Downtown Boston has a lot of nooks and crannies, so much so that parts of the heart of the city are often overlooked by visitors--and locals, for that matter. The urban canyon that the eastern end of Beacon Street (and Beacon Hill) goes through is one such area, as many people either don't go further east than Boston Common and the State House, or further west than where Beacon Street crosses Tremont Street near Government Center and Downtown Crossing and becomes School Street. The little piece of Beacon between the State House and Tremont Street actually has several options for dining and drinking, including a homey little Irish pub called Emmet's which seems to cater mainly to office workers nearby, locals on Beacon Hill, Irish immigrants looking for an authentic-feeling pub with traditional music, and the occasional tourist who happens upon it. And while Emmet's isn't flashy and doesn't pretend to be a hotspot, that's part of the charm of this place, instead being a warm, cozy, and welcoming establishment that's a perfect spot to linger.
Emmet's resides in a space that's broken up into little sections like so many Irish pubs tend to do. The main dining area sits up in the front with views of Beacon Street, while a smaller section is just beyond it to the left of the bar, which takes up much of the right side of the space. Toward the back of the bar is a bit more seating, and the bar itself is a fine place to eat or drink, as it tends to be relatively mellow and the bar top has enough room for people to dine comfortably. The owners of the pub make the most of the limited space here, with the kitchen being downstairs and a dumbwaiter used to bring food up to the dining area, while the rest rooms are also downstairs, which allows nearly all of the space on the main floor to be used for dining and drinking. The space itself has the feel of the type of watering hole you might find in Dublin or Galway, with memorabilia and sconces on the walls, a Guinness sign in the middle of the place, old-fashioned hanging lights above the bar, and lots of dark woods used throughout.
The authentic feel of Emmet's extends to its food offerings, as the menu features a number of Irish and Irish-American faves along with pub grub and classic American fare. Some of the highlights here include a hearty Guinness onion soup with cheese bread soaking up the broth; a thick clam chowder which comes with Irish brown bread; spicy curry fries that can be ordered with cheese and/or bacon; a wonderful Guinness beef stew with lean and tender beef chuck shoulder; a shepherd's pie with ground beef and plenty of peas and carrots added; a savory chicken pot pie with peas, carrots, mushrooms, and onions; traditional fish and chips made using cod; house-marinated steak tips with veggies and a garlicky butter sauce on the side; and a burger with Irish red cheddar, relish, and mushrooms, all on a brioche bun. (For those who have trouble choosing, an "Irish Trio" is offered which includes beef stew, shepherd's pie, and chicken pot pie.) Drinks include what you might expect at an Irish pub, with Guinness Stout and Harp front and center along with Irish whiskey, and you can also do beer flights if you feel like sampling several different brews.
There are few cities that have more Irish pubs per capita than Boston (though NYC--and particularly Manhattan--has an almost absurd number of them), and most of the pubs are good, solid places to get a bite and a pint while listening to music, but some can get a little wild, especially on weekends. If you're more into low-key Irish pubs and like places just a bit off the beaten path, Emmet's is really one of the better options not only in downtown Boston, but in the entire region for that matter. [Ed note: Another location of Emmet's can be found in Norwood.]
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