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.Read More
Boston’s Most Essential Irish Pubs
Grab a pint or three at one of these great bars
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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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).
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...
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.
One could do an exclusively Irish booze crawl through Brighton. Decades-old Irish Village should be the first or last stop.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.”