There’s a storied history of Irish bars and restaurants in San Francisco, where many immigrants settled during the Gold Rush. Saint Patrick’s Day is usually a big food and drink holiday, done up with a parade, pub crawls, and parties. The festivities really got rained out last year, given that coronavirus completely shut down the city the day of the holiday, and this year, it’s still going to feel different. The favorite downtown bars are largely closed, including the Irish Bank and Johnny Foley’s, but in the city’s neighborhoods, it’s possible to get a comforting plate of corned beef and cabbage, a crusty loaf of soda bread, and a cold pint. Here’s how to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in SF, one year into the pandemic.
Whiskey and gin cocktails from Casements
Casements, the modern bar in the Mission, is (responsibly) partying all month. They are rolling out a special cocktail menu for the holiday, and they’ve also got a collab box with Andytown Coffee, which includes an Irish coffee kit and a soda farl kit to mix up at home (preorder here). Plus, there are some fun events, including drag queen storytelling with Yves Saint Croissant, who will be scaring the pants off everyone with old Irish fairytales.
A pint and a pancake at Flanahan’s
Flanahan’s is an Outer Sunset neighborhood dive, going strong since 1978. These days, they’ve built out a nice outdoor parklet, and it’s just across the street from Toyose, the Korean garage legend. So you can actually get a fresh draft of Guinness or whatever your ale of choice, and pair it with Korean seafood pancakes or chicken wings. Honestly, it’s a very San Francisco experience.
Fish and chips at Ireland’s 32
Ireland’s 32 is a Richmond neighborhood pub and hangout for actual Irish people. The Avenues are wide enough for a good outdoor setup, and they’re still serving solid pub fare. Fans stand by the beer-battered cod fish and chips, cottage pie with ground beef, and affordable pitchers of beer.
Corned beef and cabbage from Napper Tandy’s
This respectable Irish bar and restaurant is in the Mission, and the family that owns it is from Dublin. They’re still doing the full menu for outdoor dining or takeout and delivery. Scroll past the burgers and wings, and dig into the classics, with corned beef and cabbage, Guinness beef stew, beer-battered fish and chips, and a full Irish breakfast.
Chicken pot pie from Black Jet
The resident neighborhood bakery in Bernal Heights always has sweet seasonal treats. Owner Gillian Shaw hails from Massachusetts, but for the Irish-American holiday, she’s serving up savory pies, soda bread, and soda scones. You might luck out with green mini cupcakes, too. Get those preorders while they’re hot.
Soda bread from John Campbell at Sweet Passion Bakery
John Campbell is a soda bread legend in the Bay Area, who once had his own bakery, but now bakes at Sweet Passion Bakery, a Chinese bakery that sells Irish goods. The soda bread comes in two varieties, a slightly sweet version with white flour and raisins, or an everyday brown with whole-wheat flour, based on an old family recipe from Belfast. The bakery says that fans drive from all over the Bay Area and buy extra loaves to freeze at home. So it might be worth calling ahead to place a preorder. Don’t forget the sausage rolls.
Soda farls and currant scones from Andytown Coffee Roasters
The Outer Sunset coffee authority also has strong Irish connections, as co-owner Michael McCrory grew up outside of Belfast. You can taste it in the pastries, which always include grandma-style crumbly scones. For the holiday, they are accepting preorders on a few special items: soda farls, those flat griddled breads, mini currant scones, and their own housemade butter.