This is the first St. Patrick’s Day in eight decades that revelers can’t get their Erin go Bragh on at O’Gara’s, the landmark St. Paul watering hole that closed for a major overhaul last fall. They promise to be back next year, but in the meantime, St. Paddy’s Day just keeps on coming. Fear not, green-wearers. With a couple of new entrants into the Irish pub landscape, and the classics holding strong, the Twin Cities has your weekend festivities covered.
Last month brought the addition of two new Irish pubs. First came the Local West End, a St. Louis Park offshoot of the downtown Minneapolis mainstay (1607 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-698-2000, the-local.com/west-end). Like the original Local (931 Nicollet Mall, 904-1000, the-local.com), the menu is overseen by chef Vincent Francoual, and includes Irish classics — think corned beef and cabbage and steak-and-potato pie — as well as Francoual’s renowned Vincent burger, a gourmet spin on the Juicy Lucy. Both locations, along with sister restaurant the Liffey (175 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-556-1420, theliffey.com), will have extended hours Saturday and Sunday. Meaning beer for breakfast.
Also new to town, sort of, is McKinney Roe (530 S. 4th St., Mpls., 612-545-5863, mckinneyroe.com). Sure, the restaurant opened two years ago, but last month, it downscaled from high-end dining into a more casual Irish pub. Owner Dermot Cowley also owns Jake O’Connor’s Public House in Excelsior (200 Water St., Excelsior, 952-908-9650, jakeoconnors.com) and both venues will be all about the shamrocks and leprechauns this weekend.
Another newcomer to downtown Minneapolis is Finnegans Brewing Co. (817 5th Av. S., Mpls., finnegans.org). The 19-year-old nonprofit beer organization moved into its own four-story complex a year ago, and will celebrate its anniversary in Irish style. From Friday through Sunday, they will be releasing a new beer every day, plus live music, Irish food, an anniversary toast and all profits going to charities that fight hunger.
If it’s a classic pub you want, St. Paul has got them. Too many to list, in fact. But here’s a start.
Half-Time Rec (1013 Front Av., St. Paul, 651-488-8245, halftimerec.com): Forget cabbage and get the burger and green chile cheese fries, plus music from the Irish Brigade.
The Dubliner (2162 W. University Av., St. Paul, 651-646-5551, thedublinerpub.com): Irish folk/rock/punk/bluegrass/accordion in a heated tent.
Shamrock’s Irish Nook (995 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-228-9925, crnook.com): two days of music inside and out, and the beloved — some even say best — Juicy Lucy on the menu from sister pub the Nook.
Patrick McGovern’s Pub (225 W. 7th St., 651-224-5821, patmcgoverns.com) offers a two-day tent party and the celebrated (and not particularly Irish) roast turkey dinner.
And in Minneapolis, Merlins Rest Pub has a community of fans in its Longfellow neighborhood (3601 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-216-2419, merlinsrest.com). Start celebrating early Saturday and Sunday with breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. and bagpipers all day. Corned beef and cabbage dinner starts at noon both days. And should you have more energy left by Monday, join the Irish Pub Sing at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, longtime downtown Minneapolis party spot Kieran’s Irish Pub (85 N. 6th St., Mpls., 612-339-4499, kierans.com) — also a sister to the Local — is celebrating 25 years with live music from 4 Pints Shy, St. Georges Folly, and Sweet Colleens; a huge heated tent with music from DJ Ben Quam; and a couple of pipe bands (it wouldn’t be St. Paddy’s Day without ’em).
And over in Wayzata, the Irish pub with a passionate following, McCormick’s (331 Broadway Av. S., Wayzata, 952-767-2417, mccormicks.pub) has a two-day festival in a beer garden and heated tent. Start on Saturday with live music, Irish dancers and bagpipers, and then on Sunday there’s — get this — Catholic mass, followed by oysters.