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Eating with Emma

Sláinte to these Irish pubs on St. Patrick’s Day

Raise your glass, gather 'round, and feast on these tasty Irish-influenced dishes served up right here in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

The Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen's photo-worthy Guinness pour.
The Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen's photo-worthy Guinness pour.
Photo by Emma Burke Jolly
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I’ve celebrated my fair share of the stereotypical St. Patrick’s Day extravaganzas: I drank green beer in college while fraternity boys drunkenly bellowed Irish folk songs, I drank beer along the Chicago River with my older cousins as the city dumped 100 pounds of green dye into the water, and I had my right of passage as a Sarasota local celebrating at the Shamrock Pub, located at 227 Ringling Blvd., pretending I could dance as well as the Sassy Lassies.

Shamrock Pub is a right of passage as an Irish lass in Sarasota.
Photo by Emma Jolly

But the older I get, the more I realize St. Patrick’s Day isn’t about the day parties that slip into the wee hours of the morning, fueled by Jameson shots. It represents the feeling that comes with being a prideful, proud and passionate Irish woman while reflecting on the culture my ancestors curated and have, unknowingly to them, been passed down through generations of tradition.

Somewhere between the drinking and the dancing, the Irish overcame adversity by showcasing the importance of what it means to laugh at yourself, enjoy what blessings, big or small, that grace your home and celebrate any and everything — and I mean, everything.

You remembered to go check the mail every day this week? Pour yourself a stiff one. You were able to spend a day at the beach and not sneeze or cough due to the red tide? Sláinte. You read through a full Eating with Emma column? That calls for a toast.

While the Irish and those who think they are Irish show up loudly and proudly every year for this holiday, its the local chefs who celebrate the origin of simple, savory ingredients and share their menus with the likings of foodies like me, that have me feeling extra lucky to be Irish — and not just on St. Patrick’s Day.

So raise your glass, gather 'round, and feast on these tasty three Irish-influenced dishes served up right here in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Lynches Pub & Grub

19 N. Boulevard of the Presidents, St. Armands Key; 941-388-5550;

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You at St. Armands Circle. "Top of the mornin’” toasts start at 11 a.m. at Lynches with live entertainment on this international holiday. Have a pint — or three — of Guinness. If you’d rather quench your thirst with Irish Whiskey, you'll find what you're looking for, with over 100 different bottles to pick from. Order from the limited Irish menu, which will be served all day, in between dancing alongside Irish bands, bagpipers and a rock band.

“Irish” chicken egg rolls ($12) from Lynches Pub & Grub.
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Delira and Excira: Nosh on the breakfast of kings, the “Irish” chicken egg rolls ($12) made with crispy chicken, cabbage, carrots, celery and onions. What a fantastic snack to coat your tummy for a day full of heavy beer! Want something a bit more filling? The Irish stew ($14) comes with a crusty baguette.

McGrath's Irish Ale House

8110 Lakewood Main St., Bradenton; 941-210-4398;

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You at Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Continue your celebrations on the street outside McGrath’s Ale House and round up a feast of your favorite Irish food and, of course, a bounty of beers. Get ready to jig to live Irish music and be outdone by professional Irish dancers from Finnegan's Academy of Irish Dance and Drake's. The festivities, fun for the entire family and kids of all ages, go on until 9 p.m.

McGrath's Irish Ale House Guinness cheddar burger ($14).
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Delira and Excira: Get into your green gear and hope that they are serving the Guinness cheddar burger ($14) cooked to your liking with a Guinness glaze and onion rings. Craving something more traditional? McGrath’s fish and chips ($18) served with minted pea, tartar and lemon will have you feeling like you found a pot of gold.

May your glass be ever full of fantastic flights at McGrath's Irish Ale House.
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For $8, you can “pick your poison” with the world tour flight of Calusa, Stella, Magners Cider and Killians. If you’re feeling like tapping into Irish roots a bit more, ask for the four coners flight that fills your cups full of Guinness, Harp, Kilkenny and Smithwicks. Looking for liquor? This Irish whiskey lover recommends treating your tastebuds to the Teeling label or ordering the craft cocktail favorite, the Irish true old fashioned ($13).

The Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen

6641 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key; 941-952-3070;

The Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen is a much smaller version of its predecessor, Pub 32, but with the gracious staff that treats you like you break soda bread daily, the history that hangs on its walls (including my family crest), the meals that trigger core memories and the live music that makes the entire six-table pub come together in unison (or not, depending on how many pints have been consumed), it feels like you just got a free ride to the Emerald Isle.

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You at a pub on Siesta Key where everyone feels Irish. This might only be the second annual Shebeen St. Patty’s Day celebration, but Pub 32 hosted one for years. Enjoy the sweet sounds of Irish music all day long on March 17 with performances by Ross the Piper (playing for 32 years), Fresh Air (a grandfather and grandson duo), Emily Ann Thompson (who plays Irish, Scottish and Canadian fiddle), Prodigal Sons (Dana has fronted for Kettle of Fish) and performances by Drake School of Irish Dance.

Irish appetizer platter ($25) features two leek and mushroom croquettes among so many other tasty bites.
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Delira and Excira: You won’t go wrong with whatever your eyes, mouth, tummy, heart and soul desire on this delicious dining menu. Treat yourself to the Irish appetizer platter ($25), which comes with two potato boxty, two sausage rolls, two leek and mushroom croquettes, two pretzels with beer cheese and gravy — perfect for you and your "a stór." But save room for that Shebeen pub Reuben ($16) made with slow braised corned beef, pickled red cabbage, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss on rye with homemade crisps.

Order a Smithwick’s at Shebeen ($7 for 16 ounces or $8.50 for 20 ounces), and you will be slinging back that easy libation until you think you sound like Sinéad O'Connor or Bono. However, if you can find room in your belly to enjoy a Guinness, the way this pub pours the 200-year-old brew is pretty Instagram-worthy.

The leek and potato soup ($7 for cup, $10 for bowl) is as hearty as the Claddagh ring. I slurped up my cup faster than you could say, “Erin go Bragh.” If the Florida heat is telling you, “No soup for you,” you can dig into the sausage rolls ($12) that come with a yummy gravy.

Molly’s Pub

1560 Main St., Sarasota; 941-366-7711;

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You on Main Street in Sarasota. The Emerald Isle meets the Gulf Coast at Molly’s Restaurant and Pub. This cozy spot has a secret tasting room for whiskey aficionados and admirers alike that transports you across the pond. But as the sun sets, this rowdy Main Street location knows how to party. On St. Patrick’s Day this pub is dishing out food specials like corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and green-dyed deviled eggs. Enjoy traditional Irish flair with Colleen Cory’s live music and DJ Xtreme at 8 p.m.

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Delira and Excira: Aside from the holiday, you might need a Wednesday night pick-me-up one of these weeks. Appetizers are half off with a purchase of an entree on Hump Day. Sign this ginger up for some honey ginger grilled wings ($10) to warm my heart mid-week.

Shakespeare's Craft Beer & Gastro Pub

3550 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota; 941-364-5938;

Shakespeare’s, though an English pub, is a place where you go when you’ve had a bad day to make it better and a place you go to continue celebrating the wins of a great day. The gastro pub has a dark, mysterious and cozy ambiance with a staff that serves consistently crave-worthy meals each and every time. 

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You as you booze up with the bounty of beers offered here. You can choose from a solid, hand-picked rotation of craft beers, but my staple beer to sample at Shakespeare’s for this holiday is none other than a Guinness on draft — alongside 14 other draft beers to pick from, plus a surplus of bottled options and wine too.

The potato skins are filled with bacon, jalapenos and three cheeses
Photo by Emma Jolly

Delira and Excira: Ask for at least one order of the three cheese stuffed potato skins ($8.95). You’re probably thinking of a sports pub skin serving but let me tell you — these skins reign supreme in my Sarasota-based mouth. Filled with bacon, jalapeños (to align with that redheaded flare), and three cheeses plus parmesan cheese will make any worries wander away. If that isn’t enough cheese for you, my Irish roots can turn a blind eye to the “English” in Shakespeare’s spicy English beer cheese dip ($9.95) and allow this deadly-delectable dip a moment on this Irish roundup — as long as it's consumed with an Irish pint of sorts.

Shakespeare's serves up more-than-pleasant plates full of simple and savory ingredients, just like the college pie ($16.95).
Photo by Emma Jolly

The cottage pie ($16.95), a shepherd's pie spin-off, is described on the menu as a “delicious combination of ground beef and vegetables cooked in a rich gravy and topped with mashed potato and melted cheese, serves with a crusty rosemary bread.” This dish is served in a brown and ivory stoneware bowl that I swear my grandparents had in their kitchen.

And to you my foodie friends of Irish descent or not: “May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.”



Emma Burke Jolly

Emma Burke Jolly has worked at Observer Media Group since 2018 as the digital fulfillment specialist. Originally from Connecticut, this Gulf Coast transplant loves being by the water, reminiscing about what Longboat Key looked like in 1990, navigating life with her husband and their two Maine Coon cats, and sharing her foodie findings with you.

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