Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in American with lots of green, lots of corned beef, and lots of drinking…lots and lots and lots of drinking. In fact, no other holiday, with the exception of New Year’s Eve, is so synonymously linked to the consumption of alcohol and cheap, green beer flows freely on March 17th at campus bars around the country, delighting the Irish and Irish-wannabes alike.
So what to do if you’re in Utah…the infamously alcohol-free state?
Well, here in Salt Lake City, we have a fantastic Irish pub with two locations, one at the north end of the valley in Foothill and one in the south end of the valley at The District off of Bangerter. MacCool’s Public House offers Irish food, Guinness on tap, and live Irish music, so it’s the perfect place to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. Just don’t expect to see crowds of college kids swigging green Miller Lite from plastic cups, because MacCool’s is clean, classy, and family-friendly on the inside. No green beer in sight.
Having graduated from our green beer days, my husband and I went to the MacCool’s at The District for lunch, hoping to skip the St. Patrick’s Day crowds. The place was pretty packed, but we were seated quickly and had Guinness on the table before we’d even looked at the menus. The waiters and waitresses were all done up in green t-shirts, with shamrock headbands, glittery green eyeliner, and other assorted holiday paraphernalia and balloons in green, orange, and white decorated the two large dining rooms. Cheerful, live shamrock plants decorated the tables, upbeat Gaelic tunes filled the restaurant, and all around us happy groups of people celebrated a general Irish cheer.
The menu at MacCool’s has a wide variety of Irish food, but we go there so often that we’ve picked up some favorites. I stuck with mine (salmon chowder with a side of soda bread) but my husband skipped his usual “salmon of knowledge with a bowl of lamb stew” for a seafood boxty that ended up being truly delicious. If you aren’t familiar, boxty is like a thick potato pancake filled with hot, delicious goodness. I like them when they’re filled with corned beef and cabbage, but my husband ordered the one that had trout with a dill yogurt sauce on it and it was just plan good.
We also indulged in a little calamari, although the bangers and mash that the table next to us ordered looked positively to die for. Of course, we also had Guinness, which arrived ice cold with happy shamrocks on top, a sure sign that the bartender knew what he was doing. The service was excellent, the music was lively, and the atmosphere was friendly and warm. Do I miss the rowdier St. Patrick’s Days I spent when I was in college on the east coast? Sure…until I remember the crowds, the bad beer, the drunken street traffic, and the “kiss me, I’m Irish” pick up lines. These days, I’m thoroughly content with some good Irish food, good Irish music, and a cold glass of Guinness.