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Dark wooden exterior of a bar with signage that reads Irish Village in gold, in an old-fashioned font
Irish Village in Brighton.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Boston’s Most Essential Irish Pubs

Boston’s Irish pub culture is about a lot more than St. Patrick’s Day

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Irish Village in Brighton.
| Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone: Boston’s got some good Irish bars. From Brighton to Dorchester to Jamaica Plain, Boston drinkers will have no problem trying to find a pint of Guinness or a Bushmills, neat.

Some of these bars are great for the big game (soccer or rugby, that is), and some are great for a plate of bangers and mash (or delicious mussels). All of these bars are great for getting drunk.

Here are 17 of the best Irish bars in and around Boston.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

This map was originally published in March 2018. It is updated periodically, and the date of the most recent update appears above.

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Olde Magoun's Saloon

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Olde Magoun’s Saloon serves a killer corned beef brisket sandwich and has an enviable beer list, but the big draw is its burger list. (And don’t miss the mac and cheese.) There’s a substantial list of Irish whiskeys, too.

Cast iron pan full of mac and cheese, made with cavatappi and topped with a big pile of breadcrumbs and braised short rib
Mac and cheese with braised short rib at Olde Magoun’s Saloon.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The Burren

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One of two Davis Square stops on the Irish pub tour. There’s live music daily, from Irish to Americana to bluegrass brunches. Vegetarians, take note: The Burren offers a meatless version of its shepherd’s pie, among other vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options.

The exterior of the Burren in Somerville’s Davis Square, painted black with bright red doors and window frames
A classic Davis Square haunt.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Sligo Pub

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After some Irish music, exit the Burren and enter the Sligo Pub, which claims to hold the oldest liquor license in Davis Square. The decades-old pub is a true dive, so drink something brown (and drink it neat). Bushmills or Jameson, obviously.

Exterior of a bar. A faded brown sign reads Sligo Pub in white text; it’s on a light brick wall. There’s a strip of forest green wood above the door and large windows, which have white frames.
Sligo Pub in Davis Square.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Druid

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At the Druid, an Inman Square staple, get the mussels or the blood pudding — and definitely the fish and chips. And some Irish whiskey. And some beers. Catch traditional Irish music three times a week, too. (Coming in from out of town? The Druid rents out a three-bedroom space upstairs via Airbnb.)

Dark green exterior of a bar with bright red trim and a long vertical sign above the door that says the Druid
The Druid has a pretty exterior
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Plough and Stars

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The Plough and Stars has been operating since 1968 or 1969 (it’s still up for debate), and it’s been in the O’Malley family since the 1970s. Ploughshares literary journal was founded there, and it’s rumored that Van Morrison wrote parts of his masterwork Astral Weeks there, too. There’s live music almost every night — a variety of genres — and a hearty pub menu (try the Irish lamb stew.) Proof of vaccination required.

Looking up at a bar sign from almost underneath it. It’s a dark rectangle with light print that says Plough and Stars with a line drawing of a plough and stars.
The Plough is a Cambridge classic.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Phoenix Landing

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You know the drill: During the Premier League season, go to the Phoenix Landing on a Saturday or Sunday morning, order a Magners on ice, and watch Mohamed Salah score many goals in that gorgeous red jersey.

bright red exterior of a bar with a long white sign that says The Phoenix Landing in blue font
A den of Liverpool fans.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Ned Devine's

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Ned Devine’s is the Disneyland version of an Irish bar (especially if Disneyland were filled with drunk kids from the North Shore). It’s over the top and corny, but sometimes over the top and corny can be fun. Go on a weekday afternoon after buying socks at Uniqlo.

interior view of an upscale Irish pub with lots of glossy light wood
Ned Devine’s.
Ned Devine’s

The Black Rose

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The Black Rose: live music seven nights a week. Four decades of getting people drunk. A very beautiful facade. When in Faneuil Hall...

Exterior view of a bar, with the light stone corner of the building centered in view. Both the left and the right sides of the bar have a green exterior and black signage with the Black Rose written in gold
A Faneuil Hall classic.
Brian Samuels

Mr. Dooley's

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Mr. Dooley’s, open since 1991, is located very close to the New England Aquarium. Have a few pints, and then wander over and watch a bunch of cute seals swim around looking for some fish treats to snack on. And then go back to Dooley’s — the live music schedule is jam-packed.

Dark exterior of a bar in a brick building in a city downtown
Mr. Dooley’s.
Mr. Dooley’s

Irish Village

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One could do an exclusively Irish booze crawl through Brighton. Irish Village is a good first or last stop.

Dark wooden exterior of a bar with signage that reads Irish Village in gold, in an old-fashioned font
One of several fine Irish pubs in Brighton.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Porter Belly's

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Exit Irish Village, steady yourself, and walk up Market toward Washington. Hang a left, and head to Porter Belly’s. Sink a Guinness, and watch some soccer or rugby, whichever is on the TV.

Light brick exterior of a bar with black signage that readers Porter Belly’s in gold on black
Porter Belly’s is the second stop on any Brighton Irish pub crawl.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

J.J. Foley's Cafe

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A map of Boston’s best Irish bars would be incomplete without J.J. Foley’s Cafe. It’s been around for more than a century, and it’s the South End’s best option for non-Irish Irish pub food. The bartenders also wear white shirts with ties tucked into the space between the middle buttons, which is a charming touch.

Closeup on a breadcrumb-topped baked fish dish with a wedge of lemon, rice, and steamed vegetables
J.J. Foley’s Cafe.
J.J. Foley’s Cafe

Murphy’s Law

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Murphy’s Law is a freestanding dive bar on the corner of Summer Street and E. First Street in South Boston. Avoid it during the St. Patrick’s Day parade; stop by for a pint of Guinness or a bottle of Magners on a less hectic/sloppy day.

red exterior of a dive bar with murphy’s law in an Irish-style gold font
A true dive bar.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Brendan Behan Pub

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If you’re ever getting tattooed at Fat Ram’s Pumpkin Tattoo and need to find an ATM to grab cash, head to the Behan. Also, head to the Behan after getting the tattoo — there are few more satisfying ways to spend the time directly after getting stabbed by a needle for a few hours than by downing a few pints. And there are few better places in the city to down a few pints than the Behan, named for the Irish poet, playwright, and author. Note: There’s no food to speak of (the “food” portion of the menu includes potato chips, tortilla chips, and...tea and hot cocoa), but occasionally there are food pop-ups onsite.

Black exterior of a bar with a red door and red trim around the large front window. Brendan Behan Pub is written in a gold font across the top of the one-story building.
A JP classic.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Banshee

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The Banshee is especially worth a visit for drinkers interested in watching sports. Especially soccer. Fair warning: It’s (mostly) a Chelsea bar. But it’s also sort of an Everton bar. And a Manchester United bar. And a Manchester City bar. What we’re saying is: Don’t go there if you support Liverpool. (And if you don’t support Liverpool, you should really reevaluate your decisions to this point in life.)

Black exterior of a bar with red signage that says the Banshee in gold font.
A great Dorchester sports bar.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Eire Pub

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Go for a hike in the Neponset River Reservation, and finish with a cold beverage at Eire Pub, one of Dorchester’s most historical pubs — it’s played host to many celebrities and politicians over the years. And yes, everyone’s welcome, despite the old signage declaring it a “men’s bar” and a “gentlemen’s prestige bar.”

Exterior of an old pub with light brick and green trim, with gold font reading “Men’s Bar Eire Pub”
Eire Pub.
Eire Pub

Corrib Pub & Restaurant

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The West Roxbury Corrib (open since 1988) was once P.J. Cronin’s, while the Brighton Corrib (open since 1969) was once McMahon’s bar. Both are worth going to for solid, cheap food and beers aplenty.

Exterior of a one-story brick bar with green trim, black signage, and gold font reading Corrib Pub & Restaurant
The Corrib.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Olde Magoun's Saloon

Olde Magoun’s Saloon serves a killer corned beef brisket sandwich and has an enviable beer list, but the big draw is its burger list. (And don’t miss the mac and cheese.) There’s a substantial list of Irish whiskeys, too.

Cast iron pan full of mac and cheese, made with cavatappi and topped with a big pile of breadcrumbs and braised short rib
Mac and cheese with braised short rib at Olde Magoun’s Saloon.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The Burren

One of two Davis Square stops on the Irish pub tour. There’s live music daily, from Irish to Americana to bluegrass brunches. Vegetarians, take note: The Burren offers a meatless version of its shepherd’s pie, among other vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options.

The exterior of the Burren in Somerville’s Davis Square, painted black with bright red doors and window frames
A classic Davis Square haunt.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Sligo Pub

After some Irish music, exit the Burren and enter the Sligo Pub, which claims to hold the oldest liquor license in Davis Square. The decades-old pub is a true dive, so drink something brown (and drink it neat). Bushmills or Jameson, obviously.

Exterior of a bar. A faded brown sign reads Sligo Pub in white text; it’s on a light brick wall. There’s a strip of forest green wood above the door and large windows, which have white frames.
Sligo Pub in Davis Square.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Druid

At the Druid, an Inman Square staple, get the mussels or the blood pudding — and definitely the fish and chips. And some Irish whiskey. And some beers. Catch traditional Irish music three times a week, too. (Coming in from out of town? The Druid rents out a three-bedroom space upstairs via Airbnb.)

Dark green exterior of a bar with bright red trim and a long vertical sign above the door that says the Druid
The Druid has a pretty exterior
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Plough and Stars

The Plough and Stars has been operating since 1968 or 1969 (it’s still up for debate), and it’s been in the O’Malley family since the 1970s. Ploughshares literary journal was founded there, and it’s rumored that Van Morrison wrote parts of his masterwork Astral Weeks there, too. There’s live music almost every night — a variety of genres — and a hearty pub menu (try the Irish lamb stew.) Proof of vaccination required.

Looking up at a bar sign from almost underneath it. It’s a dark rectangle with light print that says Plough and Stars with a line drawing of a plough and stars.
The Plough is a Cambridge classic.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Phoenix Landing

You know the drill: During the Premier League season, go to the Phoenix Landing on a Saturday or Sunday morning, order a Magners on ice, and watch Mohamed Salah score many goals in that gorgeous red jersey.

bright red exterior of a bar with a long white sign that says The Phoenix Landing in blue font
A den of Liverpool fans.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Ned Devine's

Ned Devine’s is the Disneyland version of an Irish bar (especially if Disneyland were filled with drunk kids from the North Shore). It’s over the top and corny, but sometimes over the top and corny can be fun. Go on a weekday afternoon after buying socks at Uniqlo.

interior view of an upscale Irish pub with lots of glossy light wood
Ned Devine’s.
Ned Devine’s

The Black Rose

The Black Rose: live music seven nights a week. Four decades of getting people drunk. A very beautiful facade. When in Faneuil Hall...

Exterior view of a bar, with the light stone corner of the building centered in view. Both the left and the right sides of the bar have a green exterior and black signage with the Black Rose written in gold
A Faneuil Hall classic.
Brian Samuels

Mr. Dooley's

Mr. Dooley’s, open since 1991, is located very close to the New England Aquarium. Have a few pints, and then wander over and watch a bunch of cute seals swim around looking for some fish treats to snack on. And then go back to Dooley’s — the live music schedule is jam-packed.

Dark exterior of a bar in a brick building in a city downtown
Mr. Dooley’s.
Mr. Dooley’s

Irish Village

One could do an exclusively Irish booze crawl through Brighton. Irish Village is a good first or last stop.

Dark wooden exterior of a bar with signage that reads Irish Village in gold, in an old-fashioned font
One of several fine Irish pubs in Brighton.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Porter Belly's

Exit Irish Village, steady yourself, and walk up Market toward Washington. Hang a left, and head to Porter Belly’s. Sink a Guinness, and watch some soccer or rugby, whichever is on the TV.

Light brick exterior of a bar with black signage that readers Porter Belly’s in gold on black
Porter Belly’s is the second stop on any Brighton Irish pub crawl.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

J.J. Foley's Cafe

A map of Boston’s best Irish bars would be incomplete without J.J. Foley’s Cafe. It’s been around for more than a century, and it’s the South End’s best option for non-Irish Irish pub food. The bartenders also wear white shirts with ties tucked into the space between the middle buttons, which is a charming touch.

Closeup on a breadcrumb-topped baked fish dish with a wedge of lemon, rice, and steamed vegetables
J.J. Foley’s Cafe.
J.J. Foley’s Cafe

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law is a freestanding dive bar on the corner of Summer Street and E. First Street in South Boston. Avoid it during the St. Patrick’s Day parade; stop by for a pint of Guinness or a bottle of Magners on a less hectic/sloppy day.

red exterior of a dive bar with murphy’s law in an Irish-style gold font
A true dive bar.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Brendan Behan Pub

If you’re ever getting tattooed at Fat Ram’s Pumpkin Tattoo and need to find an ATM to grab cash, head to the Behan. Also, head to the Behan after getting the tattoo — there are few more satisfying ways to spend the time directly after getting stabbed by a needle for a few hours than by downing a few pints. And there are few better places in the city to down a few pints than the Behan, named for the Irish poet, playwright, and author. Note: There’s no food to speak of (the “food” portion of the menu includes potato chips, tortilla chips, and...tea and hot cocoa), but occasionally there are food pop-ups onsite.

Black exterior of a bar with a red door and red trim around the large front window. Brendan Behan Pub is written in a gold font across the top of the one-story building.
A JP classic.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Banshee

The Banshee is especially worth a visit for drinkers interested in watching sports. Especially soccer. Fair warning: It’s (mostly) a Chelsea bar. But it’s also sort of an Everton bar. And a Manchester United bar. And a Manchester City bar. What we’re saying is: Don’t go there if you support Liverpool. (And if you don’t support Liverpool, you should really reevaluate your decisions to this point in life.)

Black exterior of a bar with red signage that says the Banshee in gold font.
A great Dorchester sports bar.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Related Maps

Eire Pub

Go for a hike in the Neponset River Reservation, and finish with a cold beverage at Eire Pub, one of Dorchester’s most historical pubs — it’s played host to many celebrities and politicians over the years. And yes, everyone’s welcome, despite the old signage declaring it a “men’s bar” and a “gentlemen’s prestige bar.”

Exterior of an old pub with light brick and green trim, with gold font reading “Men’s Bar Eire Pub”
Eire Pub.
Eire Pub

Corrib Pub & Restaurant

The West Roxbury Corrib (open since 1988) was once P.J. Cronin’s, while the Brighton Corrib (open since 1969) was once McMahon’s bar. Both are worth going to for solid, cheap food and beers aplenty.

Exterior of a one-story brick bar with green trim, black signage, and gold font reading Corrib Pub & Restaurant
The Corrib.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Related Maps