Food & Drink

The Best Irish Pubs in the Twin Cities That Are Worth a Damn

Published On 03/16/2016 Published On 03/16/2016

Everybody loves a good ol’ Irish pub (especially on St. Paddy’s Day), and the MSP area sure does have quite a few of them. But what makes a pub “Irish”? Is it the beer selection? The whiskey? The beer and the whiskey? How about a bunch of 20-somethings drinking heavily and dancing on the bar while wearing “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-shirts and those dumb shamrock sunglasses? Well, we like to think it’s a mixture of all that (with the exception of the last one), with the added bonus of being a neighborhood favorite where you can have a few pints with some good friends -- and, sure, maybe even pair it with a plate of hearty food. Also whiskey. Definitely. There’s got to be whiskey. And in the Twin Cities, yeah, we've got plenty of that.

The Local

The Local

Downtown

One of the city’s most well-known Irish establishments, The Local has spent the past four years as a global leader in the sale (and pour) of Jameson Irish whiskey. Seriously, the place has even been honored for it. That aside, the beautiful wood décor, elaborate bars, and bountiful selection of alcohol (namely that whiskey) is what keeps it a solid staple for Twin Cities pub-goers. And sure, the fish & chips and whiskey-honey glazed chicken shots help as well.

Morrissey's Irish Pub

Morrissey's Irish Pub

Uptown

There’s just something about Irish pubs in the Twin Cities that lead to massive whiskey sales (which may or may not speak to the people of MSP in general). Morrissey’s purports to be the biggest seller of Powers Irish whiskey in the state, and even claims to sell more Greenore than anywhere else in the entire US. It was also apparently the first Irish pub in Uptown Minneapolis, which pretty much makes it a historical landmark (in our whiskey-glazed eyes). This place has a rather dark atmosphere inside, but don’t let it deter you from the great live music and delicious Irish-inspired snacks it offers at the bar and tableside.

Adam Kennedy Photography

The Liffey

Downtown St. Paul

Considering the size of the Irish population in St. Paul, you’d expect to find some fairly decent pubs. And this sister bar to The Local is just that. The bar was actually built in Ireland before being assembled on-site, and given its location near the Xcel Energy Center, it’s basically the best place to grab a pre-hockey shot of whiskey. If you've been keeping up with its Facebook page, it's pretty obvious The Liffey is getting ready for a serious St. Paddy's Day celebration.

Merlin's Rest

Merlins Rest

Longfellow

Oh, how we love Merlin’s! This place is easily one of the most colorful bars in the Twin Cities -- especially since it frequently has bagpipers marching around the bar banging out tunes. Also, it boasts the largest selection of single malt Scotches and Irish whiskeys in the state. And if you think that's an exaggeration, just ask to see the menu; your server will come back with what’s referred to as the “Scotch bible”: a binder filled with all the different brown liquors offered. What also makes this place so great is that it does (somewhat) frequent tastings, and makes a decent cottage pie.

Emmett's Public House

Emmett's Public House

Summit Hill

This Grand Ave pub is a great place to grab a pint and shot with a few friends. It has a hearty selection of Irish-inspired food (get those curried beer & whiskey mussels NOW) and is the only place in town (that we’re aware of) that offers corned beef & colcannon.

The Dubliner Pub

St. Anthony Park

This place basically bleeds green, featuring live Irish music six nights a week and an Irish dance night every Wednesday. But don't worry, it’s not all music and clogging; it also has a pretty solid draft list and a variety of whiskeys (shocking, we know) to wash them all down.

Patrick McGovern's

Patrick McGovern's

West 7th

This friendly neighborhood pub has been pouring pints under its current ownership since 1982. Located in the bottom corner of an old Victorian building, the casual atmosphere makes it the perfect place to dig into a big hearty bowl of Irish stew while sipping away on a smooth pour of Guinness. It also has a beautiful patio for those summertime get-togethers with good friends. (Expect to make some new ones while you're out there.)

O'Gara's Irish Pub

Merriam Park

This St. Paul institution is definitely a powerhouse pub around these parts, offering live music, 35 tap beers, and a robust history. It'll be celebrating its 75th St. Paddy’s Day this year, and is doing so with an entire week full of different specials. While it's decidedly less of an Irish pub than it used to be, the culture lives on in the form of the leprechaun cobblers mural, painted inside the bar by founder Jim O’Gara. Also, the shillelagh (an old Irish weapon) hanging over the bar comes straight from County Sligo, home of the first O’Gara clan. Oh, and it still sells whiskey.

Keegan's Irish Pub

Keegan's Irish Pub

Northeast

Keegan’s is a solid place in town, offering a great collection of craft beers, a variety of weekly specials & activities, and a load of edible Irish classics. The bar has been consistently rewarded by the people at Guinness for the way the bartenders pour pints. According to the website, “All our Guinness comes from the St. James Gate brewery in Dublin, Ireland, and we pour it at the right temperature with right nitrogen to CO2 mixture.” So if you’re looking for a good pint-o'-Guinness this coming St. Paddy’s Day, it looks like you’ve found the place.

O'Donovan's Irish Pub

O'Donovan's Irish Pub

Downtown

This is the kind of bar you come to and, after drinking for some time, start hazily clamoring on about how authentic it looks. “It’s almost like I’m in Ireland!” you’ll (try to) say. Well, that’s because it was the first Irish pub in Minneapolis that was built entirely in Ireland. Come by most nights of the week and you’ll find live music, along with a healthy selection of tap beers. And if you’re like most, you’ll probably (definitely) want to explore the Irish whiskey selection as well... because why not?

Dan Kelly's Irish Pub

Downtown

This downtown Irish pub is brought to you by the same folks behind the Seven Corners craft beer temple, Republic, so you know it has a great selection of different local brews and various taps. It focuses on contemporary pub-style cuisine, with a firm grasp on traditional Irish flavors, and has over 40 different varieties of whiskey. So what we're saying is: make sure you show up good and thirsty.

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Keane Amdahl is a veteran Twin Cities food writer with a hard penchant for Irish whiskeys, who swears that he's not a leprechaun. Follow his wobbly endeavors on Twitter @FoodStoned.

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1. The Local 931 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (Downtown)

The Irish hospitality at The Local lets you load up on all your bangers and eggs, plus killer Bloodys, at this quintessential Irish pub Downtown. The interior here is gorgeous, the food is delicious, and they sell more Jameson Irish whiskey than almost any bar in the world. We highly recommend stopping by The Local if you are hanging out downtown.

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2. Morrissey's Irish Pub 913 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Uptown)

Morrissey's Irish pub is a great place to go if you are looking for some authentic Irish whiskey. Here you can also enjoy great live music, Irish-inspired snacks, and a friendly and knowledgeable bar staff. We highly recommend stopping by Morrissey's for a pint when you are in uptown Minneapolis.

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3. The Liffey Irish Pub 175 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102 (Downtown St Paul)

This warmly light, old school Irish pub is sure to be your new wintertime home away from home. Grab a stool and gab with the regulars over hot toddies and Guinness. Believe it or not, this bar was built in Ireland before being assembled in the states, so drinking here is essentially like drinking in Ireland.

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4. Merlins Rest 3601 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406 (Longfellow)

Merlins Rest is one of Minnesota's most important pubs. Don't believe us? Take a look at their whiskey list...it's the longest in the state. You can also find scotch and various beers here, but we highly recommend sticking with whiskey when you stop by Merlins Rest.

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5. Emmett's Public House 695 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (Summit Hill Crocus Hill)

Emmett's Public House is a great place to grab a pint with friends or eat an authentically Irish (or, atleast Irish-inspired) meal. This is the only place in Minneapolis that offers corned beef & colcannon. We believe that Emmett's Public House is one of the best Irish bars in Minneapolis.

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6. Dubliner Pub 2162 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55114 (Saint Anthony Park)

Dubliner Pub is widely considered the proudest Irish bar in Minneapolis. Here you can enjoy live Irish music six nights a week, Irish dance nights, and a pretty solid draft list and wide variety of whiskeys. We highly recommend stopping by Dubliner Pub if you are in the area.

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7. Patrick McGovern's Pub 225 7th St W, St. Paul, MN 55102 (Downtown St Paul)

McGovern's Upstairs serves as home base for the Steelers Fans of Minnesota, offering copious beer deals, and a Pittsburghian menu with eats like the Strip District Stacker, Islay's BBQ Sandwich, and the Big Ben Burger. We suggest stopping by McGovern's for a beer and a pint whenever you are in the area.

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8. O'Gara's Bar & Grill 4300 Glumack Dr, Concourse F, Minneapolis, MN 55111

Minneapolis may have a strong Irish bar scene, but O'Gara's still outranks the rest. Here you can enjoy live music, 35 tap beers, various whiskeys, and a history worth asking the bartenders about. We highly recommend anyone in the area stopping by O'Gara's for a pint.

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9. Keegan's Irish Pub 16 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413 (Northeast)

Grab a Guinness and take a seat by the fire at this Northeast Irish pub, which serves up bar food plus brunch. Guinness themselves think that Keegan's has the best pour in town, so this is the only place you are going to want to grab a pint in Minneapolis.

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10. O'Donovan's Irish Pub 700 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (Downtown)

The happy hour deals at this lively neighborhood Pub are widely heralded-- how can you go wrong for $3 a drink, Monday through Friday? Their outdoor patio happens to be the perfect place to enjoy these insanely cheap libations.

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11. Dan Kelly's Pub 212 S 7th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (Downtown)

Dan Kelly's is a great place to visit if you are looking for a wide selection of local taps. They also have contemporary pub-style cuisine with some Irish inspiration, and over 40 different whiskies to choose from. We highly recommend Dan Kelly's to anyone looking for a place to drink in Downtown Minneapolis.

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