A Local’s Guide to Boston Irish Pubs & Bars

29
10
A sign at The Burren in Davis Square, Somerville

Ah, Boston. So many pubs. So little time. Especially around St. Patrick’s day.

dsc07466
A piece of The Purple Shamrock’s neon sign

Boston is home to some of the oldest taverns in the nation. I’ve lived here for about 15 years now. The Angry Chef has lived in the city his entire life, and knows more than a handful of pub owners.

Sadly, a bunch of our favorite watering holes have long since shut down. (R.I.P. The Irish Embassy, P.J. Kilroy’s, and many more.)

dsc07506

Cobblestone street outside The Green Dragon

A guide to some of Boston’s Irish—and Irish-influenced—bars & pubs

This article is meant to give our readers who aren’t in Boston a little taste of what the pubs are like here—and provide folks in town with a decent list of bars with contact info.

dsc07455

In the window of The Black Rose


Now, this list isn’t really comprehensive. If you live here, you know how hard that would be to do. If I’m missing any of your favorite spots, definitely pipe up and I’ll add them to the list.

dsc07454

In the window of The Black Rose

I’ve kept my commentary deliberately light. Which Boston bars are the best is always a topic of lively debate…to say the least. (For the same reason, I won’t touch the topic of what constitutes a “real” Irish bar in this town.) I leave it up to you guys to decide for yourselves.

On the wall outside of Foley’s

And if you ever need a tip on where to go for a pint or three when you’re in town, give us a holler. We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

For more on how Boston celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, take a peek at the pictures from last year’s parade in South Boston.

Cheers!
+Jessie & The Angry Chef

A Map of Boston’s Irish Bars & Pubs (zoom enabled)

Larger map

Government CenterArea Bars & Pubs

History buffs would do well to hoist a glass around Government Center, just on the outskirts of Faneuil Hall. The area is a wee bit too touristy for most locals, but if you’re visiting for a few days, it’s definitely worth a stroll through.

The Purple Shamrock — Sadly, the Shamrock closed its doors in 2012. RIP.

1 Union Street, Boston, MA 617-227-2060

This place is probably one of the most well-known Irish bars in town.

dsc07465

Hennessy’s of Boston

25 Union Street, Boston, MA 617-742-2121

Just down the block, you’ll find The Tap and Hennessy’s.

dsc07515

Paddy O’s

33 Union Street, Boston, MA 617-263-7771

When I said this strip is full of bars, I wasn’t lying. Paddy O’s is the next watering hole on the block.

dsc07472

The Union Bar

41 Union Street, Boston MA 617-277-2750

The Union Oyster House & The Union Bar are just down the block. This place isn’t really Irish, but it’s smack in the middle of this strip. The Union Oyster House bills itself as the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in America.

dsc07484

dsc07481

dsc07479

Fresh lobsters on ice in the window of the Union Oyster House.

The Bell in Hand Tavern

45-55 Union Street, Boston, MA 617-277-2098

The Bell in Hand Tavern is at the end of the strip. Established in 1795 by Boston’s last known town crier, The Bell in Hand is America’s oldest continuously operating tavern.

dsc07485

The Green Dragon Tavern

11 Marshall Street, Boston, MA 617-367-0055

The Green Dragon is snuggled down a little side street in between The Union Bar and The Bell in Hand. Established in 1654, The Green Dragon slaked the thirst of the likes of Paul Revere and John Hancock. It’s said that it was in this bar that someone overheard whisperings of the plan to invade Lexington and Concord, ultimately sparking Paul Revere’s famous ride.

dsc07502

dsc07503

Durty Nelly’s

108 Blackstone St. Boston, MA 617-742-2090

Down the cobblestoned street and around the corner, you’ll find Durty Nelly’s, right on the edge of Boston’s famous outdoor Haymarket.

dsc07508

FaneuilHall Bars & Pubs

Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market are also home to a handful of bars and pubs.

The Black Rose

160 State Street, Boston, MA 02109 617-742-2286

If The Purple Shamrock isn’t Boston’s most well-known Irish bar, The Black Rose probably is. You’ll find it at the back end of Faneuil Hall, as you head towards the New England Aquarium.

dsc07453

dsc07535

Sissy K’s

6 Commercial Street, Boston, MA 617-248-6511

Right next door to The Black Rose, you’ll find Sissy K’s, where you can always get a $1 draft.

dsc07533

Hong Kong at Faneuil Hall

65 Chatham Street, Boston, MA 617-227-2226

And right around the corner is the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Hong Kong. The little sister of the original Hong Kong in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Not at all Irish, I know, but we’re suckers for a good scorpion bowl here at The Mouse House.

dsc07527

Ned Devine’s

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market Building, Boston, MA 617-248-9900

In the center of Faneuil Hall, you’ll find Ned Devine’s in the Quincy Market Building. Located in the old Waterstone’s Books space, it takes up two floors and has three separate club areas.

dsc07524

Ames Plow Tavern

9 Commercial Street, Boston, MA 617-523-8928

Right next to Ned Devine’s is the subterranean Ames Plow.

dsc07523

The Financial District Bars & Pubs

There are a handful of other bars and pubs in the downtown area, right near the Custom House tower.

Boston’s Custom House

Mr. Dooley’s

77 Broad Street, Boston, MA 617-338-5656

Ask folks who’ve lived here a long time where one of their favorite Irish bars is, and chances are, they’ll point you to Mr. Dooley’s.

Jose McIntyre’s

160 Milk Street, Boston, MA 617-451-9460

Wait, Mexican and Irish in one bar? Yep, yep.

dsc07463

An Tain

31 India Street, Boston, MA 617-426-1870

An Tain is right around the corner.

dsc07461

Coogan’s Bluff

171 Milk Street, Boston, MA 617-451-7415

And so is Coogan’s.

dsc07459

Kitty O’Shea’s

131 State Street, Boston, MA 617-725-0100

And Kitty O’Shea’s. (Are you getting the idea that this is a good neighborhood for a pub crawl?)

dsc07446

Downtown Crossing

J.J. Foley’s

21 Kingston Street, Boston, MA 02110 617-338-7713

J.J. Foley’s is further afield from the heart of the Financial District. If you’ve spent any time in Boston at all, you know Foley’s.

Other downtown Boston bars & pubs

Grand Canal (57 Canal Street, Boston, MA 02114)

Hurricane O’Reilly’s (150 Canal St., Boston, MA 617-722-0161)

Kennedy’s Midtown (42 Province Street, Boston, MA 02108 617-426-3333)

Littlest Bar (102 Broad Street, Boston, MA 02110 617-542-8469)

McFadden’s (148 State Street, Boston, MA 617-227-5100)

McGann’s (197 Portland Street, Boston, MA 617-227-4059)

The Harp (85 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 617-742-1010)

The Kinsale (2 Centre Plaza, Boston, MA 617-742-5577)

The Times (112 Broad Street, Boston, MA 617-357-8463)

Back Bay/Fenway

An Tua Nua

835 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215 617-262-2121

Formerly Ri Ra, The Angry Chef spent many years here, playing Roadhouse with badly behaved football players and other assorted ne’er-do-wells. Just around the way from Fenway Park and Lansdowne Street, An Tua Nua is still one of our favorite bars in the city.

Other Back Bay/Fenway bars & pubs

Clerys (113 Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA 617-262-9874)

Crossroads (495 Beacon Street Boston, MA617-262-7371)

Lir (903 Boylston St. Boston, MA 02115-3104 617-778-0089)

M.J. O’Connor’s (27 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA 617-482-2255)

Allston/Brighton/Brookline

The Angry Chef and I hardly every head out this way anymore, but here’s a list of some of the better known bars in the area.

Common Ground (85 Harvard Avenue, Allston, MA 617-783-2071)

Green Briar (306 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 617-789-4100)

Irish Village (224 Market Street, Brighton, MA 617-787-5427)

Matt Murphy’s (14 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 617-232-0188)

The Corrib Pub (396 Market Street, Brighton MA 617-787-0882)

The Kells (161 Brighton Avenue Allston, MA 617-782-9082)

O’Brien’s Pub (13 Harvard Avenue Allston, MA 617-782-9082)

O’Leary’s (1010 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 617-734-0049)

Over the river in Cambridge & Somerville

These days, you’re more likely to find The Angry Chef and I cozied up at one of these bars, across the river in Somerville or Cambridge.

The Burren

247 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144 617-776-6896

Opened in 1996 in Somerville’s Davis Square, The Burren is named after part of Ireland’s County Clare.

The Sligo Pub

237 Elm Street Somerville, MA 617-623-9561

Just down the road from The Burren is the Sligo. It’s one of those dive bars that everybody loves to hate.

The Thirsty Scholar

70 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA 617-497-2294

The Thirsty Scholar is tucked just outside of Cambridge’s Inman Square.

Other Cambridge/Somerville pubs

The Asgard (350 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 617-577-9100)

The Field (20 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 617-354-7345)

The Independent (75 Union Square, Somerville, MA617-440-8439)

Olde Magoun’s Saloon (518 Medford Street, Somerville, MA 617-776-2600)

Phoenix Landing (512 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 617-576-6260)

The Plough and Stars (912 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 617-576-0032)

The People’s Republik (876-878 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 617-491-6969)

The Druid (1357 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 617-497-0965)

Tommy Doyles (Two locations: 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 617-225-0888 AND 96 Winthrop Street in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA 617-864-0655)

South Boston/Dorchester

Amrheins (80 West Broadway, South Boston, MA 02127 617-268-6189)

Blarney Stone (1509 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 617-825-8877)

Eire Pub (395 Adams St Dorchester, MA 617-436-0088)

Harp & Bard (1099 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 617-265-2893)

Murphy’s Law (837 Summer Street, South Boston, MA)

Shenannigan’s (332 West Broadway, South Boston, MA 617-269-9509)

The Banshee (934 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, MA 617-436-9747)

 

The Blackthorn (471 West Broadway, South Boston, MA 617-269-1159)

Slightly Farther Afield

Bad Abbots (1546 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA 02169 617-774-1434)

Doyle’s Cafe (3484 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 617-524-2345)

James’s Gate (5 McBride Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 617-983-2000)

O’Neill’s (120 Washington Street, Salem, MA 978-740-8811)

And what about you?

If you’re in or around Boston, where’s your favorite place to hoist a pint? If you’re not in town, tell us about your favorite tavern!

SHARE
Previous articlePomegranate Molasses
Next articleLamb Loin Chops with Fresh Herbs & Cognac Butter Sauce
Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! That was an awesome article. Boston has some beautiful buildings; i’d love to drink my way through your town sometime Jessie!

  2. Goody Glover’s gets mediocre reviews on Yelp, but it’s still my #1 choice if I’m near the North End and dying of hunger and thirst. It’s always less crowded between 5 and 8, so perfect for a post-work burger and pint if you’re nearby. The upstairs room is simply beautiful.

  3. Wow. So many pubs. So little time.

    A few of the pub names in this list are the names of a few pubs near me.I didn’t know pubs did franchises. Of course, it could just be a coincidence.

  4. You found all of my favorites – minus one. Brendan Behan in the Hyde Square area of Jamaica Plain (378 Center Street).

    Isn’t Jose McIntyre of the New Kids on the Block fame?

    • Oh fabulous! Thanks for the tip. We live on the other side of the river, so we don’t get out to JP much these days.

      And if you mean Joey McIntyre, that’s not his bar (he’s co-owner of The Plumm in NYC).

      +Jessie

  5. And one of my favorite – right across the street from where I work – Clarks. Great article, Jessie. I do mean to work my way through this list…..There is a great one in Portland Maine I should give a shout out to – Brian Boru. I was there last summer to see the Drop Kick Murphy’s and we stopped in to have a pint before the show. Shocker of shockers the band was sitting next to us doing the same thing!

    • Oh, Clarks! Of course. 😀

      Should you require assistance, we’d happily drink our way through the list with you.

      That’s fabulous about the Murphys. The Angry Chef knows those guys from way back when they started out in Boston.

      +Jessie

      • …about ten years ago, I took a year out and travelled the world. We rocked up in Boston, intending to stay for a week or so, and stayed a month. Such is life.

        We saw a lot of places that year, but Boston stands out.

        I’d move there like a shot!

  6. What a GREAT post!

    I have been in many, many pubs in Ireland, but have never visited one in Boston (which is really not all that far from where I live in Maryland).

    You’re post has prompted me to correct that situation. Thanks for the information.

  7. I just discovered your website about a month ago. so far I have made the mini-meat loaves and the tiny little caramel and chocolate tarts (for thanksgiving – big hit). I was telling my daughter, who is a chef, about your website and how much I liked it. We recently learned that she is moving to Boston! What a find this post is! I have been to the Black Rose but see that I have alot of work to do. Thanks for this long list of haunts! b.

  8. Love your site and have snagged several good recipes from you. Thanks.

    Did want to say that I find the first photo particularly funny… given that a pub misspells Guinness. Alas… let’s just hope they know how to pour one.

    Keep up the good work!
    -ben

  9. Bringing back some great memories Mouse and Angry Chef. One of the holidays I miss the most back home. Thanks for sharing and I will be reporting in your honor 😉

  10. Well I missed St.Pattys by a week, but I will be in Boston for about 4 days. Where are the MUST hit places while I am here for the short time.

  11. Doing a pub crawl in a few weeks in Boston. This will come in handy for making a plan to visit as many pubs as possible in one day. Any recommendations for travel between pubs?

  12. Do any of these pubs show Gaelic football matches? And are children allowed in to watch? Looking mainly for city centre pubs as we will be visiting the area in July. Thanks

LEAVE A REPLY