’s often crowded during the evening, the Pig is well known for its weekend brunch, which features items like pork hash, buttermilk pancakes and a full Irish breakfast.
This classic dive bar comes with a screen pedigree – it featured in 2006’s Gone Baby Gone and was one of the stops Anthony Bourdain made on his travel show No Reservations in 2011. It sits on the northern corner of Southie in Boston, and therefore is just off the St. Patrick’s Day Parade route; the atmosphere in Murphy’s Law is always incredible on the holiday itself. Get the party started here with a shot, chased down with a Smithwicks, Killian’s Irish Red or a Guinness in this quintessential Irish bar in Boston.
Cute and cozy, The Plough and Stars is a Cambridge favorite that features live music almost nightly. It’s also one of the few ambassadors in America for the Irish Cooley Distillery, making this a must-visit for whiskey connoisseurs. While the spirit is the obvious order here, the bar is also stocked with a solid list of craft-beer options. Grab a pint, take a seat and enjoy the performance of classic Irish tunes.