Every St. Patrick’s Day, Los Angeles and the rest of the world is painted green. Dating back to the early 17th century, St. Patrick's Day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish. People from all around Los Angeles travel to their favorite Irish pubs to partake in food, drinks, and fun. For Angelenos, there are no shortage of bars to choose from, making their only problem picking the right one. If you live in East Hollywood, the place to be is Tam O’Shanter’s in Loz Feliz. And so this was the place we chose.
Having been around for over 90 years (within the same family), this brown and white cottage-style eatery is not only a pub, but has become an L.A. landmark. As you step into the dimly lit Irish tavern, with Celtic flags and old paintings that adorn its dark walls, we were greeted by the joyful staff dressed in traditional Irish garb. Tam O'Shanter's is so popular on St. Patrick's Day that the restaurant sets up giant white tents, which housed Celtic rock bands and an area to snag some food and beers. It was very impressive to see how many people of all ages milled about dressed in green shirts, green bowler hats, green pants, stockings and even green makeup. Little girls in lime green tutus ran in between older people drinking green colored beer and enjoying the music of Slugger O’Tool who had everyone stomping (and jigging) along to their upbeat Irish tracks.
As waiters in kilts walked around offering green beer, I spoke to one woman who told me, “This isn’t really just for people who have an Irish heritage anymore. Now celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is more like an American tradition, and Tam O’Shanter is the best place for it!” Another man (in green suspenders) overheard us and chimed into agree saying, “This day is all about dressing up and being with friends. It’s like the new Halloween except everyone wears the same costume!”
They certainly weren’t the only ones who felt that way, as Diana Van de Kamp (whose family started Tam’s) told me that this was the busiest St. Patty’s Day they’d ever had. “People got here at 10am, ready to go. There were so many people so early this year we had to call in extra security. It’s been so great though. This is my favorite day of the year hands down. It’s is my seventh St. Patty’s here and I can already tell you it’s the best one yet!” Van de Kamp told me just before she informed someone that yes, there was indeed a wait to sit at a table inside. A three-hour wait.
Not that you necessarily wanted to be inside. The parking lot and outdoor area were filled with the smell of corned beef and cabbage (at 2pm they had already cooked an impressive 1,000 lbs of beef), and the sounds of folks happily accepting another drink or a green ice-cream cone. All the food they offered was tailored specifically for the day’s festivities, and everything I sampled was delicious. The juicy corned beef on rye was cooked flawlessly, and it made for the perfect Irish lunch. I followed up with their homemade Whoopie pies filled with Irish cream at the suggestion of Van de Kamp herself, and I was truly glad I did. The chocolate cookies were cold and soft and the smooth Irish cream inside was delicious.
The food mixed with the music, sun and happy crowd made for the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day celebration. After seeing how Tam O’Shanter does this Irish tradition, I can say that I will definitely will be there next year.
By: Darianne Dobbie