There are twice as many people of Irish “primary ancestry” in America than the population of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland combined. According to research by Trulia, the most Irish cities in the U.S. are Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. Sadly, though, as in the case of Tom Bergin’s in Los Angeles and Patrick’s of Pratt Street in Baltimore, America has lost some of its longtime family-run Irish pubs. Pop in for a pint at these independent publicans when you’re in town.
McSorley’s Old Ale House
15 E. 7th St.
New York, NY 10003
Women! Get to the East Village for a dose of history with your ale – “Light or dark?” is the standard greeting – at McSorley’s. Claiming to be America’s oldest continuously operated bar and certainly one of New York City’s oldest businesses, established 1854, was a men-only establishment until a supreme court order changed that in 1970. Even Abraham Lincoln paid a visit to McSorley’s. What hasn’t changed? Sawdust on the floor, firefighter’s helmets, vintage photos and newspaper clippings covering the walls, and an old working copper potbelly stove in the corner. Order a plate of cheese and onions or corned beef hash with red cabbage.
3484 Washington St.
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Age before beauty! But this place has both. Greater Boston has enough great Irish pubs to fill up this page several times over. At Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain, this landmark with well-used bar stools and dining booths has been welcoming folks since 1882. First to put Sam Adams in your glass, and because the brewery is just next door, this is the right place to be whenever something new and different is released by Sam’s. The kitchen puts out substantial fare that goes way beyond bar bites, too. From wing dings to wing zings and from burgers to Boston clam chowder, plus a Sunday brunch served 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
1310 Drury St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Authenticity near city hall. McGillin’s has been killin’ it since th crack in the Liberty Bell was still fresh. McGillin’s opened as Bell in Hand Tavern in 1860 when Honest Abe was elected president of these (only 33 in number) United States. Upstairs, the publican lived with his wife Catherine and their 13 children. More than a century-and-half later, the accolades are still pouring in from big media titles and fans alike, recognizing this place for best bartender, best happy hour in The City of Brotherly Love and as one of America’s top ten most authentic Irish taverns. There are 30 beers on tap, including Adamstown by Stoudt’s, a regional microbrew from eastern Pennsylvania.
John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden
1200 Russell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63104
It isn’t the oldest pub around, but it’s one of the liveliest and holder of many awards to back that claim up. Wander through a rabbit’s warren of brick walled rooms adorned with artifacts recalling 40-plus years in business. Or head for three bars and a fountain in the 15,000-square-foot landscaped garden for one of the best places to be on a pleasant Midwestern afternoon. Musicians come in from Cork, Galway, and Derry to ensure McGurk’s unbeatable Celtic-certified atmosphere is as authentic as you’d discover across the pond in Dublin. No wonder they pour more Guinness than anywhere else in the state.
The Buena Vista
2765 Hyde St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Ding, ding, ding! Across the street from the cable car turnaround, Buena Vista is an institution. It’s impossible to tell the story of San Francisco and Irish coffee’s introduction to America in 1952 without telling the story of The Buena Vista. Tear your eyes away from the spectacular view of the bay from this hilly corner to read the plaque mounted on the exterior wall. Better yet, nab a window table and sample an Irish coffee or two. All at once, white-jacketed bartenders fill a dozen tulip-shaped glasses lined up on the long wooden bar using a just-so recipe featuring Tullamore Dew whisky and Peerless brand coffee. Yes, of course they pour Guinness, too.
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By Laurie Jo Miller Farr