Updated March 17, 2021
If you’re in Central America searching for a place to wet your whistle this St. Patrick’s Day, look no further. Here are five Irish bars in Central America to celebrate in 2021 (plus a few more honorary Irish places).
Are you in Central America looking for a place to tie one on and celebrate today? If you’re Irish, you might well be. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the celebration of all things Irish.
Once upon a time, St. Paddy’s Day – and yes, it’s “Paddy’s” NOT “Patty’s”, as many Americans miscall it – was primarily a religious and cultural festival. Now, amid some consternation, it’s associated with drinking. We’ve spoken quite a lot about stereotypes here, and the devolvement of St. Patrick’s Day into a booze-fest because the Irish typically “like a drink or two” is something many Irish have mixed feelings about. It’s understandable.
But the St. Patrick’s Day drinking tradition has historical roots, believe it or not.
March 17th normally falls during Lent. Back in the day, Ireland observed Lent with fasting and no drinking. St. Patrick’s Day provided a one-day time out from that, a day when the church allowed you to let your hair down, eat something and have a pint.
And so it snowballed from there.
Nowadays everyone treats St. Patrick’s Day as a day to drink, no matter how tenuous their Irish roots might be. If you can’t beat them you might as well join them, right?
So what do you do if you’re in Central America on St. Patrick’s Day?
Central America doesn’t have a large Irish diaspora, unlike elsewhere in the world. It’s true many Irish came over to Latin America with the Spanish in colonial times and thrived. A man called Bernardo O’Higgins was the first ruler of an independent Chile.
But not so much in Central America, which was always a backwater under the Spanish. No big Irish diaspora here. No Irish pub on every corner selling Guinness.
We have a few though. Central America, like the rest of the world, didn’t escape the boom in Irish bars that exploded around the world in the 90s and early 2000s.
We’ll be the first to admit most Irish bars in Central America are not authentic, meaning ran by Irish people, but they can still provide a good time, especially on St. Paddy’s Day. This year might be even more of an occasion, given the pandemic cancelled all 2020 festivities.
So whether you’re as green-eyed and Irish as the River Shannon itself, whether you’re a plastic Paddy who thinks they’re Irish, or whether you have no connection with Ireland and just love the craic, here are seven Irish bars in Central America you can enjoy year-round.
Wherever you go this year, please remember all the social distancing guidelines. If you forget them, I’m sure they’ll remind you themselves, but maybe not as politely as I’m doing here.
Craic Irish Bar, San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica has a real dearth of Irish pubs. A few have come and gone over the years, but Craic Irish Pub in La Cali endures. Today’s the first day for a while they’ve been open for March 17 itself. Last year was the pandemic and the year before that they were closed for some other reason I can’t remember. Maybe it was a Monday or something. Whatever. Anyway, consider this a comeback.
Elsewhere in Costa Rica, if you happen to be around Playa Potrero in Guanacaste, a bunch of places have an organized celebration going on. Check out the Potrero St. Patrick’s Day Party Facebook event page for more details. Should be a lot of fun.
Hogs Breath Saloon, Granada, Nicaragua
Feeling loike some traditional Irish food amid the sweltering March heat of Granada, Nicaragua?
Look no further than the largest Irish sports bar in Nicaragua, the Hogs Breath Saloon. And as it’s a sports bar, you might get to see Chelsea hammer Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, too!
Bocas Brewery, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Are you looking for some craic in Central America? If you’re in Panama, you’re probabaly in the wrong country this year, unfortunately.
Panama’s still under heavy restrictions (compared to the rest of Central America), and although places are open until 10:00 PM, no-one’s really in the mood for celebrating yet. We can’t find anywhere actively promoting a St. Paddy’s Day party in Panama City, although if you’re in Bocas del Toro, you can step out for a pint or two and some wings at the Bocas Brewery.
Republik Bar, San Salvador, El Salvador
Situated in the Zone Rosa, Republik offers live music most nights and a great party vibe like you were in Dublin’s Temple Bar district itself and not in El Salvador. Every day is St. Paddy’s Day here.
McAllister’s Irish Pub, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
One wouldn’t usually associate Tegucigalpa, Honduras, with anything remotely Irish. But McAllister’s gets rave reviews and is one of the city’s favorite watering holes. They’ll be open today as usual, but their real fiesta to celebrate the big day is Saturday, March 20th. They say the fish and chips here are to die for, so that’s reason alone to drop by today.
The Blue Bayou, San Pedro, Belize
Feel like celebrating your Paddy’s Day at a table in the Caribbean Sea? Yes, we said “in“. Well, if you’re on Ambergris Caye, Belize, head over to Secret Beach and enjoy the festivities at the Blue Bayou! We know this place isn’t so much an Irish bar per se, but with tables and a view like this, who cares?
The Snug, Antigua, Guatemala
Jamesons, Guinness, Irish stew, and music. There’s not much that comes more Irish than that, and The Snug has it all. If you’re in Antigua, Guatemala, you know where you should be heading this afternoon. Most people we know who live in Antigua swear by this place year-round.
By this stage you might have already started drinking by now.
Maybe you’re in one of the Irish bars in Central America or maybe you’re creating your own craic somewhere else. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing today, have a good one.
Sláinte! Salud! Cheers!
James Dyde is the editor of CentralAmerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.