For the lovers of the green beer, energetic crowds, and live music typical of St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a tough pill to swallow that the annual celebrations will – like so many elements of life – “look a little different this year.” For many Canadians, they looked a little different last year too, as the COVID-19 pandemic officially began to sound alarm bells and many (though not all) St. Paddy’s Day events across the country were cancelled. While crowded, song, dance, and spilled beer-filled celebrations are out of the question across the country this year – with all bars and restaurants actually closed to diners in Toronto and Montreal thanks to lockdown measures – it doesn’t mean you can’t mark the occasion. And what better way to do so than to sit down with a cold one and to add some of Canada’s best Irish pubs to your list of spots to hit on your next vacation within the country?
From St. John’s to Victoria, here are 13 of the best Irish pubs across Canada.
See also: How To Make an Iced Irish Coffee
Honey Martin: Montreal
Montreal’s Honey Martin is a go-to among loyal regulars and visitors for its small, local, and old-fashioned Irish pub vibe. The Sherbrooke Street spot offers a comforting dive-y feel, live music, and trivia. Decidedly more of a watering hole than a restaurant, this spot offers a healthy assortment of whiskeys, bourbons, and scotches.
The Aulde Dubliner: Ottawa, ON
In the nation’s capital, the Aulde Dubliner adds an energetic Irish touch to Ottawa’s patio-filled Byward Market neighbourhood. The popular two-storey spot is known for its authentic Irish interior, talking point-filled pub paraphernalia, comforting pub grub (including fish and chips that are well worth the calories), and prime patio real estate. Here, the Irish-inspired offerings are accompanied by frequent live music.
Durty Nelly’s Authentic Irish Pub: Halifax, NS
A welcoming Halifax institution, Durty Nelly’s is the type of place where most stay longer than expected. The feel-good Irish pub is traditionally decorated and serves up east coast hospitality with Irish roots with its award-winning Irish fare. Menu highlights include Blarney chips, fried pepperoni, burgers, and sandwiches.
Irish Embassy: Toronto, ON
Toronto’s Irish Embassy offers a relaxed contrast to the hustle of the surrounding financial district. Housed in a beautifully restored historic bank, this spot veers on the more upscale side of the Irish pub vibe, with things like marble floors and cathedral ceilings, and a business attire-clad clientele. A locally focused menu offers a fusion of traditional Irish pub fare and the latest flavours.
The Buckingham: Edmonton, AB
In Edmonton, The Buckingham draws a younger crowd of discerning revellers thanks to its entirely vegan pub menu, which includes crowd-pleasers like Buffalo “wings,” Beyond Meat burgers, corn dogs, and vegan donairs. This upbeat spot offers a dance floor (for when dancing ever returns), live music, and a patio.
The Irish Heather: Vancouver, BC
On the west coast, Vancouver’s The Irish Heather gastropub is owned and operated by Irish people and offers a laidback vibe complete with a large central bar. Here, you’ll find elevated authentic fare that includes share plates and pub grub, as well as a well-curated list of beer and seemingly endless whiskey list.
Ship and Anchor: Calgary, AB
A go-to for an eclectic assortment of beer and live music lovers, Calgary’s Ship and Anchor offers a classic, upbeat Irish pub. Highlights include an all-season patio, a huge selection of beer, cocktails on tap, and an extensive menu of comforting pub fare (the fish and chips is a decided hit), including weekend brunch options.
O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub: St. John’s, NL
Located on the iconic bar and live music-filled George Street in downtown St. John’s, O’Reilly’s offers a fusion of traditional Irish vibes and Newfoundland culture. This beloved spot features live music seven nights a week and serves up a traditional local fare that includes things like jiggs dinner, cod tongues, fish & chips, and wild game dishes.
P.J. O’Brien: Toronto, ON
Tucked away on the edge of Toronto’s financial district, near the iconic St. Lawrence Market, P.J O’Brien is perhaps downtown’s most authentic Irish pub. The bright yellow building houses a cozy fireplace lounge, live Irish music, an extensive whiskey list, and quality Irish pub fare.
The Blarney Stone: Vancouver, BC
Located in the heart of Gastown, Vancouver’s The Blarney Stone is the longest-running Irish pub in Vancouver. It’s a trusted institution for an authentic Irish-inspired experience in everything from the food and Irish whiskeys to the upbeat entertainment and atmosphere.
Pub Saint-Patrick: Quebec City, QC
As Quebec City’s only real Irish pub, Pub Saint-Patrick fills a historic building in Old Quebec with an inviting atmosphere, a wide selection of hops, Irish music, and a varied menu of comforting pub goodness. A breezy outdoor patio adds to the appeal of this spot in the warmer months.
O’Donaghue’s Irish Pub – Miramichi, NB
For an authentic Irish pub experience laced with east coast charm, hit O’Donaghue’s Irish Pub in Miramichi, New Brunswick – the Irish capital of Canada (always a crowd-pleasing fact). Nestled in a historic house, this spot features an extensive beer list, a patio, live music, and a well-curated menu of elevated pub food.
Irish Times Pub: Victoria, BC
For an authentic Irish pub with an Irish stamp of approval, visit Victoria’s Irish Times Pub. A few years back, Irish Pubs Global named the inviting spot the coveted title of “North America’s Irish Pub of the Year.” The two-storey spot embraces traditional Irish culture in everything from its music to its food and abundant selection of Irish booze.