A family having a meal together in a restaurant. (family-friendly Irish pubs in Boston for St. Patrick's Day)When I spent a college semester in Ireland, I noticed how welcoming the pubs were to kids. Pubs were really more of a family affair, where the whole crew could gather for some fish stew and card games. So, many years later, as a mom raising her kids in very Irish Boston, I love finding a good family-friendly pub. Here are a few of my favorites:

Grainne O’Malley’s :: Brookline

Self-described as “an Irish pub in the heart of Brookline,” some of Grainne O’Malley’s regulars might argue that this place is the heart of Brookline. It’s welcoming to patrons of all ages; just pile your family into the corner booth and stay a while. Order traditional fare like shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash, or diverge into American dishes like fried pickles and buffalo wings. It all pairs well with the Irish ales and stouts on draft. Grainne’s (as Brookliners call it) hosts a weekly trivia night, as well as fun events on New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day. And kids are always welcome!

The Burren :: Somerville

Located in the heart of Davis Square, the Burren is the real deal. Taking its name from Ireland’s own Burren, a glacial-era, limestone landscape in Country Clare, Somerville’s pub also seems like it’s been around forever. And when a fiddle band launches into some live music in the front room, you might feel like you’re tucked away at a cozy County Clare pub. Kids are welcome to enjoy the music and a children’s menu of traditional and American fare. Our favorite is the sausages and mash. There’s also a fantastic brunch on the weekends, featuring an Irish breakfast with rashers, black and white pudding, and soda bread. If your kids (or you) haven’t tried any of the above, it’s time to explore the Burren!

The Green Dragon :: Boston

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you bring your toddler to Faneuil Hall late on a Saturday night. But for a post-aquarium lunch or an early dinner, Faneuil pubs are surprisingly family friendly. At the top of the list stands the Green Dragon, established in 1654 and once frequented by Paul Revere himself. A bit touristy today, the Green Dragon is still a good bet for appeasing the whole family. With dishes like “Victory Fish and Chips” and “Constitution Grilled Cheese” on the kids’ menu, and the “Redcoat Wing Sampler” for adults, the place caters to all ages.

The Tinker’s Son :: Norwell

The South Shore’s Tinker’s Son — where fantastic live music is just another weeknight — describes itself as a “family joint [where you’ll] commonly find three or four generations of people who share DNA sharing a table.” Preach, Tinker’s Son! Beyond the traditional charm, the food here also conjures up the Emerald Isle: corned beef hash cakes, sausage rolls with cider mustard sauce, Irish potato nachos, and Smithwick’s steamed mussels. The kids’ menu features classics like mac and cheese and fish and chips. Combine that with activity menus with crayons and biodegradable kids’ cups, and you’ve got yourself a place worth visiting again and again.

Emmets Irish Pub and Restaurant :: Boston

Another downtown pub, Emmets is the authentic counterpoint to the touristy Green Dragon. (It has about a million Irish photographs lining its stairwell to prove it.) It’s tucked away in the financial district, so good for a meal to follow a visit to the Children’s Museum. Emmets offers a fantastic pour of Guinness (not as easy as you might think), as well as a tasty Emmets home brew. Can’t decide? There’s a sampler that features both beers. To keep the little ones happy while you sip, the menu offers snacks for the whole family, like curry fries and fried pickles, as well as an aptly named “Taste of Ireland” dish that features beef stew, chicken pot pie, and shepherd’s pie.

Mick Morgan’s :: Newton and Sharon

Casual and not a bit pretentious, Mick Morgan’s serves a regular crowd that smiles at the kiddos and couldn’t care less when a rogue fork hits the floor. The menu is a bit of a cultural mish-mash, with everything from a Bavarian pretzel to Mesquite chicken taquitos. But there’s also a healthy dose of Irish — a burger with corned beef and Guinness gravy, Irish curry fries, and a classic shepherd’s pie. There are crayons for little diners and a solid kids’ menu, as well as decadent, crowd-pleasing fried Oreos on the dessert menu.

Corrib Pub :: Brighton and West Roxbury

Named after a lake in County Galway, Corrib Pub’s Brighton location has been there since 1969 — a classic Boston Irish pub! More than fifty years later, and now with a second location in West Roxbury, Corrib Pub maintains its Irish roots and charm. On any given day, the pub might be hosting locals for a paint night, birthday party, or baby shower. Live music is also frequent, with all ages welcome. Visit the Corrib on a weeknight for an Irish mixed grill, or stop by the weekend brunch for a traditional Irish breakfast with Irish bacon and black and white pudding. Kids at brunch can choose between “Adelyn’s Egg & Sausage” and “Keira’s Pancake,” which, I’m delighted to report is one fluffy chocolate chip pancake. Slainte to that.

This post was originally published in 2016 and has been update for 2024!


Jessie Keppeler
A Maine native, Jessie migrated down the coast to Boston after college, and it’s been home ever since. She has lived in various corners of the city — from Allston and Brighton to Newbury Street and then Jamaica Plain — before settling in Brookline with her husband and three daughters. As much as she loves home now, she also likes to leave occasionally: recent family travels include Italy, Belize, and Washington D.C. Jessie writes with a cat curled up nearby and a dog at her feet. And a cup of coffee. Always.


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