Best Irish pubs in Boston for nights of pure fun

Get drinking with your best buds at these awesome Irish pubs in Boston, serving top beer and bar fare
The Banshee
Photograph: Courtesy The Banshee
By Eric Grossman and Time Out contributors |
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In a city chock full of proud Irish expats and Irish-Americans, it’s little wonder our small corner of the country boasts an excess of authentic Irish pubs. Not only do the best Irish pubs in Boston serve top-notch beers, but some even double as sports bars and nightclubs. A few even serve grub that’s so good, you might think youre visiting one of the best restaurants in Boston. To get the full experience, head in on a lively trivia night, or during an authentic Irish live music performance. 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

1
Doyle’s Cafe
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Sarah Nichols
Bars, Pubs

Doyle’s Cafe

icon-location-pin Jamaica Plain

In business since 1882, this old Irish charmer has long been popular among politicos. Times have changed, however: The room once named after JFKs grandfather Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald is now named after the late Mayor Thomas Menino, who was of Italian descent. The ceilings are lofty, the rooms capacious and the murals high on the walls, portraying scenes from colonial Massachusetts, are gorgeous. The generous portions of comfort food and the wide selection of ales and scotches are a bonus.

2
Matt Murphy's, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Matt Murphy’s
Bars, Pubs

Matt Murphy’s

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.

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3
Burren, Bars, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy The Burren
Bars, Pubs

The Burren

icon-location-pin 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.

4
Brendan Behan Pub
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero
Bars, Pubs

Brendan Behan Pub

icon-location-pin 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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5
Flann O’Briens
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stephen P.
Bars, Pubs

Flann O’Brien’s

icon-location-pin 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.

6
Guinness beer
Photograph: Shutterstock
Bars, Pubs

Corrib Pub

icon-location-pin 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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7
Plough & Stars, Bars, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy The Plough and Stars
Bars, Pubs

The Plough and Stars

icon-location-pin 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.

8
JJ Foley's
Photograph: Courtesy JJ Foley’s
Bars, Pubs

J.J. Foley’s Bar & Grille

icon-location-pin 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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9
The Druid
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Chris H.
Bars, Pubs

The Druid

icon-location-pin 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.

10
The Thirsty Scholar
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Nick Normal
Bars, Pubs

Thirsty Scholar Pub

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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11
The Banshee
Photograph: The Banshee
Bars, Pubs

The Banshee

icon-location-pin 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.

12
Field
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Soe Lin
Bars, Pubs

The Field Pub

icon-location-pin 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.

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13
Black Rose
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero
Bars, Pubs

Black Rose

icon-location-pin 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.

14
Phoenix Landing
Bars, Pubs

Phoenix Landing

icon-location-pin Central Sq

This Central Square mainstay, which dubs itself “the alternative Irish pub,” is the Boston areas go-to spot for big soccer games. (Arrive early or you may not get in the door.) Also popular: trivia nights on Wednesdays, and DJ-led dance parties, including PYT, a weekly throwback blowout held on Friday nights. A surprisingly robust draft selection seals the deal, but if you need greater enticement, take a gander at the summertime patio and happy hour food menu.

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