The Partying Saint
St. Patrick's Day, Wednesday, March 17
So how did his day become an excuse for folks to get roaring drunk on lousy green beer?
In cities with big Irish populations – New York, Boston, Chicago – St. Patrick's Day is considered amateur night, a good night to stay home. Austin is very lucky to have several establishments with bar proprietors who are serious about celebrating the saint with properly pulled beers, ales, and stouts. Many of them also have a deep respect for Irish music and will be setting up stages for some righteous piping and fiddling. Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the best:
B.D. Riley's Irish Pub (204 E. Sixth, 494-1335, www.bdrileys.com) pulls a perfect Guinness and makes fish and chips to rival England's best. The music will start at noon with Joe Gee followed by Kenny Tweedy, Chuck Wright, Strayaway, Dirty Epic (direct from Ireland), and the Sean Orr Celtic Trio.
With the closing of Fiddler's Hearth, the Austin St. Patrick's Day Festival folks had to find a new home, and the sports bar/restaurant Cover 3 (2700 W. Anderson #202, 374-1121, www.stpatricksdayaustin.com) has stepped into the breach. Expect solid music from artists like Matt Cranitch & Tommy O'Sullivan, Jeff Moore, and the Silver Thistle Pipes & Drums. Cover 3 isn't normally known as an Irish pub, but its does pull a proper 20-ounce Guinness.
Year after year, one of the best St. Patrick's Day music gatherings in town is at the Dog & Duck Pub (406 W. 17th, 479-0598, www.dogandduckpub.com), and this year it celebrates 20 years in Austin with a big show. Admission is free, and Dog & Duck will be serving fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and plenty of Guinness and Harp. The live music begins at 11am with an eclectic lineup that ranges from Ian McLagan & the Bump Band, Li'l Cap'n Travis, Emily Long, Jon Dee Graham, and Rosie Flores to more traditional music like Rich Brotherton & Ed Miller, Sean Orr & Black Dagger, the Black Irish, and the Capitol City Highlanders. With reliably good, quality food and bartenders who know their beer, the Dog & Duck is always a good choice.
Fadó (214 W. Fourth, 457-0172, www.fadoirishpub.com/austin) will offer music on its patio and also will be closing down Fourth Street and setting up an outdoor tent with a beer garden and performance area. For the needy, the bar will open at 6am! Music will go from noon till midnight. The Fourth Street stage will have the Emerald Exiles, Sean Orr, some traditional Irish dancers, the Mighty Stef, Traveler, and Mysterious Ways. At the patio stage, it'll be Heather Gilmer & Jeff Moore, Pipe & Drums, Think Lizzy, traditional Irish dancers, Sean Orr, Mysterious Ways, and Traveler. Though the atmosphere can be a tad ersatz, the kitchen and bar know what they are doing, and Fadó puts on a great show.
The Ginger Man (301 Lavaca, 473-8801, aus.gingermanpub.com) has a great atmosphere in which to sample beers of all sorts with other people who like to do the same, and it does a good job with snacks, too. On St. Patrick's Day, it will serve homemade Irish stew made with Saint Arnold's Winter Stout. The music will go from 2pm till midnight and include Steelhead Stringband, the Victor Mourning, Old Holdouts, the Lost & Nameless Orchestra, the Grass Onions, and Boxcar Preachers. Then, from 8 to 10pm, a collective called the House of Songs will present four different artists. The night will end with John Fullbright followed by Stonehoney.
North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery (10010 N. Capital of TX Hwy, 467-6969, www.nxnwbrew.com) will be offering green Irish Stout, Irish Stew and warm Soda Bread, and offering music by Jeremy Steding and the Irish Curse Band from 6-10pm. Admission is free. Both the chef and the beer master are dependably first rate.
Opal Divine's (www.opaldivines.com) will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with music at all three locations. Acts include Rich Brotherton & Ed Miller, Black Irish, Shootin' Pains, Guy Forsyth, Poor Man's Fortune, and Heather Gilmer & Jeff Moore. Owner Michael Parker operates some of the best pubs in town, with tasty food, great beers, and top whiskeys from both Ireland and Scotland. All locations will be open until 2am: the Freehouse (700 W. Sixth, 477-3308), Penn Field (3601 S. Congress, 707-0237), and Marina (12709 MoPac, 733-5353).