“I like this new trend of Saint Patrick’s week instead of just one day,” says Patrick as he prepares to haul the Kelly clan to the 37th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Irish Festival in Balboa Park on Saturday, March 11. “By the time Friday rolls around, I should be just about finished celebrating my heritage.” The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. at Fifth and Laurel, but the festival runs all day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Drinking and writing are two of Mr. Kelly’s favorite pastimes. Eating is another. So I know he’ll be tickled by the prospect of breakfast at Oscar Wilde’s Irish Pub in Hillcrest (619-567-8249). There’s plenty of standard brunch fare, but he will have either the Irish breakfast — Canadian bacon, pork sausage, black and white pudding, scrambled eggs, baked beans, seared tomato, and English muffin ($11.95) — or the sausage and hash — pork sausage, braised cabbage, hash browns, and cheese, topped with a fried egg ($10.95).
Over at the Stout Public House in the Gaslamp (619-702-7933), you can get your Irish breakfast throughout the day: two eggs, imported Irish sausages, rashers, black and white pudding, baked beans, and potatoes, served with Irish soda bread ($13.50). Also available all day: house-made corned beef hash and eggs any style ($12.50). Dublin Square Irish Pub & Grill, also in the Gaslamp (619-239-5818), offers my all-time favorite starter: Irish eggs Benedict, so named for the Irish bacon that graces it ($13.95). It goes surprisingly well with an Irish Old Fashioned: Bushmill’s Irish Honey Whiskey, sugar, cherry, bitters, and orange ($11.95).
If Patrick is set on beer for breakfast, we might stop by O’Sullivan Brothers Brewing Company in Mira Mesa (858-577-0350) for offerings like Finn McCool’s Big Thirsty Red Ale, Irish Strong IPA, or the Catholic Guilt Smoked Porter ($5–$7 per 16 oz. pour; four 4 oz. samples for $10). They’ll be hosting an Irish stein-hoist contest and an Irish kilt contest, and several food trucks will be parked outside.
Breakfast seen to, the day can begin in earnest. ShamROCK runs from noon to midnight in the Gaslamp, and features three stages, which themselves feature Irish punk, Irish rock, and Irish outfits like Black Irish Texas, Drunken Lullabies, and the McNaughtys. Plaid-clad go-go dancers and Irish steppers will be there to entertain. General admission is $40, or pay $90 for a VIP ticket that gets you closer to the action. Price includes three drinks inside the venue and three more at participating Gaslamp taverns. Another option: create your own ShamROCK pub crawl, with three drinks for $15 or six for $30 at 20 participating locations.
Also in the Gaslamp: Irish 4 a Day St. Patrick’s Party Hop, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The party kicks off at McFadden’s (619-795-2500) with bagpipes and green beer. Some of the benefits of your one-day status as a Hibernian: free cover for 15 St. Paddy’s parties in joints like Greystone and Coyote Ugly, plus ten bartender’s choice welcome shots. Most venues offer extended happy hour and food specials. And, mercy of mercies, your way is guided by a map and a coterie of leprechauns and Irish faeries. Party finale at Sevilla night club with live entertainment, with an after-party for those still standing at Area 51 Ultra Lounge until 5 a.m. Tickets are $25, though prices may increase as the day approaches. Includes $3 off Ace Parking at 707 Broadway (with optional free overnight parking), plus $30 off your first Uber ride with code VIPSD.
For those slightly less inclined to bacchanalic revelry, there’s the St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Campland by the Bay (858-581-4260) on Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18, starting at 10 a.m. each day. Green tie-dying, fairy face painting, Irish dancing, potato tossing, a best-dressed leprechaun contest, with Irish stew and corned-beef tacos to eat and bands such as Lexington Field and the Ass Pocket Whiskey Fellas to hear.
And just in case St. Patrick’s week has left Patrick a touch, shall we say, lethargic, we might finish things nice and quiet with supper at Dan Diego’s Euro Café and Pub in Bay Park (619-276-2100). Corned-beef sliders with honey mustard and pickle chips ($11.50), beef shepherd’s pie with soda bread ($14), or bangers and mash with caramelized onion gravy ($13). And to finish, a little something to soak up the spirits: soda-bread beignets with Jameson whiskey caramel sauce ($8).