Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, MA: Three of the Best Traditional Irish Pubs to Spend Your St. Paddy’s Day, 2012

“St. Paddy’s,” as most Bostonians refer to Saint Patrick’s Day, is a pretty big deal in this city. When one thinks of Boston’s Irish-American residents, one often thinks of historically Irish sections such as South Boston, “Southie,” and Dorchester, “Dot.” However, Boston’s Irish roots extend all throughout the city. In Somerville, as well as nearby Cambridge, there is no shortage of Irish-style pubs. Here are three that top this author’s personal list for March 17th party considerations, along with some honorable mentions:

The Burren – 247 Elm St., (Davis Sq.), Somerville, MA, The largest of the three venues to be featured in this article, named after a rocky alvar in Northwest County Clare, the Burren possesses all the necessary charms of an old-world Irish pub and offers perhaps the most festive atmosphere of all. The pub consists of two separate rooms, front and back, each with its own bar and space for live music. The back room is spacious, ample tables surrounding a raised stage. This is the spot to frequent for traditional Irish music when you’re in Davis Square, an exciting neighborhood with a steady sea of young faces that makes it one of the most vibrant sections of Somerville. St. Paddy’s here will feature a limited menu, but a staggering supply of Guinness, Smithwick’s, Jameson’s, lots of live music at both bars, and likely even a live radio broadcast or two, all beginning around noon and surely carrying on until late into the evening.

Bull McCabe’s – 366 A Somerville Ave, (Union Sq.), Somerville, MA, As far as Boston’s pubs (and pub owners) are concerned, the proprietors of Bull McCabe’s, in Somerville’s Union Square neighborhood, have nothing to be ashamed of. Their modest-sized public house has become a local mainstay, for its live music and friendly bar atmosphere, since opening its doors just over three years ago. Like The Burren, McCabe’s distinguishes itself as one of the area’s best music venues, but, unlike the aforementioned pub, Bull’s is smaller and cozier, with just one bar and one small “stage” on the floor. On any given night, many different musical styles may be heard here, from Irish, to Funk, Reggae and Jazz; however, St. Paddy’s here will be all about the Celtic traditionals, with local singer / songwriter Ronan Quinn scheduled to perform at 10pm. It promises to be a good night at McCabe’s — the beer list is formidable and ever-expanding, and the food is quite memorable here as well — just try to arrive early, if you want a table or even a place to stand! (Honorable Mention in Union Sq.: Sally O’Brien’s, 335 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA,

The Druid – 1357 Cambridge St., (Inman Sq.), Cambridge, MA, Plain and simple, the reason to come to The Druid, in Cambridge’s Inman Square, is for its magical combination of an inviting, intimate ambience and excellent food. A quick perusal of this pub’s website allows one to view photos and customer testimonials, as well as to learn of the fact that this lovely spot is, “housed in the oldest wooden mercantile building in the city of Cambridge,” thus lending it its “timeless” feel. However, you may decide to skip the website and simply take this author’s word for it, that The Druid is, hands down, one of the best pubs in the area, with really, really good food, and its crowd of loyal followers promises to be bursting out of the door on St. Paddy’s. There will of course be great traditional Irish music here, all special day and night, as well. A note for “Green” vegetarians: the Druid’s veggie burger is widely heralded as one of the best in town. (Honorable mentions: The Plough and Stars, 912 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA,; Tavern at the End of the World, 108 Cambridge St., Charlestown, MA,

Sources: restaurant websites listed above. Phone spokesperson at The Burren.

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