St. Patrick’s Day and the 2017 season for the Red Sox are both quickly approaching, which means that more than a few people will be looking for Irish pubs to hit while many people will also be figuring out where to go for dining and drinking before or after ballgames. Oddly enough, there is a place that caters to both groups and yet somehow remains totally under the radar. How is this possible? No idea, but O’Leary’s near the Brookline/Boston border is just such a spot—and it also happens to have some pretty good food in addition to its fine Guinness pours and cozy atmosphere.
O’Leary’s is located on a part of Beacon Street just far enough from Fenway Park that it doesn’t get the crowds that the bars on, say, Lansdowne Street or Brookline Avenue do, but it is definitely close enough to walk to from the ballpark. The pub is one of a number of independent businesses found along this stretch of road and, like those businesses, it tends to cater mainly to locals who live in the immediate neighborhood and is generally a pretty serene place overall. Unlike some Irish pubs in the local area that have a faux paint-by-numbers feel to them, O’Leary’s feels like the real deal; its dark and moody interior wouldn’t be out of place in the heart of Dublin or Galway or perhaps along a country lane in County Kerry. The setup of the space is pretty simple, with a few tables by the front entrance, a long bar along the left side, a narrow dining area along the right wall, and a low partition between the two sections that partially separates them. The bar itself is absolutely gorgeous with lots of dark woods and old-fashioned hanging lights overhead, and while many bar areas in Boston-area Irish pubs are attractive and inviting, O’Leary’s is perhaps one of the most appealing. For music lovers, the place does feature live entertainment (typically on weekends), and in keeping with the overall vibe of the place, the music tends to be pretty mellow.
As is the case with many if not most Irish pubs, the menu at O’Leary’s holds few surprises, as it focuses mainly on pub grub, classic American fare, and a handful of Irish-style faves. Some of the highlights here include a surprisingly excellent Caesar salad (surprising because the better ones tend to be found in Italian restaurants), a plate of freshly cut beer-battered onion rings, a traditional plate of fish and chips with tartar sauce, a solid char-grilled burger and an equally good hamburger club, a warm and comforting Guinness beef stew with herbs and root vegetables, a delicious version of chicken marsala in a slightly sweet wine sauce, and a corned beef and swiss sandwich that is a good option if you tend to favor lean corned beef. O’Leary’s has a full bar, so cocktails and shots can be had instead of (or in addition to) pints of Guinness and the like, and as mentioned earlier, the Guinness pours here tend to be exceptionally good—much like the pours you will find in a traditional Irish pub overseas.
O’Leary’s is definitely not the place to hit if you’re looking for a wild night of drunken debauchery, but if you’re a fan of authentic Irish pubs—and the Sox—this laid-back spot is certainly one that you’ll want to keep on your radar, especially if you’re a fan of little-known gems that are hidden in plain sight.
O’LEARY’S. 1010 BEACON ST., BROOKLINE.
Be sure to catch our food writer Marc Hurwitz on WBZ radio every weekday morning late in the 11 o’clock hour for the next two weeks.