Choose your Irish bar wisely this St. Patrick’s Day. Despite the persistent stereotype — televised soccer games, dark wood tables, pints of Guinness, racks of Jameson — Philly’s Gaelic pubs actually vary quite a bit from one another.
On one end of the spectrum, you have Fergie’s, the Philadelphia staple known for its craft beer selection and laid back atmosphere. On the flip side, you have Plough & The Stars, which at night morphs into a dance club and, uh, doesn’t feel all that Irish.
So where should you take your St. Paddy’s party? We broke down 10 Center City contenders, describing the atmosphere and how they differ — if at all — from your typical Irish joint.
The gist: It’s attached to a hotel near Philly’s main business district and feels like it. The crowd is generally a mix of businesspeople in for happy hour and visitors staying at the Windsor or other nearby hotels.
How it’s different than other Irish bars: All the out-of-towners.
St. Paddy’s day specials: All-day Irish food, live music starting at 5 p.m. and a live DJ at 9.
The gist: Laid back by day, party scene at night that — one that’s not for the claustrophobic. Once 11 p.m. hits, it’s less an Irish bar than a dance club — it’ll be nearly impossible to move without spilling your drink.
How it’s different than other Irish bars: Easily the douchiest Irish bar in the city.
St. Paddy’s day specials: Doors open at 7 a.m., live bands begin at 2 p.m.
The gist: A Philadelphia stalwart started in 1994 by Irish-born Fergus Carey and Palestinian Wajih Abed, who died earlier this year. It’s a relaxing bar with a familial atmosphere.
How it’s different than the other Irish bars: It has dozens of beer choices and over 10 wine selections.
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Nothing special. “Live Band Karaoke” starts at 10 p.m.
The gist: Owned by the fancy-beer-loving proprietors of Bru and U-Bahn, this more down-to-earth sibling lacks any pretentiousness.
How it’s different than the other Irish bars: Beer selection. Best in the city for an Irish bar, next to Fergie’s.
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Nothing listed.
The gist: A block away from the insanity of South Street but feels like a mile. This is the Irish bar to drink at when you want the place practically to yourself.
How it’s different than other Irish bars: Has beer pong.
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Celebrating a recent 10th anniversary in addition to the holiday.
The Irish Pub
The gist: The one in Rittenhouse Square and the one in Washington Square West are run by the same folks. The generic name belies an atmosphere more authentic than many other Irish bars in Philly.
How it’s different than the other Irish bars: The only one where a mediocre “Rocky” movie was filmed — the Rittenhouse location was used in “Rocky Balboa.”
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Both open at 10 a.m., and 93.3 WMMR is broadcasting from the Washington Square West location.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
The gist: One of the most popular spots in Philadelphia. No matter the night, expect a lively, diverse crowd.
How it’s different than other Irish bars: The oldest continuously-open bar in Philly.
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Green beer and opens at 10 a.m.
The gist: The diviest Irish bar in Philadelphia, with a good crowd even during the day. On weekends the crowd becomes an eclectic mix of Rittenhouse types, hipsters and card-carrying regulars. Very cheap.
How it’s different than other Irish bars: You can smoke here.
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Not here.
The Plough and the Stars
The gist: Fado’s Old City cousin. It’s the Erin Express here every Friday and Saturday night, minus the green clothing.
How it’s different than other Irish bars: Full vegan menu.
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Breakfast buffet at 7 a.m., live music starting at noon.
Tir Na Nog
The gist: This is the happy hour spot you end up at when nobody can decide where to go or you don’t know any better.
How it’s different than other Irish bars: The outdoor seating, which is great during the summer.
St. Paddy’s Day specials: Opens at 10 a.m. and has live dancers and a live bagpiper in the afternoon.