Get us in your inbox

Bangers and Mash
Photograph: Shutterstock

7 classic Irish comfort foods to eat in Boston this St. Patrick's Day

Hint: They're not corned beef and cabbage

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni

There’s so much more to Irish food in Boston than just the obligatory corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. While Eire seems to get a bad rap in terms of its culinary culture (a perception that’s been gradually changing over recent years), plenty of pubs around the Hub prove otherwise. Some dishes hailing from the island nation will always have a soft spot in our hearts, conjuring up feelings of comfort and nostalgia with every bite. Not to mention, they’re just begging to be washed down with a beer. We’ve scoured the city for these tried-and-true treasures to see who offers the best of the best—from a full Irish breakfast and soda bread to Guinness stew and Jameson-laced coffee.   

Shepherd’s pie From Mr. Dooley's: We think more meals should be covered in mashed potatoes. Just put one forkful of the shepherd’s pie at Mr. Dooley’s and you’ll understand our sentiment. The kitchen at this beloved Broad Street establishment makes a masterpiece out of this simple classic. A medley of ground beef, veg, herbs and Irish brown gravy is lovingly topped with a cloud of creamed potatoes and baked ever so slightly to form that crisp crust. This ramekin of pure comfort is served with freshly baked bread—brown, of course—and pads of salty Irish butter to fully lull you into a food coma of bliss.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mr Dooleys (@mrdooleys)

Guinness stew from Emmet's: Why simply sip a Guinness, when you can eat it, too? The Irish know their way around a stew, especially when this rich stout of choice is involved. At Emmet’s, you can get a bowl brimming with Guinness beef stew, a hearty dish where chunks of tender beef chuck are braised in beer alongside potatoes, carrots, onions and celery. Sop up all of that savory, gravy-thick broth with a side of brown bread and you’re in business. 

Irish breakfast from The Druid: Nothing will bring you back to life the morning after a pint too many than an Irish breakfast, and the best one in the Boston area can be found at The Druid. Chase your night of drinking with a plate of perfection during the Cambridge pub’s Sunday brunch service. Per tradition, this dish comes with two eggs, sausage, bacon, black and white pudding, beans and home fries, with a side of toast or brown bread. The balance between carbs and grease will fill your stomach and heal your soul—well worth crawling out of bed for. 

Irish soda bread from Greenhills Bakery: Is any Irish meal complete without a side of rustic bread? Certainly not, and this Irish bakery in Dorchester is renowned for whipping up this necessary provision. In addition to serving sandwiches and selling Irish groceries, this spot specializes in soda bread. Amongst the loaves available, you’ll find the traditional recipe, as well as favored variations made with treacle (that’s fancy for “molasses”) and raisins. Cut off a slice and slather it with salty butter and fruit preserves, and you’ve got a little piece of heaven right there.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @greenhills.bakery

Irish coffee from The Black Rose: Coffee is just so much better when it’s got a little extra something in it. (And by something, we mean whiskey). Pubs and restaurants all across town offer this simple spiked pleasure, but a pour of The Black Rose’s Irish coffee puts them all to shame. Made with Jameson, this caffeinated concoction also features demerara sugar, fresh cream and grated nutmeg. The result is a delicious drink that leaves you both relaxed yet energized, an ideal combo for kicking back and listening to live music. Honestly, it’s enough to have even tourist-averse locals venturing over to the Faneuil Hall area for a boozy cuppa. 

Fish and chips from Olde Magoun's Saloon: There’s no question as to why fish and chips—or “one and one,” as they call it in Dublin—is a pub staple: It’s carbs fried in fat, which tastes like magic when paired with a crisp beer… and also happens to soak up all of the alcohol, so you can order another round. Olde Magoun’s Saloon makes a fish and chips dish so special that they only serve it on Fridays. This weekly combo consisting of battered, flaky strips of freshly caught cod, house-made chips and coleslaw attracts all of the good Irish Catholics (and everyone else) to this Somerville spot—and not just during Lent. 

Bangers and mash from The Burren: The Irish have perfected the art of truly simple pleasures, and the best example can be seen with bangers and mash. That’s right: All it takes to have a moment of happiness is to dig into some greasy sausage and a mountain of mashed potatoes. When The Burren isn’t busy being the destination for live music in Davis Square, it’s serving up this timeless dish to diners likely either getting ready to drink or recovering from a few. Here, thick links of sausage accompany house-made scallion mashed potatoes, braised cabbage, bacon, baked beans and gravy—pair with a nap or a beer, and you’re a new person. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Burren (@theburrenbar)

More on St. Patrick's Day

    Latest news