10 Amazing Places Worth Visiting not Only on St.Patrick's
It’s not surprising that Boston, as the most Irish city in the U.S., has numerous Irish bars. That’s why choosing the one from dozens of them could be challenging.
We visited many Irish pubs in the Boston area and picked the best for our list. No matter, whether you wish a real Irish pub experience with a full dive into authentic atmosphere, traditional Irish food and music or would only like a pint of great Guinness in a bar with an Irish influence, in this list you can find the perfect one for any taste.
March 20, 2016
1. J.J. Foley’s Cafe, South End
Tufts Medical Center (Orange Line)
3.7 / 27 reviews
There actually are two places called J.J. Foley’s in Boston:
First – J.J. Foley’s Café in South End founded in 1909 by the Irish immigrant Jeremiah J. Foley who came from County Kerry in Ireland. It is still owned and operated by the family: Jeremiah Foley’s grandson, Jerry and his sons (fourth generation of Foleys).
The other one – J.J. Foley’s bar and grill in Downtown (also owned by Foley’s descendants) was opened 50 years later.
We’re going to focus on the older one – J.J. Foley’s Café that is now a genuine Boston landmark with more than a hundred years of history behind it. This place has always been popular among people getting off work, especially journalists (Boston Herald’s office was located a few blocks down the street in the late 50s) and police officers (Boston Police Headquarters were also close by).
Forced to adapt to a changing environment, J.J. Foley’s Café is no longer a neighborhood bar serving hardly any food as it used to be. Even though the bar is still an old-school standing room only, nowadays there’s also a Café – restaurant section with tables and comfortable booths and the same-style old-fashioned interior: dark brown wood walls with lots of old pictures and other memorabilia.
Overall, it’s an amazing place where you can get a piece of Boston history at the bar full of people from the neighborhood and later sit at the table on the dining side and try some great food.
2. Crossroads Irish Pub, Back Bay
Hynes Convention Center (Green Line: B, C, D)
4.0 / 46 reviews / $
Crossroads is a big neighborhood pub with 2 floors, nice beer selection that changes seasonally and good food known for usually enormous portions. Crossroads is a perfect spot to watch sports and have a bite.
It is also the official bar of Manchester United in Boston and here you can watch every Manchester United game.
On Mondays they have trivia nights, on Thursdays the pub becomes a “runners bar”: at night, after having run traditional 9 miles along the route of the Boston Marathon (from Newton Hills, down Beacon Street and to the Back Bay), the runners meet here for free pizza and good company.
3. Emmet’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, Beacon Hill
Emmet’s is a great Irish pub with an excellent service and comfortable atmosphere in the heart of Boston within a 5-minute walk from the State House or Boston Common.
Emmet’s serves authentic Irish food such as Shepherd’s Pie or Bangers And Mash along with regular burgers, salads and soups.
As for the drinks, there is a good selection of imported and local brews that can also be ordered as a beer sampler flight, which is probably the easiest and cheapest way to cover some tasting ground to find your favorite beer. Here you can choose from a variety of samplers that feature four small glasses of different beers served on a paddle for $10-12.
If you’re going for Fish N` Chips and a pint of excellent cold Guinness, Emmet’s is definitely the right place. Being also a restaurant along with its pub features, Emmet’s also serves an excellent Rib Eye Steak with a glass of cabernet or a dessert with a delicious Irish coffee.
4. Doyle’s Café, Jamaica Plain
Green Street T Stop (Orange Line)
4.2 / 111 reviews
With a history going back to 1882, Doyle’s Café is one of the oldest pubs in Boston.
It has grown from a one-room neighborhood workingmen’s Pub to a respectable venue popular among politicians. One of the Doyle’s rooms (that over the years had been occupied by a grocery store, an athletic club, barbers) was officially dedicated to John F. Fitzgerald by Senator Ted Kennedy on St. Patrick’s Day in 1988.
Thanks to its historical look and atmosphere, the Doyle’s Irish pub has been used in several Hollywood movies, such as 21, Celtic Pride, Mystic River, and The Brink’s Job.
In the 80s Doyle’s partnered with a nearby Sam Adams Brewery and became the first pub that put on tap their Boston Lager. Since then, Doyle’s is the only bar in Boston that serves new or experimental Sam Adams beers. Both businesses sponsored a free trolley running between Doyle’s and the brewery (quite an awesome experience). If you come to the pub after the Sam Adams Brewery Tour and order a beer, you can take a free Sam Adams glass when you.
Keep in mind that this usually casual neighborhood pub fills with trolley visitors pretty quickly and could be really busy, especially on the weekends and one can only imagine what’s happening here on St. Patrick’s Day.
On the other hand, Doyle’s doesn’t feel like a tourist bar/place at all. Every corner of this charming Irish pub is screaming of its long history. And what’s most important, customers’ flow is not spoiling Doyle’s in any way: the food is delicious and the beer is always cold and fresh.
5. Flann O’Brien’s, Mission Hill
Named after the Irish novelist, Flann O’Brien’s is an unpretentious pub with welcoming atmosphere and 28 drafts on tap (20 of them are stable like Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp, Molson etc. and 8 are rotating).
The food is great too and they always have some special deals such as whole day $5 specials (usually sandwich or salad) that change every day except Sunday when it’s always steak and eggs or free chicken wings with any beverage on Monday nights.
For those who are really hungry and bold enough to order it, there is an awesome offer for a weekend brunch: you’re challenged to try finishing all by yourself an enormous plate of food within an hour. The only help you can get for that is an optional pint of Guinness.
Keep in mind that at night Flann O’Brien’s could be a busy with lots of young college kids playing pool or attracted by trivia, karaoke or DJs.
6. The Druid, Cambridge
The Druid is a great tiny pub housed in the old mercantile building on Inman Square in Cambridge. Friendly atmosphere with an authentic Irish feel, excellent food and perfect beer draw local crowds to the Druid.
As entertainment goes on almost every night (Tuesdays through Saturdays), the Druid usually gets packed early and it’s not easy to find a free table here.
On trivia nights (Best of Boston 2008) or during traditional live Irish music sessions, even a standing room could be considered a good luck.
7. The Green Briar, Brighton
Washington Street (Green Line: B)
4.0 / 33 reviews / $$
Cozy Irish pub with good beer selection (more than 30 to choose from) and great food: extra crispy fish and chips and juicy bangers and mash. Here you can also watch your favorite sporting event on several big screens or have fun playing pool, darts or even cornhole.
With a new event every night seven days a week finding something to suit your taste is not a problem at the Green Briar: it varies from traditional Irish music sessions when 15-40 local musicians come to jam together and trivia nights to extreme bingo and DJs.
They also have an amazing sun lit beer garden where you can relax from a busy day and enjoy a pint of cold beer.
8. The Field, Cambridge
Sometimes loud and crowded neighborhood Irish pub in the heart of Central Square in Cambridge. The Field has a nice selection of domestic and imported beers (great Guinness here) and good food.
The pub also has a huge patio in the back, which is quite a rear thing for other spots in the area. One can enjoy a drink sitting outside on warmer days or relax playing darts or pool in the back room. Keep in mind that the place is cash only.
9. McGreevy’s Boston, Back Bay
Hynes Convention Center (Green Line B, C, D)
4.0 /57 reviews /$$
The idea behind this pub goes back to 1894 when the leader of a fan club for the Boston Americans (the name of Boston Red Sox before 1908) Michael T. McGreevy opened his “3rd Base Saloon”, like a third base in baseball, it was the last stop before home. With historical pictures of the baseball players from McGreevy’s collection, clippings and even a scoreboard covering the walls, it was the first documented sports-themed bar in America. Unfortunately the “3rd Base Saloon” didn’t last for a long time and was closed due to Prohibition.
88 years later, in 2008 “3rd Base” was re-opened in Back Bay by The Dropkick Murphys’ leader Ken Casey and called McGreevy’s Boston. Conveniently located close to Fenway Park (there is a sign inside that says “1200 Steps to Fenway”), this bar is ideal for fans coming from the game. The place is full of original pictures from McGreevy’s collection, reproductions, game bats of Red Sox players and other artifacts telling the story of Boston’s baseball legacy.
The menu is not huge but it seems to have everything you might want with a pint of cold beer. In addition, there is always something going on in this pub: trivia, comedy nights or some promos when you can get cheeseburgers or the whole pizza for just $1.
10. Murphy’s Law Bar, South Boston
At the end of our list is Murphy’s Law Bar, which is rather a non-pretentious dive bar than a cozy pub. But it still has friendly staff and great atmosphere combined with more than affordable prices.
There are usually many locals in this bar and it also attracts dive enthusiasts and fans of Ben Affleck who in 2006 filmed here some scenes for his movie “Gone Baby Gone”.
Murphy’s Law is definitely worth a visit for a pint of Guinness or Smithwick’s, especially if you like dive bars.