You don’t need a plane ticket to find Emerald Isle charm at destinations around the South. From Dallas to Annapolis, you can enjoy live music galore, generous pours of Guinness, and heaping platters of corned beef and cabbage at cozy (and sometimes raucous) Irish pubs and restaurants. Whether you want to say, “Sláinte!” to the nation’s patron saint or simply catch a little luck of the Irish any day of the year, head to one of these iconic Irish pubs for lively company and hearty fare.
Find the Emerald Isle in these Irish Pubs
Come for the infamous fish and chips; stay for the energetic conversation. This Annapolis Irish pub boasts a laundry list of honorable mentions and achievements for authentic Irish hospitality and one of the best Irish whiskey experiences in America. Unlike many bars, the lack of televisions in this Annapolis Irish pub is meant to foster conversation among the patrons, like the pubs of yesteryear. Galway Bay hosts nearly three weeks’ worth of events leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, complete with live music several nights a week, pub quizzes, and special St. Patrick’s Day menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Named for the James Joyce novel, this Washington, DC, watering hole has been a neighborhood staple on Massachusetts Avenue since 1974. The Dubliner is one of the nation’s largest purveyors of Guinness, but if you want something stronger, you’re sure to find it among the 100-plus selection of Irish whiskeys. Nightly sounds and tastes transport patrons to the misty streets of Dublin, with lively ballads, reels, and jigs. March’s calendar is packed with 49-cent pint events, whiskey nights, and a strong lineup of Celtic bands.
Gaelic for “long ago,” Fadó lives up to its name by paying homage to Ireland’s storied pub culture with a robust selection of domestic and imported beers, lots of soccer (or football, depending on what you call it) on the televisions, and a dedicated following of regulars. Be sure to try their fish and chips, made with flaky cod caught in the waters off Iceland, and pair it with a cold pint. With locations in Atlanta’s Midtown and Buckhead, this Irish pub swells to life in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, offering pub quizzes, a pint pouring contest, an outdoor festival, and a day-to-night celebration on St. Patrick’s Day.
As you might expect of any Irish pub in America’s Music City, live music plays a central role in McNamara’s craic (Gaelic for “good fun”). Come for the nightly shows—there’s a main stage and an upstairs lounge, both dedicated to individual bands—and stay for the Celtic sports memorabilia, tin pub signs, and historic photos adorning the walls. Special for St. Patrick’s Day, McNamara’s will host an all-day celebration with 13 hours of music.
The St. Patrick’s Day festivities kick off on Saturday, March 11, at this East Dallas spot with Celtic folk songs, performances from the Inishfree School of Irish Dance, and personalized pints of Guinness. The excitement returns on the 17th with more live music (we’re talking bagpipes), dancing, and platters of classic pub fare, like shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage.
Apex and Cary, North Carolina
For the best display of craic in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, head to Doherty’s Irish Pub & Restaurant. With daily events running March 11 through 17, the week holds an outdoor party with bagpipes and dancing, pub trivia and bingo, and a blowout party on St. Patrick’s Day with staple foods, live music, and more. If you’d prefer to bring the party to you, Doherty’s accepts catering orders until March 16, and you can schedule in advance a takeout order that you pick up from their food truck at the Apex location on Friday, March 17.
Richmond’s longstanding neighborhood pub opened on Forest Hill Avenue more than 50 years ago. Settle into a seat inside the cozy, wood-paneled space—the walls adorned with Irish family crests and pub signs—with a Smithwicks or one of the domestic craft beers. The menu pairs its Irish focus with Chesapeake flair—think crab cakes and steamed shrimp alongside bangers and mash. Join O’Tooles this St. Patrick’s Day for live music from noon until 11 p.m.
Look for the grasshopper-green building in New Orleans’ Mid-City, which fuses Irish vibes with Big Easy flavor. Nominated for the city’s best neighborhood bar, this lively locale is a destination for game day during soccer season, quiz nights, and live music. Come St. Patrick’s Day, Finn McCool’s throws a giant block party complete with dancing, Irish stew, and “the world’s shortest parade.”
Pensacola and Destin, Florida
If you’re looking for a roaring good time, you’ll find it in the sea of green at Florida’s booming Irish pub. The first location opened in 1977 before moving to its current Pensacola location, which boasts a 615-seater restaurant—perfect for a night out with the entire crew in tow. Their in-house brewery is the oldest craft brewery in Florida, and it makes a selection of ales, porters, and stouts in traditional oak and copper barrels. Lace up your running shoes and join them for their St. Patrick’s Day 5K run, followed by the postrace party with brews and bites.
- by Erin Byers Murray