Walter Mencken 11:31 a.m., Feb. 1
Saint Patrick's Day Think List
Strong Where to go for St Paddy’s day?
Yeah yeah yeah, Gaslamp.
But for me the obvious place is The Ould Sod (3373 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights, 619-284-6594), the classic Irish “dateless losers’” hangout that’s actually the third-oldest licensed establishment in San Diego. It started out as Ryan’s Bar in 1940.
Why The Ould Sod? It just feels like a genuine Irish pub. The guys behind the bar sound totally Irish. So you can be sure they know how to pour a Guinness.
And no, they won’t be turning their beers green. “Why spoil a perfectly good beer?” says the barman. But they will be having live Irish players making music from about 6.30 on tomorrow evening.
And it’s a good place to start because across the road is Rosy O’Grady’s (3402 Adams Avenue, 619-284-7666). It’s been serving up to scalliwags for 30 years next year.
And no, they’re not going the green beer route either. Their big St. Paddy’s Day push is their Irish food. Me? I find it hard to get sentimental about corned beef tacos, corned beef sandwiches, corned beef chile rellenos and a plate of corned beef with cabbage, but hey, they’ll be serving it up all day from 10:00 a.m.
And for a place that’s not actually Irish, Costa Azul (1031 Orange Avenue, Coronado, 619-435-3525) is going green for the day as much as anyone. For the day, they’ll be “Costa O’Zul,” have lots of corned beef tacos and quesadillas, and a band straight from the Hotel Del. Also, they’re next to McP’s, which is Irish, and will probably have half the Navy Seals down there celebrating.
But the oldest in town? No doubt: McDini’s in National City (105 E. 8th Street, 619-399-5904). Back in 1890, the three Italian Dini brothers opened up here and called their place the Goodwill Café. Then they decided to become an Irish eatery and added a “Mc” to their name. Mike Dini Sr. was known as the “original Italian leprechaun.”
Yes, they’ll have green beers (about $4 each) and the juke box will be turning out “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” all day except if a band turns up. That’s not certain but – and how Irish can you get? – looks like it’ll probably be about eight in the morning when they open. Who knows? Maybe 18 hours later when the place finally closes, they’ll still be there.
Likely, because last time I was in, Tessa the waitress told me “Ya gotta be here Saint Paddy’s Day. We plan this out months ahead. It starts in the morning and goes all day. We’ve always done Saint Patrick’s Day best: best Irish bands, best crowds, best corned beef and cabbage. Hey, 100 years’ practice, we’ve got it down.”
They've changed ownership since then. Let's hope they haven't changed their Irish ways.
Wherever, whatever, Happy St. Paddy’s Day!