Not all restaurants and bars are located in comfortable spaces, but more often than not, Irish pubs tend to be consistently good options for those looking for warmth and comfort. This is certainly the case with an old Irish pub and restaurant in Newton Upper Falls called Dunn-Gaherin's Food and Spirits, which changed up its space several years ago but which remains a cozy and inviting spot for those looking for a neighborhood place with good food and drink. And while the pub is often packed with a full parking lot outside and a wait for a table in the front, it mostly remains a hidden gem outside of the immediate area, in part because of its rather obscure location that is near Routes 9 and 128, which makes it a bit tough to find if you don't know this little pocket of Newton.
Dunn-Gaherin's is one of a few dining and drinking spots in Newton Upper Falls, which is an old mill village known for its historic homes, antique stores, and beautiful Hemlock Gorge along the Charles River. The pub sits just around the corner from the main part of the village in a residential area, which keeps it a bit hidden away (and Newton Upper Falls itself is hidden, wedged into a little area bordered by the Charles, Route 9, and an old railroad line). Located in a house-like structure that looks a bit like an A-Frame from the front, Dunn-Gaherin's is a deceptively spacious place, with a horseshoe bar in the front, some seating in a split-level area just behind the bar, and a dining room that extends back and is a bit quieter than the seating in the middle of the place. The space has a bit of a split personality, with a high ceiling in the middle giving that part an airy and bright feel, while the bar itself is rustic and moody with dark woods and lots of memorabilia, and the back dining area has more of a feel of a family restaurant. The setup of Dunn-Gaherin's used to be quite different, with the back dining area being nearly completely cut off from the front bar, but now the space has a bit more cohesion overall.
From its start back in 1991, Dunn-Gaherin's has been known for its Irish fare and bar food, and that hasn't changed much over the years, with a few highlights being a heaping plate of nachos that can be ordered with spicy chicken or chili; a large serving of handcut onion rings with buffalo blue cheese on the side; outstanding eggplant fries with marinara sauce (and one wonders why more places don't offer this); a sweet corn chili with plenty of melted colby-jack cheese added; char-grilled burgers that include versions with pineapple, fried eggs, guacamole, and more; marinated steak tips and turkey tips, with the former being a particularly popular item here; a classic version of fish and chips that include deep-fried haddock fillets from Captain Marden's in Wellesley; and among the specials, an excellent shepherds pie, a belly-busting turkey dinner, a warm and comforting beef stew, and a plate of corned beef ravioli which is good enough to warrant being on the regular menu (it is not, as of yet). Drinks include a decent beer list (including both Guinness and Smithwick's) along with wine, scotch, whiskey, martinis, and a variety of cocktails.
Dunn-Gaherin's has been featured by a number of media outlets over the years, but it still remains under the radar, especially to those who live outside of the immediate area. But locals love this place and for good reason, as it has the feel of an authentic Irish pub and a neighborhood watering hole, while offering impressive food and the obligatory pints of ale and stout and Irish whiskey. And while Newton wouldn't seem like a community that has a good number of Irish pubs, it has just that, with Dunn-Gaherin's perhaps being at or near the head of the pack.
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