When it comes to iconic Irish cities in the U.S., Chicago may not get the attention of, say, Boston, but the Midwestern metropolis still boasts its fair share of corned beef and black pudding. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, it’s an apt time to check in on some of Chicago’s most noteworthy Irish bars and restaurants.
While not exclusively or traditionally Irish by any means, this über-popular Millennium Park standby undoubtedly serves some of the best Irish-inspired eats and drinks in town—plus, the owners are Irish, so they definitely lend the cred. The Guinness-battered fish-and-chips is a people pleaser, and the variety of fish changes on a regular basis based on the freshest catch. The Gage also features a mean Irish breakfast with back bacon, corned beef hash, and bangers, and on St. Patrick’s Day, you better believe it goes all out with live music, activities, Irish beer, and plenty of food specials.
The Grafton Pub & Grill
The burgers get a lot of love at this Lincoln Square institution, as they should, but don’t overlook the rest of the Irish pub fare, which remains the heart and soul of the menu. A neighborhood fixture since 2002, the place draws locals for potato skins, beef and Guinness stew, traditional Irish breakfasts, and oven-baked apple pie. The beer list is huge and comprehensive, including a nice array of ciders and meads and even some kombucha beers.
Lively, friendly, and welcoming, Andersonville’s go-to Irish haunt is a place where everyone is treated like a regular. With vegetarian, gluten-free, and kids menus, Lady Gregory’s is also one of the most inclusive Irish eateries in Chicago. In addition to staples such as Cheddar-artichoke dip, curried fries, shepherd’s pie, and meatloaf with tomato chutney, diners can opt for original items like peanut-glazed “buddha bowls” and lobster mac and cheese with white Cheddar truffle cream and cornbread crumbs.
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
A creative and contemporary option for Irish cravings, Mrs. Murphy mixes the classics with the contemporary, like cod and potato fritters with pickle aioli, Irish nachos topped with crumbled black pudding, corned beef with potato biscuits, and fish-and-chips made with local beer batter and curried ketchup. The bar features a deep cocktail list heavy on Irish whiskey, an abbreviated wine list, and ample Irish beers.
The Curragh Irish Pub
Complete with a roaring fireplace, cozy tables surrounded by Irish memorabilia, live Irish music, and a Guinness-stocked wood bar, this far-Northwest Side keystone feels like a real-deal slice of Dublin in Chicago. This is especially evident on the menu, which offers some authentic eats that are hard to come by in the city, like Irish boxty—savory pancakes stuffed with the likes of corned beef and chicken. You’ll also find traditional Irish breakfasts with black and white pudding, broiled tomatoes, Irish rashers and bangers; Guinness-battered fish-and-chips; pesto-crusted salmon; and lamb stew with brown bread.
Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant
This Avondale icon provides a palpable sense of Chicago history, getting its name from Francis “Chief” O’Neill, an Irish family man who served as the city’s police superintendent from 1901 to 1905. He also famously collected and published lots of Irish music, earning him fame in his homeland and locally. It’s that sense of history and culture that helps make Chief O’Neill’s an important part of Chicago’s restaurant landscape. The corner pub is deeply cozy, from the stained-glass fixtures and fireplace to the lamplit dining room and famous shepherd’s pie. And stop by during the warmer months to linger on the garden patio.
Kerryman Irish Bar & Restaurant
A pleasantly casual alternative to River North’s buzzy bar scene, this lively pub is housed in a historic building once home to a saloon frequented by gangsters. Nowadays its regulars are just folks looking for Irish beer, comfort food, and an energetic, pretense-free scene. Irish sausage rolls, corned beef and cabbage, steak-and-chips, and corned beef sandwiches are a few highlights, ideally washed down with a pint of Guinness.