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Searching for a great Irish Bar

  • r

Will be visiting NYC during week of X-mas and am looking for an Irish Pub, with a nice ambiance, good Irish music, and most important....great bar food. Specifically, burgers, fish & chips, munchies, etc.
Any tips greatly appreciated.

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  1. No Irish music, but the definitive Irish pub in NYC is most definitely Mcsorley's in the East Village.

    Its the oldest operating bar on the east coast and they only allowed women in starting in the 1970's. Surly waiters and everything. Great bar food.

    And they only serve two kinds of beer -- light and dark.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jason Perlow

      I remember your type from college in Boston. They always tried to walk across the "frozen" Charles River while falling down drunk. Unfortunately, for some of them, the ice didn't hold.
      Thems the "breaks".

      1. re: Mr.W.

        There is of course, a difference between inebriation and drunken stupidity.

        Drunken stupidity is probably nature's way of enforcing Darwinian theory.

        1. re: Jason Perlow

          I concur. no offense. But I do remember a group of drunken MIT frat boys on an ice flow.. It was interesting seeing them get plucked from the frozen Charles, one by one. I don't think any of them won the Darwin Award that year. But if the Boston PD didn't show up, they would've been contenders.

      2. re: Jason Perlow

        I have two that I "frequent." Maggie's Place on E 47th& Madison (a really good turkey club sandwich) and my downtown fave is Brady's on Maiden Lane, where the lads who pour the Guinness leave a shamrock on the foam. The fish & chips at Brady's is world class.

      3. Swift's on E. 4th St. is a really nice Irish bar -- it's a beautiful space with a cozy atmosphere, and a good pint of Guinness. It's popular with Irish emigres, and they have an Irish jam session in the back room one night a week (I don't recall which night.) It's between Bowery and Lafayette.

        The thing is, I can't vouch for the food. They do serve it, and I'd bet it's an authentic representation of Irish pub food, but I haven't had it. Maybe somebody has, and can enlighten us.

        1. Kinsale Tavern on 3rd near E93 St. A genial all Irish staff, decent beer selection, a chance to watch football (the real kind). The bar food is just bar food.

          Joe Moryl

          1. Mcsorley's is a nightmare, filled with drunken kids and smelling of stale beer. Their beer itself is contract brewed by like Schlitz or something (it's not good). And there's nothing Irish about it but the name. Kinsale and Swift's are indeed nice atmosphere and beer (though not food), but I like Molly's at 3rd and 22nd, for atmosphere, great Guinness (Swift's is slightly better but they serve it too cold, Molly's is perfect temp) and the best cheeseburgers in Manhattan. Also a fireplace and cozy back booths.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Jim Leff

              This is surprising ... I have always thought that the ale at Mcsorley's was very, very good. Of course the last time I went was maybe 2 years ago so things very well may have changed -- but to me their pints were a good deal, and goes great with their very simple burgers and their cheese plates. And dirt cheap too.

              As to the stench of the place... oh for the love of god, Leff, be a MAN! Its designed to keep out women.

              Don't get me started. For me a first beer McSorley's has always been a rite of passage among my family and friends.

              I can second the Molly's though.

              1. re: Jason Perlow

                the place isn't for "men", it's for kids. brats. drunken frat boys who leave tokens of their affection in puddles all along the sidewalk outside most nights.

                Also, it's not a rugged masculine aroma, it's a fetid stench (though apparently that's a matter of opinion). And the beer has totally sucked for at least 15 years, and that point's pretty unanimous among every serious beer lover in town.

                As for food, I don't think I need to explain why I'd never in a million years imagine eating there. But, again, different strokes.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Screw you Leff, I -WAS- a drunken frat boy.

                  Drunken frat boys have never interfered with my enjoyment of the Mcsorley's tetotalling experience. The whole point of the joint is to go and get piss ass drunk with your buddies. Its not exactly the kind of place where you go and get a casual pint or two and nurse it. Its simple clean beer that you drink in enormous amounts, which goes through your system real fast so you can drink even more.

                  There's a reason why they call it McSorley's and not McPussies.

                  1. re: Jason Perlow

                    "...I -WAS- a drunken frat boy."


                    1. re: Steven Stern

                      I meant it in jest, Steven. But I gather you were the type in college that the frat boys picked on. Did someone pull your underwear over your head a few too many times in summer camp?

                      I have been known to drink at parties but I have never thrown up in public. Dont imply that someone is a drunk unless you have ample evidence.

                      At least my matoh brei doesn't want to kill me.

                      1. re: Jason Perlow

                        So, in answer to the original poster, if hanging out with guys like this is your idea of a good time, McSorley's won't let you down.

                        1. re: Chris E.

                          I like the "ear". They pour a fine pint of Guinness. Food is great as well.

                          1. re: Mr. W.

                            Not sure how the Ear does on its Irishness quotient, but I agree that the drinks are generous (even the pourings of single malts) and the burgers are yummy and that it is attitude free island of warmth in an area that's rapidly becoming a sea of pretension.

                  2. re: Jim Leff

                    I'm with you on McSorley's: a long and storied history, definitely, but unless one has a yen to hang out with screaming, vomiting frat boys, not an ideal night out. I can't even stand to walk down the block it's on.

                    Molly's is swell. Also worth it for beer and atmosphere are Rocky Sullivan's on Lexington in the high 20s and The Scratcher on 5th St. just east of Bowery. One and One (on 1st and 1st) does commendable fish and chips and pulls a fine Guinness (though I usually opt for the Fuller's, myself), but the decor--all red and laquered and trendy--doesn't have any of the standard "Irish Bar" signifiers: it's more U2 than Clancy Brothers.

                    I have a feeling, though, that the best Irish bar in NY is probably some place in Sunnyside that I've never been.

                    1. re: Steven Stern

                      Your feeling's right. Donovan's (57-24 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, Queens (718) 429-9339). A quick walk from the woodside 7 train stop, so no excuses!

                  3. Thanks to all who responded. As a new user, this is a great site.

                    I did some research on older material after I posted and came across the info on Molly's and her burgers. While McSorley's sounds intriguing, I'm actually more interested in the chow than the brew. There were also some other great leads posted. I'll report back after X-mas. Thanks again.

                    1. There is also the Parlor, on 86th near Broadway. It includes a restaurant where the food is pretty good, and they serve a number of Irish beers. Lots of the staff are Irish (some are Scottish). There's also often soccer/football or even more ethnically Irish sports on the TV.

                      Not being a pub type (never was a frat boy), I can't say how it compares to all those other places mentioned, but it's a nice spot.

                      1. McCormacks on third between 26&27 is a great irish bar. The staff is great and they always run the football and rugby matches (often live).

                        1. It keeps the obnoxious, drunken, baseball hat wearing B&T population down in the rest of the decent watering holes in the East Village.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: stevek
                            Chris Armstrong

                            Obnoxious, drunken, baseball hat wearing B&T people can also be the most dedicated chowhounds; there's no velvet rope when it comes to good food. It's time to get rid of the misleading expletive "Bridge and Tunnel".

                            After all, many of the aforementioned fratboys live in Manhattan. During the day, they put on suits and ties and work at JP Morgan. It's kind of like Clark Kent/Superman. After work, they go into a telephone booth (in this case, a telephone-booth-sized apartment in the East 80s for $3000/mo.) and change into their play clothes. A seven dollar cab ride later...


                            1. re: Chris Armstrong



                              I tend to use (or misuse as the case may be) the moniker 'B&T' as a general term for that generic crowd that blanket the island every weekend evening.
                              It's definitely not an elitist thing.


                          2. While McSorley's founder was clearly Irish, it's not an overwhelmingly, in-your-face, God-it's-great-to-be-Irish bar, like a LOT of bars are. That may have cost it some points among Chowheads who were looking for barkeeps pouring ales while weeping to an acapella "Danny Boy".

                            I can understand why one would not go there on a Saturday night at 10.00. The line would be out the door, and it would be too jammed with 21-25 year olds to have anything even resembling a good time (if you are a 37-year old like me who has absolutely no problem with 21-25 year olds kicking ass at McSoreley's. It's just that it's not my scene anymore so I steer clear when the moon is full). However, if you go as I do, at 12.30 pm on a Tuesday afternoon when it's 3/4s empty, get a seat in the window, have a plate of cheese and onions and 2 pints each of dark and light, it's like no where on Earth.

                            It is simply a sawdust-on-the-floor ale joint, and hasn't pretended to be anything else for 146 years. The pictures, photos, newspaper articles and other paraphenalia decorating the walls (much of it not changed in the last 75-80 years) are a living, breathing history of New York.

                            As for the food, it is minimal, and the only things I ever order there are plates of cheese and raw onion, liverwurst sandwiches, and occasionally, the chili. It comes in the type of crockery you see them ladeling into at the Salvation Army mission.

                            I agree with the guy who said the best irish bar is probably in Sunnyside and he doesn't even know it exists. I agree, although I was thinking more Woodlawn in the Bronx rather than Queens, but we we're on the same page.

                            1. Many unassuming Irish pubs exist in Bronx and Sunnyside. Having said that, on 57th between 8-9th
                              is Kennedy's and there is also PJ Reynolds.
                              On 55th & 9th Ave is Ned Kelly's further down the
                              Ave is McCoys.

                              On 43rd off GCT is Anne Moore and Conways then there is ofcourse Landmark Tavern way down on the Westside on 46th & 11th.

                              1. I'm surprised in all of the back & forth I see here regarding Irish bars that no one has mentioned St. Dymphna's in the East Village - 118 St Marks Pl. between 1st Ave. & Ave A. They serve some generous cocktails, as well as some great Guinness & Murphy's. Besides the occasional Sunday overcrowding, I always felt that the place had a nice, laid back ambiance to it, with a nice outdoor area in the back (heated in winter), plus lots of Irish expats as customers. Good food too, especially the Irish brunch - it includes all of the trimmings (eggs, potatoes, rashers, bangers, beans, mushrooms, fried tomatoes, and most importantly - BLACK & WHITE PUDDING! Plus the Irish breakfast tea & scones - its awesome! They also have solid burgers, fish & chips, shepperd's pie, etc., but the brunch is where it's at!