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Who Provides the Most Authentic Irish Experience on St. Patty’s Day?

Above: A video from last year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration at John Martins Irish pub in Coral Gables.

Miami has never been known for its Irish culture, but that doesn’t mean we all don’t become Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

After all, we’ll become celibate priests for the night if it gives us an excuse to party.

While the biggest party is Miami always takes place at John Martin’s in Coral Gables,  the most curious party will take place at Washington Street and 13th Street on Miami Beach where you have two Irish pubs directly across the street from each other.

The Irish Playwright and the Waxy O’Connors are actually two of the most popular venues on the beach and both will be bustling on St. Patrick’s Day.

But this is not Boston, so we couldn’t help but wonder why somebody would open an Irish pub directly in front of another Irish pub that was already very successful.

Like many success stories down here, it was a result of a squabble.

The owner of Waxy’s used to be part-owner of the Playwright until he had a falling out, so he decided to open his own pub directly across from his old nemesis.

Nobody at either pub would go into details, but it is clear there is some bad blood between the two venues.

A few weeks ago, a group of us from Miami Beach 411 decided to try out both pubs to determine which one is the more authentic.

As a guy who spent 18 months in Dublin, I have a little experience in that department. Especially when it comes to pouring the Guinness.

I had visited both pubs a couple of weeks earlier and determined that Waxy’s poured the better Guinness. The second time around, Waxy’s still won, but only slightly.

The pint of Guinness had a sweeter taste to it, like it does in the Old Country, and that may be attributed to the fact that the pub is newer, which means the Guinness flows through cleaner pipes from keg to tap. Waxy’s also served better fish and chips and Irish stew. And their interior decor is much more authentic. It’s almost feels as if you’re in Ireland, if everybody wasn’t dressed so tropical.

“Well we have more Irish bartenders so that might explain why we have the better Guinness,” said bartender Damien Mathers, who hails from Northern Ireland.

“Everybody tells us it’s better over here.”


Above: The Guinness at Waxy’s

It takes two minutes to pour the perfect Guinness because it must be poured in three stages, Mathers said.  Check out this video to get more details on the perfect pour.

“We drink it ourselves so we make sure it is poured right,” he said.

Unlike many American beers, which strive to be poured without any head, the more head on a Guinness, the better flavor you will experience. This probably also explains why most American beer is pretty bland.

And as crazy as it will get on St. Patrick’s Day, we can imagine that bartenders will be cutting corners to pour the pints.

“We won’t be doing that because we’ll already have the pints beforehand and we’ll just hand them out as they are sold,” Mathers said.

Both venues are expecting full houses on St. Patrick’s Day with much foot traffic between the two.


Above: The Guinness at the Playwright

The good thing about having the two across the street from each other is that price gouging will be discouraged in order to remain competitive.

Neither venue said they will be charging a cover charge. And they both will have live bands performing.

The Playwright will feature The Bushmen, a cover band from Miami. Big 105.9, Miami’s classic rock station, will also be broadcasting from the Playwright.

Waxy’s will have a band and a DJ but as of this time, they have not determined which band will be performing.

And John Martin’s in Coral Gables, the granddaddy of St. Patrick’s Day parties in Miami where they close off several roads for a festive block party, will feature UV, a U2 cover band.

John Martin’s will charge ten dollars to get inside the pub, but will offer free entry to people of all ages at the block party, where alcohol and food will be sold.

“We’ll get about 20,000 people here that night,” said manager Phil Goodman.

Irish pubs across Miami will be holding their own celebrations, but the above three are probably the most authentic.

For example, Finnegan’s on the River is promoting a bucket of five Coors beer for $15 between 4-8 p.m. And they’ve featuring music by Miguel G and various other non-Irish sounding bands.

We won’t even ask them to pour a pint of Guinness.


Above: Miami Beach 411 writer Matt Meltzer with forums contributor Fred Garvin after several hours of indulging in Irish spirits

Waxy O’Connor’s
1248 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL

The Playwright Irish Pub and Restaurant

1265 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL, 33139
305 534-0667

John Martins Irish Pub and Restaurant
253 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, Fl. 33134
(305) 445-3777


Related Categories: Miami: Food & Restaurant News, Miami: Things to Do,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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