America’s Most Authentic Irish Pubs

Ireland’s pub culture is often imitated, but rarely duplicated. Here are four taprooms across the United States that come close to being spot-on, where you can enjoy a pint (or more) along with some neighborhood bluster and brogue.

> John D. McGurk’s (St. Louis, Missouri)

Few of the pubs in Dublin’s touristy Temple Bar even match the authentic vibe of McGurk’s: worn, wood floors; high-backed wood booths; a maze of mismatched rooms; and live Celtic music, including acts straight from the Auld Sod, seven nights a week.

Some 16 kinds of beers are on tap and about several dozen in bottles. Barkeeps are schooled in the art of the perfect pour: the tilt, the settle, and the temperature, 42 to 45°F.

> Clancy’s Tavern and Whiskey House (Knoxville, Tennessee)

It helps if you’re an Irish whisky drinker (the bar stocks more than 25), but don’t let that stop you from popping inside this Knoxville mainstay.

Custom woodworker Art Clancy designed and installed the gleaming wood interiors, which look as authentically Irish as the four Clancy brothers. Younger brother Danny is a co-owner, and an extended Clancy clan helps keep the place humming.

> Fifth Province Pub (Chicago, Illinois)

Families are a fixture in Ireland’s village pubs, so it only seems appropriate that this most Irish of bars in Chicago, Illinois, is tucked inside a former elementary school.

The local Irish-American stonemasons, woodworkers, and other craftsmen who built the space wanted to create a homey place for Irish expats and Irish Americans (and those who wish they were) to share news and celebrate special occasions. There’s even live music on weekends and a full menu (including curry fries, shepherd’s pie, and Irish country stew).

> The Burren (Somerville, Massachusetts)

The owners of this pub are traditional Irish musicians, a few of the bartenders’ thick brogues are indecipherable, and the atmospherics are blue-collar comfy. Most nights the traditional Celtic harmonies and fiddling you hear are performed by actual Irishmen (past acts include Bono, the Chieftains, and Altan).

Meet some Irish expats at the Monday (twice monthly) dancing lessons and sessions. “Some people think the waiters are rude,”says patron and documentary film producer Jess Barnthouse, “but they’re actually just Irish.”

This list originally appeared in the National Geographic book Abroad at Home: The 600 Best International Travel Experiences in North America.

What did we miss? Share your pick for the most authentic Irish pub in the United States in the comments section below for a chance to appear on Intelligent Travel.


  1. Zak Schulps
    Chico Ca
    March 15, 2016, 12:02 pm

    Duffy’s Bar & Grill

  2. Myo
    March 15, 2016, 11:56 am

    Old Shillelagh
    349 Monroe Street
    Detroit, MI 48226

    Terrific beer, food, atmosphere, beer, service, beer . . . and as they like to remind everyone: “NO DRESS CODE!”

    Very Irish indeed!

  3. Tom Johnson
    Washington DC metro area
    March 14, 2016, 10:13 pm

    Harp & Fiddle in Bethesda, Irish Inn at Glen Echo and Old Brogue in Great Falls VA meet my expectations (and my Irish wife). Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, Veal Stew and Fish & Chips, along with Guinness and Harp – what more do you need or expect?

  4. Robert Davis
    United States
    March 14, 2016, 8:57 pm

    So many in New York City.
    OHanlons on 14th Street a grand place no food but incredible staff where everyone is welcomed.
    Also the resurrected The Abbey Tavern at 26th and 3rd Ave. Great staff and wonderful food at awesome prices.

  5. Teressa
    Northern Virginia
    March 14, 2016, 7:52 pm

    Fado’s is great — but Ireland’s Four Provinces in Falls Church, VA (4P’s) is our choice for best. Great food, decent prices, and a Sunday brunch buffet that’s a huge family draw. This is truly a place where not only does your server know your name, you see many of the same patrons over and over. PS – the strawberries and fresh whipped cream are heavenly.

  6. J.acK. Kirkwood
    Haddonfield, NJ
    March 14, 2016, 6:11 pm

    When in Philadelphia…The Black Sheep, Irish Pub and Restaurant, 17th and Locust Sts.

  7. James Phelps
    United States
    March 14, 2016, 5:34 pm

    Tir Na Nog
    315 W 39th St
    New York

  8. Ben Threinen
    Minneapolis, MN
    March 14, 2016, 4:29 pm

    The Local, Minneapolis, MN

  9. Jack Quinn's Irish Ale House & Pub
    Colorado Springs, CO
    March 14, 2016, 4:23 pm

    Wonderful food, numerous Irish beers and ales on tap, live music, tables with benches and authentic snugs for private dining experiences–even a larger “group” snug. A little trip to Ireland in the heart of Colorado Springs.

  10. Dennis Howell
    March 14, 2016, 4:08 pm

    Kell’s, Seattle and Portland

  11. Jeanne Houston
    New Sharon
    July 18, 2015, 5:10 pm

    Fado’s Irish Pub, Washington D.C.