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A perfect pint of Guinness on the table inside a pub in Dublin, Ireland, on February 12, 2023.
The Irish pub staple.
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Boston’s Most Essential Irish Pubs

Grab a pint or three at one of these great bars

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The Irish pub staple.
| Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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 glass of Guinness or a Bushmills, neat. Some of these bars are great for the big game, and some are great for a plate of bangers and mash. All of these bars are great for grabbing a pint. Here are 17 of the best Irish bars in and around Boston.

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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 Boston

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 Boston

Tavern at the End of the World

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If a better name for a bar exists, we have yet to hear it. The Tavern at the End of the World has it all: solid pub food, over 50 beers on tap, live Irish music, and occasional karaoke. (If you’re looking for a blowout night with a group, the owners rent out a $1,000-per-night Airbnb upstairs.)

The Druid

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At the Druid, an Inman Square staple, get the mussels or the Irish seafood stew — and definitely the fish and chips. And some Irish whiskey. And some beers. Catch traditional Irish music three times a week, too.

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 Boston

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. The 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 fried fish sandwich).

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 Boston

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.

The Black Rose

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Ah, the Black Rose. A very beautiful facade. Four decades of getting people drunk. Live music seven nights a week. How does the saying go? 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/The Black Rose

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.

Irish Village

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One could do an exclusively Irish booze crawl through Brighton. Decades-old Irish Village should be the 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 Boston

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 Boston

Lansdowne Pub

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Tucked in the shadow of the stadium on Lansdowne Street, this Irish pub is a Fenway staple. Sure, you’ll have to fight the crowds on game day, but go also for the glittering drag brunches and live music every night of the week.

A glittering gold and green sign spelling out the name of the pub, with Fenway Park visible in the background.
The Lansdowne Pub.
Lansdowne Pub

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 solid pub grub. The bartenders also wear white shirts with ties tucked into the space between the middle buttons, which is a charming touch.

A green and gold sign hanging off the side of a building that reads “J.J. Foley’s Cafe.”
J.J. Foley’s Cafe.
Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Murphy’s Law

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Murphy’s Law is a freestanding dive bar on the corner of Summer Street and East 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.

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

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.

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 Boston

The Banshee

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The Banshee is especially worth a visit for drinkers interested in watching sports at an Irish bar. 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.

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

Eugene O'Neill's

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Irish pub Eugene O’Neill’s was resuscitated this past summer after a five-year closure, and Boston is better for it. Head here for platters of fish and chips, piping hot shepherd’s pie, and wash it all down with a pint of Guinness.

A white plate with a dish of mashed potatoes over stew and two pieces of grilled bread.
A shepherd’s pie from Eugene O’Neill’s.
Erika Adams/Eater Boston

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.”

The Eire Pub in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, MA on August 20, 2013.
The Eire Pub.
Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

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 Boston

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 Boston

Tavern at the End of the World

If a better name for a bar exists, we have yet to hear it. The Tavern at the End of the World has it all: solid pub food, over 50 beers on tap, live Irish music, and occasional karaoke. (If you’re looking for a blowout night with a group, the owners rent out a $1,000-per-night Airbnb upstairs.)

The Druid

At the Druid, an Inman Square staple, get the mussels or the Irish seafood stew — and definitely the fish and chips. And some Irish whiskey. And some beers. Catch traditional Irish music three times a week, too.

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 Boston

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. The 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 fried fish sandwich).

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 Boston

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.

The Black Rose

Ah, the Black Rose. A very beautiful facade. Four decades of getting people drunk. Live music seven nights a week. How does the saying go? 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/The Black Rose

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.

Irish Village

One could do an exclusively Irish booze crawl through Brighton. Decades-old Irish Village should be the 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 Boston

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 Boston

Lansdowne Pub

Tucked in the shadow of the stadium on Lansdowne Street, this Irish pub is a Fenway staple. Sure, you’ll have to fight the crowds on game day, but go also for the glittering drag brunches and live music every night of the week.

A glittering gold and green sign spelling out the name of the pub, with Fenway Park visible in the background.
The Lansdowne Pub.
Lansdowne Pub

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 solid pub grub. The bartenders also wear white shirts with ties tucked into the space between the middle buttons, which is a charming touch.

A green and gold sign hanging off the side of a building that reads “J.J. Foley’s Cafe.”
J.J. Foley’s Cafe.
Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law is a freestanding dive bar on the corner of Summer Street and East 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.

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

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.

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 Boston

The Banshee

The Banshee is especially worth a visit for drinkers interested in watching sports at an Irish bar. 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.

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

Related Maps

Eugene O'Neill's

Irish pub Eugene O’Neill’s was resuscitated this past summer after a five-year closure, and Boston is better for it. Head here for platters of fish and chips, piping hot shepherd’s pie, and wash it all down with a pint of Guinness.

A white plate with a dish of mashed potatoes over stew and two pieces of grilled bread.
A shepherd’s pie from Eugene O’Neill’s.
Erika Adams/Eater Boston

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.”

The Eire Pub in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, MA on August 20, 2013.
The Eire Pub.
Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

Related Maps