During the Potato Famine in the late 1840s, Irish immigrants fled to America, and with them came the traditional Irish pub. Fast forward to today, and New York City has almost 2,000 Irish bars in which to pound Guinness and whiskey -- an astounding number that also makes it pretty difficult to separate the real-deal watering holes from the less-authentic replicas. So we sifted through the clovers to bring you the absolute best Irish bars throughout the city, where you can always expect draft beers, loads of whiskey, tasty bites, and an especially riotous crowd -- whether it's St. Patrick's Day or not.
The Best Irish Bars in New York City
This classic Irish drinkery has been on 3rd Ave since the 1960s and just keeps getting better with age. This is the place to go if you crave an old-school Irish pub atmosphere (think sawdust on the floor, wood-worn bench booths, vintage photos on the walls, and a fireplace), but it's also famous for its totally under-the-radar, 10oz bacon cheeseburger, and for having lots of great beers to chug along with it.
There are two important things you need to know about Paddy Reilly's, other than the fact that it’s celebrating an impressive 30 years in business: 1) there’s only Guinness on tap (no complaints), and 2) there is almost always live music playing, from Bluegrass to traditional Irish to classic rock. Grab a seat by the bar and take both in generously.
In operation since 1868 (the third floor was a speakeasy during Prohibition), this storied Hell's Kitchen watering hole has since seen renovations and owner changes, but still maintains it's old-school feel with an original mahogany bar and tin ceilings. More importantly, it still serves up completely legit Scotch eggs, Shepherd’s pie, and whiskey, of course.
This legendary Greenpoint dive has been bringing Irish realness for over 85 years, with a green-painted brick facade, exactly two beers on tap (Bud and Coors), a friendly and extremely devoted neighborhood crowd, and sports perpetually blaring from the flat screen TVs.
Named after Irish writer Jonathan Swift, this cozy bar has a fantastic craft beer selection that goes above and beyond what you expect from a typical Irish pub (we’re talking drafts of Stone Lucky Basartd and bottles of Saison Dupont), plus traditional down-home food like chicken & sausage pot pie and corned beef & cabbage tacos.
This unassuming, shamrock-speckled nook delivers dollar drafts of Miller Gold and the best burger in Staten Island (a half-pounder on an English muffin with crinkle cut fries -- order it!) in a snug space that’s known to bring in locals and not-so-locals, all in the name of good beers and good times.
Named after the church steeple in Cork, Ireland where its owner Connor O’Sullivan was born, this old-fashioned and laid-back Irish mainstay appeals to expats and Village residents alike with an ample selection of draft and bottled beers, and soccer always on the TV.
Filled with tons of nooks and crannies, this tri-level bar is a perfect for when you’re in the mood to drink with a bunch of friends and actually want to be able to sit or stand with them all. Enjoy the rotating selection of draft beers, friendly atmosphere, and menu full of hearty eats like Guinness-braised beef stew.
This corner pub in Woodside has been delivering Celtic spirit in a nearly unchanged space since 1966, and locals like it that way. Enjoy the cozy tavern digs speckled with antiques and stained-glass windows, plus a reliable selection of on-tap brews and fuss-free eats like the famously beefy burgers.
Adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial, this bar (which was a common drinking ground for ground zero workers after the attacks) is lined with police and fire badges and boasts a beautifully random mix of patrons (tourists, finance guys, locals -- they’re all drinking here), plus $3 draft Bud Lights all day every day.
Head to Riverdale for one of the most authentic Irish spots in the whole city. This welcoming pub offers live music and other performances from both local and Irish artists, alongside traditional Irish comfort foods like bangers and mash and a generous selection of bourbons, whiskey, and Scotch.
The King of Irish bars, this New York institution has been pouring drafts since 1862, making it the oldest tavern in the city (it was one of the last “Men Only” pubs in New York -- finally allowing women in 1970). McSorley’s keeps it real with just two beers -- the house ale, light or dark, and nothing else.
It’s named for the Irish word for “victory,” but this St. Marks watering hole isn’t your traditional Irish bar (there’s not an Irish flag in sight). But even if it's not as loud and proud as other spots, it's a local favorite for its excellent beer and whiskey options, overly friendly bartenders, and one of the best people-watching decks in the whole city.
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Christine Fischer is a freelance writer for Thrillist who will be downing Irish car bombs on St. Patty's Day. Follow her on her website, Facebook, or Instagram.
1. Molly's Shebeen287 3rd Ave, New York
2. Paddy Reilly's Music Bar519 2nd Ave, New York
3. Landmark Tavern626 11th Ave, New York
4. Connie O's158 Norman Ave, Brooklyn
5. Swift Hibernian Lounge34 E 4th St, New York
6. Duffy's Tavern650 Forest Ave, Staten Island
7. Four-Faced Liar165 W 4th St, New York
8. Puck Fair298 Lafayette St, New York
9. Donovan's Pub57-24 Roosevelt Ave, Woodside
10. O'Hara's120 Cedar St, New York
11. An Beal Bocht Cafe445 W 238th St, Bronx
12. McSorley's Old Ale House15 E 7th St, New York
13. Bua122 Saint Marks Pl, New York
Molly's Shebeen in Murray Hill is an old school NYC Irish dive, through and through. The well worn space (complete with sawdust on the floor) has remained a favorite of locals and regulars since opening its doors in 1960. An extensive beer selection is obviously where Molly's shines -- it's a solid spot to grab a pint just based off atmosphere alone, not to mention the mile long menu of English and Irish drafts -- but if you're looking for a seriously satisfying burger, Molly's comes through on that front, as well. The cheeseburgers, piled high with crispy onion rings and all the fixings are what basic bar burgers aspire to be.
Two things you need to know about Paddy Reilly's: 1) it only has Guinness on tap, and 2) there is almost always live music playing at this Murray Hill Stalwart -- grab a seat by the bar and take both in generously. We think that Paddy Reilly's is one of the best Irish bars in New York.
This Hell’s Kitchen bar is one of the oldest in New York, (it opened in 1868!). It was eventually renovated in the early 2000s in the hands of new owners, but it still retains its historic charm, including tin ceilings and an original mahogany bar carved from a single tree. The menu lacks pretty much all pretense with items like Shepherd’s pie, Scotch eggs, potato and leek soup, and fish and chips.
This excellently divey bar may have only two taps -- Bud and Bud Light -- and they’re actually both just Bud Light (others report of Bud and Coors), but you won’t care for long since the crowd is generally friendly, there're sports on the TV, and there's a pool table.
If you're looking for an impressive selection of craft brews on draft, Irish whiskey, and single malt scotch, head to this dimly lit neighborhood bar in Noho. The draft and bottled beers are perfect for pairing with traditional pub food, like shepherd’s pie, chicken & sausage pot pie, and a reuben. Swift's dark and cozy interior will have you staying well into the evening.
If you are looking for an authentic Irish bar with great deals, Duffy's is the place to go. Known for their burgers and great beer selection, this small bar is a favorite hang out spot for Staten Island locals, and we highly suggest that you stop by if you are in the area.
Located in the West Village, Four-Faced Liar stays true to Irish tradition without overwhelming patrons with Irish decor. Whether you come in for a pint, or to watch your favorite team play, you'll feel right at home, like you're in an old-school pub.
Puck Fair, an Irish pub on Lafayette Street, narrowly escapes the frenzied chaos that is Broadway. Luckily, this casual, tucked-away spot provides the ideal place to flee the shopping-bag-wielding crowds and enjoy a couple ciders beers.
There are plenty of things that locals love about Donovan's Pub, like their famous burgers and simple bar food menu. We are huge fans of their beer selection and we love that they have been serving Queens since 1966 and have not changed a single thing about their bar throughout the years.
Right by the World Trade Center Memorial, this place is lined with police and fire badges, and, while often packed with a seemingly random mix of people (tourists, finance dudes, locals, etc...), it’s always pouring a quality Guinness and serving a good, quick burger.
Au Beal Bocht Cafe is not only a great place to get beer and bar food in the Bronx, it is also an awesome entertainment space. Here you can see live music, theater, and comedy throughout the week while eating Irish comfort food and sipping on whiskey and a great beer list heavily favored to local brews.
Opened in 1854, McSorley’s is the oldest still-running saloon in NYC, and was one of the last “Men Only” pubs in NY (until 1970). When you visit, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into a bit of city history -- after all, you'll be sitting at the very same counter Abe Lincoln and John Lennon did. McSorley’s also keeps it real with just two beers -- the house ale, light or dark, and nothing else.
The outdoor seating at Bua almost feels a baseball dugout, except instead of watching the Mets lose, you're watching tourists buy bongs on St. Marks. Perhaps more importantly, the grilled cheese (made with local Blue Ribbon Bakery bread) is delightful.