Tasting the Emerald Isle: A tour of traditional St. Patrick’s Day favorites

Express staff writer Reanna Simmons stopped by O'Malley's Irish Pub during the St. Paddy's Day food crawl to try the corned beef tacos on March 6. |Photo by Reanna Simmons | Staff Writer | rsimmons@gmail.comExpress staff writer Reanna Simmons stopped by O'Malley's Irish Pub during the St. Paddy's Day food crawl to try the corned beef tacos on March 6. |Photo by Reanna Simmons | Staff Writer | rsimmons@gmail.com
Express staff writer Reanna Simmons stopped by O'Malley's Irish Pub during the St. Paddy's Day food crawl to try the corned beef tacos on March 6. |Photo by Reanna Simmons | Staff Writer | rsimmons@gmail.com

Express staff writer Reanna Simmons stopped by O’Malley’s Irish Pub during the St. Paddy’s Day food crawl to try the corned beef tacos on March 6. |Photo by Reanna Simmons | Staff Writer | rsimmons@gmail.com

As spring comes nearer, so do the St. Pat- rick’s Day festivities. In celebration, staff writer Reanna Simmons visited four pubs in the area to see how they are honoring — through food and drink—Ireland’s patron saint.

de Vere’s Irish Pub | 1521 L St., Sacramento 217 E St., Davis | (916) 231-9947

De Vere’s Irish Pub is an authentic Irish ale house. This pub is relatively large, and has a welcoming atmosphere. A soccer game playing in the background on a flat- screen TV, as voices from friendly conversation waft, over the sound of announcers calling out plays.

The extensive menu includes Irish sandwiches, stew and fish. The selection, along with aesthetically pleasing surroundings, makes the tavern feel especially authentic.

The Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie is delectable. Its combination of ground beef, vegetables, rich gravy and toasted mashed potatoes is heavenly — a true comfort food. It all comes together deliciously.

The fried egg on top is recommended by the staff, and for good reason.

The Irish stew could be considered an acquired taste. The Irish whiskey-braised beef gives the stew a smoky flavor, but the beef is a bit chewy, and the vegetables should be more tender — particularly the carrots. Along with the braised beef, the stew includes onions, celery, potatoes, rosemary and thyme, and comes with a slice of Irish brown bread. Overall, de Vere’s Irish Pub is a great place to go for St. Patrick’s Day because it’s more than just a bar — it’s a restaurant.

Bonn Lair | 3651 J St., Sacramento | (916) 455-7155

Bonn Lair is a hole-in-the-wall pub that’s smaller than De Vere’s, but nevertheless delightful. The pub’s decor is a visual feast. There are flags raised on the walls, advertisements for Guinness, a tapestry in the back, and the entire place is dimly lit. The smell of alcohol fills the room and the sound of laughter travels throughout the pub, creating a welcoming air.

The menu includes suggested beer and food pairings, helping customers decide which drink would go best with their meals.

The top two go-to meals here are the classic fish and chips and the bangers and mash. The delicious fish and chips consists of two huge pieces of cod served on a plate of fries with a side of tartar sauce. However, the fish could be a bit crunchier, since
it is fried. The bangers and mash entrée — two sausages with mashed potatoes — is a must-try. This is a common British dish, and the combination of flavors in the bangers and mash here is delightful.

O’Malley’s Irish Pub | 1109 2nd St., Sacramento | (916) 492-1230

There’s no way to miss O’Malley’s Irish Pub in Old Sacramento. Their enormous green sign hanging outside the pub catch- es the eye, and the music blaring from inside can be heard beyond its walls. The patrons in this pub seem to be having a grand time.

O’Malley’s has not one, but two corned beef dishes. These are corned beef and cabbage — a staple of St. Patrick’s Day dinner tables — and corned beef tacos. The corned beef and cabbage is tasty, although the cabbage is too salty. Served on the side with the corned beef and cabbage, their grilled mashed potatoes are excellent.

O’Malley’s corned beef tacos dish is an unusual blend of Irish and Mexican cuisine that is a thing of beauty. The corned beef is served on a flour tortilla with melted pepper jack cheese, then topped off with a sweet coleslaw. The combination of salty and sweet is just too good to miss.

Streets Pub and Grub | 2200 Lake Washington Blvd., West Sacramento | (916) 498-1388

Streets Pub and Grub is a laid-back pub that is huge inside and has an atmosphere that feels quite calming. The pub is more English-style than Irish, but either way, it’s somewhere to go for St. Patrick’s Day.

The food here is just as appetizing as at the other pubs. The menu includes all sorts of fare from the British Isles, such as fish and chips, deep-fried pickles and Scotch eggs. The deep-fried pickles have the crunch of french fries without overpowering the unique flavor profile of the pickle.

A Scotch egg is a hardboiled egg wrapped in sausage and covered in bread crumbs. It’s considered more of an appetizer than a meal, but just as filling as an entrée. The Scotch egg may be an unusual adventure for the average American palate.