There are plenty of middling faux-Gaelic watering holes that ply patrons with green beer on that shit show that is St. Patrick’s Day, but if you prefer a less bastardized version of the Irish pub, the following picks should work just fine. With Guinness on our brains and sausage rolls in our bellies, here are our seven favorite Irish pubs around town.
7. McSorley’s Old Ale House, 15 East Seventh Street, 212-473-9148
No NYC Irish pub listicle is complete without East Village Irish-American tavern McSorley’s, which, like the surly men who’ve inhabited the place for well over a century, has caused its fair share of trouble (the watering hole was forced to update its arcane “men only” policy in 1970). The floor is covered in sawdust, the beer only comes in two varieties (pale ale or dark porter), and the food is exceedingly simple but better than it needs to be. Opt for corned beef hash fused with shredded red cabbage, or a bracing sandwich of liverwurst with onions with sharp mustard that you might consider using in place of smelling salts should someone in your party pass out.
6. Duffy’s, 650 Forest Avenue, Staten Island; 718-447-9276
If this charming neighborhood tavern’s kelly green facade — which boasts a giant shamrock — doesn’t tip you off, maybe it’s time to stop drinking. That sign also proclaims that the best burgers on Staten Island can be found inside, and it’s not a lie. The half-pound behemoths dwarf their English muffin buns, but it’s the unabashed old-school vibe — dark wood, tin ceilings, and tiled floors — that makes eating these broiled patties such a pleasure. Try the Mulligan burger, which comes topped with corned beef and molten Irish cheddar.
5. Donovan’s Pub, 57-24 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens; 718-429-9339
This quiet tavern has been a fixture of Woodside, Queens, since 1966, but it’s only in the past decade that the corner space — with its labyrinthine interior decorated with dark wood booths — has become a burger destination for clued-in carnivores, who wax poetic about the bar’s oversized, freshly ground patties sporting burnished crusts and sinfully juicy interiors. Purchased by two former employees (one who started as a busboy, the other a DJ) from original owner Joe Donovan, Jr. last year, the pub is runs a corned beef with cabbage special on St. Patrick’s Day and hosts live music regularly.
4. Molly’s, 287 Third Avenue, 212-889-3361
Although it’s gone through several name changes, Molly’s has been owned by Irish expats since 1964, and it remains one of the coziest spots for a pint on the mainland thanks to a working fireplace and soothing low light. Bartenders sport familiar brogues, serving up Emerald Isle whiskeys and pints from Irish breweries. Classics from the motherland (shepherd’s pie, fish & chips) are well-represented, and the kitchen sears a formidable burger. When you’re six-beers deep, though, we won’t blame you if you go instead for those Reuben-style potato skins — a saucy mess of sauerkraut, swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and chunks of corned beef.
3. An Beal Bocht Cafe, 445 West 238th Street, Bronx; 718-884-7127
Take the 1 train to its northernmost reaches for a taste of quaint Irish hospitality at this artsy cafe and bar in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Nightly performances from local musicians entertain hungry residents, who litter the mismatched tables with plates of shepherd’s pie and beef stew. American classics receive a Celtic twist in the form of traditional UK-style back bacon, which finds its way onto a “Gaelic burger” and takes the place of standard American rashers in a jam-packed BLT. The restaurant’s Irish breakfast provides enough sustenance to last you through lunch.
2. Farrell’s, 215 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn; 718-788-8779
A true public house for the people, Farrell’s has been serving the Windsor Terrace community from the corner of Prospect Park West and 16th Street since 1933. Craft brewing snobs would do well to steer clear or shut up: Beers come in three sizes, the largest of which is a 32-ounce styrofoam, and patrons — largely firefighters, policemen, and other industrious folk — are famously limited to Budweiser or Bud Light. A decent selection of hard booze, on the other hand, is readily available. All the better to pair with the free corned beef sandwiches they offer throughout St. Patrick’s Day.
1. Grace 365, 365 Third Avenue, 646-918-6553
Named after Irish pirate Grace O’Malley, this Midtown East watering hole celebrates the ladies with a collaborative cocktail menu from some of the city’s best female bartenders, including Ivy Mix, Jane Elkins, Lynnette Marrero, Meaghan Dorman, Pamela Wiznitzer, and Franky Marshall. Like sibling tavern Swift Hibernian Lounge, there’s plenty of Gaelic pride on display, and the kitchen cooks up a bevy of St. Patrick’s Day specials like corned beef sliders, curried lamb shepherd’s pie, and short rib stew served with griddled soda bread.