America’s annual celebration of all things Irish revolves around parades and festivals that celebrate the Irish-American influence, as much as an historic saint from the Emerald Isle. In the Emerald City of Seattle, pub culture is a huge part of the party, along with standbys such as corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and ubiquitous Guinness Stout. Some places will even pour you a cool green pint if you ask nicely.
The city’s big shindig, the Seattle Irish Festival, takes place at Seattle Center (305 Harrison Street) with a parade, a fun run, children’s activities, Irish music and dance, and lectures and workshops. And, of course, there are plenty of vendors selling Irish merchandise and food.
Green beer is on tap for St. Patrick's Day. — Photo courtesy of John Ferri
While they may be proud of many traditions they’ve bestowed on their American descendents, the Irish themselves largely disavow green beer as a waste of good product. Besides, many of that country’s brews are too dark for green food coloring to work.
The tradition of adding green dye to pale American beer supposedly started in the early 1950s, when students at the University of Miami Ohio kicked off an annual, day-long green beer drinking fest to commemorate the beginning of spring break.
In beer-snobby Seattle, which is full of Irish pubs and restaurants celebrating the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, some barkeeps won’t serve you a green-tinted pint. At Kells, near Pike Place Market (1916 Post Alley), they will instead politely steer you toward a black-and-tan: Bass Ale or another lighter style brew with Guinness floated on top.
Packed with patrons, Irish bars around Seattle will be festooned in green banners and shamrocks, and while most would rather pour you a pint of Guinness, they will kindly serve you a glass of green suds.
In true Irish fashion, Fado (801 First Avenue, Seattle) often features live music, and soccer and rugby on the television. The same is true at Wild Rover (111 Central Way, Kirkland), where live music is on tap most nights and games play out on a six-foot screen.
Owl ‘n Thistle Irish Pub and Restaurant (808 Post Alley, Seattle) offers up a tasty Guinness beef stew and often has live music, including its weekly Tuesday Jazz Jam.
Conor Byrne Pub (5140 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle) provides great pub atmospherics with a stunning bar and 14-foot ceilings. Celtic Swell (2722 Alki Avenue SW, Seattle) offers all the necessities for Irish immersion, including live music, shepherd’s pie, veggie pasties, and bangers and mash.
Another Irish standout in Seattle is the Dubliner (3517 Fremont Avenue N.), which frequently hosts Irish Nights with specials even when it’s not St. Paddy’s. Offering a chain take on the pseudo-authentic Irish pub experience is Paddy Coyne’s, where dim atmospherics and dark wood accents abound. The main Seattle location is at 1190 Thomas Street, with other spots in Tacoma (815 Pacific Avenue) and Bellevue (700 Bellevue Way NE, Ste. 100).
Finally, you can go Irish in Seattle simply by sipping a locally made, Irish-style beer. Try Hale’s Cream Ale, Slane Ale from Diamond Knot Brewing, or the Irish Ale from Dick’s Brewing.