Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Come mid-March, every Irish pub in the city, as well as dozens of other drinking establishments that convert for one day, will be dressed from bar to ceiling in shamrocks, Guiness signs and plaids of every imaginable stripe and color. Bar crawlers should expect to hear U2, Sinead O’Connor and Cranberries songs played in near-nonstop succession. We’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right? That being the case, on Saturday, March 17, it’s probably best not to fight the emerald tide and, instead, don some green, hoist a pint or two and join in the revelry. "Danny Boy," anyone?

If one can judge a neighborhood watering hole by its collection of draught beer handles, Lynch’s Irish Pub will score well. Among its 50 or so taps, all the expected brands are represented, as well as a few more unusual labels like Magners and Smithwicks. Can’t decide on one? They will pour you a "flight" sampling, or you can elect to create a blend such as a dark snakebite, a Guinness and cider combo. Go all the way Irish with a glass of Jameson or Bushmills whisky. Lynch’s is known for its burgers and sandwiches; however, don’t pass over the black and tan onion rings or the pub chips slathered in cheese, bacon and green onions. A cold winter day calls for bangers and mash—a plate of pork sausages, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas.

In Jax, pubs don’t come more authentic Irish than Culhane’s, a bar and restaurant run by a quartet of sisters from County Limerick, Ireland. The establishment does a brisk business at the bar, but its eats are a primary draw, so much so that Food Network star Guy Fieri stopped by for a visit last year. The sisters serve somewhat upscale pub grub. Chicken wings, potato skins, crab cakes, egg rolls, artichoke dip—the starters list is standard, but good. Meals like corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips and shepherd’s pie—a hearty portion of beef, carrots, onions and peas topped with garlic mashed potatoes—provide Celtic flavor. The Guinness stew is a house specialty.

The proprietors aren’t really going for authenticity at Tilted Kilt, a national franchise operation with seven locations in Florida. Sure, there are splashes of Ireland but the overall vibe leans more toward sports bar. It also has a Hooters-esque quality with servers wearing short, red plaid skirts and barely-there tops. Cleavage is certainly not frowned upon. The menu is broad and diverges from the Irish theme, too, with items such as quesadillas, nachos, mozzarella sticks and wrap sandwiches. A handful of dishes are laced with more traditional flavors, including Irish stew prepared with a Guiness beef stock and a sautéed chicken breast smothered in a whisky cream sauce. Erin go Bragh, y’all.

Emerald Isles
Northeast Florida is home to a handful of pubs where Irish is the theme. The establishments provide varying degrees of authentic pub-like atmosphere. Some, but not all, are open for lunch as well as dinner. Expect standing-room-only crowds on
St. Paddy’s Day. Here are 10 Celtic-inspired public rooms scattered between St. Augustine and Amelia Island.

Ann O’Malley’s
23 Orange St., St. Augustine (825-4040)

Culhane’s Irish Pub
967 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach (249-9595)

Donovan’s Irish Pub
7440 US 1 N., St. Augustine (829-0000)

Fionn MacCools
333 1st St. N., Jacksonville Beach (242-9499); The Landing (374-1547)

Fly’s Tie Irish Pub
177 Sailfish Dr. E., Atlantic Beach (246-4293)

Lynch’s Irish Pub
514 1st St. N., Jacksonville Beach (249-5181)

Meehan’s Irish Pub
20 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine (810-1923)

O’Brothers Irish Pub
1521 Margaret St., Riverside (854-9300)

O’Kane’s Irish Pub
318 Centre St., Fernandina Beach (261-1000)

Tilted Kilt
9720 Deer Lake Ct., Southside (379-8836)