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Restaurant Reviews

Top Ten Irish Bars

Click for a slideshow of the Field Irish Bar & Eatery.

It can be hard to relate to Ireland's rolling green hills and blustery cliffside villages, but if there's one thing South Florida understands, it's how to raise a glass and toast to a damned good time. Perhaps that's why this hot, flat state is home to so many Emerald Isle-inspired digs.

Here's our take on the ten best Irish pubs and restaurants in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Use it to help you decide where you'll be tipping back your St. Patrick's Day Guinness (or six).

10. J.G. McGuinness Irish Pub & Restaurant, 1744 Main St., Weston; 954-349-2100; St. Patrick's Day weekend activities start at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. Sunday, with live music and bar specials.

An Irish bar where you're more likely to find a pack of well-heeled women than you would a band of sad poets who are three sheets to the wind? Such a thing exists — in Weston, of course — where J.G. McGuinness has served the local population of hot moms and whiskey-sipping men since early 2011. The bar's interior was designed by Bar None, a specialty firm that helps non-Irish establishments replicate that trademark Dublin façade, so expect tons of dark, polished wood and textured fabrics. The beer's the thing, though, and J.G. McGuinness has enlisted the experts on that front as well. The draft system was designed by a former Dublin-based Guinness brewer who also supervised the installation. It's not St. James Gate, but it could be the closest you'll find in western Broward.

9. Dicey Riley's Bar and Restaurant, 217 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-522-1908.

Loud, raucous, loud, packed on the weekends — and did we mention loud? — Dicey Riley's is a Himmarshee mainstay. Booze is the first, second, and third order of business, but a hungry St. Patrick's Day reveler could scare up a spot of the typical Irish pub fare if necessary (something's gotta temper those shots of whiskey). On St. Patrick's Day, expect a rowdy crowd to pack in early and party on into the wee hours of the mornin'. Weekend nights mean live bands performing the familiar rock anthems of yore, and there are typically more than a few hotties working the bar.

8. Paddy Mac's, 10971 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-691-4366; St. Patrick's Day festivities are planned for Sunday, with live music starting at noon and a special menu offered all day.

Paddy Mac's is one of the few Irish spots in South Florida that goes out of its way to emphasize its edible fare over the quaffable fare. This isn't to say you can't score a well-poured pint — nay; in fact, the bartenders do a fine job of supplying Irish beers to the masses — but rather that the kitchen staff at Paddy Mac's (which includes a few Emerald Isle natives) prides itself on traditional dishes like Irish cottage pie and salmon boxty. There's a warm, neighborhood vibe to the restaurant/bar and a variety of outdoor and indoor seating options available to cozy up into as you chow down on Scotch eggs and fish 'n' chips.

7. The Dubliner, 435 Plaza Real in Mizner Park, Boca Raton; 561-620-2540; Nonstop St. Patrick's Day celebration on Sunday with live music, traditional Irish food, skydiving leprechauns landing in Mizner Park (!!!), bagpipes, and kids' activities.

Born of the Sub Culture Group, which is responsible for popular spots like Dada and Tryst, the Dubliner is a focal point for action in Mizner Park. No matter the holiday or cause for celebration, the joint is typically filled with a mingling mix of FAU students, rich Boca retirees, tourists, and just-off-work locals. The Irish-inspired cuisine is made from scratch, and many of the classic Irish favorites are available on tap or by the bottle. An L-shaped outdoor area — shared in part with the adjacent Kapow! Noodle Bar — is a nice alternative when there's no space at one of the high-top, dark polished wood tables inside. A second location will open in downtown Fort Lauderdale this spring.

6. Mickey Byrne's Irish Pub Restaurant, 1921 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 561-691-4366; All-day St. Patrick's Day celebration on Sunday with live music, Irish dancers, bagpipers, and food and drink specials.

Mickey Byrne's in downtown Hollywood pours a hell of a lot of pints of Guinness, but the pub isn't above showing a little local love to the fine brews made on this side of the pond. In fact, their rotating list of 18 taps includes American craft beer — even some made in Florida — right alongside Irish favorites like Harp Lager and England's Newcastle Brown Ale. Sip that pint while taking in a game of footy on one of the big-screen HD TVs and don't worry about tripping over shamrock paraphernalia as you navigate your way to your seat: This bar, which opened in November 2008, has a toned-down approach to re-creating an Irish vibe.

5. Maguire's Hill 16, 535 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-764-4453; All-day St. Patrick's festival on Sunday with live music and drink and food specials.

You're not, like, obligated to get a Guinness at this Fort Lauderdale pub, which is run by people actually from Ireland and throws one of the biggest St. Pat's parties in Broward, but it couldn't really hurt. A favorite haunt of New Times staffers, Maguire's has a utilitarian quality to it, in that it's a spot for all occasions: a jumping-off point for a night of hard drinking, postwork happy-hour boozing, dinner with Mom and Dad, a solo pint to sit and contemplate life's great injustices — whatever your bag.

4. Slainte Irish Pub, 1500 Gateway Blvd., Boynton Beach; 561-742-4190; Sunday's St. Patrick's Day party starts with Irish breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m., followed by live music and entertainment from 3 p.m. to close and food and drink specials all day.

This community-minded, Zagat-rated pub in Boynton Beach recently underwent a major overhaul with an upgrade to the interior and an expansion of the outdoor and lounge seating areas. Newly appointed executive chef Christopher Palmer's menu offers a loose, hipped-up interpretation of Irish pub classics like basil-pesto-infused "green eggs and ham" and an Irish "happy meal" complete with potatoes and a pint of Guinness. At 5,000 square feet, the made-over restaurant offers plenty of nooks and crannies to accommodate St. Patrick's Day partiers and the potent beverages — like the fruity and alcohol-soaked "Celtic breeze" — necessary to keep 'em feeling festive.

3. O'Shea's Irish Pub, 531 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-3865; St. Patrick's Day weekend block party starting at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, with live music, a street party, Irish dancers, and food and drink specials.

O'Shea's on Clematis is a good, solid bet in a part of West Palm Beach where the tending-to-trendy choices may come and go with the tides. A neighborhood favorite since 1994, O'Shea's is Irish to the hilt, with a space that's decked out in festive décor no matter the time of year. Two other things to know about O'Shea's: It's puppy-friendly, and it gives you the power to grab your own beer. Tuesday nights, the spot hosts a "yappy hour" with a free drink for anyone who brings a (well-behaved) pooch to the patio. Meanwhile, a Draft Master allows guests to pour their own priced-by-the-ounce Guinness or Harp. It's a good spot for that snobby friend who never stops bitching about how "no one knows how to pour a Guinness in this town" — here's your chance, buddy!

2. Tim Finnegan's Irish Pub, 2885 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach; 561-330-3153; St. Patrick's Day weekend celebration starts at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with traditional Irish dancing, music, and food, plus food and drink specials all weekend.

Tucked away in an unassuming plaza south of Delray Beach's thriving downtown restaurant scene rests a little piece of the Emerald Isle. Tim Finnegan's is a good honest bar for the good honest drinking man/woman. It's the kind of place where a single lady can feel comfortable settling in for a pint, without fear of a pack of horny brahs spilling their Irish Car Bombs on her as they race to get absolutely shit-faced before the end of happy hour. Friendly staff, live Celtic music, and fair prices: It's like a little pot of gold at the end of Delray's rainbow.

1. The Field Irish Pub & Eatery, 3281 Griffin Road, Hollywood; 954-964-5979; Gates open at noon on Sunday for St. Patrick's Day festivities, and admission is $10.

There's something cozy about the Field that warms the cockles of the heart. The interior is outfitted with gleaming wood surfaces, a fireplace, and room after room filled with dog-eared books, weathered photos, and other old-timey knickknacks. Outside, a comfy patio is built around a towering Banyan tree, and leashed, well-behaved pups are invited to share your shepherd's pie or corned beef and cabbage. As a past winner of New Times' award for Best Poured Guinness in South Florida, the bar can be counted on to supply a solid Irish brew to accompany that traditional plate of bangers and mash coming from the kitchen.

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Tricia Woolfenden

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