The Best Irish Bars in Indianapolis
They say everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. But in Indianapolis, we've got some serious Irish heritage happening. After all, the Irish were the second-largest group of immigrants to make it to the city. Thus, we come by a love of beer and whiskey naturally. Plenty of pubs in town cater to those tastes and are happy to play the Irish card year-round. But on St. Patrick's Day, especially after the Downtown parade, our pubs are packed with revelers lifting a pint, a shot glass, or maybe even both. Sure, there's probably some green beer floating around as well, but leave that to your college friend. Stick to Guinness... or Jameson. And please, eat plenty of corned beef.
Connor’s Pub originally made Indy’s dive bar list, but its Irish heritage earns it a place in this round-up as well. The off-the-beaten-path location on the north side of the Broad Ripple canal makes Connor’s a neighborhood favorite -- along with the reasonable drink prices and an easygoing atmosphere that attracts everyone from college kids to retirees. And while there’s nothing particularly Irish about the pub’s popular pizza and cheeseballs, they'll be great with whatever you're drinking.
After a change in ownership, McGilvery’s upped its food game and now focuses on made-from-scratch Irish fare. Here you’ll find Dublin coddle, shepherd’s pie, bangers, colcannon, fish & chips, and, of course, corned beef & cabbage. Keeping all of that in mind, it's a typical shopping center bar (which definitely isn't a bad thing), with a loyal neighborhood clientele and popular trivia nights. Whatever day or night you stop by, you can expect some sort of drink special.
This pub originated in Lafayette, IN, and really is operated by the youngest of nine O’Bryan brothers. The women of the family are honored with “and five Irish sisters” inscribed over the bar. (That means a family of 14 kids, many of whom are involved in the business.) With live music on the weekends and a menu that includes excellent (and ample) servings of fish & chips, Guinness stew, and corned beef & cabbage (as well as more typical pub food), Nine Irish Brothers has made itself at home on Mass Ave.
This industrial-style pub opened in 2008. With a sophisticated draft beer system that apparently serves up the coldest, freshest pint around, Brockway also delivers the perfect pint of Guinness... and has the certification to prove it. Plus, the burger has been deemed the best in the Indianapolis area by ESPN. Aside from the accolades, this place offers some great classic pub food, as well as a signature fish & chips. It also has a unique version of bangers & mash that includes bacon-wrapped sausage served on a stick.
An Irish-themed sports bar within walking distance of Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium? Seems like a good idea to us. This place has a kick-ass bar menu filled with sandwiches, burgers, and entrées, and also features a half-dozen classic Irish plates. So, along with your beer or Jameson, feel free to try its famous bangers & mash... or maybe the Irish meatloaf. Check out the location in the Warehouse District, or stop by the new Greenwood location for a peek. And, sure, maybe even a drink.
Wholesale District (& other locations)
Yes, it’s a chain with nearly a dozen locations (including a few in the Indianapolis area: one on the Northside, one in Plainfield, and one Downtown), but Claddagh certainly knows how to do the Irish theme up right. It also has an all-day Irish breakfast that includes rasher bacon, black & white pudding, bangers, eggs, mushrooms, and soda bread to spice up the charm. Whether you’re looking to hear some live music (DJ sets every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night), grab some Irish specialties, or just stop by for a pint, you really can’t go wrong with a seat at Claddagh.
East Washington St
This is the granddaddy of Indy’s Irish bars. Or better yet: the great-granddaddy... seeing as the classic pub has been operating since 1934. That means 82 years of St. Patrick’s Day parties, possibly the oldest continuous pub celebration around. Best of all, it’s still run by the same family of Irish immigrants who opened it just months after Prohibition ended. You won’t find Irish fare on the small menu, but you will find one of the best cheeseburgers in the city, and a great Irish jam session every Tuesday.
CLB restaurant group owner Craig Barnum drew inspiration for this Carmel bar from actual Irish pubs. In fact, much of the interior of Langton’s was handmade in Ireland, brought here, and then assembled. The result is an appealing dark-wood decor with several built-in booths, known as snugs, that will seat small groups in their own cozy enclaves. Live music on Fridays, and a menu that features Guinness stew, corned beef, bangers & mash, and more standard bar food, make this a great place to get your Irish on in Carmel City Center.
This bar and restaurant in the busy Hamilton Town Center shopping area wins over diners with its Irish atmosphere and extensive list of what the Irish call “The Water of Life” (whiskey). Of course, we’re assuming the whole “Kegs & Eggs” thing happening on St. Paddy’s Day (8-11am) doesn’t hurt, either. Nor does the all-out celebration going down from Thursday-Saturday featuring live music and all the food and drink you could ask for.
Sign up here for our daily Indianapolis email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.
Jolene Ketzenberger is a freelance writer who covers local food at EatDrinkIndy.com and who will not be drinking green beer on St. Patrick's Day. Follow her @JKetzenberger on Twitter and @joleneketzenberger on Instagram.