When it comes to authentic Irish pubs, what could matter more than the availability of Guinness? A lot, as it turns out, from great Irish cuisine to quality Celtic music. Whether you're a fan of whiskey bars or beer bars, there's nothing quite like a dive plastered in shamrocks. So quit wondering where to drink in Los Angeles tonight: lace up your Riverdance shoes and clink pints at one of our thoroughly Irish watering holes.
RECOMMENDED: Our guide to St. Patrick's Day in Los Angeles
L.A.'s best Irish pubs
After a brief and heartbreaking hiatus, L.A.’s exalted Irish haven is back—and this time, they’re not messing around. The kitchen rolled out a new menu following the reopening last January, and while the roasted Brussels sprouts are nothing to scoff at, loyal followers of the fried fish fellowship will be pleased to see that this pub favorite made the cut. Rather than celebrate St. Patty’s with hundreds of drunk and newly “Irish” Angelenos, visit Tom Bergin’s on an “off” night to revel in the simple brilliance of the fish and thick-cut chips. The chips are fat and beautifully crisp, while the mild, buttery hake is battered in Tom’s own Bergin’s Brew, which, coincidentally, makes a fine accompaniment in a pint glass. Oh Tom, we’ve missed you so.
There are Irish pubs that feature music, and then there are music venues that happen to live in an Irish pub. Molly Malone's has been brewing up its own little pint of Dublin in L.A. since 1969 and showcasing musical talent (and a great beer list) every step of the way. Rock, Irish folk, country—the lineup spans the genre gamut, and with Molly's stellar acoustics, it's one of L.A.'s better pubs for catching a show. Dinner and a show, in fact—on nights with live music, their kitchen is open until 10pm. True, the menu sometimes reads as less than traditional—ask for O'Brien Fries and you'll get a plate of French—but the Kildare Hot Corned Beef Sandwich is as Irish as they come. Plus, you'll need some sustenance while you dance the night away by the main stage, also known as the Snug.
Even if you’ve never been to Casey’s, you’re familiar with the sprawling, dark-wood-everything bar: It has served as the set for just about every pub-focused scene on television in the last 20 years. Given an Irish reboot from the brains behind Tam O’Shanter and Lawry’s, Casey’s is still imbued with that faded-elegance vibe. The many rooms here are dotted with TVs—you’ll find both North American and European sports on the screens—and plenty of fans, especially of the USC variety. In addition, there’s the occasional live band, darts, billiards and some quality shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.
Its mascot is a drunken toddler named Reilly, and really, is there anything more Irish than that? Rock and Reilly's has maintained a frat house status among West Hollywood watering holes, throwing epic St. Patrick's Day block parties and boasting maxims like, "A new study shows that binge-drinking leads to a kick-ass good time." But it's also the perfect pub to partake in casual whiskey tastings (a new whiskey is featured each week) or to make friends at the bar during a crowded Saturday night. If all that testosterone proves too much to handle, step outside onto Reilly's outdoor patio with an order of the Irish Nachos, a fan favorite. Made with homemade kettle chips and topped with peppered bacon, Irish cheddar and corn salsa—the snack provides just enough sustenance to refuel for another round of bro-tastic shots.
The quaint community of Toluca Lake has its fair share of restaurants, cafés and bars, but for a pub that takes pride in its steady drinking crew, head to Timmy Nolan's for a pint (or one of the 20+ Irish whiskeys available). Starting around 3pm, the first floor of this dark, quintessential Irish pub begins to fill up with regulars asking about friends and family between sips of Guinness and Fuller's London Porter, stopping their chatter only for snacks from the small grill across the bar (the potato skins are great if you're craving comfort food). Upstairs, a full dining room is available for pub goers to try the Irish stew, fish and chips, and more. But beware on game day: the vibe quickly morphs from a relaxed Cheers atmosphere to that of rabid sports fans rooting for their team. Blimey!
There are 3,000 miles between Boston and Los Angeles, but that doesn't keep Sonny McLean's, an Irish pub in Santa Monica, from losing team spirit. Throughout the week, the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins can be found playing on one of the bars mutliple TVs, while East Coasters in low-slung Sox caps reminisce about Dunkin' Donuts and the T (the older-than-dirt metro system, for the uninitiated). The menu boasts New England and California fare, but the best dishes here are of British and Irish descent—the Banger Sandwich, a hearty sausage served with sauteed onions on a baguette, is a stick-to-your-bones revelation. When it comes to clinking glasses, choose from a list of highly curated ciders, stouts and IPAs.
Here is what we love about the Auld Dubliner: The menu doesn't dabble in Irish dishes, it full-on embraces them. Bangers and champ, Irish ham and cabbage, the Boxty (a traditional Irish potato pancake) and an all day, full Irish breakfast are just a few of the plates that'll have you breaking out in a jig. Their drink selection is nothing to scoff at either—The Auld Dubliner is known for pouring the perfect pint of Guinness Draught (and did we mention they have apple cider on tap?). Stop by on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for live music, dominated by Celtic "Shamrockabilly" artists.
Mickey McColgan's is probably the hippest Irish pub in the South Bay. Located on Hermosa Avenue, a short distance from the pier and only a few blocks off the beach, the large open windows allow you to sip some whiskey with the ocean breeze against your back. The pub serves Guinness and craft beers along with a food menu mixed with American and Irish cuisine (think Banger's 'n' mash, fish 'n' chips, and shepherd's pie). The Irish spirit is strong here, yet it's addressed in a modern way—though be warned, on game days it can turn into a bit of a scene.
An Irish pub in the middle of Hollywood may seem like a boozy tourist trap, but we're not complaining. Jameson's Irish Pub has one of the best happy hours on the Walk of Fame—2-for-1 drinks, Monday through Friday, noon to 8pm. What's more, their namesake liquor is featured in over half the drinks on the cocktail list, making this pub a whiskey-lover's haven. Try the classic Jame-O pickle back shot, the Jame-O' Rita or the Irish Hooligan (featuring a little bit of everything, from Jameson to vodka to peach schnapps...heyo!). The booze carries over to the food menu as well, where diners can order Guinness beer-breaded chicken tenders or apple and Irish whiskey sausage. This is one tourist trap we wouldn't mind being stuck in.
Your eyes may need some adjusting once you enter the Irish Times, a divey, dimly lit Irish pub, but give it some time and you'll soon find yourself comfortably immersed in your surroundings. That's because comfort is key at this Culver City bar, where regulars gather for trivia on Tuesdays while noshing on bangers and mash or beef and Guinness pie. There is authentic Celtic music that plays throughout the pub on weekdays and live bands that perform on the weekends (no cover!), but both are secondary to the noise coming from tables of regulars who've camped out at the pub since noon. Not a regular yet? Order a pint of Strongbow Cider, pick up a pool cue, and you'll be sure to make friends in no time.