Let’s be real: The Irish aren’t known for their food. But as a recent trip to Ireland proved, times are definitely a-changin’ – both across the pond and here in Philly.
Nowadays, the City of Brotherly Love has a plethora of Irish pubs serving up high-quality cuisine. Here are our picks, just in time for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities. – Chelsea Karnash
Philly’s oldest ale house has been serving up cold pints and stellar pub grub since way back in 1860. Pop in for lunch and you’ll get a free bowl of soup — straight from the “kettle” – along with your Shepherd’s Pie (a crowd fave) or “Steak and Cake.” And don’t forget to wash it all down with one of the tav’s three house brews or, on St. Patrick’s Day, a green beer or two. Sláinte!
Alright, so they’re not Irish, but they are delicious. Buffalo wings are the star at Moriarty’s, a narrow pub located in Center City. Here, they’re served sauced up as an app or as a meal with fries – that’s it. No choice of heat levels, no sauce variations and don’t even think about boneless wings. Pair yours with a pint of Guinness on draft and pretend you’re sipping away in Dublin.
Before you write Old City’s Plough and the Stars off as a pre-puke palace for the barely-21 crowd, you should really try the food (and go early…like, way early). Here, the menu is more traditional Irish with gastropub flair – think rack of lamb, seafood chowder and Guinness Casserole. Looking to kick off your St. Paddy’s Day pub crawl? Make your way over for kegs and eggs, featuring a full Irish breakfast that includes everything from the sausage and eggs to the mushrooms, beans and black-and-white pudding.
Named after the famed Dublin park, this cute little Irish pub is tucked into a quiet corner of Fairmount on (of course) Green Street. Unlike some of the others on our list, St. Stephens Green is more of a place for happy hour with friends or a solid meal than an old school Irish watering hole. If you’re sticking to tradition when it comes to food, the Guinness-battered fish and chips is a good pick, as is the chicken pot pie or Shepherd’s pie. And consider yourself lucky if you snag a sidewalk seat on a warm summer evening.
Looking for a pub with true Irish character owned by, well, a true Irish character? Welcome to Fergie’s! The Philly landmark (and its proprietor, Fergus Carey; see: this photo on the website) has been serving up a taste of the Emerald Isle for years – long before a certain Black-Eyed Pea was singing about her “humps.” From fish and chips to shepherd’s pie and a delish “All Day Irish Breakfast,” Fergie’s has your cravings covered. Non-meat eaters will be pleased as well; Fergie’s offers a reasonable selection of veg-friendly options including seitan buffalo “wings” and a vegan mac and cheese with tahini sauce.
There are two words most commonly associated with Chestnut Hill’s McNally’s: The Schmitter. Yes, this is the home of Philly’s famous (trademarked!) sandwich. Not sure what you’re in for? Check out the tavern’s homepage for a handy diagram of deliciousness, and then get thee to this neighborhood haunt for a true Irish pub experience. It’s dark, it’s crowded, the menu is small and the beer is cheap – and that’s exactly the way we like it.