The 15 Best Irish Bars in NYC to Hit Up This St. Patrick’s Day
From classics like McSorley’s to fancy cocktail spots, these bars and pubs are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or anytime.
The history of Irish immigrants arriving in NYC dates back to the early 19th century, but after the country experienced a famine—also referred to as the Great Hunger—in the 1840s and resulted in the subsequent arrival of more than 900,000 emigrants from the country, the local Irish population grew to be one third of all New Yorkers by 1855.
Since then, NYC has been home to a large and thriving Irish American community. In addition to large pockets in neighborhoods such as Woodlawn, Bronx, and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Irish culture can be seen in churches, memorials, and arts centers across the city. And this is especially true for Irish bars.
While NYC is home to no shortage of drinking establishments (the new/best, singles bars, dive bars, rooftops), Irish bars and pubs hold a special place in our hearts. Whether looking for a spot to land pre- or post-The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade or want to kick off the weekend strong with an Irish coffee, here’s our list of the best Irish pubs in NYC.
The Dead Rabbit
Opened in 2013, The Dead Rabbit on Water Street is a tri-level Irish bar and taproom run by Belfast-born Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry. The spot’s namesake traces back to The Dead Rabbits gang, which originally formed in the 1830s to protect the immigrant Irish underclass and was later used as inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York film. On the first floor, you’ll find the taproom where rounds of Guinness and Irish coffees are served up from the long wooden bar and live Irish music performances called seisiúns are held every Sunday. The parlor on the second floor is where bar manager Jillian Vose and the owners tout a list of expertly crafted cocktails, many using Irish whiskey, out of a dark-humored comic book menu. A reservation-only event space takes up the top floor of the building. Find a spot to settle down and sip on a Spell Spoke (hibiscus, lime leaf, ginger, citrus bitters) while exploring the menu of small plates and entrees like the Corned Beef Sliders (coleslaw, Gruyere, mustard) and Irish Lamb Stew (carrots, potatoes, peas).
McSorley's Old Ale House
Touting a long and storied history is the supposed oldest Irish saloon in NYC, McSorley’s. First opened in 1854 by John McSorley, the bar initially operated as a hang-out spot for working class men (women weren’t permitted until 1970) serving up house ales and simple bites. With a long-standing motto of “Be Good or Be Gone,” throughout the years, McSorley’s became a hub and source of inspiration for loads of legendary patrons like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and E. E. Cummings. These days, the spot still flaunts decades-old memorabilia on the walls and bar like a pair of Harry Houdini’s handcuffs and wishbones circa World War I. On the menu, expect a choice between two specialty beers, light ale or dark porter, served in pairs along with a concise food menu consisting of a Raw Onion and Cheese Platter; Feltman’s of Coney Island hot dogs; and sandwiches.
A fixture in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens is local favorite eatery and watering hole, Donovan’s Pub. Started in 1966 by NYC firefighter Joe Donovan, the spot is known for its dark wood booths, stained glass windows, multiple fireplaces, and no-fuss ambiance. After a 47-year run, Donovan retired and the pub switched over hands to longtime employee (busser turned bartender) Jimmy Jacobsen and his brother-in-law, Dan Connor. The bar still sports the heralded charbroiled half-pound 58 Special Burger and steak fries, just now with a handful of modern updates like a card machine and new sound system.
For an easygoing ambiance, Irish Haven in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park is an ideal no-frills destination. Founded in 1964, the bar keeps it simple with a beer and shots-centric beverage program and old-school wood paneled interior. Keep yourself entertained while sipping on $7 pints of Guinness with live music performances, karaoke, pool, and beer pong tournaments. Also, Irish Haven was famously the setting for scenes in Martin Scorsese’s film The Departed, with a framed photograph of Scorsese behind the bar to commemorate the occasion.
Opened in 1868 by Patrick Henry Carley, Landmark Tavern is a storied Hell’s Kitchen pub that’s experienced its fair share of renovations and owner changes over the years. While the first two floors were closed during Prohibition (as the third floor operated as a speakeasy), the spot’s old-school charm remains intact with its original mahogany bar, tin ceilings, antique register, and private dining rooms. On draft, you’ll find Guinness, Landmark Ale, and Landmark Lager or find a single malt whisky to sip on the rocks. Additionally, comfort classics like Scotch Eggs, Shepherd’s Pie, and Bangers and Mash helm the food program.
Molly’s Pub and Restaurant Shebeen
Since its inception in 1895, Tudor-style Irish pub Molly’s has lived several lives. First operating as a bar until 1920, Prohibition then led Molly’s to transition into a grocery store and retail space. With the repeal of the ban in the 1930s, the business was able to reopen their initial concept and to this day houses original design aspects like the wood-burning fireplace and mahogany bar. Sawdust-strewn floors, worn-in wooden booths, vintage photograph-covered walls, and an antique jukebox make up the interior of the eatery, while can’t-miss menu items include 10-ounce bacon cheeseburgers, Shepherd's Pie, and Irish Lamb Stew.
After immigrating from Ireland in the 1950s, recently passed renowned owner Jimmy Neary first opened Neary’s doors on St. Patrick’s Day in 1967. Known to be a popular post-work decompression spot, the space features leather banquettes, dark red tablecloths, patterned carpet, and walls filled with pictures of celebrity customers. Hearty menu highlights include the Broiled Lamb Chops with mint jelly and Corned Beef and Cabbage. Learn more about the legendary journey of Jimmy Neary and his pub by watching Neil Leifer’s 2017 documentary film, Neary’s: The Dream at the End of the Rainbow, and drop by to celebrate the 55th anniversary this St. Patrick’s Day starting at 12 pm.
A glimpse of the Emerald Isle can be found in the Staten Island neighborhood of Port Richmond at O’Neills Irish Pub. Hand-crafted wooden booths and bar, scattered candlelight, and string lighting create a quaint tavern feeling to accompany the comfort food-inspired menu of Chicken Pot Pie; Corned Beef & Cabbage; and Crispy Guinness Fish & Chips. If you’re looking for a spot to land on St. Patrick’s Day, O’Neill’s will be open starting at 11 am, with TVs streaming the parade and pints of Guinness at the ready.
For more than 30 years, Kips Bay Irish rock bar Paddy Reilly’s has been known for seven-day-a-week live music performances and pints of their only drink on tap: Guinness. From bluegrass and classic rock to traditional Irish tunes and open mic nights, on any given day join in on the revelry and sway along with a wide range of musicians strumming on stage.
Standing strong since 1936 is neighborhood stalwart, Peter McManus Cafe. As one of the oldest family-run bars in NYC, this renowned watering hole has been spotlighted in multiple films and TV shows like Highlander (1986); The Other Guys (2010); SNL; and Broad City. On the food side, the menu offers Irish-influenced American pub fare with popular dishes such as McManus’ Reuben (pastrami, corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss, rye) and Classic Hamburger (half-pound beef patty, bacon, onion, tomato). On the beverage program, take your time perusing the lengthy Irish whiskey and scotch menu or go for their specialty Jameson & Ginger cocktail.
Phil Hughes Bar
Yorkville’s very own Phil Hughes Bar is an ideal landing place for a casual evening hangout. The oldest Irish pub in the neighborhood, the family-owned and -operated dive bar has a pool table, jukebox, and five large TVs for an optimal game watching experience. With authenticity in mind, the joint imports glassware from Ireland (to achieve that perfect Irish pint) as well as a range of Irish crisps (or potato chips). Pull up a seat at the bar and listen to the weekly Thursday night live music or to show off your pool-playing skills.
PJ Carney's Pub
Conveniently located a block away from Carnegie Hall is longtime neighborhood fixture PJ Carney’s Pub. Since 1927, the mahogany-walled circular bar has been serving nearby showgoers and sports fans alike. Pull up a stool and munch on a crispy order of Beer-battered Fish and Chips or a dozen hot wings to go with an ice cold beer from the 21 varieties on tap.
Complete with an expansive dining room, wraparound bar, and ample outdoor seating, Rambling House (or “The House” as regulars call it) is a beloved Irish neighborhood pub, restaurant, and event space. Expect plenty of screens for big game days, heated picnic tables out back, a medley of live performances, and locally-sourced beers like the Void of Light stout from Bronx’s-own Gun Hill Brewery. While you’re rearing up for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, check out upcoming March music events via IG.
Established in 1998 and located in the heart of Woodside, Queens, Sean Og's features 23 beers on draft, a vast range of pub-style food, and an expansive indoor and outdoor space with game day-ready TVs scattered about. After passing under the front entrance’s “Opening time is Guinness time” sign, snag a seat in the dining room and complement an ice cold brew with a brick oven-fired pizza like the Bee Sting (soppressata, chili oil, honey, mozzarella).
Named after Irish writer Jonathan Swift, Swift Hibernian Lounge is a charmingly no-frills NoHo bar created to honor the lost art of conversation. With snug groups of picnic-style tables and no TVs, it’s an ideal location for really bonding with your fellow drinking buddies sans technological distractions. Explore the globally sourced craft beer selection or go for an ever-classic pint of Guinness, then take a peek at the food program which offers traditional Irish fare like Irish Brown Bread (with Kerrygold butter) and Corned Beef Sandwich (melted swiss, horseradish coleslaw, marble rye). Also, stay tuned for upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebrations like trivia and readings of Irish poetry via their IG.