The recipe for a quality Irish pub is hard to define. Sure, it probably involves a pint of well-poured Guinness, but other elements are tougher to pin down: a great Irish stew, friendly banter, some dude in a wool cap playing a bodhran in a corner... While some Irish pubs in Milwaukee certainly boast more authenticity than others, as long as the pub is a good time, we’re willing to consider it worthy.
You get extra points as an Irish pub if you serve bangers and mash -- and this delicious item is just one standout on a menu that’s both extensive and tasty. When it comes to washing it all down, the 16 taps include staples like Guinness and Magner’s, and also some standout craft beer choices.
The rustic brick building at 338 South 1st St has a long Irish history. Before it transformed into O’Lydia’s five years ago, this space housed the popular Slim McGinn’s. This bar is well suited for sipping libations of all sorts, and its large patio is perfect for outdoor drinking -- especially when the railroad tracks that run by it aren’t busy with freight train traffic.
BuBs is no cozy pub. It is massive -- 15,000sqft to be precise -- and feels more like a live music venue than a bar. But BuBs deserves a mention, largely because the Trinity Irish Dancers perform there frequently. This phenomenal Irish dance troupe transforms the space into a serious Celtic experience.
The O’Donoghue family has been in the bar business for quite some time: friendly owner Jamie O’Donoghue’s father Danny opened his first pub in 1969, and the younger O’Donoghue is a savant when it comes to remembering the names of patrons. He engages with everyone in his large, but still homey, bar. If you’re up for listening to some fantastic stories, order a Guinness and get O’Donoghue talking.
This 140-year-old building comes with a view of the falls in the heart of quaint downtown, and is as welcoming as it gets. A perfectly poured Guinness and a deliciously meaty Reuben sandiwch make the experience complete -- plus, every Thursday, at 6pm, the bar has an Irish toast with Guinness or Irish whiskey. Sláinte.
It may be roughly 35 miles from downtown Milwaukee, but The Pub is worth the trip. The owners hail from the north of Ireland, and they offer an Irish whiskey and Scotch list too big to fathom. Suffice it to say, The Pub is no faux Irish bar -- and no slouch when it comes to food, either. The menu includes staples like shepherd’s pie and Irish stew, alongside pricier items like baked salmon and steak. It’s a taste of Ireland, Waukesha County-style.
Guinness brewmaster Fergal Murray says that the folks here pour the best pint of the black stuff in Wisconsin -- which might mean this tavern is worth a visit. County Clare is a welcoming spot, whether you’re at the bar, or cozying up at a small table in the Saint’s Snug. And if you have a little too much craíc while downing pints, you can always get a nicely appointed room in the inn upstairs.
Historic Third Ward
The Irish Pub is all about active Celtic pursuits, and the bar sponsors both hurling and rugby teams. This spot, on the southern edge of Downtown, is also pretty good about more casual activities. Sure, the friendly pub has the Irish beer standards (Guinness, Smithwick’s, Harp, and the like), but it also boasts roughly 30 craft beers. Of course, you can’t really exist in this hip part of town without a strong beer list.
There’s something invitingly quaint about historic downtown Waukesha. House of Guinness fits right in with a façade you might see in any number of small, Irish towns. The no-frills interior features plenty of woodwork, a long bar, and a few small, wooden tables. Far more important than flashy décor, House of Guinness offers a sizable beer menu and a decent whiskey list.
Sister to the sprawling pub in Wauwatosa, the downtown version of Mo’s is big and brash -- but still inviting. Its two-story footprint provides more than a few areas to imbibe, and is an ideal spot to catch some live music. Mo’s is a lively bar, and the right choice for those who are looking for something a little more rowdy and fun than cozy and quiet.
If you enter this East Side institution, you may have a hard time leaving -- due partly to the fact that it’s a damn good time, and partly because the interior is a dark labyrinth that’s nearly impossible to navigate after a couple of Harps. There are worse things than being stuck in a friendly bar just a Blarney Stone’s throw from the madness of busy North Ave, however.
Chunks of delectable corned beef brisket draw in hungry patrons from every neighborhood in Milwaukee. Oddly enough, McBob’s is also known for pretty amazing tacos (if for some reason corned beef isn’t your thing). The bar is a friendly neighborhood tap that draws a diverse crowd looking to raise a pint and consume salted, cured meat.
Sure, McGillycuddy’s resides in an oft-maligned bar area known more for free-flowing Fireball shots than good taste. But this tavern earns street cred for being one of the elder statesmen of Water St. McGillycuddy’s has been pouring beer and shots for nearly 25 years. The two-story bar can house plenty of revelers -- and offers a spacious beer garden that is one of the best in Milwaukee. The patio also features the Gilly Stone, a boulder that grants good luck to those brave enough to kiss it.
Play word association with any Milwaukee barfly and “The Harp” will almost always be answered with “outdoor deck.” This delightfully prominent feature, overlooking the Milwaukee River, has been drawing drinkers long before drinking outside was as fashionable as it is now. On any day the weather cooperates, the large wooden deck is one of the best places in town to knock back a pint or three.
This massive drinking complex is actually made up of three bars -- the lively Foy’s, the more intimate library setting of Duffy’s, and Gallagher’s, a large space between the two. A short stumble from boisterous Water St, the scene can be a wee bit over the top -- a great place to head if you’re looking for things to get a bit out of hand.
An essential component of any self-respecting Irish pub is a friendly atmosphere -- céad míle fáilte, and all that. Champion’s has that part down pat: this welcoming corner tavern, tucked off the beaten path of bustling North Ave, is usually populated by a hardy cast of professional drinkers. Combine the good crowd with a solid beer list and a shuffleboard table, and you’ve got the ideal pub experience.
This Irish roadhouse on the North Shore is known for its amazing corned beef, which is among the best in the area. The Irish-American meat at Taylor & Dunn’s is damn good, but bring a friend and insist they order the shepherd’s pie, too -- it’s worth trying.
There was a certain divey charm to this place when it was Packy’s Pub. Then Bar Rescue came in, made some cosmetic changes, and suggested a name change. We’re not sure if this really constitutes progress, but the spruced-up space has retained the charm of a neighborhood bar. Campbell’s serves a nicely poured pint of Guinness, plenty of whiskey, and a proper Irish breakfast on Sundays. Owner Packy Campbell is a native of Dublin, and brought some of Ireland with him to the South Side.
This place is really a sports bar and music venue with a dash of pub sprinkled in, but it's worth noting in part for the Reuben quesadilla, a bizarre yet delicious concoction made with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. This bright green spot on Highway 100 brings a bit of craic to the neighborhood.
O’Brien’s gets props for labeling itself an “Irish-American” pub -- that’s truth in advertising. The tavern is big, but the ample woodwork, stone fireplace, and small front bar make it feel cozy anyway. This friendly spot serves up plenty of hospitality any time of the year, but it’s best during baseball season -- and the free shuttle to and from Miller Park is a great way to travel.
1. Mulligan's Irish Pub & Grill8933 S 27th St, Franklin
2. O'Lydias338 S 1st St, Milwaukee
3. Bubs Irish PubN116W16218 Main St, Germantown
4. O'Donoghue's Irish Pub13225 Watertown Plank Rd, Elm Grove
5. A.J. O'BradysNW 16495 Main St, Menomonee Falls
6. The Pub Club1103 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee
7. County Clare Irish Inn & Pub1234 N Astor St, Milwaukee
8. The Irish Pub124 N Water St, Milwaukee
9. House of Guinness354 W Main St, Waukesha
10. Mo's Irish Pub142 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
11. Paddy's Pub2339 N Murray Ave, Milwaukee
12. McBob’s Pub and Grill4919 W North Ave, Milwaukee
13. McGillycuddys Bar1135 N Water St, Milwaukee
14. The Harp Irish Pub113 E Juneau Ave, Milwaukee
15. Trinity Three Irish Pubs125 E Juneau Ave, Milwaukee
16. Champion's Pub2417 N Bartlett Ave, Milwaukee
17. Taylor & Dunn's Public House10365 N Cedarburg Rd, Mequon
18. Campbell's Irish Pub4068 S Howell Ave, Milwaukee
19. Finn McGuire's Irish Pub & Grill5001-5199 N 108th St, Milwaukee
20. O'Brien's Pub4928 W Vliet St, Milwaukee
Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill is a neighborhood Irish bar in Franklin, just a short drive outside of downtown MKE. Offering traditional traditional Irish-American bar fare (you know burgers, fish & chips, and Shepard's Pie) plus a wide variety of well whiskey, draft beer, and classic cocktails. It'll definitely be worth your while to check this spot out on March 17th, but its friendly atmosphere makes a solid year round choice too.
This Irish pub has a fully stocked liquor shelf, plenty of beer options and game day shuttles. If that doesn't sell you, O'Lydias also offers all you can eat cod if the two, three or four-piece dinner just isn't enough. Plus their hand breaded fried shrimp are some of the best around.
BuBs Irish Pub in Germantown is a short jaunt outside of Downtown Milwaukee and definitely worth checking out. This traditional style Irish bar has a great outdoor patio and porch area, regularly hosts live music, and has all the Guinness, Jameson, and Jager you need for a rollicking St. Patrick's Day party, Also, there's pool and darts!
O'Donoghue's Irish Pub in Elmgrove is a classic Irish dive, through and through. This neighborhood spot offers draft brew in a cozy, old-style environment. Housed inside of a castle like tavern, you'll think you've been transported to the Old Country... wait, no, that's just the Guinness talking.
A.J. O'Brady's Irish Pub & Grill in Menomonee is a great place to go hang out, watch the game, and socialize with a brew in hand. You'll definitely feel cozy in this warm and friendly spot (there's a wood-burning stove inside to keep you extra toasty). Multiple flat screens make A.J. O'Brady's Irish Pub & Grill a solid choice for catching up on local sports.
Pub Club is a authentic Irish dive bar in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward, the city's nightlife epicenter. Stop by for draft brew, Jagerbombs, and a whole lot of whiskey. DJs regularly spin on weekends, which can result some pretty wild nights and crazy dance parties. Feeling hungry? Check out the menu full of dependable bar fare.
County Clare's Bloody deserves a regal goblet. The mix includes Clamato juice, but don’t worry, it doesn’t impart fishiness like you’d expect. What it does do is lighten the mix so you can drink more than one of these behemoths, and you’ll want to. Who knew a Bloody Mary could be so refreshing? The large glass has plenty of room for a substantial garnish of a full beef stick, string cheese, and best of all, homemade pickled red potato. This is an Irish pub and inn after all.
The Irish Pub is, well, an Irish pub. This riverside watering hole is known for its laidback vibe, craft pub bare (flatbreads, burgers, and sandwiches), and wide selection of draft brew. The outdoor seating area has ample space for all your crew, so be sure to check out this spot on March 17th, when shenanigans are sure to be going down.
Waukesha's House of Guinness lives up to its name. It's a cozy, homey spot that serves a lot of, well, Guinness-- but they have also plenty of other English and Irish brews on the menu. House of Guinness is definitely Irish, but not in a kitschy, over the top way; it's just a nice neighborhood spot to hang out, catch some live music, and nurse a good brew.
Mo's Irish Pub is a low-key Irish bar with outposts in Wauwatosa and Downtown Milwaukee. The MKE offshoot is just as sprawling as its Wauwatosa sister operation, so expect to let the good times roll. Two levels of bars will make this St. Patrick's Day a night out to remember.
Always Sunny in Philadelphia ? More Always Sunny in Milwaukee at Paddy's Pub. This large and festive bar is the perfect place to get your drink on this St. Patrick's day. The massive space is great for large groups and of course, they've got everything you need on tap: Guinness, Guinness, more Guinness, and lots of whiskey.
McBob’s Pub and Grill in Washington Heights emphasizes its mixed traditions of Irish, Scottish, and American food and culture. With some of the city’s best Reubens, McBob’s piles its famous corned beef high on light or marble rye bread. For the Reuben-averse, McBob’s offers one-pound beef or chicken tacos bundled tightly in 12-inch flour tortilla wraps, but only on days that start with T or S. The spot is comfortable and friendly, but not fancy, so bring your crew here for apps and brews.
McGillycuddy's Bar & Grill is a East Town watering hole that's popular with Milwaukians for its cheap brews, generous pours, and low-key, locals-only attitude. The space features a long, oak bar and outdoor beer garden. Catch up on the game multiple flat screen TVs, or just enjoy the vibe with a Guinness in hand.
The Harp's a traditional Irish pub in Milwaukee's East Side. This longstanding neighorhood spot overlooks the river; what could be better than a brew and a nice view? Satisfy your hunger with hearty burgers and Irish bar favorites like Reuben sandwiches, fish & chips, and onion rings.
This massive drinking establishment is comprised of three separate pubs, so that your pub crawl doesn't have to be that long. Each space offers a different atmosphere, ranging from loud and rowdy to intimate and casual. Overall, this is a great place to go if you are looking for a crazy night.
Milwaukee's Champion's Pub is a double decker Irish pub operating out of an old style Victorian on the East Side. Stop in for friendly conversation with neighborhood regulars, free shuffleboard, a dope backyard patio, and Guinness (obviously). You'll right at home at this congenial spot; service is warm and personal, and the drinks are generous.
This authentic Irish pub is known for it's amazing corned beef, but we think that their shepherd's pie deserves more attention than it gets. Overall, this is a great Irish bar that we highly suggest visiting the next time you are in the Milwaukee area.
Formerly known as Packy's Pub, Campbell's Irish Pub is a great place to grab a drink in Tippecanoe. This traditional bar offers all the fixings for a fun night out-- friendly service, lively crowds, and generous pours. This spot also offers traditional Irish fare like bangers and mash, potatoes, Irish breakfast, and sausage.
While Finn McGuire's is more of a dive/sports bar than an Irish bar, we can't get enough of their quirky Irish menu. If you are looking for some Irish-ish food and a rowdy atmosphere, head down Highway 100 towards Finn McGuire's Irish Pub & Grill.
This Irish pub is great all year round, but it is especially great during baseball season. While it isn't the most authentic Irish pub, we love their Irish-American fusion and high recommend that you stop by when you get the chance.