The Neighborhoods With Irish Pubs in Chicago
It should come to no surprise that a city that dyes its river green for St. Patrick’s Day has its fair share of Irish pubs. But it doesn’t have to be March 17 to enjoy a pint in Chicago.
Irish heritage is prominent all year round in Chicago. In fact, Irish Americans make up the largest ethnic group in the city and date back to the 1830s when many Irish immigrated to Chicago. The city has even earned the top spot from WalletHub’s analysis of the best cities for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
And while you can find an Irish public house in almost any Chicago neighborhood, here are the neighborhoods to check out with plenty of pubs—especially if you’re into barhopping.
If you’re looking for a bar or restaurant, you’ll find one on pretty much every block in River North. But it also has a high density of Irish taverns, making it a prime spot for barhopping. As an added bonus, if you find yourself in this neighborhood the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll be right on the river to watch as it is dyed green.
Pubs to check out:
- Fado Irish Pub: This three-story tavern takes great pride in bringing traditional Dublin pubs to the 21st century. The pub, opened in 1996 by three Irish immigrants, has a huge food and drink menu with Irish classics, intimate “snugs,” and a reclaimed 100-year-old bar brought in from Dublin.
- O’Callaghan’s Pub: If you’re looking for a late-night Irish pub, O’Callaghan’s is open until 4 a.m. every night (except on Saturday when it’s open until 5 a.m.), this no-frills tavern has a lunch, dinner, and late-night menu with a wide selection of beers on draft.
- Kerryman’s: The Kerryman’s location has worn many hats over the years, specifically when it was known as McGovern’s Saloon, a popular hangout for Chicago’s gangsters and then, in the 1970s, a popular punk club. Now, Kerryman’s is a high-spirited Irish pub with the owners and head chef all hailing from Ireland. This is an especially good spot for Irish dining as the head chef puts contemporary spins on traditional Irish dishes.
- Shamrock Club: Head to Shamrock Club where “everyone is treated like a regular” by staff in this traditional dive bar that has been open since 1981. The laid-back pub has a full menu with daily specials (stop by Thursdays for the brisket), free popcorn, and pool tables.
This northern neighborhood takes up a large chunk of space and is home to some lively sub-neighborhoods like Wrigleyville and Boystown. With a reputation as a party-friendly neighborhood, you’ll find your fair share of traditional Irish pubs. And don’t be worried about the size of the neighborhood; there are plenty of “L” stops to get you to all the best bars.
Pubs to check out:
- Harrigan’s: Adorned with green, white, and orange flags and shamrocks, right off the bat you can see the Irish pride. The owner, known as Fingers McGee, worked his way as a barback to own Harrigan’s and aspires to create an inviting space for everyone. This is evident in the pub’s communal vibe and weekly events like karaoke and comedy shows and tributes to Irish musicians.
- Full Shilling Public House: Located right by Wrigley Field, Full Shilling has become a popular spot not only for Cubs fans looking for a pre-game beer but those looking for a lively Irish pub. The menu features traditional pub fare and a decent selection of Irish whiskeys.
- Keenan O’Reilly’s Pub: This no-frills pub makes a point to remember its regulars and their drink orders. A great place to go with friends, Keenan’s has board games, electronic shuffleboard, a pool and ping pong table, and even lets you deliver food to the bar. The pub is dog-friendly and loves its four-legged regulars, so much so that their website has a “Dogs of Keenan’s” page.
Home to the wildly popular South Side Irish Parade, both Morgan Park and Beverly are full of Irish pride. The 40-year-old parade draws a large number of people (over 200,000 spectators) each year. Unsurprisingly, the neighborhood has many Irish pubs that hold a special place in many residents’ hearts.
Pubs to check out:
- Cork & Kerry: This neighborhood institution is adorned with vintage photos and Irish decor and has a large beer garden open in the summer. While this location doesn’t serve food, their beer menu certainly makes up for it with 20 beers on tap and a large variety of bottled beers. In the summertime, you can find food trucks outside.
- Fox’s Restaurant and Pub: This restaurant gives an interesting twist to a traditional Irish pub. Started by an Irish couple, the two wanted to bring the communal culture of a pub to their restaurant but also had a special pizza recipe that would become the trademark dish. Fox’s has an array of cuisines at all three of their restaurants, but the Beverly location is where it all started.
- Porter Cullens Irish Pub & Restaurant: Porter Cullens wants to become an extension of your home, just like the pubs in Ireland are for their patrons. This pub serves traditional Irish dishes along with an extensive collection of Irish ales. The restaurant believes music is at the center of every pub and therefore always has music playing whether its contemporary or Irish folk music.
This serene northside neighborhood gives off a nostalgic feel with storied buildings and charming homes. It’s also home to some of the most popular Irish pubs in Chicago, proving you don’t need to be in the heart of Chicago to experience the liveliness of an Irish pub.
Pubs to check out:
- The Curragh: The Curragh has made a name for itself not only in Edison Park but throughout Chicago as a warm and inviting neighborhood pub. The tavern serves traditional Irish fare (try the chicken boxy or bangers and mash) and an extensive beer menu. The Curragh is also known for throwing a great St. Patrick’s Day party.
- The Harp and Fiddle: If you feel like going on an Irish pub bar crawl, The Harp and Fiddle is right down the street from The Curragh. This pub has a more modern interior than some of the divey Irish pubs mentioned, and it also hosts live performances. It also has a pretty impressive menu with a section dedicated to Irish specialties.
- Emerald Isle: Emerald Isle has been a neighborhood favorite for over 40 years, and for good reason. Its easy-going atmosphere, large beer and spirits menu, and classic bar-bites draw in crowds all days of the week. It also has events like karaoke, open-mics, and touring musicians.
Honorable Pub Mentions:
- Emmit’s Irish Pub: Located in River West, Emmit’s takes pride in its expertly poured Guinness, beer-battered fish and chips, and interesting history. During prohibition, the first floor became a bank that reportedly held Chicago gangsters’ cash, and later in the 1980s, was the site of a shoot-out between cops and robbers attempting to steal from the tavern. Now, Emmit’s promises a good time, just with less drama.
- Shinnick’s Pub: This Bridgeport mainstay has been family-owned for more than 80 years and passed down from generation to generation. The down-to-earth pub is a popular stop pre-White Sox games and a local favorite on St. Patrick’s Day.