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Toast to the Irish

Big cities like Boston, New York and Chicago may be more well-known for their Irish pubs than towns in the 209 region, but that doesn’t mean the area is not home to some fine Irish-inspired bars that will make for a good spot to raise a glass and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. ■

Ollie’s Pub 

This establishment has been part of the scene in downtown Lodi for more than 50 years and is one spot in the Central Valley where patrons can get a pint of Guinness poured by bartenders Jason O’Byrne and Kurt O’Byrne, both of whom have been certified by Guinness to pour the perfect pint. Their Irish beers on tap include Guinness, Guinness Blonde, Smithwick’s, Harp and Magners. They also have more than 20 different varieties of Irish whiskey that can be enjoyed on their own or in one of the many cocktails the pub mixologists have concocted.
22 N. School St. in Lodi
(209) 333-9933

Finley’s Bar and Grill

This long-time establishment in Manteca is known for the spirits that are poured out of the bottle and at least one former property owner suspected of haunting the location. The full-service kitchen is known for their downhome and hearty meals, like the smoked meatloaf, and they carry several craft beers. The place has been a mainstay in Manteca and has a décor that is an eclectic mix of country manor and bar memorabilia.
10477 S Airport Way in Manteca
(209) 983-9493

Finnegan’s Irish Pub

Finnegan’s is a lively place most nights of the week, with offerings of trivia nights, karaoke, open mic nights, and music. On the food side they have an extensive menu featuring some authentic Irish dishes, and have made some inventive meals using corned beef. They have the traditional dish with cabbage, a sandwich, corned beef sliders, and corned beef tacos.
6002 Pacific Ave. in Stockton
(209) 951-4782

Shamrock Tracy

This is an old-school bar with good priced beer and cocktails. They’ve earned a reputation for making fierce Bloody Marys with all the fixings. It’s a cash-only establishment, so come prepared. There’s pool, darts, a punching bag and four televisions.
117 W. 11th St. in Tracy
(209) 835-8454

P. Wexford’s Pub 

So, to be fair, this Modesto establishment is actually modeled after a British pub, but it has plenty of qualities to give it an Irish feel. It’s a popular spot, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. Their menu includes such fare as fish and chips, bangers and mash, corned beef and shepherd’s pie. The bar has numerous beers on tap and a well-rounded wine selection.
3313 McHenry Ave. in Modesto
(209) 576-7939

O’Ryleigh’s Tavern

While not exactly Irish, this establishment prides itself on the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They’ll be serving up green beer and Irish-themed cocktails all night. They have pool, darts and a DJ playing dance music on Fridays and Saturdays.
1730 Canal St. in Merced
(209) 233-9599

Murphys Irish Pub

This long-running establishment in Murphys was purchased by co-owners Brandy Kaufman and Dan Bunce, in 2018, just two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day. It was a wild night and the duo is expecting nothing less this year. Murphys will celebrate Irish Days on March 16 and then St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 and the pub will be a popular destination. The pub creates the Irish vibe through their beer and wine selection, and the menu, which features some traditional dishes like bangers and mash and new takes on Irish foods, like the fresh-baked pretzels that are served with a cheese made using Guinness.
415 Main St., in Murphys
(209) 890-3350