The Most Authentic Irish Pubs in the US Slideshow
March 8, 2013
Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Part of Coleman’s' authenticity simply comes from its neighborhood; it's located in Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill, which was settled by primarily Irish immigrants (who came from Ireland’s County Tipperary). The area's heritage is why there’s an upside-down stoplight just outside: When traffic signal lights were first installed by the city in the 1920, some Irish teenagers allegedly kept breaking the lights because they couldn’t stand that the "British red" light was above the "Irish green" light, so now the light hangs upside-down (which we imagine confuses drivers). Coleman’s feels like a little part of Ireland — the dark wood interior, family crests, and other Irish relics on the wall give way to an unforgettable Irish dinner or drink. On the menu? Traditional Irish potato soup, soda bread, corned beef cabbage, Beef O’Flaherty casserole, and other Irish staples. You can count on a pretty standard beer menu with some Irish ales like Guinness, McSorley’s, Smithwick’s, and Killian’s. (Just ignore the Bud on tap.)
The Dubliner (Washington D.C.)
It only makes sense that the baby of Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub also makes our list: Washington, D.C.’s The Dubliner was opened by Daniel J. Coleman, whose father opened Syracuse’s Coleman’s. The Dubliner stands out for its beer sales; the pub is the largest seller of Guinness, and the only seller of the Auld Dubliner Amber Ale and Dubliner Irish Lager (exclusively made for the pub). The dinner menu, filled with Irish dishes, is nearly identical to Coleman’s. Known for its lively array of live Irish music and performers, The Dubliner is a welcome spot for those looking to recreate the atmosphere of Ireland. (Hey, if it’s good enough for President Obama to live it up on St. Paddy’s Day, we’ll take it.)
Patrick's of Pratt Street (Baltimore)
Baltimore’s Patrick's of Pratt Street calls itself the oldest Irish pub in America, so we can understand why it’s dripping with tradition. Open in the same location since 1863, you’ll find more than your fair share of Ireland’s staple dishes, Irish beers, and Ireland relics. And, fun fact — for about 25 years, the owners refused to open on St. Patrick’s Day because they didn’t want to see the Irish make fools of themselves on what’s a holy day for Ireland. But now, if you find yourself in the area and looking for a pint on St. Paddy’s Day, there’s no better pub. While recent reviews note that the pub food has expanded into slightly more global cuisine since new ownership took over, you’ll still get your fish and chips and corned beef.
Butch McGuire's (Chicago)
Ever since Butch McGuire opened the pub in 1961, it’s been an institution in Chicago. Why do we love it today? Its drink menu: not only does it have a dedicated Black and Tan menu, cocktail menu, a legendary international and craft beer list, but it has an Irish whiskey menu (and flights) that most dream about. (Yeah, we’re talking about that Redbreast 12-year.) And yes, it calls itself the original "singles bar" because of its 5,000-plus marriages attributed to "bar hookups" — not a bad reason to grab a drink at the bar.
Eire Pub (Boston)
Eire Pub in Boston is no stranger to celebrity guests — Anthony Bourdain, former presidents Ronald Reagan (who ordered a Ballantine Ale) and Bill Clinton, former Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern, and New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft among other have all made appearances — but that’s not the only thing that makes it stand out. Its authenticity as a "working man’s" pub is undeniable, right down to the $4 corned beef sandwich and pint of Smithwick’s. Plus, its bartenders are as much an institution as the pub itself, with some bartending at Eire for 45 years. (Fun fact: 2012 was the year Eire brought in its first female bartender — we won’t totally fault the pub for being a bit behind the times.)
The Field (San Diego, Calif.)
The Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego is home to a truly authentic Irish experience. When we say you’ll be transported back to Ireland, we don’t just mean because the pub serves potcheen (a clear spirit that’s currently banned in Ireland). The pub features décor literally shipped over from an early 1900s Irish pub, with relics including mining equipment, kitchen utensils, and old-school Guinness signs. With an expansive Irish whiskey and Scotch list, a beer list that's heavy on Irish and England selections, and a small menu dedicated to Black and Tans and beer mixers, The Field offers a true Dublin-like drinking experience. And among the pub’s signature dishes, you'll find authentic bites of Ireland like the Guinness beef stew, shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, and fish and chips.
McSorley’s Old Ale House (New York City)
Ah, McSorley’s. With its sawdust-blanketed floors, vintage photo-lined walls, and thick garlands of dust icing nearly every inch of the space — it just has pints full of charm. And speaking of pints, here, at what is distinguished as New York’s oldest bar, there are only two choices of beverage: the light or dark house beer. This is definitely an institution everyone should experience at least once — and good luck not going back for more.
Wilfie & Nell (New York City)
Consider this the Irish bar for those not looking for a typical, by-the-book pub experience. A good mix of hip and cozy, it boasts rave-worthy bites usuals like Scotch eggs and meat pie, but better than you thought they could be and a unique, varied selection of quality brews that beer geeks can get excited about.
The Blackthorn Pub (Boston)
This South Boston bar is confident in asserting that it offers a "TRUE Irish pub experience without the fake 'Irish props,'" and fans and regulars no doubt agree. With that old-school, worn-in feel and a solid selection of beers on draft (including Irish favorites like Guinness, Harp, and Smithwick's), it’s simply a great place to grab a drink. Plus, they screen all the important Irish and U.K. sports games on their large-screen TVs.
The Plough & Stars (Boston)
Named among Draft Magazine’s 150 Best Beer Bars of 2010, this long-standing Cambridge pub has earned as much praise over the years for its smartly chosen beer list as its live entertainment. The pint-sized place (pun intended) also earns points among regulars for its lack of stereotypical Irish pub décor, instead capturing the vibe with its convivial atmosphere.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House (Philadelphia)
There are plenty of great Irish bars in Philadelphia, but only this one can call itself the citys oldest continually operating tavern. With the kind of old-school, no-frills charm that can only be achieved after 153 years in business, this place is no-brainer for cold beers (try their house brand Real Ale and Genuine Lager) and good times.
The Grafton Pub (Chicago)
Consistently called out among the citys best Irish pubs (in addition to the praise for its top-notch burger), The Grafton Pub boasts a craft beer list with some 70-plus selections and more than 20 Irish whiskeys. If that alone didnt make for a stand-out Irish pub, tack onto that a friendly staff and regular live music performances.
Molly Malone's (Los Angeles)
This more than 40-year-old landmark is known for its great live music, featuring a wide range of local musicians nightly. A good place to grab a pint, the LA Times once wrote this about it: "The shelves are lined with books and, generally speaking, everything that isn't made of wood is green except for the beer, which is never green, even on St. Patrick's Day."
This Seattle pub is more than just a place to grab a well-pulled pint of Guinness, it's also arguably the best spot in town to catch whatever must-see soccer game sorry, football match is playing. The bar opens as early as 4:30 a.m. to show important international matches from the World Cup, Euro Cup, and English Premier League.
B.D. Riley’s (Austin, Texas)
This pub was named by Imbibe Magazine as one of the countrys best places to drink Guinness. The secret to their "perfect pint o dark"? Spotless imperial glasses and the patience to allow the beer to settle into its two proper parts. The bar is adamant about not being a "cookie-cutter" pub, and much of the establishments design and furnishings were sourced directly from Ireland. And of course, this being Austin, theres plenty of great music to add to the atmosphere.
The Buena Vista Café (San Francisco)
How do you compete with the place where the Irish coffee was invented? Its a tourist attraction for sure, but youve got to appreciate an Irish pub thats known for a drink besides Guinness and whiskey. Of course, if youre looking for someplace in San Francisco with more of a traditional Irish bar feel, The Irish Bank is a must-visit, especially if youre a whiskey drinker.
Rí Rá (Las Vegas)
You're probably thinking: A good Irish bar in Vegas? Really? Yes, really. Thisestablishment is no Vegas mirage, having gone to great lengths to deliver on real-deal Irish pub atmosphere. Although the expansive, four-room venue doesnt make for as cozy a space as many older pubs, it certainly has the right look outfitted in dark wood furnishings and antique fixtures salvaged from old Irish buildings. Theres also an impressive selection of Irish whiskeys and international brews on tap and by the bottle, as well as bands flown in from the Emerald Isle.
Clarke’s Irish Pub (Miami)
Another great Irish bar in an unexpected location is Clarkes Irish Pub, in Miami Beach. Very much a departure from the citys swanky nightlife scene, this homey bar is, as they say, "all about the craic." (For the uninitiated, thats Gaelic for a place with a fun, lively, social atmosphere.)