Irish fare and failte, across the U.S.

Posted: March 16, 2008

The Irish have a word for it: craic. It means fun, good times, being silly.

Combine a little craic (pronounced crack) with failte (fall-cha), meaning welcome, and you have the two biggest reasons people love to kick back in an Irish pub.

Since St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow, it's probably too late to celebrate the feast day of Ireland's patron saint in some of Dublin's 1,000 pubs. But don't let that stop you from toasting the holiday.

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED MARCH 18, 2008, FOLLOWS: A story in Sunday's Travel section incorrectly listed some beers on tap at McGillin's Olde Ale House on Drury Street. McGillin's has Beamish Stout and 25 other beers on tap. CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED MARCH 30, 2008, FOLLOWS: An article on Irish pubs in the March 16 Travel section said the singer Tommy Makem occasionally performs at the Black Rose pub in Boston. Makem died in August.

You don't even have to leave Philly. Stop by McGillin's Olde Ale House on Drury Street, which opened in 1860 and is all about craic and failte - plus taps of Guinness, Harp and Smithwick's (smith-icks).

Or you can grab a pint of Harp in the cozy Plough & the Stars on Second Street, or step into the Bards on Walnut Street for Guinness on tap, in a casserole of roots and beef, and in the bread pudding. There are 16 drafts to choose from at Finnigan's Wake at Third and Spring Garden Streets, and you can get a game of darts and some shepherd's pie at the Black Sheep Pub on 17th Street, near Rittenhouse Square.

But if you're going to be out of town tomorrow, here are 10 cities that have Irish pubs full of craic and failte.


Galway Bay Pub and Restaurant

63 Maryland Ave.


Conversation rules at Galway Bay, a few blocks from the U.S. Naval Academy. There is no television or live entertainment at this popular pub in the Maryland capital. Quiz night is Tuesday, and 28 to 32 teams usually compete. Could you answer: "What time is 6 bells of the midwatch?" (3 a.m.)

The kitchen boasts of the best fish and chips on this side of the Atlantic. Company policy is to card all patrons 30 years and under; if someone under 30 doesn't get carded, dessert is on the house.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Smithwick's, Harp

Irish factor: Frequent recipient of the Perfect Pint Award from Guinness. Celebrating its tenth anniversary in December.


The Black Rose

160 State St.


Named for a reference in a 17th-century Irish poem, the pub serves up Irish beer and Irish music seven days a week. Live music is played upstairs, downstairs, and during happy hour. Regulars aren't surprised when "guests" walk on to play - such as the Chieftains or Tommy Makem.

The most popular dish is an award-winning clam chowder served in a cup, bowl or bread. The staff's favorite snack with a pint? Curry chips - fries served with a side of curry dipping sauce.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Smithwick's, Harp.

Irish factor: Thirty-two years of continuous operation and a staff of Irish descent.


The Gage Restaurant

and Tavern

24 S. Michigan Ave.


Architecturally significant - it's in a Louis Sullivan building across the street from Millennium Park - and revered for its 50-foot-long bar, tin ceilings, and cushy leather seating, the contemporary gastropub attracts a lively after-work crowd that can choose from 10 beers on tap and 47 in bottles. The whiskey cabinet is to be admired: Bushmills, Midleton, Redbreast, and Tullamore Dew, to name a few. Fish and chips are served traditionally in a rolled newspaper - the Irish American Times. Prime burgers are served untraditionally with caramelized onions. When officers of the Galway Garda come over from Ireland to ride Route 66 from Chicago to L.A., they kick-start their trip at the Gage.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Harp, Stella Artois

Irish factor: The Gage has the feel of 21st-century Ireland with a traditional pub attitude that offers a nod, a smile, and respect for all who enter.


Trinity Hall

5321 E. Mockingbird Lane


The pub has a definite Celtic atmosphere and a reputation for fun. Crowds remain friendly even during televised rugby matches. It also claims to pour the best pint in Texas - 120 beers are in the larder, and 22 whiskeys are behind the bar in a 32-foot glass-front hutch. Live music Thursday through Saturday. Make a reservation for a Tasting Tuesday - a different drink is scrutinized each week.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Smithwick's, Murphy's Ale

Irish factor: The relaxed atmosphere gets a jump start on Sunday afternoons, when traditional Irish music is played. Most of the staff is Irish or of Irish descent.


Nallen's Irish Pub

1429 Market St. at Larimer Square


John and Una Nallen of County Mayo opened their cozy pub 14 years ago. Considered a neighborhood bar, it is respected for its taps and friendly staff, which are all from Ireland. It has a fully stocked bar, but no kitchen, so if you order a pie from Old Chicago Pizza next door, Nallen's manager won't object.

There's no pool table or dancing either, but the lilt of Irish voices makes for lively conversations.

Irish factor: Irish manager Sarah says Nallen's is just like the pubs at home.

Kansas City

O'Dowd's Little Dublin

4742 Pennsylvania Ave.


Hand-carved wooden doors offer a warm welcome to the pub that advertises, "Skip your passport and let us pour you a pint." Live music seven nights a week, including traditional Irish music played on Wednesdays and Sundays. Stop for "Ecstatic Hour" from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The clock may be ticking on the practice, but cigars are still sold here. Weather permitting, patrons take their pints to the rooftop deck.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Harp, Boulevard Wheat

Irish factor: Most of the wood in O'Dowd's was salvaged from buildings in Ireland, including the flooring from an old church.

Los Angeles

Molly Malone's

575 S. Fairfax Ave.


The dark walls and overflowing bookcases provide an authentic Dublin pub atmosphere. It should - the original owners were from Dublin,and their son runs the place. It's a favorite location for Hollywood movies; scenes from Patriot Games, Leaving Las Vegas, and Life Without Dick were filmed here. Molly Malone's attracts a local Irish crowd and music lovers - live music is played six nights a week. Eight beers are on tap, and none is ever served green. Try the award-winning Irish Coffee - freshly whipped heavy cream tops coffee stirred with Powers Irish whiskey.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Harp, Bass

Irish factor: Owned by the same Irish family for 32 years. The interior is definitely Irish; what isn't wood is painted green, and the walls are covered with portraits by painter Neal Boyle: 70 of them.


Pub at County Clare Inn

1234 N. Astor St.


Settle in by the fireplace with your favorite pint to watch Ireland hurling and Gaelic football games, which are broadcast live. The pub also shows UEFA and English Premiership soccer matches and the rugby World Cup. Savor Irish specialties such as Irish root soup or corned beef and cabbage in an intimate, old-sod setting. Live music Thursdays, Saturdays and Friday. Bring your fiddle on Sunday, when a session of traditional Irish music follows the dinner hour.

Irish factor: County Clare has a sister inn in Ireland, Castledaly Manor, near Athlone, County Westmeath, between Dublin and Galway.

New York


304 Bowery


A wall mural features the Gaelic word (pronounced "slah-chuh," meaning cheers) and translations of it in as many languages as the owners could find. It's another of the new-Irish establishments - contemporary, laid-back, yet as unassuming as traditional pubs. Customers say it is a great place to unwind. There's free Wi-Fi and no cover when major European soccer is broadcast. You can eat pub grub at a table or the 30-foot-long mahogany bar and choose from the 19 beers on tap and 16 bottled beers. Ryan, one of the managers, says the Guinness is a top-notch pint.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Stella Artois, Smithwick's

Irish factor: Slainte is an Irish sports bar. Sports in Ireland are as important to pub crawlers as they are in the States.

Savannah, Ga.

Kevin Barry's Pub

117 W. River St.


Since 1995, the two-story pub on the historic riverwalk has been making a history of its own. Named for the 18-year-old Irish patriot who was executed in 1920 during the War of Independence, the pub features a hall of honor for patriots on both sides of the Atlantic. Barry's is a favorite for locals, visitors to the city's rollicking St. Patrick's Day celebration (700,000 attended last year), and service personnel stationed nearby. Try the shepherd's pie, made with ground sirloin instead of lamb.

Top three drafts: Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's

Irish factor: Irish jam sessions are common. A drum, a whistle, and a fiddle or two make an evening memorable, especially with a pint in your hand.

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