Portland Irish Pubs for St. Patrick's Day, or Any Day
Looking to belly up to a counter for a proper pint of Guinness, Smithwick's, or Harp? Portland is not the most Irish city in the US by any measure, so don't expect to walk in on a scene out of The Banshees of Inisherin. We're not the most religious city, either, which helps explain why the Pharmacy pub in Northwest is opting to honor St. Patrick Swayze on March 17 instead. (The late actor's ancestry is actually English, in case any of Portland's British pubs want to join in.)
But we do have few spots where we can admire a settling Guinness pour and dig into some fish and chips. While these and other Irish haunts (and any bar with an O' or a Mc- in its name) are likely to be swarmed the week of St. Paddy's Day, they're also great places to clink glasses with a friend or enjoy a stealth solo lunch year-round.
T. C. O'Leary's
Tom O'Leary and his wife Siobhan’s fine establishment at 2926 NE Alberta St is everything I didn’t realize I needed in an Irish pub—and as someone who tends to run fast in the opposite direction to most Irish drinking establishments outside of my home country, this is saying something. The reasons are manifold: It has a snug, a secret drinking spot (usually a walled-off portion of the bar that’s set aside for priests and other private tipplers) that's as commonly found in Irish pubs as, say, a door or an old man muttering into his cap. It serves its fish and chips wrapped in paper. And it has an ancestor wall, dedicated to the ancestors of not only the proprietors, but of many of their regulars. It’s a touching tribute to the Irish diaspora and to those who put their time in as part of this establishment’s extended family of customers. The pub will no doubt be packed to the hilt around St. Paddy’s Day (on the 17th itself, it opens at 7 a.m. for Irish coffees), but that’s what happens back in the old sod too. If you’re lucky, Tom’ll pull you a pint the way they’re meant to be pulled, and you’ll raise a glass to a warm space on a wet day, which is about as Irish as they come. —Fiona McCann
Old Town-Chinatown & Northwest
This Pacific Northwest chainlet boasts a picturesque, low-ceilinged, cozy location in Seattle down an alley near Pike Place Market (established 1983), a soaring drinking hall in Old Town (opened 1990) with a long bar, a fireplace, framed soccer jerseys, and a cigar room, and a brewpub in on NW 21st Avenue slinging kale-and-rice bowls and sweet potato fries alongside corned beef and cabbage. Each of the three locations is an easy place to kill an afternoon or evening, and they'll all be swarmed around St. Paddy's. The Old Town location's usual holiday tent has moved to Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park this year, though there's live music happening inside the pub, too. —Margaret Seiler
Another grand, high-ceilinged room with a long bar and framed soccer garb on its walls, Paddy's (65 SW Yahmill St) boasts more sunlight than Kells and a startlingly larger TV, plus a mirrored whiskey wall that requires a ladder behind the bar and plaid-upholstered booths. The menu is mostly pub standards, a few with "Irish" added before the name (Irish poutine, Irish burger), but there's also a fried fish sandwich, Scotch egg, bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, and Irish lamb stew. Around St. Patrick's Day, it tends to go big—for 2023 the bar aims to reclaim its title for pouring the world's largest Irish coffee, and there will be a tented street fest and a raffle for a trip for two to Ireland. —MS
First established in 1947 (the same year as the Alibi and the Lutz—thank you, Greatest Generation!), the Leaky Roof (1538 SW Jefferson St) brands itself nowadays as a gastropub. The shepherd's pie and Guinness beef stew are the only menu items that really aim for Irishness, but there's Guinness on draft, and a cozy, friendly neighborhood feel. —MS
Is it named for the capital of the Republic of Ireland? Yes. Does that make it Irish? Not really, nor does its sorta-Celtic logo font or the menu's "Irish nachos." But this neighborhood bar (6821 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy) with sports on TV, jam bands on the live music calendar, and regular trivia and other game nights will still be extra-packed on March 17.
OK, so this isn't an Irish bar. Or a bar at all, though it has plenty of bars inside. But in a touch of on-the-nose NBA scheduling, on St. Patrick's Day 2023 the Blazers are hosting the Boston Celtics. Will Blaze's new mascot partner, Douglas Fur, switch out his red-and-black attire for something with shamrocks? Will someone have too many pricy stadium beers and attempt to insert Damian Lillard's name into an earnest rendition of "Danny Boy?"