Chicago's Irish Pubs

St. Patricks day 2009 is fast approaching, so I've done a little updating around here. Most of you are looking for the list of Irish pubs in Chicago. I now have two maps, on for the northside (Lincoln Park area) and one for the River North/Streeterville area. The River North/Streeterville map is updated (March 2009). The Lincon Park Map needs work.

Both areas high concentration of good pubs making it easy to crawl from pub to pub. I'm aware I'm missing many new ones on the northside, which have positioned themselves nicely so some of the longer sobering walks between pubs have been shortened. There's somewhere around ten of them, and I might have these added shorty, and before St. Patrick's day. That shouldn't matter though, since a real pub crawler knows better than to go out on St. Patty's day, it's too hard to get a beer.

Someday I really will get this page into the 00's and implement a Google map and get it iPhone ready. However it's not going to happen before this year's St. Patty's day.

Taytos pub crisps

Both maps are aids to those unfamiliar with the area, and it is meant to be used as a walkable or cab-able tour of the best, most authentic pubs. It takes much more than an Irish name and a neon Budweiser shamrock in the window to be an Irish Pub. By my definition a real Irish pub must have real Irish people in it once in awhile - on either side of the bar. And by their definition that means real Irish - not Americans with Irish names. Some other requirements are: a two pour Guinness, (an imperial pint glass is a given) Harp, Power's and Tullamore Dew, Tayto's or Crunchies for sale behind the bar, extra points for a fireplace, live Irish music and Irish food.

The maps do contain a few bars that don't really fit this description, but since this is meant to be a tour of pubs, I've included a few places that should be visited along the way. John Barleycorn isn't really an Irish pub, but when I first made this map, Halligan wasn't Halligan yet, and Barleycorn was the best stop-off in the area. Durkin's, Glascott's and some others are bars, not pubs since satellite TVs every 3 feet and loud music interfere with the most important feature of a good pub - conversation, and while Galway Bay may feel like a giant-TV sports bar, you'll hear a brogue or two in there.

There are others just outside the outskirts of this map. The Abbey, Mulligan's, Chief O'Neil's and quite a few more deserve to be on this list, but are too far out of range of this map to be included on a walking or CTA aided tour. It should go without saying this map isn't meant for driving.

Chicago Pubs thumbnail

There's a lot of places on these lists. Not even the most professional drinker will be able to do a Guinness in half of them, and I don't think I'd like to be around anybody who'd attempt it. Originally I made this map when a cousin from out-of-town wanted to see some Chicago's Irish Pubs. He's a stout Irish Fireman and I've had plenty of training, but we only made it to six of them.

On the northside page I give my recommended route to 7 of the my favorites, making sure to hit the most authentic along the way. You'll also find a list of addresses and a printable PDF of the map.

On the River North page I also provide recommendations and a map. This area is even better for a short crawl, with excellent pubs and home of argueably the best in the city, Celtic Crossing. It's so authentic you may feel like a foreigner on some nights.

Other Areas

I'm not even going to get into the southside thing - that's a whole different story. I know there are great bars down there, but I'm not qualified to write about them without more "research".

There's a slew of Irish-owned upscale pubs popping up all over town. These places don't have the smoke stained dark oak feel of a west county pub, they're more about the Celtic Tiger, new Irish money feel of Temple Bar. Places like the Kerryman, Butcher's Dog and Ta'Too are quickly replacing people ideas of the multitudes of Bennigan wanna bes. An Irish friend who opened a pub reflects the new attitude - he has three rules - no Shamrocks, no leprechauns and no car bombs. I need to add quite a few of these places, from the upscale Mrs. Murphy & Sons to the clubby Slainte and Mystic Celt.

The Loop area includes a few Irish bars, and those could be a great crawl- but again that's a whole 'nother map. (I'm working on it, hopefully someone will give me a grant). Included would be the Loop hotel pub Kitty O'Sheas which feels authentic if you ignore the tourists and pan handlers, Pogue Mahone's is a favorite for Loop regulars and Butcher's Dog is another Irish owned place that feels like it.

The Gold Coast is loaded with bars with Mc or O' in their names. A research expedition needs to planned. If I feel anything else besides their names makes these places Irish, I'll include them. If nothing else, places like Dublin's or McFadden's make a tour from River North and Old Town link up with the Northside map.

As for the suburbs, there's some way out there that are very well spoken of, with regular music and a lively crowd. River Forest has a whole string of pubs, but I'm afraid I'm un-aquianted with them. In the far suburbs like Schaumburg pubs are springing up as well.

In my suburb of Evanston we now have two Irish Pubs. Tommy Nevin's, which after a change of ownership has turned into a college sports bar complete with a TV for every 5 patrons and the obligatory golf video machine, still lights the fireplaces on chilly days, serves a decent pint of Guinness and has some decent music once in awhile.

The newest Evanston pub, The Celtic Knot is owned and operated by publicans from across the pond (most of them ex-patriots of Nevin's as well). Patrick serves up an excellent Guinness and Debbie cooks up some awesome pub grub. The fresh cod fish 'n chips blows all the other pubs soggy-frozen-Mrs. Paul's-fish away. They have a pretty decent music line-up for St. Patrick week too.

This site is in no way an endorsement of drinking, eating chips and gravy, or cheese and onion crisps. The establishments mentioned on these pages have not endorsed or sponsored this site. The creator of this site holds no responsibilty for anyone using this map with stupidity. Drink according to your limits and take CTA.

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