Someone From Away Experienced Their First Portland, Maine St. Patrick’s Day
Mainers were out for St. Patrick's Day
For the first time in three years, March 17th finally felt normal. Whether you're from Maine or from away, there hasn't been a typical St. Patrick's Day anywhere in three years. No parades, no seas of green beer, no floods of people walking the streets hopping from bar to bar covered in green any and everything -- none of it.
Throughout the years, I've celebrated outside of Maine -- Dover, New Hampshire. Tulsa, Oklahoma. For a few consecutive years, I even hit the Southie Parade in Boston -- which is a completely different animal to tackle (and also an absolute blast.) But yesterday was my first-ever St. Paddy's in Portland, and it may be one of my favorites ever.
Gritty's on Fore Street
The day was supposed to start off pretty quietly, with a Noon lunch at Gritty's with a few co-workers before a late afternoon meeting then kicking off festivities. And while it was still relatively quiet, no one expected a couple of my co-workers to break into an Irish step dance/jig in the middle of the bar randomly. And no one definitely expected me to be challenged to a beer chugging contest by a couple of off-duty nurses from Maine Medical.
Shay's in Monument Square
After wrapping up a delicious lunch, buying a round for said nurses Ben and Dan who beat me in the contest, and a quick meeting, it was back to celebrating by meeting up with a few more co-workers at quite honestly what is quickly becoming one of my favorite Portland spots, Shay's. We actually commandeered a little corner off to the left when you first walk in with Nonesuch River Brewing which was a perfect little nook for us all to hang, talk about not work things for a change, and also watch my March Madness bracket bust right off the bat (thanks, Iowa.)
Three Dollar Deweys on Commercial Street
The next stop on my first-ever Portland St. Paddy's tour was a place I was actually really excited for because I've driven by it so many times and also heard so much about -- Three Dollar Deweys. And I knew it was going to be something special right off the bat when, before we even got inside, we ran into a cowboy with a horse in the alley right next to Deweys.
Inside was packed but pretty manageable. And honestly, props to the staff there, because even with a packed place, the bartenders were getting drinks in hand and food runners were delivering drinks and food super quickly and still managing to check in along the way, too.
Ri Ra on Commercial Street
Our last official stop ended up being the most packed (which makes sense considering it's a full out Irish bar) -- Ri Ra. After walking the few blocks down the street from Deweys, we were met with a decent (but not impossible) line outside of Ri Ra. The bouncers managed it perfectly, though, and we were in and packed with everyone else in no time.
Again, like at Deweys, even with a packed house, the bartenders kept slinging drinks at lightning speed so the crowd could enjoy the live band in the house (who had the entire floor dancing, even yours truly who isn't really much of a dancer.)
That ended up being the unofficial end of the night. We tried hitting up Arcadia, but with phones being dead by this point, not everyone had access to proof of vaccination, so that was out. We decided to grab some food up at Taco Escobarr, but they were at capacity, so we called it quits (outside of me making one more pitstop at Shay's for a burger.)
All in all, my first (but definitely not last) Portland St. Paddy's Day experience was just off the charts. In years past, it was pretty much expected to see some kind of alcohol-induced drama at different bars, especially the later in the day it got and the longer people were out and about celebrating.
I'm not sure if it's just a Portland thing or the fact that we had to wait three years to have a normal St. Paddy's Day again -- or both -- but it was something special yesterday. The weather was decent, everyone's spirits were up -- even at Ri Ra where it was crowded and you were a bit sandwiched up against people just moving around, no dirty looks, no side eyes, just smiles and toasts.