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O'Shaughnessy's Public House
Photograph: Erica Gannett

The best Irish pubs in Chicago

Chicago's best Irish pubs offer perfectly poured Guinness, extensive whiskey selections and tasty pub fare

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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Irish immigrants flocked to Chicago in the 1800s, making up a fifth of the city's population by 1850. With that information in mind, it's no surprise that Irish pubs in Chicago are relatively commonplace—you'll find bars in most neighborhoods that serve beer from Chicago breweries alongside Irish brews and dishes like fish and chips. The best Irish pubs in Chicago are more than just places to hang out on St. Patrick's Day, boasting cozy spots to sip a pint and sprawling beer gardens. Whether you're looking for a hearty bite to eat or a place to enjoy some whiskey, these Irish pubs in Chicago will take care of you.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to the best Chicago bars

Best Irish bars in Chicago

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Avondale
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Named for an Irish immigrant who served as the General Superintendent of Chicago's police force at the turn of the 20th century, this Avondale bar is known for its massive patio and an all-you-care-to-eat Sunday brunch buffet. You'll always find Irish draughts like Guinness, Smithwick's and Harp—and you may also encounter some live music performed by fiddlers and bagpipers.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Beverly
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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 beer garden is a popular spot to gather and enjoy a beer during the warmer months—especially when the Chicago White Sox are playing. In factm Cork & Kerry is so beloved by Sox fans that the bar opened a second location near Guaranteed Rate Field.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bistros
  • North Center
  • price 2 of 4

This Irish bistro serves food you’d find in modern-day Dublin, which means Guinness isn’t just on the epic beer list, but also in the creamy mac and cheese. You’ll also find it in the beef stew, along with chunks of potatoes and carrots. Swing by for a pint and some live music throughout the week. And if you're in need of some imported Irish snacks, Mrs. Murphy's also boasts a selection of groceries, allowing you to stock up on Taytos, Irish cheddar, Cadbury chocolate and more delicious treats.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Andersonville
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Andersonvillagers of all stripes are crazy for this Irish pub, which has the decor (and bookshelves) of a stately living room. Maybe it’s because of the wide variety of beers on tap, including Irish drafts and selections from local breweries like Maplewood and Old Irving. Maybe it’s because, with large portions of chicken pot pie or fish and chips, it’s a no-brainer to stick around for dinner. Maybe it's the extensive menu of gluten-free dishes. 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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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Lincoln Square
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A mainstay of Lincoln Square, the Grafton is far from a run-of-the-mill McIrish pub. Named after a famous street in Dublin, the walls of this bar are usually covered in the work of local artists and folk musicians can often be found plucking away while those-in-the-know scarf down Guinness stew or a smash burger. In the summer, the sidewalk patio is a popular place to sit down and enjoy a beer or a plate of fish and chips while.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Wrigleyville
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Wrigleyville has changed considerably, but the Irish Oak remains one of the neighborhood's most authentic (the bar itself was actually built in Ireland) pubs to snag a "perfect" pint of Guinness. Skip the Shake Shack next door in favor of traditional dishes like shepherd's pie and onion soup, or less-traditional fare like Irish nachos and corned beef egg rolls. And if you feel like treating yourself, ask about the top shelf whiskey options.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Beverly
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Like the handcrafted wooden bar at this friendly Far 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 locals, but a genuine smile should get you let into the family in no time.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Uptown

Step inside this Ravenswood haunt and you'll see 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 sit down in a comfy booth and have some curry chips with your beer. And if you're craving a proper Irish breakfast, swing by for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll enjoy rashers, corned beef hash, black pudding and more.

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  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • Bridgeport
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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. It's the kind of dive where you can sense the history of the place the moment you walk in the door. We'll drink to that!

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Irving Park
  • price 1 of 4

In addition to its library and museum packed with historical acquisitions, the Irish American Heritage Center also houses a limited-hours pub, where you can have a drink and enjoy free live music. If you're hunrgy, there's a menu of beer-absorbing fare like po-tayto skins, Irish hot dogs or fish and chips. And even though there are plenty of places where you can order a pint of Harp throughout Chicago, you have the best chance of running into a visitor from the Emerald Isles if you decide to drink here.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Avondale

Founded by a Chicago firefighter, this small Avondale bar is best known for serving an Irish breakfast, complete with bangers, rashers, black pudding, baked beans, eggs and brown bread. If you're not feeling quite that ravenous, you can always opt for a burger or a pizza (which can be topped with Irish bacon or sausage). But Wolfhound isn't just a spot to visit when you're hungry—there's plenty of Irish and local beer on tap as well as a short list of cocktails to enjoy. And if you're around on a nice day, there's a good chance that the garage door at the front of the bar will be open.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • River West/West Town
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Located in a building which housed a Prohibition-era bank (where gangsters are rumored to have stashed their cash), this River West pub is probably better known as the location where George Clooney recruited Matt Damon in Ocean's 11. These days, the bi-level, wood-paneled confines of Emmit's Irish Pub are a popular place to enjoy shots of Jameson, Guinness-battered cod and plates of buffalo wings.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • River North
  • price 1 of 4

Looking for something a little fancier than your typical, wood-paneled neighborhood haunt? This Irish gastropub does away with the plastic cubs and tacky shamrock garlands—it's an upscale bar that just happens to serve beef and Guinness pie as well as an all-day Irish breakfast. You can sit down indoors for a pint, but if the sun is shining, you should definitely inquire about a spot on the Kerryman's beautiful sidewalk patio.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Irving Park
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With a name like Paddy Mac's, you might expect a very Irish bar, but this Irving Park corner pub only serves corned beef on its reuben sandwich. Still, there's a drunken leprechaun on its menu, Guinness on tap and a Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry—we'll give the owners credit for trying.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 1 of 4

Best known for the sizable covered patio that provides great views of Clark Street, you'll find Guinness, Magners and Harp served in 20oz glass at Galway Arms. It's best if you show up hungry, especially if you want to make your way through generous servings of chicken pot pie, corned beef and cabbage or a towering burger. Plus, this pub host live music multiple nights a week—just check the Galway Arms website to find the latest schedule of traditional Irish performers.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Lincoln Square
  • price 1 of 4

Make the journey just north of Lincoln Square to find this tucked-away Irish soccer pub, where you'll find Chicago Fire and Tottenham Hotspur supporters cheering on their teams. The bar opens extra early for Tottenham matches and stays open late, offering a few Irish beers and a decent shepherd's pie.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Lake View

A Lakeview institution with pennies embedded in its bar, Harrigan's is best known for its raucous Friday- and Saturday-night karaoke sessions. Have a pint or a shot of whiskey before you take the mic—and don't feel obligated to sing anything by the Dropkick Murphys, the Cranberries or U2.

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