Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Food Dude picks best Irish food in Myrtle Beach
Flynn's Irish Tavern serves up traditional Irish food as well as other specialties.

Restaurants & Dining
Food Dude picks best Irish food in Myrtle Beach

Every bar and grill plays Irish pub on St. Patrick's Day, pulling out their old corned beef and cabbage recipe and putting green food-coloring in their beer once a year to spread some Irish cheer.

But it's the folks who serve authentic Irish food year-round who do it right, so the Food Dude went in search of the best Irish cuisine in town. All signs pointed to Flynn's Irish Tavern in North Myrtle Beach. It's like a little chunk of Ireland broke off and washed up on the Grand Strand.

Formerly known as The Pale (and before that it was the North Myrtle Beach Jail), it's safe to say the food has been on a steady increase over the years. The Pale was a well-established pub when the Flynn Family purchased it in 2001 (just before 9/11), and the Irish cooking is what has sustained it through tough times.

Sounds just like the Irish, who even in hard times found ways to make delicious dishes out of limited ingredients. Much like Southern cooking, Irish cuisine is the soul food of Europe. Today people call it “comfort food,” which is a pretty good description of Flynn's expanded menu to include non-Irish fare.

“We serve traditional Irish food and that's what we're known for,” said owner Marty Flynn, a native of Roscommon, Ireland who spent 41 years on Wall Street before “retiring” to the beach and buying the restaurant. “But we've added to our menu to include seafood, steaks and other popular items. It's all good.”

But Irish food is what they do best, as the Food Dude found out first hand. Marty served me a combo plate of bangers and mash (that's pork sausage with grilled onions, mashed potatoes and Guiness gravy for the uninitiated), half a reuben sandwich and fish and chips, which were the best I've ever had. The reuben was excellent (gotta love Boar's Head corned beef) and the bangers and mash left my Irish taste buds smiling.

And I couldn't even find room for the house specialties. The Shepherd's Pie (layers of beef, mashed potatoes and Guiness gravy) and Jameson BBQ Chops (glazed with Irish whiskey) are popular favorites, and the slightly Americanized dishes of bacon-wrapped meat loaf and liver and onions are hits among all non-vegetarians. And there's the Guiness Stew, made with Ireland's No. 1 export.

It's no wonder Flynn's sells more Guiness than any other bar in South Carolina, and it has a giant harp trophy to prove it. A good portion of that dark brew will be poured on St. Patrick's Day, when Flynn's will open its new open-air beer garden (just in time for the St. Paddy's Day Parade and the new no-smoking ordinance in North Myrtle Beach).

Flynn's serves 1,800 pounds of corned beef that day and goes through 55 to 60 kegs of beer. The Flynn's Paddy Wagon, a beautifully restored beer trailer, will be serving cold brew all day and Flynn's also will start serving bloody mary's and Irish coffee at 8:30 a.m. Get there early for great view of the parade and a real taste of Ireland.

Other full-time Irish restaurants and pubs to check out on St. Paddy's Day or any other day of the year include Pat & Mike's in Little River, Molly Darcy's in North Myrtle Beach, Finn McCool's and Shamrock's in Myrtle Beach, Handley's Pub in Carolina Forest and O'Keefe's in Murrells Inlet.