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SF Station's Official St. Patrick's Day Roundup

Get Your Green On

Green beer is only served once a year (thankfully), and this St. Paddy's Day, many of San Francisco's 120-odd Irish pubs will dispense the verdant brew. But for those wishing to stimulate their inner -- or outer -- Irishness year round, the following establishments offer the real McCoy.

As the second-oldest Irish pub in San Francisco, the Abbey Tavern is already one of the city's most venerable pub destinations. But if history alone is not enough to draw serious drinkers to this Geary Blvd. establishment, perhaps the beer-resting shelf, strategically located above the urinals, provides some indication of how far the Abbey goes to accommodate those who just can't part with their pint. This Irish-owned and staffed watering hole offers all the requisite features: over ten drafts, darts, a pool table, a clutch of Irish faithful, and of course, craic -- the Irish term for good fun and company. It is also within staggering distance to other pubs like Ireland's 32 and the Plough & Stars.

The Sunset is still home to many Irish immigrants, which makes the Irish-owned Blackthorn Tavern a natural gathering spot. Walking sticks hewn of Blackthorn wood adorn the mustard-colored walls, and welcoming barkeeps work the 16 taps. The pub occasionally hosts traditional music, and at times gets mobbed by sweaty Irish footballers. A pool table and dart board can be found towards the rear of the tavern, while further on back, smokers can congregate on the covered patio.

Kezar Pub, on Stanyan near Golden Gate Park, may look more like a sports bar than a typical Irish pub. But in an era when cheesy pre-fab Irish pub kits can be purchased online, one is reminded that décor can be deceiving. With over 20 drafts and generous portions of pub grub, Kezar is a magnet for noisy and exuberant sports fans, Irish and otherwise. Depending on who's playing, one might find a rowdy bunch of blokes watching Celtic football in front of the fireplace, or '49ers fans whooping it up at the bar.

For those in search of a bit of craic, enhanced only by a perfectly poured Guinness, music, and flickering candlelight, An Bodhran in the Lower Haight offers a sanctuary free of billiards and television. Dark, low ceilings, wood wainscoting, and forest green walls create a cozy atmosphere, reinforced by the friendly neighborhood crowd. Sadly, An Bodhran will be closing on March 19. (The good-bye party is not to be missed!) It will re-open under the ownership of Danny Coyle, who also operates Martin Mack's, a sporty Irish bar in the Upper Haight.

Located in Bernal Heights, it's difficult to identify the 3300 Club's single most noteworthy feature. Is it the provocative mural in the men's room, which according to regulars, was named one of the "5 Top Bathrooms in the US?" Perhaps it's their famous St. Paddy's Day corned beef tacos, a lighthearted nod at the pub's diverse environs. Everyone from Latino men in cowboy hats to Irish couples in walkers imbibe as equals under the tutelage of experienced staff: the gregarious Owen keeps everyone laughing while dispensing drinks with aplomb, and Fritz, an octogenarian scuba-diver (who painted the tavern's infamous bathroom mural), welcomes the morning regulars. Serious monthly poetry readings bring in a literary crowd. While this affable old-school pub doesn't offer a large selection on draft, it pours proper pints and liberal shots.

The U-shaped bar at the Napper Tandy creates an intimate feel at this non-pretentious corner pub in the Mission. The caramel-hued walls, warm lighting and banks of windows provide a cheerful atmosphere that also makes this pub a Sunday brunch destination. The kitchen turns out hearty fare, including home-baked soda bread. Patrons can choose from 15 beers on draft, and then retire to the back room to play pool or take refuge in the snug wooden booths.

Kate O'Brien's in SOMA draws an after-work set, as well as a crowd of Irish regulars. Although it has been around for years, it re-opened in January under a new owner who hails from Dublin. The interior has just been renovated, but its exposed brick, rich woods, and copper bar glow with an aged patina. A full kitchen, offering Irish comfort foods like colcannon, complements the 15 selections on tap.

Although any Irish pub will be a guaranteed party this St. Paddy's Day (March 17), some, including the Blackthorn Tavern, Buena Vista, The Chieftain, Durty Nelly's, Johnny Foley's, Napper Tandy, Sam Maguire, Tiernan's, and 3300 Club (March 18), will offer special celebrations often featuring traditional grub, live music and Irish dancers.

For raucous outdoor block parties, head to Kate O'Brien's, Harrington's, The Field, and The Irish Bank. Those watching the Paddy's Day Parade (March 12) also can check out the post-parade festivities at the Abbey Tavern, The Dog's Bollix, The Chieftain, Harrington's, and Temple Bar.


3300 Club
3300 Mission St. (Mission & 29th)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.826.6886
Bernal Heights

Abbey Tavern
4100 Geary Blvd. (Geary & 5th)
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.221.7767
Richmond

An Bodhran
668 Haight St. (Haight & Pierce)
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.431.4724
Lower Haight

Blackthorn Tavern
834 Irving St. (Irving & 9th)
San Francisco, CA 94122
415.564.6627
Inner Sunset

Buena Vista
2765 Hyde St. (Hyde & Beach)
San Francisco, CA 94109
415.474.5044
Fisherman's Wharf

The Chieftain
198 Fifth St. (Fifth & Howard)
San Francisco, CA 94103
415.615.0916
SOMA

The Dog's Bollix
408 Clement St. (Clement & 5th)
San Francisco, CA 94118-2318
Richmond
415.752.1452

Johnny Foley's
243 O'Farrell (O'Farrell & Cyril Magnin)
San Francisco, CA 94102
415.954.0777
Tenderloin

Durty Nelly's
2328 Irving St. (Irving & 24th)
San Francisco, CA 94122
415.664.2555
Sunset

The Field
524 Union St. (Union & Grant)
San Francisco, CA 94133
415-433-7676
North Beach

Harrington's Bar & Grill
245 Front St. (Front & California)
San Francisco, CA 94111
415.392.7595
Financial District

Ireland's 32
3920 Geary Blvd. (Geary & 4th)
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.386.6173
Richmond

Kate O'Brien's
579 Howard St. (Howard & 2nd)
San Francisco, CA 94105
425.882.7240
SOMA

Kezar Pub
770 Stanyan St. (Stanyan & Waller)
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.386.9292
Cole Valley

The Irish Bank
10 Mark Lane (Grant & Kearny)
San Francisco, CA 94108
415.788.7152
Financial District

Napper Tandy
3200 24th St. (24th & South Van Ness)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.550.7510
Mission

Plough & Stars
116 Clement St. (Clement & 2nd)
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.751.1122

Sam Maguire
2457 Noriega St. (Noriega & 31st)
San Francisco, CA 94122
415.759.1408
Outer Sunset

Temple Bar
600 Polk St. (Polk & Turk)
San Francisco, CA 94102
415.931.5196
Polk Gulch/ Van Ness

Tiernan's
685 Beach St. (Beach & Columbus)
San Francisco, CA 94109
415.673.9700
North Beach