One of the biggest events in the Bay Area to celebrate Irish culture is St. Patrick’s Day. Every single Bay Area Irish pub is certain to be filled with happy patrons enjoying traditional Irish food and drink. Here’s a look at five of the very best Irish pubs in the Bay Area to celebrates these important days or most any day of the year.
243 O’Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
There’s no question one of San Francisco most popular Irish pubs is Johnny Foley’s. While it’s prized location in the heart of Union Square is an undeniable factor, Johnny Foley’s is also well known for its marvelous authentic Irish food and live music. The lively pub features a full line of draft and bottled beer, including popular Irish selections like Smithwick’s Ale, Harp Lager, Murphy’s Irish Stout and of course, Guinness Stout. The food menu offers a variety of pub favorites and traditional items like fish and chips, Irish lamb stew, corned beef and cabbage and cottage pie. Johnny Foley’s hosts several music artists each week, including its famous dueling pianos shows typically held Wednesday through Saturday evenings.
25 N. San Pedro St.
San Jose, CA 95110
Located in downtown’s historic San Pedro Square, O’Flaherty’s will be one of the liveliest spots to be in the South Bay for St. Patrick’s Day. Visitors can enjoy any of the 54 ciders and beers on tap, in addition to a host of Irish whiskeys and delicious food entrees such as salads, burgers and pizza. Current beer selections include Lagunitas Pils, Guinness Smithwicks, Guinness Stout and Stella Artois. Open daily O’Flaherty’s features several ongoing events on a weekly basis, such as Monday karaoke, traditional Irish music on Tuesdays and trivia night on Wednesdays.
10 Mark Lane
San Francisco, CA 94108
Quietly tucked away in an unassuming side street in San Francisco’s Financial District might be the best Irish pub in the city. Yet on St. Patrick’s Day, it definitely won’t be quiet as a sizable crowd will be celebrating both inside and outside for the pub’s annual block party. Described as one of the most authentic and historically accurate Irish pubs in the country, the Irish Bank features an impressive facade that’s strikingly reminiscent of a classic Irish cottage. However, it’s the dazzling interior that truly bolsters the pub’s reputation as one of the best Irish pubs in the country, with rare antiques, historical Irish advertisements, posters and photographs adoring the walls. The Irish Bank has a full bar, offering several imported and domestic beers on tap such as Guinness and Stella Artois and a like number of bottled selections. Featured selections from the food menu include bangers, shepherds pie, Irish beef stew and fish and chips.
811 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA
As usual, San Francisco’s Mission District will be one of the city’s hottest destinations for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But the most popular spot in the Mission is expected to be the Phoenix, a few blocks from Dolores Park. Also known as one of the best sports bars in the city, the Phoenix will be much like other local Irish pubs, with standing room only and others carrying on with the festivities outside. The Phoenix Irish Pub & Gathering House typically serves food items during happy hour and dinner offering pub fare and traditional entrees like bangers and mash, shepherds pie and Irish lamb. The Phoenix is consistently mentioned as one of the Bay Area’s best Irish pubs from local Best Of contests.
3101 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94705
In the East Bay, it’s hard to find a finer Irish pub than the Starry Plough in Berkeley. In business for more than 40 years, the popular pub features live entertainment and events nightly, along with the obligatory selection of import and domestic beers and excellent pub grub. Over the years, the Starry Plough has hosted many big name acts, including Green Day, Cake, Smashing Pumpkins, Rambling Jack Elliott, Counting Crows, Country Joe McDonald and the Devil Makes three. The Starry Plough is conveniently located on Shattuck Avenue, a few blocks from the Ashby BART station.
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com