5 nights of pints

Pint-size guide to Phoenix's Irish Pub scene

With St. Patty’s day rapidly approaching, it’s only appropriate to give you, the reader, a refresher course in Irish pub possibilities.

Looking for things to do in honor of St. Patrick? Check out the St. Patrick's Day Guide by Benjamin Leatherman.

Casey Moore’s
850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe
480-968-9935
On the Web

Started because owner, Patty St. Vincent, thought it would be a unique idea to sell oysters in the desert, Casey Moore’s has become a hidden treasure. This neighborhood tavern prides itself on the fact that it attracts such an eclectic crowd. Neighbors, professors, students, and businesspeople alike crowd together in the 100-year-old converted house.

The history of Casey Moore’s goes way back. Casey Moore is the name of St. Vincent’s grandmother, who was from County Waterford, Ireland. St. Vincent claims Casey’s is similar to taverns in Ireland and tries to make that old-world feel come alive. Some of the same bartenders have worked at Casey’s for over 20 years. The house, which was originally the old Ninth & Ash restaurant, is mentioned in the song, “If you don’t, don’t” by Mesa band Jimmy Eat World, St. Vincent said.

St. Vincent said she’s been to many local concerts where the band members say at the end, “Good night, thanks, and see you at Casey’s.”

Known for their halibut and chips, raw oysters, clam chowder and prime rib special on Sunday mornings, Casey's serves quality, affordable food. There are 13 imports and one domestic beer on tap and 15 bottled beers. Happy Hour runs from 4 – 7 p.m. every day, with $1 off drafts and rotating wine and food specials. Each day, there's also a different beer special for $3.50.

Casey Moore’s is busy all day long. It attracts a lunch and dinner crowd and, later in the evening, the usual hangers-out in the bar. Wednesday through Sunday are the busiest days, but stop by any time and you can see people hanging out on the enormous temperature-controlled patio. There are tables with umbrellas, benches, small fire pits and lots of space to stand up and drink and chat.

“[Casey Moore’s] has been doing business with the same clientele year after year; as soon as students discover it, it becomes their favorite,” St. Vincent said.

Rúla Búla
401 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
480-929-9500
On the Web

Just about as Irish authentic as you can get here in the southwest desert, Rúla Búla brings the “craic” (a Gaelic word meaning uproar and commotion) to Mill Avenue. The restaurant and pub has an old-world feel with artifacts imported from Ireland. With 10 beers on tap (nine of them imports), you can certainly get your fill of Guinness and please your hearty beer appetite. Their menu is predominantly Irish dishes. They specialize in shepherd’s pie (we gave them an award for this in 2002) and fish and chips. Food ranges from $5 to $12, and 20-ounce beers go for $5.50.

"The crowd at this bar gets younger as it gets later," said general manager Kevin Metz. Yet all ages feel at home in this Irish haven. “This is a place where on a Saturday night you can bring your mom and grandma and feel comfortable hanging out,” Metz said.

Cozy tables and stained glass windows inside give a quaint, antique feel. The hardwood stage is perfect for live Irish bands that play five nights a week. You can come to dine, drink and dance, or relax with friends on the spacious patio with its own bar.

Friday and Saturday are the busiest days; cover charge is $5 after 9 p.m. on these days. Happy hour also always draws a crowd; Monday through Saturday from 4 to 6:30 p.m., the pub features $1 off draft and well drinks and half-price appetizers. Reverse Happy Hour runs Monday and Tuesday from 10 p.m. to closing. Happy Hour drink specials on Sunday are from 4 p.m. — closing and appetizer discounts run from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“[Rúla Búla has] great customers and great staff,” Metz said. “I don’t think I could work at any other bar on Mill.”

RT O’Sullivan’s in Mesa
1010 West Southern Ave, Mesa
480-844-1290
On the Web

Ladies: Fancy picking up a little bit of the famed Irish luck this St. Patty’s Day? Try spotting the elusive leprechaun in the women’s bathroom — behind the mirror! The famous RT O’Sullivan or RTO leprechaun has been charming (and startling) ladies since 1996.

“We get our share of nightly screams from the ladies,” smiled Roy Meyer, 37, the district manager who oversees all three RTOs. “It’s all part of the fun atmosphere here, really.”

Along with 98 screens and more sports channels than you can shake a hockey stick at, completing the atmosphere are three pool tables, dart boards and various game machines in a familiar Irish bar setting.

“We’re a sports bar with an Irish twist,” described Roy, when asked to sum up the appeal of RTO.

RTO at Mesa also features a generous outdoor patio for patrons who enjoy the current season. With music that runs the gamut from Tom Petty tunes to DJ-spun dance, and a well-rounded selection of beers, GTO attracts ol’ faithfuls who troop in as early as lunchtime, as well as the younger set for Friday night partying.

The food menu is deliciously extensive, from traditional Irish fare such as corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie to the ubiquitous burgers and pub favorites.

“The food is good, but the portions here are also nice — unlike other places with tiny servings,” was the stamp of approval volunteered by Tim Wilcox, a 57-year-old gentleman who was enjoying lunch and beer at the bar.

While having a good time, you can also help out Jerry’s Kids by purchasing a shamrock that will be displayed on the wall with your name. Proceeds go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Marketing Manager, Chris Becker, is proud to report that the three RTOs raised $8,000 last year.

This St. Patty’s Day, RTO is pulling out all the stops: outdoor party, live music, bagpipers, tap dancers and, of course, green beer. “Everything will be a deal here,” promised Roy. The festivities will begin at 10 a.m., living up to RTO’s claim that it’ll have “the valley’s longest St. Patrick’s Day bash.”

Seamus McCaffrey's
18 W. Monroe, Phoenix
On the Web

Bottle upon bottle of Irish scotch sit glimmering behind the bar of Seamus McCaffrey’s, the one and only Irish pub in downtown Phoenix.

“We have the largest selection of single malt scotch in Arizona,” boasts Andrew Paul Mirtich, co-owner of McCaffrey’s. “It’s a nice collection, because it has something for everyone.”

That seems to be the theme of this old-fashioned pub. McCaffrey’s offers its patrons not only the requisite Irish fare of Guinness with corned beef and cabbage, but a wide variety of draught beers and food ranging from traditional boxtys to Cajun caesar salad.

The scotch whiskey collection, hand-picked by co-owner Frank Murray, features offerings from Jameson to Glenmorangie, with some priced at $175 a shot.

The old brick walls and dark, wooden bar give a testament to the authenticity of McCaffrey’s. Although only an Irish pub since 1991, the bar has been in its spot since the '20s, nestled between the historic San Carlos Hotel and a work-in-progress luxury condo conversion. Mirtich says the downtown revitalization has helped boost business and the bar sees people from all over the country stopping by to pay a visit.

“We were here before the ballpark and the whole downtown explosion, so those first few years were a struggle,” says Mirtich. “But now with ASU coming in and everything, we are kind of reaping the benefits of those hard years. And we get a lot of people from out of town, because anytime people travel, they look for the Irish bar.”

Proof of this can be found in the hundreds of police patches lining the walls and ceiling. Started after a police officer gave the bartender his patch as a token of appreciation for a good night at the pub, it soon became a tradition, with law enforcement officers, firefighters and military personnel from across the country sending the owners this token of gratitude.

McCaffrey’s also features live Celtic music on Sunday nights, which is always worth a stop in to see.

Feeling like both a downtown bar in Boston and a neighborhood pub in Dublin, Seamus McCaffrey’s is sure to please any lover of fine drink, good food and good times.

Maloney's Tavern in Tempe
955 E. University Drive, Tempe
480-894-2224
On the Web

Started in 1991, this upscale tavern has become the place for ASU students to go. The Tempe location is within walking distance of the university, and the six other locations throughout the Valley have allowed this bar to really make a name for itself. 200 people can fit inside to listen to music ranging from '50s to modern-day hip-hop. Their smoking patio with fireplace and tables is also a fun spot to mingle.

Maloney’s features 11 beers on tap, soon to add another with a million-dollar remodel to be complete in the fall of 2008.

There’s a wide array of cuisine. Everything from Polynesian to American burgers to Irish specials on holidays to typical bar munchies.

Maloney’s is known for their décor: black-and-white Hollywood pictures and interesting quotes that provide the start of many conversations. You can also play pool on the second level and enjoy drinks at one of two bars. The multi-leveled layout provides everyone a perfect view of the bar.

“Our clientele base are people who want to kick back and relax in a welcoming atmosphere,” general manager Matt Elliot said.

Weekly Happy Hour Specials:
Mon.- Fri.: $1 off every drink except bottled beer
Sun. & Mon.: $3 Domestic pints
Tues.: $3 well drinks
Wed.: appetizer specials as well as $4 margaritas and $4 Coors and Miller Light liters
Thurs.: two-for-one you-call-it drinks and drafts from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Fri.: $4 Jack, Captain, SoCo, and Red Bull and vodka from 8 p.m.- 1 a.m.
Sat.: $3 you-call-its, pints and bottles from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Molly Brannigan's
1744 South Val Vista Drive, Suite 101, Mesa

"None but the finest Guinness Porter sold here," gleams the message embossed above the bar at Molly Brannigan's.

The original Brannigan's emerged out of an old Purcell tire garage in Pennsylvania, with other pubs opening up all over the state. The Mesa version is the first one to be based outside of PA, and it keeps all the tradition of the original alive, including a menu item with a nod to the pub's humble beginnings: the Purcell fish and chips.

Ample space and a large bar with 360-degree access means you'll have no trouble getting a drink in a hurry. Along with all the Irish brew and booze you'd expect, Brannigan's has a variety of domestic beer, alcohol and wine. The same is true of the menu, which lists corn beef and cabbage right next to burgers and fries.

Notable is the pub's outdoor patio which extends from the front of the building around the side with bar access via two large windows.

Brannigan's has live music every first and third Friday of the month, during which furniture is removed to make room for dancing. Though the weekends are oriented toward "bashing," have no fear in bringing the whole family around on weekday nights.

Bartenders at Brannigan's are encouraged to strike up conversation and introduce customers to each other, says bar manager Joshua Thomas Naylor. "It's great for networking or just getting shitty," he said.

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