Boston is a city with Irish roots—and with that comes many Irish pubs throughout town. While you’ll definitely want to head to South Boston for the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, Southie is not the only place you’ll find Irish pubs. Downtown Boston, including popular tourist areas like Faneuil Hall, has plenty to choose from that are convenient to get to and worth checking out on your trip to the city.
Here are our picks for the best Irish pubs in Boston. Bars throughout the city close at 2 a.m., so keep that in mind as you plan out your night.
J.J. Foley’s Cafe has been a staple of Boston’s South End neighborhood for more than 100 years, dating back to 1909 when the family-owned bar first opened. Pair your Guinness with their menu of not-so-Irish bar food like chicken quesadillas, loaded nachos, and burgers. Aside from Guinness, you can get a selection of other Irish and local beers. While you’re there, try one of their “Foley Fireballs,” deep-fried macaroni with spicy cheese sauce, dipped in ranch dressing. In 1959, the same owners opened J.J. Foley’s Bar & Grille in Downtown Boston, which has become a go-to for those working in the city.
If you’re looking for a true dive bar in Downtown Boston, Biddy Early’s is your spot. We’re talking $1.50 PBRs and no frills at all. This place has remained true to its original roots—Keno and all—despite the city bar landscape moving toward more upscale offerings with craft brews and contemporary bar food.
When you’ve had your shopping fix on Newbury and Boylston Streets, head to Lir in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood for food and drinks. Their menu has your standard American bar picks (think nachos, wings, and sliders) along with Irish-inspired menu items such as Guinness beef stew, Dublin fried chicken, and sweet and smoky Jameson wings. Lir is also a popular spot for viewing international sports like the Premier League, which you won’t find at most Boston bars.
Mr. Dooley’s Boston, also known as just plain old “Dooley’s,” opened in Boston’s Financial District near the New England Aquarium in 1991. Here you’ll find an authentic Irish Breakfast, delicious bar food for lunch and dinner, and New England-inspired seafood dishes like clam chowder and lobster. The pub features live entertainment every night, which includes both local musicians and talent from Ireland. Mr. Dooley’s is also known to have impromptu fiddle “Sessuins” that add to the fun.
This traditional Irish pub in South Boston is a dive bar, so you won’t be getting the live music that others offer, but you can guarantee they’ll have a Guinness ready to serve you. Southie is fun on parade day, but keep in mind that getting into bars—let alone Irish pubs—on St. Patrick’s Day in this part of the city will be challenging.
If you’re taking the Freedom Trail or just visiting Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, you’ll likely come across Ned Devine’s. By day, Ned Devine’s is a casual Irish pub; but what makes this place unique from other Irish bars in the city is that it’s also great for going out, thanks to its three bars, big dance floor, and late-night food. Because of this and the fact that the space itself is quite large, it’s a good spot for hosting private events as well.
If you find yourself in Dorchester, you can count on seeing any international soccer (football) or rugby game that’s broadcast in North America at the Banshee. They show everything from Gaelic Football and the Barclays Premier League to standard U.S. sports like the MLB, NFL, and NBA. For food, they have both Irish and American dishes, so you can take your pick from a traditional Irish breakfast or burger.
The Black Rose is arguably one of the most popular Irish pubs in Boston, given that it has been around for more than 40 years and is located near Faneuil Hall and Haymarket Station. They have live music every night, and much like many of the other Irish bars in Boston, they offer a mix of Irish and American/New England food and drinks.
The Kinsale Irish Pub & Restaurant
The Kinsale Irish Pub & Restaurant, located across the street from Boston’s City Hall in Government Center, is one of the nicer Irish pubs in the city. They have live music and activities like trivia and karaoke in the bar area; in the warm weather months, they also have seating outside. It’s bound to be packed, but if you can get in, this is another fun spot for St. Patty’s Day celebrations. If you’re in Cambridge, check out their sister restaurant, the Asgard.
Sólás Irish Pub
Located inside the Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay, Sólás is where you’ll find modern takes on traditional Irish pub food. The vibe is laid-back, with seating both inside and outside when weather permits. Pair your Guinness with favorites like bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, or their take on mac and cheese. They also have a late-night menu (available from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.) if you’re out for drinks and need a bite to eat. This pub is located near Boston's best shopping: the Prudential Center, Copley Place, and Newbury and Boylston Streets.