The Dubliner Irish Pub
435 Plaza Real, Boca Raton
Call 561-620-2540, or visit here
Irish pubs are a fundamental part of our South Florida drinking landscape. Hundreds of Guinness-soaked temples dot South Florida, from McSorley's on Fort Lauderdale beach to Slainte in Boynton. I've toured fetish clubs, gotten drunk at a swinger's den, and infiltrated some of the flashiest new hangouts in town - but nothing warms my heart land generates a buzz quite like a St. Patrick-tastic, shamrock-dotted Irish pub.
The Dubliner: Snugly situated in Mizner Park, the Dubliner is a blend of novelty pub kitsch, decent brews, and beautiful party people of all ages. I weaved through the crowds of Mizner Plaza's outdoor courtyard, under green awnings, past a throng of bottle blondes. Two thrones, velvet-red and complete with ottomans, sat just beyond the entrance to the Dubliner; barrels of Jameson decorated the corners of the patio. Nearby, a floppy-eared brown puppy got its ears scratched by a lady wearing about a hundred flashy rings; college boys drank at an outdoor table; a middle-aged woman in leather hooker-style boots complained to her balding date about the long wait for a table. A few feet away, two made-up young Latinas in tight dresses nursed their bottle beers, their lined eyes scanning the crowd, designer purses in their laps.
I decided to pop inside for a beer (or two or three or...).
The Dubliner is the kind of place that's bursting with college kids but also boasts graying drinkers old enough to be their parents. At its long, haphazardly placed tables, big groups sat on leather stools and sipped martinis. "Roxanne" blared from the speakers while a live act began to set up the stage. I stared at the green walls, replete with beer-related schwag and pictures of the idyllic Irish countryside.
That was when I saw her. She was blonde; sporting pastel makeup, and an innocent - but confident - expression. Her black mini-dress was reminiscent of a prom frock that had been chopped off at mid-thigh. She was young, but no baby (she has a 15-year-old daughter); beautiful, but not entirely unapproachable (hey, I did it); a party girl, but still responsible enough to know when to hail a cab. Her name was Diane, and she was a true princess of Boca Raton.
"What do you think of this place?" I awkwardly asked Diane and her friends, after explaining what I do.
"You need to do a cover story about him," she said, pointing at her dark-haired friend. "He's a pediatrician!" The pediatrician already had turned and was no longer listening. He was busy regaling a scruffy dude with a strong resemblance to True Blood's Sam Merlot with some story.
"And our boy won, at least," he said. "Allen West." At that, I almost threw my Bud Light on him.
"You're a pediatrician?" I interrupted in disbelief. As in, people pay you to touch their children?
"He does a lot of work for free," Diane said enthusiastically.
"I'm the weird kind of person who likes doing something for nothing," he said, leaning in obnoxiously.
"Good for you," I said.
"This place has the best shepherd's pie between here and Massachusetts," offered Burgess, one of Diane's three male companions. He was blue-eyed and polite.
"Are there a lot of places with shepherd's pie between here and Massachusetts?" I asked.
"I wouldn't know," he said. "Since I always come here!"
And at that, Diane took me under her wing, ushering me through the bar, introducing me to employees in her hot pursuit of the manager, Sean.
"This is Rick," Diane gestured to a burly bouncer. "He keeps me safe. I can come in this place, crying over break-ups, or just here to have a good time, and they'll take care of me. Right?"
"Absolutely," said Rick.
Next was Tara, a petite blonde waitress. "Sean's walking his dog," Tara said.
That made sense to Diane. "Sean is a huge animal lover," she pointed at the silver bowls spread out along the patio floor. "He'd die before he let anything happen to his dog."
When the petite waitress, Tara, came over, Diane ordered all her three companions' drinks for them. Sam Merlot's beer was half empty. Tara brought a new one, and, at Diane's command, Burgess pulled the old bottle from his grip and replaced it with a new one. Sam didn't even look up.
Diane took my hand. "I'm getting ready to launch my new line of purses," she said. "Maybe you could write about me sometime."
"You make purses?" I eyed her handbag. It was tiny, and adorable. "How?"
"Anyone could!" Diane said good-naturedly. "Personally, I could never write."
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Then she turned to her male friends and clapped her hands. "Sit down, everyone," she said authoritatively. "Let's all talk!" Sam and Burgess obediently took their seats.
The pediatrician, meanwhile, had his hands planted on the table, his back arched, and was moaning and groaning suggestively.
"...And that's what I would do if a TSA agent gave me a pat-down," he said. "As soon as she put her hands on me."
At that, I decided it was time to part from lovely Diane and her cohorts and collect myself. The Latina girls I had noticed earlier were in the middle of paying for their drinks, abandoning half-full second beers, and calling it a night. "Sweet Child O' Mine" droned heavily in the background. I prepared to stumble to my next destination.