Eliza Sohn

Ireland is known for many things, but cuisine ain't one of them. Considering that the Irish subsist entirely on a diet comprised of whiskey, Lucky Charms, and colorful storytelling, it's no great loss that many of Portland's Irish establishments only loosely comply with food traditions from the green island. What's more, you'll be able to find some of the best elements of Irish food at places that aren't even pretending to be Irish. So, to coincide with St. Patrick's Day, we present a rundown of some of the finest places to get your Irish fix—without having to actually choke down dishes with names like coddle, blaa, or boxty.

Paddy's Bar and Grill

65 SW Yamhill, 224-5626

Claiming to be an Irish bar, there's virtually nothing on Paddy's menu to suggest the rugged cuisine of the Emerald Isle. Sure, there are some token items (potato skins and, uh, fries), but most of the fare is not even remotely Irish. (Southwest chicken salad? Shrimp scampi?) But this doesn't matter, because Paddy's knows what really flows through the heart of any Irishman, and that's booze, and plenty of it. With a wall of bottles that would make Shane MacGowan weep in gratitude, the bar at Paddy's is like the Library of Congress for drunks. There's so much to choose from that the bartender will need to climb a sliding ladder to reach that special liquor all the way on the top shelf. What's more, there are more varieties of Irish whiskey than there are incomprehensible passages in Ulysses, including uncommon brands like Clontarf, Connemara, and the sublime Redbreast. NED LANNAMANN

Reel 'M Inn

2430 SE Division, 231-3880

No food is more Irish than the potato. And no one does the potato better than Southeast's Reel 'M Inn tavern, where the specialty of the house is chicken and jojos. What's a jojo, you ask? Well, picture in your head the biggest French fry imaginable. Then double it in size. Then double it again. That's almost as big as Reel 'M Inn's jojos, giant slabs of piping hot potato, deep-fried in what I call "memory grease," hot oil that retains the flavor of everything that's ever been dipped into it. The jojos are deliriously crispy on the outside, with white-hot starchy goodness on the inside; served up with ranch dipping sauce, there's no tastier way to bid "fuck you" to your meager, undeserving circulatory system. Reel 'M Inn is the longtime stronghold buried within the endless construction of SE Division, a dive where the air is thick with smoke and bad '70s rock. When you think about it, it's the perfect American translation of the local Irish pub, a neighborhood gathering spot where stories are swapped, beer is guzzled, and pretentiousness is checked at the door. NL

Leaky Roof

1538 SW Jefferson, 222-3745

Inconspicuously located in a yellow house in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, the Leaky Roof touts itself as pouring the "best pint of Guinness this side of Belfast." Uh, which side? Exactly. There's no real way to dispute a claim like this, so let's just take them at their word, since the Guinness is faultless. Served at the right temperature (not too cool, but cooler than some proponents would have you think), with an appetizing, creamy head bulging over the rim of the pint glass, the stout marries roastiness and milkiness in perfect harmony. But really, "best pint of Guinness" is an entirely subjective thing, more to do with one's company and surroundings than the contents of the glass. And I can't think of a place as conducive to a potential best pint as Leaky Roof's welcoming, intimate interior, replete with a fireplace and wooden booths. NL

Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen

1038 SW Stark, 222-3354

The rank smell of a bubbling pot of corned beef and cabbage stew is familiar to most anyone who grew up in an Irish-American home—though it's probably not a "traditionally Irish" dish, but rather a result of Irish immigrants replacing the pork in their diets with the cheaper beef found in their new homeland. Whatever its origins, it's become an integral part of the spectacle Americans make of themselves every March 17, when we make a collective drinking game out of caricaturing another culture. The dish is hard to recommend, a slow-cooked stew of stringy meat, grayish cabbage, and carrots and potatoes that melt in your mouth. (Note: Carrots and potatoes should not melt in your mouth.) A far better way to satisfy that corned beef and cabbage itch, should you have one, would be to cruise down to our own authentic Jewish deli for a corned beef sandwich on rye, with some house-made kraut. Sure, it's the wrong culture—but I guarantee you K&Z's formidable sandwich will taste better than the crock pot full of misapprehension you'd be eating otherwise. ALISON HALLETT