Best Irish Bars in New York City
November 14 2022
New York City is home to the largest urban Irish settlement in the world. In the late 19th century, Irish residents began leaving the country to escape the Great Famine. Between 1846 and 1851, it’s thought that over a million Irish residents emigrated to the USA, and by 1854 there were between 1.5 and 2 million Irish people living in New York City.
As a city with such strong ties to Ireland, there is no shortage of Irish bars throughout New York City. Whether you’re looking for a properly poured Guinness, a real whiskey, or a night of great music – Irish bars have a unique charm you just can’t find anywhere else.
As the Irish famously sing, “wherever you go around the world you'll find an Irish pub” – and NYC is a great example, with over 120 found around the city. However, not every Irish bar offers the same experience. To ensure you don’t get fooled by the imitators, follow our guide to find the best Irish bars in New York City.
First opened in 1966, Donovan’s is Woodside’s Landmark Gathering Place. The traditional pub offers a cozy atmosphere with a real fireplace (perfect for those winter evenings), pints of draft Guinness and all your favorite, home-cooked Irish comfort food. Don’t miss out on the burgers - named by Time Out New York, The New York Post, The Daily News, and others as the best burger in New York.
An Béal Bocht
Located in the Bronx, An Béal Bocht celebrated its 30th birthday last year. When the café first opened it only sold non-alcoholic beverages and quickly became popular with the neighborhood artists who gathered and performed on the premises. Once the bar was granted a liquor license, it was cemented as the neighborhood’s favorite bar. The “best Irish Pub in New York City” (according to TimeOut) is run by an Irish immigrant and has expanded over the years to include an art gallery and theatre space.
McSorley’s Old Ale House
If you’re looking for an Irish pub with history, look no further. Starting life as an Irish working-man’s saloon, McSorley’s Old Ale House has come a long way. John McSorley was born in 1827 in County Tyrone, Ireland. He moved to New York City in 1951 and opened his first ale house at 15th East 7th Street, New York. After John’s death in 1910, his son turned the Ale House into a shrine to his late father, before selling the bar to a patron – Daniel O’Connell – in 1936. O’Connell’s daughter continued to run the Ale House with her husband in keeping with the pub’s original spirit.
Between 1940 and 1943, the Ale House was featured in an article for the New Yorker, a book titled “McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon” and a photographic article in Life Magazine – helping the Irish pub to become one of the most well-known bars in the city.
Molly’s Pub and Shabeen
Established in 1960, Molly’s is “New York’s Most Traditional Irish Bar”. The bar is located at 287 Third Avenue and was first licensed as a bar in 1895 under an unknown name – before becoming a grocery store during prohibition, then re-opening as a bar in the mid-1930s. If you’re looking for Shepherd’s Pie, sawdust on a wood-burning fire, and real Irish meat – head down to Molly’s.
The Dead Rabbit
Want to visit the World’s Most Awarded Pub? It’s right here in NYC. While many Irish pubs have decades of history in New York, The Dead Rabbit’s recent history is back in Ireland. The pub was opened in 2013 by Jack McGarry, the co-founder of the “world’s best bar” back in Belfast. The pub is split over five floors - providing three unique dining and drinking experiences. Enjoy a traditional Irish experience in the Taproom, sample luxury cocktails in the Parlor, or savor tavern traditions in the Occasional room – Dead Rabbit is anything but your typical tourist-trap Irish Bar.
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