St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular bar holidays in the US, even if we celebrate it a bit differently than how they do in Ireland. The biggest question most revelers have to ask themselves is where to go. Between pub crawls, drink discounts, and the virtual guarantee that anywhere you go will be a party, there are plenty of upsides to going out on St. Patrick’s Day. The problem is that nothing kills your celebratory buzz like waiting in line.
In Boston, which is known worldwide for its March 17 bar scene, you could be waiting in line for quite some time. Boston’s famous Irish culture and heritage make it one of the most exciting places in the US to celebrate, but that also makes it among the most hectic. If you don’t plan ahead, you could find yourself spending the holiday waiting outside a bar in the unpredictable March weather instead of sipping on whiskey and Guinness at the bar. While escaping the line entirely on St. Patrick’s Day might be nearly impossible — unless you go to the bar at 9:00 AM, which, more power to you — these are some of the best bars in Boston for the minimum amount of wait time.
1. The Point
Located in Boston’s Faneuil Hall area, right next to the popular (and always slammed) Bell In Hand Tavern, The Point is a solid option for any night that you’re hoping to skip the hassle of a long line. Although smaller and less-trafficked than Bell In Hand, The Point mirrors its neighbor’s fun, spacious layout with a downstairs bar and live-music stage, as well as an upstairs dance floor with a DJ. Drinks are reasonably priced, the cover charge is only $5, and lines are rarely longer than a few minutes. The Point is a stop on the Lucked Up! St. Paddy’s Crawl. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the bar crawl’s official site.
2. Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar
Lolita might sound like a more appropriate destination for a certain May holiday, but that’s exactly what makes it such a great option for skipping the overwhelming crowds on St. Patrick’s Day. With two locations, in Back Bay and Fort Point, Lolita has an extensive single-floor plan, dark interior with an edgy vibe, and, most importantly, free green-apple flavored cotton candy for every table. Lolita isn’t on any pub crawl itineraries (unless you’re making your own), and there’s no planned St. Patrick’s Day event, which makes it the ideal place to visit if you’re trying to avoid the green beer drinking crowds. Lolita is always busy with young professionals, there’s no cover charge, and there are rarely any lines to enter.
3. Society on High
It feels like everyone in Boston is heading to the many Irish pubs on St. Patrick’s Day. For a more hassle-free night out, go to Society on High in the Financial District. It offers a wide selection of cocktails, an intimate environment with good DJ music, no cover charge, and no line provided you arrive reasonably early. SoHi is also located right between the Seaport and Faneuil Hall, making it a convenient stop on a bar crawl or a great first-drink option.
Also in Davis Square, and right down the street from The Foundry, Saloon might be the closest you can get to a rustic Irish aesthetic on St. Patrick’s Day without waiting in line. With a pre-Prohibition vibe and an extensive selection of draught beer, Saloon is the perfect place to escape the holiday craziness and relax with a pint. Immediately upon entering you’ll descend a flight of stairs into a dim, cellar-like barroom. There’s plenty of space for both intimate groups and large gatherings, and a real speakeasy feel. It might not be a hot pub crawl stop, or have hundreds of 20-somethings dressed in glittering green hats, but that’s what makes it special.
5. The Foundry
One tactic many use to avoid the Boston lines is avoiding Boston completely and instead venturing to Somerville, just a 15-minute Uber north of the city. Somerville’s Davis Square has a variety of nightlife options, including The Burren, which is the resident Irish pub-style bar with a rustic interior and live bands every weekend. If you have time to wait in an hour-long line, go to The Burren. It’s a blast. For a more manageable Somerville experience, where you’ll almost never have to wait in line, go right next door to The Foundry. This bar has a unique, upscale interior; massive bar area; and spacious restaurant section where you can casually enjoy drinks at a table. Although it’s not shoulder-to-shoulder like The Burren, it does attract a large crowd and has a lively energy.
6. Brass Union
Also located in Somerville, Brass Union is a quirky option in the somewhat quieter Union Square. You might not expect to go out on St. Patrick’s Day and find yourself embroiled in a heated game of shuffleboard, but that’s exactly how your night at Brass Union could turn out. It also has Jenga, Connect-Four, and other classic board games to help you pass the night. That’s not to say Brass Union needs a gimmick to be fun. The bar regularly hosts live music and DJs, and between the bar/game room and the dedicated restaurant area, there’s plenty of space to socialize.
7. The Broadway
Most bars in South Boston close at 1:00 AM rather than 2:00 AM, so everyone generally arrives earlier to squeeze every ounce out of the night that they possibly can. One of Southie’s newest bars, however, is worth the wait, especially if you can beat the rush. Not quite as packed as other popular Southie bars, The Broadway is still one of the most lively options for a night out in Boston. The place is huge, always busy, and there’s no charge to get in. To be sure you won’t wait in line, get there early for appetizers with friends (try the avocado and smoked bacon egg rolls). The Broadway also serves late-night wood-fired pizza, which is reason enough to check this place out.