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10 Great Irish Pubs for St. Patrick's Day

Mar. 7, 2017
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March 17: when everyone is Irish for a day, even if your name ends in “ski.” Some people use this holiday as an excuse to eat corned beef and cabbage, and some use it as an excuse to wear green novelty sunglasses and drink Guinness. However you prefer to celebrate, there’s an Irish pub that’s just right for you around Milwaukee, whether you’re into green beer or Irish jigs.

County Clare Irish Inn & Pub

1234 N. Astor St.

County Clare is the coziest, most charming Irish pub you’ve ever been in. The wood-burning fireplace in the Saint’s Snug, just-worn-enough wooden bar, and gorgeous stained glass windows offer a little more sophistication than the typical neon bar signs. It’s also a small inn, so the feeling of being welcomed isn’t just from your bartender, it’s practically radiating from the building itself. Top it all off with regular live music from Irish artists and great pub food like their popular Irish root soup and you’ve got one of the best pubs around. They even have a really great bloody mary, made with a splash of Guinness and topped with a whole pickled red potato.

Paddy’s Pub

2339 N. Murray Ave.

When you wander around the maze of rooms, bars and hallways of Paddy’s, you might feel a little overwhelmed. Some rooms will make you feel like you’re in the European Village exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum, and all will give you plenty of knickknacks to gaze at for hours while you drink. Make sure not to miss the stunning side patio, which is always lush with greenery in the summer and often hosts live music. If ever there was a secret garden in Milwaukee, this patio is it. Just make a pact with your buddies not to relieve yourself on the mermaid in the bathtub of the upstairs men’s room.

The Irish Pub

124 N. Water St.

When you need a little break from more pretentious bars in the Third Ward, The Irish Pub will always be there for you. It tends to be pretty mellow, with a small food menu and typical selection of Irish brews. They’re big into sports here, especially those popular across the pond. You’re likely to see rugby, footy or hurling—a 3,000-year-old Gaelic field hockey-like sport played with sticks called hurleys—on the few TVs. The bar even sponsors local rugby and hurling teams, so you can rub elbows with local players as they swig back a pint (or five) after a match. 


4919 W. North Ave.

McBob’s is known far and wide for its slow-cooked, thick-sliced corned beef. It’s available every day in sandwich form, unlike the popular giant Tex-Mex tacos, which are only available on some days. Though the menu can be seriously confusing, it doesn’t stop patrons from all walks of life from stopping in for a pint or two. You’re just as likely to be seated next to a metal fabricator as you are an attorney from Brookfield, brought together by your mutual love of corned beef and a pub that just doesn’t have the patience to put up with bros that might normally hang on Water Street. 

Mo’s Irish Pub

142 W. Wisconsin Ave.

The first thing you’ll notice walking into Mo’s Downtown location is the bar. The imposing, dark wood structure is placed near the middle of the room and has seating on all sides. It can get pretty loud at Mo’s, especially after Downtown events, so head to the second floor bar if you’re looking for something more relaxed. The Wauwatosa location, while a great pub in its own right, just doesn’t have the same raucous vibe as Mo’s Downtown on weekends. Insider tip: You’re highly likely to meet the band Gaelic Storm here after their annual St. Patrick’s Day concert at the Pabst. 

The Harp

113 E. Juneau Ave.

Summer is the time of year—besides St. Patrick’s Day, of course—that The Harp really comes alive. There’s a large wooden deck out back that abuts the river and it’s packed when the sun is out. There’s a dock, too, so you can ride your boat up the river and make this one of your boating bar crawl stops. It may be sunnier than Dublin, but I don’t think any Irish folks will fault us for enjoying summer weather while we can. The Harp’s round building has housed taverns since the 1860s, so it’s practically your duty as a Milwaukeean to visit this historic spot. 

Trinity Three Irish Pubs

125 E. Juneau Ave.

Trinity is made up of three distinct, connected pubs: Gallagher’s, Foy’s and Duffy’s. That just means that there’s three times the party come March 17. Their proximity to the Water Street bars frequented by newly minted drinkers also adds to the ambiance; it’s up to you whether that’s a good thing or not. One thing’s for sure, you’re going to have a great time when you come here, and if you’re not, just mosey around to one of the other three bars until you find a spot that suits you best. The food menu is large and runs the gamut from corned beef and cabbage to a full Irish breakfast at brunch, so you’ll never leave with an empty stomach. 


338 S. First St.

Though the main bar area at O’Lyida’s isn’t huge, the sprawling mish-mash of dining areas—including a tucked-away patio set beneath elevated railroad tracks—more than makes up for it. The food here is quite tasty, from homemade Reuben eggrolls to a very respectable fried chicken dinner. They offer free shuttle service (and plenty of free parking) to more events than most bars: Brewers, Bucks, Marquette and UW-Milwaukee basketball games, plus Summerfest and Irish Fest. It’s also a great place to catch Packers games where you’ll score a free buffet at halftime. 


8933 S. 27th St., Franklin

Mulligans does a lot of things really well. The bar area is separated from the dining area, so you won’t have someone who imbibed a little too much on their 16 taps crowding your dinner. And you’ll really want to enjoy that dinner, because most everything is delicious, especially the Friday fish specials and burgers. (I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the tavern fries covered in cheese and bacon, too.) St. Patrick’s Day celebrations always spill out into the heated tent set up on the patio, so whether it’s 30 degrees or 70, you’ll be able to keep drinking all night. 

Finn McGoo’s

10365 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon

The owners of Finn McGoo’s moved to the U.S. from Ireland in the ’90s, where they owned a hotel and pub. So when beloved Taylor & Dunn’s closed recently, it was reassuring that a family with hospitality experience opened in its place. They’ve also got musical chops: Owner Finbar MacCarthy plays at the pub weekly, along with annual gigs at Irish Fest. (His son, Eoin, also plays at Irish Fest as a member of Whiskey of the Damned.) The pub has been lightly renovated, but the homey feel and tasty corned beef have remained.


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