In a city so dominated by Irish pubs that they made a show about it, it’s not always easy to play favorites -- or to keep your favorite Irish pub from turning into a free-for-all every weekend. Your gang might not be as rowdy as The Gang, and you might not have a Frank and Charlie passing-out-on-the-same-pullout-couch type of bromance, but there are plenty of real life things to hold onto, like these dozen Irish bars worth going to no matter the chaos level.
McGillin’s is quick to remind you that it's one of the oldest bars in the country, opening its doors in 1860, the same year Abraham Lincoln was elected. You may be hard-pressed to find any breathable standing/walking/sitting space on a weekend night, but it’s also one of the only places in the US where you can get an O’Hara’s Irish Stout, brewed in Ireland. Even on karaoke night, remind yourself that if this place survived Prohibition, you can survive drunken renditions of the Spice Girls.
Fergie’s checks off a number of quintessential things you want from your neighborhood Irish dive: pub fare, local beer, live music, and twice-a-week quizzo. The live music can either mean locals stepping up on open mic night, or traditional Irish music performed every Saturday. Fergie’s also manages to offer a handful of vegan options (hello, seitan wings), which is not something you often encounter in pubs like these.
The Boyler Room is a refreshing alternative to tourist traps on South St, with its completely unpretentious dive atmosphere and very non-divey food and drink. The dim, narrow bar has crab fries (actually with crab!), and the rest of the menu is full of well-prepared food, like shrimp gnocchi and a solid burger.
The Irish Pōl recently moved locations to make room for a new 40-tap system and a downstairs bourbon and spirits area. All the other things that make this pub one of the best -- such as hot mustard wings -- also came along for the ride. Though the new space is still readapting to find the character that regulars associated with the original, it doesn’t hurt that $5 flight-and-bite nights are now part of the equation.
Formerly the Brickhouse before it was torn down to make way for the quaint Irish tavern it is today, Hilltown is a nice break from the populous bars on Main St or Ridge. Head over when the warm weather is in full swing to snag some clutch outdoor seating and Hilltown’s rendition of crab fries.
One of the Main Line’s oldest establishments is the family-run McCloskey’s, which opened when Irishman Pat McCloskey bought it in 1934. Alternating beers on tap are heavy on Irish, German, and Belgian brews, and the menu does not disappoint, with pan-crusted tomatoes, burgers, and traditional fare like shepherd’s pie and fish & chips.
McNally’s opened in the '20s as a pit stop for travelers and operators on the Route 23 trolley, eventually giving the world its signature, now-legendary Schmitter, a steak & grilled salami sandwich, in the mid '60s. All the other things you want and need in a tavern -- tons of fattening sandwiches, and tons of beers on tap -- are also plentiful here.
Pete’s is heralded by locals for its dedicated servers and surprisingly packed menu for such a small kitchen. Whether you chill at the bar to watch a game or sit outside and people watch, please, please, please try not to say “For Pete’s Sake!” more than one or two times.
Here are some things you should know about Moriarty’s: one, on more than one occasion, you might find yourself standing outside waiting for a table. Two, if you order the wings, on zero occasions will the wait not be worth it. Hang around for the Guinness beef stew and 30 beers on tap.
The Bards tries to capture the same camaraderie and friendliness for which Ireland’s pubs are so admired. This formula helps create one of the neighborhood’s best watering holes. An atmosphere that’s casual but not dingy, lively but not so loud you can’t have a conversation, make it a go-to on your pub crawl.
There are few things the folks at O’Neals love more than the regulars and the Phillies. Even for first-time visitors, though, it’s hard not to feel at home drinking a beer ordered from the lengthy bottle list on the back porch. You can also try the seasonal Irish beef stew if you’re craving a traditional bite.
The Bishop’s Collar, The Black Sheep Pub, and (the now-defunct) Dark Horse Pub are all Philly pubs not to be overlooked, but think of St. Stephen’s Green as the ultra-Irish culmination of them all. The owners of those pubs joined forces, putting beer at the forefront in 12 taps and more than 50 bottles ranging from microbrews to imports to local favorites. The seven-cheese Irish bacon grilled cheese is worth a try, and brunch alert: there is brunch. You love brunch.
1. McGillin's Olde Ale House1310 Drury St, Philadelphia
2. Fergie's Pub1214 Sansom St, Philadelphia
3. The Boyler Room328 South St, Philadelphia
4. The Irish Pol114 Market St, Philadelphia
5. Hilltown Tavern326 Roxborough Ave, Philadelphia
6. McCloskey's Bar17 Cricket Ave, Ardmore
7. McNally's Tavern8634 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia
8. For Pete's Sake900 S Front St, Philadelphia
9. Moriarty's Pub1116 Walnut St, Philadelphia
10. The Bards2013 Walnut St, Philadelphia
11. O'Neals Irish Pub611 S 3rd St, Philadelphia
12. Saint Stephen's Green1701 Green St, Philadelphia
Imagine: the year was 1860, Lincoln was elected, and McGillin's Olde Ale House first opened. It's safe to say they place is doing something right, because generations of people can't be wrong. This is the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philly. They have since changed the beer taps, we promise.
Fergie's is the ultimate Irish pub. They have everything that you want from a friendly neighborhood dive bar, like Irish pub fare, local beers, live music, and quiz nights. In the parking lot next to the pub, you'll find the simple beer garden with a few picnic tables. You can also get some vegan food options here, so there is something for everyone at Fergie's.
The Boyler Room is one of Philly's best dive bars, but they have a very non-divey food menu. Their menu is delicious and well-prepared, with options like crab fries, shrimp gnocchi, and burgers. You may be nervous to eat something called crab fries at a dive bar, but trust us, you'll want to order these.
Ever since they moved to their new location, The Irish Pol has upgraded the Philly Irish bar scene. They have a 40-tap system and a downstairs bourbon and spirits room, and great wings. As far as we are concerned The Irish Pol is the best Irish pub in Philly, but we recommend that you stop by and see for yourself.
HIlltown Tavern, formerly known as the Brickhouse, is a Roxborough Irish tavern in the spirit of local taverns: it's mostly about hanging out, drinking beer and soaking it up after with burgers and wings. A spacious outdoor seating area makes a nice spot for some crab-topped fries to go with any of the eight mainstream beers on tap.
McCloskey's Bar is one of the oldest establishments in Philly, having been opened by an authentic Irishman in 1934. They feature plenty of great european brews on tap and they have a menu that outshines any Irish bar in town. McCloskey's is one of the best Irish bars in Philly.
This historic tavern was established in 1921 and is known for their signature steak-and-grilled-salami sandwich, the Schmitter, which you can also score at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.
With traditional pub fare, boozy brunch specials, and a cozy, neighborhood environment, Pete's is a no-brainer for good times in South Philly. As far as Irish bars go, we think that For Pete's Sake is the best authentic Irish pub in Philly, but you'll have to stop by and see for yourself.
Known for having some of the best (or the best wings in the city, this Irish pub and restaurant serves all the classic bar favorites and plenty of drinks. They have over 30 beers tap, just in case you aren't in the mood of a Guinness. Moriarty's is a great Irish pub that you need to visit when you are in the area.
Come here for authentic Irish brew, food and of course for warm Irish hospitality. The atmosphere here is casual and lively but not dive-y or too loud, so that you can enjoy a pint of Guinness without the large crowds or rowdy drunk people that typically come with Irish bars.
Warning: Anyone who is not a Phillies fan should enter with caution. They have a nice outdoor drinking area, an extensive beer list, and some traditional and seasonal menu items that are some of the best bites in Philly. As far as we are concerned, O'Neals is the best Irish pub in Philly.
There are plenty of great reasons to love Saint Stephen's Green, like their wide variety of microbrews, local brews, and imported beers. We are huge fans of their brunch, featuring authentic Irish dishes and delicious pub food. Out of all the Irish bars in Philly, Saint Stephen's is by far the best.