B.D. Riley's (Austin, Texas): This pub was named by 'Imbibe Magazine' as one of the country's best places to drink Guinness. The secret to their "perfect pint o' dark"? Spotless imperial glasses and the patience to allow the beer to settle into its two proper parts. The bar is adamant about not being a 'cookie-cutter' pub, and much of the establishment's design and furnishings were sourced directly from Ireland. And, of course, this being Austin, there's plenty of great music to add to the atmos
USA TODAY - It's that time of year when instead of heading to a trendy cocktail bar, a loud and rumbling sports bar, or - better yet - hibernating and drinking at home rather than venturing out in the cold, we search for the ultimate bar for spring. And on St. Patrick's Day, what most people define as the drinking holiday of the year, we know where we'll be spending our time - at an Irish pub. Because while the snow is still melting, we can indulge in a good shepherd's pie, drink a dark, dark beer, and still feel like spring is coming.
Fortunately, we don't need to book a flight to Ireland to enjoy an Irish evening, as America is home to a budding number of truly authentic Irish pubs, from California to Florida to the Northeast. What makes a pub more authentic than any old O'Malley's/O'Connor's/Mc-something's you'll find just about anywhere? Like we noted last year, it's not as easy as you think to find an authentic pub, but there are a few telltale signs. Dark wood paneling is often a tip-off, a good Guinness or Black and Tan is a good start (bonus points if you can find more than one Irish beer on the menu), and established bartenders who know the differences between Redbreast, Bushmills, and Tullamore and know how to pull the perfect pint of Guinness - that's just a bonus.
What makes the bars on our list authentic? Time, for one thing; the majority of the bars on our list have been open for at least 30 years - some more than 130 years. And these places are usually devoid of loud thumping music and watery house drinks. (Note to self: if you hear Drake blaring from your Irish bar's speakers, you're probably in for a good night, but maybe not an authentic Irish kind of night.) Instead, you'll find history seeping from the walls (heck, one bar on our list actually had parts of a 19th-century pub shipped in), thanks to the relics, photos, and old Guinness signs. The food and drink at the bars on our list mimic what you'd find at a pub in Dublin. While you may find a nachos plate here and there, you won't find any wasabi burgers on the menu. (No really, we had to axe an Irish pub with a wasabi burger on the menu.) You'll find pubs that are loud and boisterous, cozy and homey, and rollicking and downright hilarious - the exact kind of place where you want show off your green duds and kiss someone Irish. (There's one bar on the list that claims success for 5,000-plus marriages thanks to "bar hookups" - we want to go to there.) Click ahead to find the most authentic Irish pubs in America, or as we call them, the true pots o' gold at the end of a long, elusive rainbow of mediocre bars.
The Blackthorn Pub (Boston)
This South Boston bar is confident in asserting that it offers a "TRUE Irish pub experience without the fake 'Irish props,'" and fans and regulars no doubt agree. With that old-school, worn-in feel and a solid selection of beers on draft (including Irish favorites like Guinness, Harp, and Smithwick's), it's simply a great place to grab a drink. Plus, they screen all the important Irish and U.K. sports games on their large-screen TVs.
The Plough & Stars (Boston)
Named among Draft Magazine's 150 Best Beer Bars of 2010, this long-standing Cambridge pub has earned as much praise over the years for its smartly chosen beer list as its live entertainment. The pint-sized place (pun intended) also earns points among regulars for its lack of stereotypical Irish pub décor, instead capturing the vibe with its convivial atmosphere.
McGillin's Olde Ale House (Philadelphia)
There are plenty of great Irish bars in Philadelphia, but only this one can call itself the citys oldest continually operating tavern. With the kind of old-school, no-frills charm that can only be achieved after 153 years in business, this place is no-brainer for cold beers (try their house brand Real Ale and Genuine Lager) and good times.
The Grafton Pub (Chicago)
Consistently called out among the city's best Irish pubs (in addition to the praise for its top-notch burger), The Grafton Pub boasts a craft beer list with some 70-plus selections and more than 20 Irish whiskeys. If that alone didn't make for a stand-out Irish pub, tack onto that a friendly staff and regular live music performances.
Molly Malone's (Los Angeles)
This more than 40-year-old landmark is known for its great live music, featuring a wide range of local musicians nightly. A good place to grab a pint, the Los Angeles Times once wrote this about it: "The shelves are lined with books and, generally speaking, everything that isn't made of wood is green except for the beer, which is never green, even on St. Patrick's Day."
This Seattle pub is more than just a place to grab a well-pulled pint of Guinness, it's also arguably the best spot in town to catch whatever must-see soccer game, sorry, football match is playing. The bar opens as early as 4:30 a.m. to show important international matches from the World Cup, Euro Cup, and English Premier League.
B.D. Riley's (Austin, Texas)
This pub was named by Imbibe Magazine as one of the country's best places to drink Guinness. The secret to their "perfect pint o' dark"? Spotless imperial glasses and the patience to allow the beer to settle into its two proper parts. The bar is adamant about not being a "cookie-cutter" pub, and much of the establishment's design and furnishings were sourced directly from Ireland. And of course, this being Austin, there's plenty of great music to add to the atmosphere.
The Buena Vista Café (San Francisco)
How do you compete with the place where Irish coffee was invented? It's a tourist attraction for sure, but you've got to appreciate an Irish pub that's known for a drink besides Guinness and whiskey. Of course, if you're looking for someplace in San Francisco with more of a traditional Irish bar feel, The Irish Bank is a must-visit, especially if you're a whiskey drinker.
Rí Rá (Las Vegas)
You're probably thinking: A good Irish bar in Vegas? Really? Yes, really. This establishment is no Vegas mirage, having gone to great lengths to deliver on real-deal Irish pub atmosphere. Although the expansive, four-room venue doesn't make for as cozy a space as many older pubs, it certainly has the right look outfitted in dark wood furnishings and antique fixtures salvaged from old Irish buildings. There's also an impressive selection of Irish whiskeys and international brews on tap and by the bottle, as well as bands flown in from the Emerald Isle.
Clarke's Irish Pub (Miami)
Another great Irish bar in an unexpected location is Clarke's Irish Pub, in Miami Beach. Very much a departure from the city's swanky nightlife scene, this homey bar is, as they say, "all about the craic." (For the uninitiated, that's Gaelic for a place with a fun, lively, social atmosphere.)
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