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Tampa Bay's Irish pubs are St. Patrick's Day sanctuaries

Carey Jennette makes a half and half, a beer that is made of half Guinness and half Harp, at Durty Nelly’s in St. Petersburg.


Carey Jennette makes a half and half, a beer that is made of half Guinness and half Harp, at Durty Nelly’s in St. Petersburg.

Where will you be celebrating — i.e. getting loaded — on St. Patrick's Day? We scoured the bay area for Irish (and Irish-ish) bars that you might have missed. A couple spots are killer pubs with all the authentic trimmings. Others just proved a great place to down a 16-ounce domestic draft for a measly $2. Enjoy. Just not all in one day. Trust us.

Whitey's Fox & Hounds Irish Pub

229 E Brandon Blvd., (813) 685-8151 or

This recommendation came from nationally signed rocker and Brandon native Damon Fowler. So expectations were high upon entering but, damn, what a discovery! If you're into awesomely authentic-looking, smelling, tasting and feeling Irish pubs, Whitey's Fox & Hounds is a must visit. The setting is a 1930 cottage that feels lifted from owner Tom White's motherland of Mayo County Ireland. It's also the only place in Brandon that carries all six major Irish beers on tap — and serves 'em in true (20 ounce!) pint glasses. But the best part: The Fox and Hound offers a whopping 19 Irish whiskeys! Don't worry, there's cottage pie and other assorted Emerald Isle grub to go with all the libations.

Most pub-like thing: 19 Irish whiskeys!

Um, is that Irish? The Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia. (White is from Pennsylvania.)

Symbolic Irish icon: Irish flags fly above the entrance. Tom White and his big, red goatee.

Courigan's Irish Pub

1 Beach Drive SE, St. Petersburg, (727) 551-9019

This gem of an Irish pub is St. Pete's finest. Unfortunately, especially for owner Sam Martin, it's off the main downtown thoroughfares and often gets overlooked. Take our advice: Stop by! Courigan's has Guinness, Smithwick's and Murphy's on draft (among others), 11 Irish whiskeys from which to choose and an outstandingly Irish menu featuring scrumptious standards like bangers and mash ($10), corned beef and cabbage ($12) and shepherd's pie ($11).

Most pub-like thing: "We have regulars who just drink Guinness all night," said bartender Sian Talley, "and then when that gets to be too much they switch to half and halfs (Guinness and Harp)."

Um, is that Irish? The "Buccaneer Boulevard" street sign.

Symbolic Irish icon: A map of Ireland on the wall next to the Guinness poster.

Don's Irish Pub

3007 Sixth St. S, St Petersburg,(727) 550-2134

The only thing Irish about the little, lemon-colored hut is the pub's name and that it serves Guinness. Not on draft. From the bottle. Okay, so Don's Irish Pub isn't where you go to be transported to the Emerald Isle. But if you're into ice cold bottles of Budweiser for a mere $2.25, service from friendly bartender/co-owner Anne Hoselton, and the company of salt-of-the-earth regulars who include a number of retirees, Don's Irish Pub -- formerly the biker hangout Beer Box — is the place to spend a lazy afternoon or evening

Most pub-like thing: The old timer pointing to his wine glass and telling the bartender, "Let me get one for the road." The sign above the door that reads: "What happens at Don's stays at Don's."

Um, is that Irish? The framed "Easy Rider" poster prominently placed on one of the ancient, wood-panel walls. And just about everything else in the tiny, squat bar.

Symbolic Irish icon: Shamrock and leprechaun decorations dangle above the bar … most likely placed there only in anticipation of St. Paddy's Day.

The Dirty Shame

1929 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 247-7930,

The James Joyce is Ybor City's best known and most authentic Irish Pub — although you gotta wonder what the namesake scribe thinks of dwarf fighting. But for the entertainment district's best place to down Irish car bombs (Guinness, Jameson, Bailey's) stroll a bit farther east on Seventh and drop in the Dirty Shame. Beloved redheaded bartender Karen Durrett, or maybe affable, mustachioed owner Richard Boom, will gladly greet you with the finest car bombs ($8) this side of Belfast!

Most pub-like thing: Owner Richard Boom lining up 57 Irish car bombs to celebrate his birthday last year. Stop by on May 15 at the right time and you could help him throw back all 58.

Um, is that Irish? Four inflatable Captain Morgan Spiced Rum bottles adorn the wall opposite the bar. (To Boom's credit, he doesn't advertise the Dirty Shame as a strictly Irish bar — the dude just really likes Irish car bombs, and can drink 'em really fast. Don't race him. He'll win.)

Symbolic Irish icon: The framed picture of 56 Irish car bombs lined up on the bar.

McNally's Neighborhood Grill

923 72nd St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 302-9600

If you live in the sleepy Azalea neighborhood of St. Petersburg, McNally's likely is — or should be — your drinking destination. Despite owner Chris McNally's proud Irish heritage, his wine-and-beer-only bar doesn't exactly scream Dublin. But that's by design. He knows he can't go through Guinness fast enough to keep it on tap — and tasting fresh — so he gives his regulars what they want: 16-ounce domestic drafts for $2 during happy hour ($2.25 regular), pleasurable pub grub that includes breakfast items like the three-egg omelet ($5.95) all day and, perhaps most importantly, a firm handshake and a welcoming grin for each customer.

Most pub-like thing: Seeing the same sun-soaked regulars every time you visit.

Um, is that Irish? The Cleveland Browns pennant that hangs above the dining area alongside those of other college and pro sports teams.

Symbolic Irish icon: The flag that hangs above the front booths and the informative menu page dedicated to "The History of McNally."

Durty Nelly's Irish Tavern

661 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, (727) 824-8884

Sure, downtown St. Petersburg's Central Avenue is home to the city's ultimate Irish dive bar, the Emerald. But unless you have lungs like an industrial chimney to deal with the storm clouds of cigarette smoke, the patience to wait in a line four-deep for your Guinness and enjoy ear-splitting punk bands, we suggest sauntering over to Durty Nelly's. It serves all the same Irish libations as the Emerald, at approximately the same price, in a clean and comfy setting. (The bathrooms are nice, too, ladies.)

Most pub-like thing: A row of party girls slamming a round of $3 red-headed sluts (Jagermeister, peach schnapps, cranberry juice).

Um, is that Irish? All these wannabe gangsta dudes drinking Mickey's malt liquor.

Symbolic Irish icon: A large, framed Irish flag adorns a green wall opposite the bar.

Cornerstone Pub

3895 Northdale Blvd., Tampa, (813) 269-9688 or

Nestled in the Northdale Plaza shopping plaza your Barfly correspondent terrorized as a wild youth growing up in the neighborhood, the Cornerstone Pub is a rowdy place known for poker tournaments, karaoke and, in the past, at least, some serious brawls. Formerly Murphy's and Bean Town, The Cornerstone Pub is a seedier, far less authentic alternative to nearby O'Brien's Irish Pub, which is a short drive south on N Dale Mabry and hosts one of the fiercest, multitent St. Paddy's Day festivals in all of Tampa Bay.

Most pub-like thing: "You better be nice to her or she won't serve you!" scolded a female regular when this reporter dared to remind the in-the-weeds bartender that he had ordered a Jameson 'n' soda. Also, it's usually very dark and smoky inside. And there's a sign on the door that reads: "The use or sale of drugs is strictly prohibited on these premises. Thank you, management."

Um, is that Irish? A "Big E's Ribs and BBQ" section dominates the menu.

Symbolic Irish icon: The shamrocks on the sign out front.

. fast facts

More Irish bars

For a review of authentic Irish pub Flanagan's in Dunedin, go to There you can also search our database for any type of bar you want. Just pick Irish, martini, cigar, or whatever from our pull-down menu under the Bars & Clubs tab.

Tampa Bay's Irish pubs are St. Patrick's Day sanctuaries 03/11/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 13, 2009 10:28am]
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