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Fill your belly with the luck of the Irish


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Downtown Harrisburg’s McGrath’s Pub serves its version of a Black and Tan, a blend of Guinness and Harp Lager. File photo
Downtown Harrisburg’s McGrath’s Pub serves its version of a Black and Tan, a blend of Guinness and Harp Lager. File photo

I don't know about you, but I'm zero percent Irish.

Yet, on St. Patrick's Day, somehow everyone feels at least a wee bit Irish. Blame it on the leprechauns or blame it on an innate craving for hearty grub and heart-warming ales. Either way, I'm not complaining.

Since one of my good friend's drink of choice is Guinness, this traditional Irish stout is always top of mind. Did you know there's such a thing as "The Perfect Pour" of Guinness? Garryowen Irish Pub in Gettysburg and Maewyn's Irish Pub & Restaurant in York both brag about serving up Guinness in this fashion of pint perfection.

Meanwhile, Molly Brannigans in Harrisburg also is big on Guinness, and specifically features Irish beer combinations such as the Half & Half (Guinness and Harp) and the Black Smith (Guinness and Smithwick's).

What are my choices for St. Patty's Day festivities? That's a tough one.

If crowds weren't a factor, my first stop would be McGrath's Pub in Harrisburg. It's not by any means one of the area's more elaborate pubs, yet it always feels so welcoming and homey, and the food is consistently good. Its version of fish and chips is actually made with salmon rather than cod, which might be out of the ordinary, but the taste is extraordinary. And you can't go wrong with the shepherd's pie or the 32 rotating beers on tap.

In nearby New Cumberland, Coakley's Restaurant and Irish Pub will be just as popular in celebration of Saint Patrick. Here you can fill up on pub favorites like Guinness beef stew and bangers and mash. Then round out your meal with one of its Irish whiskeys.

Modeled in a Victorian Dublin style, Annie Bailey's in Lancaster is probably my top choice as far as local pubs go. Between the huge bar area and the lovely outdoor deck, along with food choices that run the gamut from small plates to Irish favorites, there's something about this place that just puts you in the mood to do a little jig. By the way, weather permitting, the deck will be open this weekend! Plus, someone once told me you know you're in a real Irish pub when it serves curry, and sure enough there's chicken curry on this menu.

No matter where you end up this St. Patrick's Day, hopefully the food and drink will bring you the luck of the Irish. Sláinte!

What's your favorite place for Irish fare?

Erica Streisfeld is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Publications Inc., parent company of the Central Penn Business Journal. She moonlights as a foodie and wino, and many people also know her as founder and organizer of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup, a community cupcake competition that doubles as a fundraiser for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.

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