Not too long ago, my friend Ailís and I walked in to an Irish bar. She was visiting from Ireland for a few days, so where else would I drag her than a bona fide Boston version of the dark and moody homeland tavern, pressing her with questions about how it compared. “It should be dark enough you can barely see the person in front you,” she said. “Grimy, with beer coating the floors and stuffing coming out of the seats.” And when it comes to Guinness? “It’s all about the storing and the pouring.” A good, solid draft needs a double tap, allowing the stout to settle before adding a thick, velvety top.
Boston has a rich Irish heritage, happily celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day, when the whole city becomes a festival of good cheer and acceptable debauchery before sundown. The parade weaves through South Boston, where a pub seems to sit on every corner, and many of which have Ailís’ stamp of approval.
Looking for more on bars in Boston? Read T+L’s Bar Guide: Boston.
Green Briar Pub & Restaurant
This cozy wood-and-red-brick pub in Brighton is worth the trek to catch up on a slew of hard-to-find sports scores, from rugby to English Premier League soccer. Stay for the $5 bar bites, like beer battered mushrooms and cocktail bangers, perfectly paired with a choice of Irish whiskeys.
The Black Rose
The “Roisin Dubh” has been a downtown tradition on the edge of Quincy Market since 1976. You’re guaranteed a raucous good time with live music every night of the week, and in the past, the stage has been graced by flutist James Galway, Liam Clancy, and the once unknown Irish rock band, U2.
Thirsty Scholar Pub
Watch your step. Nearly pitch black, this bar is primarily lit by string lights framing the chalkboard menus. Sunday night trivia is a popular way to finish off the weekend, especially when paired with a quiet, cold brew and some hearty pub grub. Located close to Harvard University, you may even recognize this institution from the opening scene of The Social Network.
The Clock Tavern
Locals tend to go for this subdued, South Boston townie bar. It’s the place to go for quiet, laid-back conversation and wicked cheap drafts, to shoot a game of pool or darts, and to learn how to pour a Guinness like you mean it, every night from 8–10 p.m.
This Inman Square bar, haunted by quirky, glowing specter chandeliers and a loyal band of patrons, serves authentic Irish fare in a funky atmosphere. Go for the best full Irish Breakfast you’ll find in Boston, with scrambled eggs and pork sausages, chunks of traditional black and white pudding, roasted potatoes, and beans.