When St. Paddy’s Day falls on a weekend, the celebration always gets a little bit bigger and better.
You can get that green domestic beer just about anywhere you go. But if that’s all you care about, then you might as well celebrate your Irish heritage by eating a bowl of Lucky Charms.
If you’re looking for a more authentic St. Patrick’s day experience, there are several places in Green Bay and Appleton that you just can’t miss.
NOTE – this article was written in 2013. Most of these places are still great to visit on St. Paddy’s. However, any musical acts or specials mentioned are likely inaccurate.
Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in Green Bay
The Lorelei Inn
The Lorelei is technically a German-themed bar, but they make a big deal out of St. Patrick’s Day. The countdown clock over the door proves it.
This charming, family-owned, neighborhood bar and restaurant on Webster Avenue is marking it’s 30th year in Green Bay.
They add corned beef and cabbage as well as shepherd’s pie to the menu for the St. Paddy’s holiday.
But the real reason to visit the Lorelei this weekend is the Guinness.
Owner Dave Hack, who you’ll often find behind the bar, is a Guinness expert. I’m told he’s even traveled to Ireland to get trained on how to pour and serve this dark, creamy beer the right way. You will definitely be able to tell. There’s a major difference between the Guinness you get out of the grocery store cooler and the stuff served at Lorelei Inn.
The temperature will be perfect and your pint will sit on the bar about 3/4ths full for awhile. This is part of the two-part pour. The first time I witnessed it, I thought the Guinness ran out.
Dave Hack is so good at pouring Guinness, he might make a four-leaf clover out of the foam on top for you. I’ve even seen him write people’s names in the beer’s head as a finishing touch.
St. Brendan’s Inn
This popular bar and restaurant on the south end of Washington Street becomes St. Patrick’s Day Central in Green Bay every March. It’s also an actual inn, but chances are all the rooms will already booked for the upcoming weekend. Irish cuisine is always on the menu, and St. Brendan’s has a nice spacious atmosphere with Celtic decor.
The city of Green Bay holds a St. Patrick’s Day parade on the Fox River Trail Saturday morning at 10:30, which will be followed by a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving fundraiser at St. Brendan’s. The Phoney Mahoney’s will play inside the bar on Saturday night.
- Visit the St. Brendan’s Inn website
- Check out Irish rock band Reilly
- More on the Green Bay St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The real celebration gets going on Sunday – when it’s actually St. Patrick’s Day. That’s when St. Brendan’s will have its heated party tent open in the parking lot. They’ll be serving beer inside and out with entertainment beginning in the late morning and wrapping up with Irish rock band Reilly at night.
Paddy O’s, Shenanigan’s & Molly McGee’s Irish Pub
Three other Irish-themed bars in the Green Bay area are also worth checking out.
If you don’t plan on going out Sunday night, Reilly will be performing at Paddy O’s in Ashwaubenon (2920 Ramada Way) on Saturday evening as well. Paddy O’s has both Irish and American food on the menu, and it’s a bit closer to a sports bar feel. I’ve heard good things about their Reuben sandwich.
Looking for more of that dive bar atmosphere? Instead of the swankiness of St. Brendan’s, try Molly McGee’s Irish Pub, which is just a little further down Washington Street (kitty-corner from Fox Harbor Pub). They’ll be open bright and early at 6 am and will have music from local favorite Wild Irish Gerry starting at 5:30 pm.
There will be a big party at Shenanigans on Main Street in Green Bay too. They are also opening up at 6 am. Shenanigan’s will have an outdoor tent with music from the Scrambies as well as Shaker and the Egg.
Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in Appleton
McGuinness Irish Pub
If authentic is what you’re after, this is the place to be on St. Patrick’s Day. McGuinnes Irish Pub (201 S. Walnut Street) should be on the top of everyone’s list in the Fox Cities.
I had the pleasure of meeting owners John and Anna McGuinness a few years ago while working for the local newspaper. The couple came to Appleton from Ireland and opened this unique establishment with their family in 2008. There’s also a gift shop, so you can deck yourself out in St. Paddy’s gear too.
- Visit the McGuinness Irish Pub website
The St. Patrick’s Day menu at McGuiness has some unique choices. Along with traditional dishes you can try Irish Pizza topped with corned beef and Kerrygold Irish cheese.
Besides boasting the “perfectly pulled pint” of beer, this pub also has 85 different whiskeys to choose from.
Music and entertainment will be plentiful. The O’Donnell Brothers take the stage Saturday night, and you can catch the duo Folk-n-Irish on Sunday. Plus, Irish dancers will be kicking around for your enjoyment on Sunday too.
Spats & Mark’s East Side
Personally, my favorite thing about St. Patrick’s Day is shoveling some corned beef and cabbage into my pie-hole. It’s a once-a-year meal that makes my 1/8th Irishblood do a little jig.
There are two places on College Avenue in Appleton that are well-known for their annual corned beef and cabbage dishes.
Spats is a cool little spot that also has a patio (aka the Spatio), which may be open if the weather is right. Every year they keep track of how much corned beef and cabbage they actually make and serve. You can take a stab at guessing. The customer who comes the closest wins dinner for two.
Spats has other fun Irish themed dishes including the Blarney Stone Appetizer (mini Reubens) and an Irish Cloud Torte made of pistachio pudding.
Mark’s East Side is also famous for its corned beef and cabbage. Or you can get corned beef sliders – if for some reason you’ve got something against cabbage.
On Sunday night, you can catch live music from Sheamus Fitzpatrick and the McNally Boys (pictured above). This is a highly entertaining Irish folk band that calls the Fox Cities home. They will make it impossible for you not to dance. You can also catch Sheamus and the boys in Oshkosh on Saturday following the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
- Visit the Spats Food & Spirits website
- Visit the Mark’s East Side website
- Check out Sheamus Fitzpatrick and the McNally Boys online
- More on the Oshkosh St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The Durty Leprechaun
With a name like that, you know it’s going to be a good time.
I’ve been there on St. Paddy’s, and it’s pretty much a madhouse. I guarantee you’ll see plenty of people dressed up all crazy, and yes of course, there will be green beer.
The Durty Leprechaun is actually giving it away free along with t-shirts to the first 17 people who walk in the door on Sunday. But they open at 6 am – so good luck if you’re out late on Saturday.
- Check out The Durty Leprechaun on Facebook
While you’re there…make sure to look for bartender Jeff Thurber. He’s become somewhat of a legend behind the bar in Northeast Wisconsin thanks to his flair bartending skills. His signature trick is pouring a bunch of shots all at once – quite the crowd-pleaser.
So go ahead…ask him for eight Irish car bombs.
What Did We Miss?
Is there a secret spot that we should know about? Lots of places are serving corn beef and cabbage right now. Where’s your favorite?
Chime in and let us know what you do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!