There are many things Americans do well, but the Irish kick arse in the pub department. If you’re feeling a wee bit peckish, thirsty for the ice cold “Black Stuff” (that’s Guinness, folks), or you’re just wanting to hang with some off-your-nut rugby fanatics, it’s a “public house” you’re looking for. Being the philanthropic Woman on the Loose that I am, I’ve rooted out the most authentic pubs in town…just in time for a lively St. Paddy’s Day celebration!
What makes a pub authentic? Ownership by an Irish human to start. If a menu exists, I’d better be seein’ some shepherd’s pie, Irish stew, and bangers & mash. Some fine Irish tunes best be playin’ and I want merriment. Merriment is a must.
It was six pubs I found in middling San Diego…and, I personally sniffed out each and every one to root out any posers. Pubs are rated using the official “Woman on the Loose (WOTL) Authenticity Meter”:
1 – “Not the full schilling.”
2 – “Not bad, me lad!”
3 – “Spot on!”
A casual pub and grill with rugby and soccer in the air and all over the walls, The Harp (4935 Newport Ave, Ocean Beach) was established in 2007. In addition to standard American bar grub, there’s a fair smattering of Irish fare on the menu including shepherd’s pie, fish & chips, bangers & mash, Irish stew and curry dishes. Throw in some occasional live music (don’t miss The Fooks!) and nonstop televised sports and you’ve got merriment galore. Happy Hour: Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. with $3.25 domestic, micro drafts and well beer. WOTL Authenticity Meter: 2/3
The more polished Gallaghers (5046 Newport Ave, Ocean Beach) touts itself as a “wee bit of Ireland in the heart of Ocean Beach”. The walls are lined with an extensive collection of all things Irish and the live and DJ-spun playlist includes rock, reggae, and punk, as well as Celtic tunes (exclusively on Saturdays). If you’re the active sort, this is your spot…there’s something fun going on here seven nights a week…check out Open Mic, Game, and Quiz Nights, or cheer on your favorite team while you toss down a Guiness or partake of a flight of Irish whiskeys. Happy Hour: Daily from 2 to 7 p.m. (all night Sundays & Mondays) with $3-$5 beers, $5 Irish Whiskey, and $3.95 munchies. WOTL Authenticity Meter: 2/3
A twin of the 200-year old Tynan’s pub in Kilkenny, the interior of Dublin Square (554 4th Avenue, San Diego) was manufactured in Ireland and shipped across the Atlantic to create one seriously authentic pub in the heart of the historic Gaslamp District. Stop by in the late evening and you’ll be stomping your foot to live acoustic rock or modern Irish music. The menu is packed with Irish delights – including an all day Irish breakfast, corned beef & cabbage, the boxty (the Irish version of a potato pancake), and Irish bread pudding. Happy Hour: Sunday and Monday from 2 p.m. to closing. WOTL Authenticity Meter: 3/3
Attention hockey fans and slightly more sophisticated folks…you have found a home at the Irish and Canadian-owned Stout Public House (1125 6th Avenue, San Diego) in downtown San Diego. Established in 2007, this stylish bar has a variety of urbane American bar and Irish pub cuisine. Happy Hour: Daily from 4 and 8 p.m. WOTL Authenticity Meter: 2/3
It doesn’t get more genuine than the The Ould Sod (3373 Adams Avenue, San Diego) in Normal Heights. Housed in the third oldest licensed bar in San Diego (since 1940), it morphed into the consummate neighborhood Irish pub that it is today in 1989, with the help of the trio of Irish owners. You’ll be surrounded by Irish brogues and your thirst will be quenched by a cheery barkeep at this understated public house. Stop by on a Tuesday night and you’ll be treated to traditional Irish music. On Thursdays and Saturdays, it’s Karaoke you’ll be hearing. Saturday’s present a mix of folk, country, rock and oldies and on Sundays…well, it’s football, of course. Happy Hour: Monday through Friday (all day Sunday) from 4 to 7 p.m. with well drinks for $2.75 and 20 oz imports for $4.00. WOTL Authenticity Meter: 3+/3
You’ll be transported back in time to Irish days of yore when you step inside The Field (544 5th Avenue, San Diego). It’s hard to believe it opened for business in 1998. With a picture of Jesus behind you and a friendly Irish bartender in front of you, you’re in good hands as you swig down some potcheen. If you’re hungry, you’ll find all of the traditional Irish specialities on the menu and several American ones as well. If your wild night in the Gaslamp kept you in bed past noon, you won’t be missing out on an Irish breakfast as it’s served here all day. Live Irish music and dancing, televised sports, and a variety of special events makes this one of the most lively pubs in town. Happy Hour: Monday through Friday until 7 p.m. (FREE food buffet on Fridays) and Saturday and Sunday until 5 p.m. WOTL Authenticity Meter: 3/3
St. Paddy’s day is approaching fast, so gather up your most spirited friends for some Irish antics at one of these local celebrations:
- …Gallagher’s Annual Paddy’s Fest
- …Six live bands and drink specials at The Harp
- …Live Irish music and drink specials all day at Stout Public House
- …A “professional” St. Paddy’s Day celebration at The Ould Sod
- …Irish Breakfast and live music (including The Fooks) at Dublin Square
- …And, the Grand Pappy of all St. Paddy’s celebrations…the Shamrock 2011 block party…takes place in the Gaslamp Quarter (and The Field).
What makes me most merry about our fine San Diego-style Irish pubs? While my taste buds get adequately wet, my bum stays thoroughly dry.
The ‘Woman on the Loose’ is in search of merriment, culinary adventures, edgy fashions, and random ass activities. Follow her as she scours central San Diego and shares her discoveries on So Diego Tour’s blog.