The best Irish pub fare in Tampa Bay

Irish 31 - Shepard's Pie

Veal-and-parsnip Shepherd’s Pie and Irish potato boxty join other Emerald Isle items at Irish 31.

If hurling and soccer, shamrocks and goofy Irish wit buttons bring you pleasure, you’re more than ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Tampa Bay’s assorted ale houses don’t always meet lofty standards but with the luck of the Irish, the grub can be filling and satisfying.

Flanagan’s Irish Pub: 465 Main St.; Dunedin, FL; (727) 736-4994; www.flanagansirishpub.net

For 20 years, people have queued here for beer-battered, North Atlantic cod and chips. Downtown’s Main Street closes for the St. Paddy’s open-air festival: live music, boisterous crowds, bitters and brews, bagpipes, Irish dancing, and lots of corned beef sandwiches and Shepherd’s pies, are served from 11 a.m. -11 p.m. Flanagan’s boasts as the second largest seller of Guinness in the Tampa Bay area, poured at a cool, 38 degrees.

Four Green Fields: 205 W. Platt St.; Tampa, FL; (813) 254-4444; www.fourgreenfields.com

Authentically thatched and incredibly popular with running clubs and Tampa Tribune retirement parties, people flock in as early as 9 a.m. on St. Pat’s Day. Fields’ manager Randy Burns can’t begin to guess how many will be drinking there Saturday. “I don’t even like guessing. If I said something, somebody would say, baloney.’’ The Guinness emporium has been around about 20 years, and added a Boston cousin about a year ago. Especially popular with young professionals and downtown workers, the shepherd’s pie, corned beef, Irish stew, fish and chips, start the night, but the 39-degree-Guinness remains constant.

Irish 31: 1611 W. Swann Ave.; Tampa, FL; (813) 250-0031; www.irish31.com

A menu with sports bar fare and popular Irish foods are in the mix here. It celebrates its six-month anniversary with a  two-day, St. Patty’s Palooza, Friday and Saturday, from 4 p.m. to midnight. Chill with  smoked leg of lamb, Irish whiskey brisket, Irish cream cheesecake, and Guinness beer ice cream floats. ‘’We’re trying to push the good food as anyone can have a drunken street festival,’’ says executive chef Mike Swords. The brainchild of Bianca and Jay Mize, Irish 31 gets its name from Jay’s USF football jersey.  Most popular Irish boxty, the pureed potato cakes, crisp with panko crumbs, are dipped into with salsa, guacamole, or horseradish sauce. Try the veal Shepherd’s pie, mellow with carrots, celery, onions and parsnips. Beer connoisseurs fill this sports bar enjoying its 14 taps.

Chef Mike Swords of Irish 31

Irish 31 chef Mike Swords’ mixes sports bar and Irish pub grub favorites.

James Joyce Irish Pub: 1724 E. Eighth Ave.: Ybor City, FL; (813) 247-1896; www.jamesjoyceybor.com

Recently moving from its long-time location above street level on Seventh Avenue, its digs are now in the former Meme’s Tacos. Chef Andrew Periam’s brings his recipes from the Emerald Isle for lamb, pea and carrot stew, banger sausages, and corned beef sliders. There is something ponderously appealing to a place that pushes a one-pound beef Godzilla, a burrito for an alcohol-fired, Ybor appetite.

Courigan’s Irish Pub: 1 Beach Drive SE; St. Petersburg, FL; (727) 551-9019; Website

Off the main drag, this pub has cooked bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage, and fish and chips, for local barflies for six years. They like the two dozen taps and 11 Irish whiskeys, too.

 

O’Brien’s Irish Pub; 15435 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.; Tampa, FL;  (813) 961-4092 (also,  Brandon, FL; (813) 661-9688;  www.obrienspubs.com

The pub-like atmosphere of regulars greeting each other adds authenticity and the servers take obvious pride in their kitchen. Order a Celtic salad or Reuben with juice corned beef, melted Swiss and sauerkraut.

Also in the lineup:

Dubliner Irish Pub: 2307 W. Azeele St.; Tampa, FL; (813) 258-2257; www.thedublineririshpub.com

This tavern has been rockin’ as a favored watering hole for about a decade, serving the usual SOHO suspects. It can be a loud, jovial place with plenty of Guinness by the pint or a relaxed night for fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.  Check the chalk board for daily specials. (A second Dubliners is in Citrus Park; 12836 Henderson Rd.; Tampa, FL; (813) 300-2076.

MacDinton’s Irish Restaurant and Pub: 405 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL; (813) 251-8999; www.macdintons.com

Few would remember this space as Crocodile Rock or Claude’s, but it was MacDinton’s that has the formula for bringing in the masses (its two hour, all you can drink, $10 happy hour draws pedestrian lines weaving from doors night after night.) Few think of this place for eats, but the outdoor patio is a choice on a perfect spring night.

O’Keefe’s Family Tavern & Grill1219 S. Fort Harrison Ave: Clearwater, FL: (727) 442-9034; www.okeefestavernonline.com

Open since 1961, O’Keefe’s has a two-day festival in the works.

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