Best Irish pubs in Chicago

If you're looking for a perfectly poured Guinness, an extensive whiskey selection or pub fare, head to one of the best Irish pubs in Chicago

Photograph: Max Herman
Cullen's Bar & Grill

Guinness and fish and chips aren't just for St. Patrick's Day, especially in a city with as many Irish ties as Chicago. With Irish bars located all over the city, you're never far from a nip of whiskey or a pint of beer. Whether you want to drink somewhere after watching the dyeing of the river or just want a pint in August, here are the best Irish pubs in Chicago.

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Best Irish bars in Chicago

Atlantic Bar & Grill

As the “Home of the Glasgow Celtic Supporters Club,” this Irish pub boasts a dozen beers on tap and traditional fare like shepherd’s pie, as well as decidedly un-Irish burgers and sandwiches. Weekly events including karoke, improv nights and soccer matches keep things lively in the party room behind the spacious main bar.

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Lincoln Square

Chief O’Neill’s Pub

When two Irish-born musicians open a pub, you’d better believe they’ll pay attention to the tunes. Even aside from live Irish music on Sundays, you can usually count on sipping your stout to bagpipe-driven sounds. In nice weather, the massive back patio doubles the capacity, with towering hedges muffling the sounds of Elston Avenue, while winter means a chance to warm by three fireplaces inside.

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Avondale

Cork & Kerry

Hang with the Beverly crowd at this Far South Side institution, where Irish brogues are the norm and the staff is among the friendliest in town. The fenced-in, wooden deck has a homey, antique decor (i.e., wagon wheels and hanging plants), along with two bars that are great places to root on the Sox.

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Bridgeport

Cullen’s Bar and Grill

With the waitresses brandishing brogues along with the shepherd’s pie and Guinness pints, you know this Lakeview Irish pub is the real deal. Everyone from neighborhood families to tipsy Cubs fans stops in for the above-par bar grub. Besides potpies, fish-and-chips and other Emerald Isle imports, you can’t go wrong with the char-grilled meatloaf sandwich, turkey-and-corned-beef Reubens or onion rings the size of your head.

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Southport Corridor

Emmit's

Of course it’s crazy on the weekends, but even on weekend afternoons, regulars gather at this bi-level, wood-heavy pub to watch the game and—judging from the bottles of Jameson suspended upside-down above the bar (all the easier to pour)—drink a lot of Irish whiskey.

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Downtown

Galway Arms

There’s a lot more Gaelic cheer at this bar than just the Guinness on tap. The yummy pub grub is authentic, most of the staff is actually Irish, and it’s never too crowded to nab a table (choose between the vintage woodwork inside and the expansive, open-air patio). Just don’t spread the word too much—we’d hate to wind up ass-to-elbow like at most Lincoln Park McPubs.

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North Side

Harrigans Pub

There’s an electronic countdown to St. Patrick’s Day and a bar made out of Irish pennies. Do we really need to spell out for you what this place is all about? On Sunday nights it’s as sleepy as an Irish hamlet, but on Fridays and Saturdays it’s as raucous as Dublin.

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Lakeview

The Irish Oak

Every Irish bar in the city claims maximum authenticity, but this one has the goods to prove it: The vibe is a nice mix of traditional and contemporary Irish pub culture, the bar was designed and built in Ireland, and most of the waitstaff are real live Irish folks (or just really good at faking accents).

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Wrigleyville

Keegan’s Pub

Like the handcrafted wooden bar at this friendly South Side pub? Owner Bernard Callaghan built it himself. He’s also most likely the guy you’ll see pouring whiskey, Guinness or Magners for the Sox fans who belly up to said bar for a drink and idle chat. Weekends get packed with generations of freckle-faced locals, but a genuine smile should get you let into the family in no time.

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Chicago

Lady Gregory's

Andersonvillagers of all stripes are crazy for this Irish pub, from the owner of Wilde Bar & Restaurant and Beckett’s. Maybe it’s because Kyle McHugh, who used to run the Drinks Over Dearborn liquor store, pulled together a beer list 100 deep, with drafts like Metropolitan Krankshaft Kölsch available in 5oz, 10oz and 16oz pours. Maybe it’s because, with large portions of chicken potpie and mac and cheese, it’s a no-brainer to stick around for dinner. Or maybe it’s because everyone is secretly really, really into the works of Lady Gregory, the Irish dramatist and folklorist.

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Andersonville

O'Callaghan's

It’s just your normal Irish pub with a few topless women carved into the wooden bar. But to anybody who’s looking for a clean, casual place to drink until 4am in River North, it’s an oasis of Jameson, Guinness and a late-night menu of jalapeño poppers and nachos.

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Chicago

O’Shaughnessy’s Public House

Good thing bar owner Michael Finan’s pa came from the Emerald Isle, because he knew just which carpentry folks to call on for a custom-built wood bar that evokes an authentic Irish pub feel. The space sports a deep red exterior, exposed brick, warm lighting, an open door and a friendly staff, so take a comfy booth and some curry chips with your Guinness.

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North Side

Shinnick’s Pub

Representing the first-in, last-to-leave motto of Bridgeport’s diehard Irish-American population, the Shinnick clan has been slinging beer in this building since the day Prohibition ended. St. Pat’s Day and Sox games bring the crowds, but other times you’re likely to find a low-key gathering of locals or a fund-raiser for a sick kid with hefty medical bills. We’ll drink to that.

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Bridgeport

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