There are a couple things to remember about the Wooden Nickel Tavern's St. Patrick's Day celebration, now in its 29th year.
Plates heaped with corned beef and cabbage, and bowls filled with Irish stew will be served until the food runs out.
And the food always runs out.
"We're super-busy. It's a big day," said Joey Varela, who has owned the tavern since 1984. The Wooden Nickel has stood at 1908 S. Country Club Road since 1947, but Varela started the St. Patrick's tradition.
"We'll have a full house from about 11 in the morning until about 4 or 5," he said.
The crowd grows a bit more each year, said Varela, who bought about 200 pounds of corned beef last year. This year he ordered 250 pounds.
The Irish stew goes right away. "We make one big pot, and that goes early," he said.
The corned beef and cabbage plate sells for $7, and the Irish stew is $4. The portions are pretty generous, Varela said and laughed. "Way too generous, as a matter of fact," he said.
"I don't make a ton of money on the food," he said.
The drink specials also start when the doors open at 11 a.m. - Irish car bombs are $4; Irish whiskey is $3; and green beer sells for $2.
Varela's brother, Fred, runs the kitchen and this year will be taking on the St. Patrick's Day cooking. In St. Patrick's Days past, their mom, Irma, has prepared the corned beef.
Wooden Nickel also has a regular lunch menu. "We're known for our hamburgers and wings," he noted.
The crowd gets into the festivities, and it's a good idea to sport some green. Varela will be selling T-shirts that commemorate the celebration's 29th anniversary; $12 for a white lady's V-neck and $15 for a man's long-sleeved green shirt.
Some patrons have shirts dating back 20 years, he noted. "We've been doing it for so long it's a tradition," Varela said.
Call 323-8830 for more information.
More corned beef
• Sister restaurants Bluefin Seafood Bistro and Kingfisher Bar & Grill are both serving Guinness-braised corned beef and cabbage with boiled new potatoes and Irish soda bread for $17 on Sunday.
Bluefin, 7053 N. Oracle Road, is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Hours at Kingfisher, 2564 E. Grant Road, are 5-10 p.m.
• Chad's Steakhouse, 3001 N. Swan Road, is serving its Irish Feast (10-ounce corned beef, cabbage and red potatoes, salad, bread and beans) for $17. The regular menu also is available from 3 to 9 p.m. Call 881-1802 for reservations.
• Nimbus American Bistro n' Brewery, 6464 E. Tanque Verde Road, is whipping up corned beef and cabbage alongside Guinness bratwurst that will pair nicely with a $3 mug of Guinness. You also can get Smithwicks and Murphy's for the same price, or for a buck more try the Jameson and Tullemore Dew brews. For $5 go all out with Irish car bombs. Call 269-6309 for prices and details.
• Stables Ranch Grille Bar at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, 1 Otero Road in Tubac, will plate up corned beef and cabbage ($17) along with green beer from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
• "Leprechaun 4: In Space," A Special St. Patrick's Day Screaming! - The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway. Watch the movie and sip green beer. There's also a four-leaf clover treasure hunt. The fun starts at 7 p.m. $6, $5 for Loft members. 795-0844.
• Last Call Girls St. Patrick's Country Dance Party - Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Tucson's ambassadors of all things Irish - and country - will lead the party, which also includes green beer. 5:30-8:30 p.m. $5 cover charge. 690-0991.
• St. Patrick's Day Great Guinness Midnight Toast - Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Appalachian party music with Jimmy Carr and the MC-Awkward Moments, and Solid Gold DJs. 9 p.m. Saturday March 16. Free; 21 and older only. 622-8848.