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The Banshee
Photograph: Courtesy The Banshee

The best Irish pubs in Boston

These cozy, welcoming Irish pubs are great spots for affordable drinks and fun times

By Eric Grossman and Time Out Boston Staff
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Bostons population is comprised of a large number of proud Irish expats and Irish-Americans; this explains why our city has no shortage of cozy, authentic pubs. Not only do the best Irish pubs in Boston offer affordable pints of beer and a lively atmosphere, some even double as the best sports bars and coolest nightclubs in Boston. Many serve praiseworthy pub grub, and host some of the best trivia nights and live music venues in Boston. Grab a friend or two, order a pint and prepare yourself for a night of pure, unadulterated fun.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in boston

Best Irish pubs Boston

Burren, Bars, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy The Burren

1. The Burren

Bars Pubs Somerville

A Davis Square mainstay, The Burren is one of the most popular Irish pubs on the other side of the river. During the afternoon, the front room—with its wood-slatted floors and a gentle light pouring through the windows—is full of folks tucking into bowls of beef stew, sipping pints of Guinness (or any number of local brews), and listening to informal Irish seisiúns. At night, the place gets packed with young area residents and students, many of whom come to check out nightly live entertainment.

Brendan Behan Pub
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

2. Brendan Behan Pub

Bars Jamaica Plain

Named after the Irish playwright, Behan’s is not a fancy place—it’s small and dimly lit, with no food on offer—but that’s part of its charm. Locals love it because they are encouraged to bring their own food—usually from the various take-out joints that dot Centre Street—to nibble on in-between pints from the venues solid beer selection. Trivia nights are held on Tuesdays, poetry nights take place on Thursdays, and Saturday afternoons feature live Irish music.

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Flann O’Briens
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stephen P.

3. Flann O’Brien’s

Bars Pubs Mission Hill

All of the important elements are here at this Mission Hill hangout: dim lighting, exposed stone walls, dark-wood built-ins, vintage Guinness signage and a moniker that honors an earlier-era Irish writer. Bonuses include a working fireplace and the “Guinness Breakfast Challenge,” a Saturday and Sunday brunch throwdown that dares you to finish an enormous Irish breakfast in under an hour. Tuesday night trivia, Thursday night DJs, and Saturday night karaoke all bring lively crowds.

The Druid
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Chris H.

4. The Druid

Bars Pubs Inman Sq

A true institution in the heart of Inman Square, The Druid is a tried-and-true option for the hallmarks of a classic Irish hangout: friendly crowds, tasty pub fare, a gorgeous dark wood bar, live music, and a strong beer list, including impeccably-poured pints of Guinness. One of the areas most competitive trivia nights is hosted on Wednesdays, and theres live traditional Irish music on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons.

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Black Rose
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

5. Black Rose

Bars Quincy Market

One of the older - and most famous - Irish pubs in the city, the Black Rose plays its part well: photos of martyred patriots adorn the walls and flags from every Irish county hang from the ceiling. But its true selling point is the nightly program of live Irish music. If you’re up for a rowdy, Guinness-fueled sing-along with friendly locals and tourists, this is the place to go to.

JJ Foley's
Photograph: Courtesy JJ Foley’s

6. J.J. Foley’s Bar & Grille

Bars Pubs Downtown

This low-key, low-lit bar serves as a beloved hangout for tattooed bike messengers, business suits, and just about anyone else who passes through Downtown Crossing. (U2s Bono has hoisted pints here.) For the full experience, stop by after-work on a Friday, or during last call on a busy evening. A standard assortment of pub grub and bar bites helps to keep the party going.

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Field
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Soe Lin

7. The Field Pub

Bars Central Sq

Situated in the heart of Central Square, The Field doesnt take itself too seriously, maintaining a chilled-out, welcoming vibe that delights the youthful crowds who keep the space packed on a near-constant basis. An exceptional beer list includes some hard-to-find local craft options, and theres a pool table that is  constantly in use. When the weather allows, the crowd usually spills on to one of the neighborhoods only back patios.

Plough & Stars, Bars, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy The Plough and Stars

8. The Plough and Stars

Bars Pubs Central Sq

Sitting on a relatively quiet stretch of Mass Ave between Central and Harvard Squares, this diminuitive hangout has been going strong since 1969. In the daytime, it offers some of the best pub grub in town. Every night, the tiny space is transformed into a hotbed of live music; blues jams are held on Wednesdays. Stop by on Monday nights to test your trivia skills against brainy Cambridge academics.

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Kinsale
Photograph: Courtesy Facebook/Kinsale

9. The Kinsale

Bars Beacon Hill

Built in Ireland and shipped to the Hub piece by piece, the Kinsale hits all the marks an Irish pub should. The Irish staff are unfailingly pleasant and pull a fine pint of Guinness. The Kinsale's über-central location (right across the street from Boston City Hall) means it can get crowded fast, but great pub grub and occasional live music more than make up for any stepped-on toes or spilled suds. The food menu abandons the Emerald Isle in favor of global eclecticism—quesadillas, burgers, and clam chowder are among the offerings.

The Thirsty Scholar
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Nick Normal

10. Thirsty Scholar Pub

Bars Pubs

Hidden away near the Cambridge-Somerville border, the Thirsty Scholar has served as a second home for hordes of area academics. With its charming exposed brick walls and welcoming atmosphere, the bar is an ideal place to hole yourself away with a special someone for a quiet drink. There are plenty of TVs, ensuring sports fans can come in to watch the local teams play.

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Matt Murphy's, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Matt Murphy’s

11. Matt Murphy’s

Bars

One of the most atmospheric Irish pubs in a city that has no shortage, Matt Murphy’s is well worth a journey into the heart of Brookline Village. The Guinness poured here is sublime, but what makes it such a hit among locals is its grub. The fish and chips - served wrapped in newspaper, with house-made ketchup - is deservedly famous, as is the kitchen's take on shepherd’s pie.

Guinness beer
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Corrib Pub

Bars Pubs Allston/Brighton

Named after Lough Corrib, a massive lake in West Ireland, this Brighton mainstay—open since 1969—attracts plenty of homesick expats as well as students and longtime locals. To some, its the definition of a proper pub: an friendly, unassuming spot to enjoy a warm Guinness, a massive serving of bangers and mash, and a little live music.

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The Banshee
Photograph: The Banshee

13. The Banshee

Bars Pubs Dorchester

As one of New England’s most popular spots to watch a big soccer game, The Banshee lures an eclectic mix of fans and homesick expats to its Dorchester home. (Rugby and hurling get equal love.) Come evenings, the bar morphs into more of a general-interest hangout, with weekly trivia and dance tunes attracting a broad swath of Dorchester and Southie twentysomethings.

Mr. Dooley's
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Devin Ford

14. Mr Dooley’s

Bars Downtown

Named after the fictional, opinion-rich barkeep of writer F.P. Dunne’s syndicated newspaper columns, this Financial District mainstay has a loyal clientele of journalists and politicians, and lives up to its own billing as 'a great place for a pint and a chat.'

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Solas
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mark K.

15. Solas

Restaurants American Back Bay

This Back Bay Irish pub in the Lenox Hotel has everything you need for a cozy, fun night out. From tasty pints and late night pub grub to a quaint interior and outdoor seating, you can't beat the scene here. Just steps from Newbury Street, it’s a great spot to settle into after a day of shopping.

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