Where to Drink

Where to drink in Dallas right now: the 10 best Irish pubs in town

Where to drink in Dallas right now: the 10 best Irish pubs in town

Guinness beer
If you're an Irish pub, you gotta have Guinness. Courtesy photo

Nearly everyone loves an Irish pub, and that's especially the case in Dallas which has been an enthusiastic home to a vibrant Irish pub scene for many years, helped along by the fact that we have Irish emigres among our midst who've led the way on opening authentic-style pubs.

Irish pubs are lively and welcoming, with trademarks that are easy to identify and fun to embrace: Guinness on tap, fish & chips, dark woods, cozy booths, dartboards, and live music.

The pinnacle of their year is St. Patrick's Day, a holiday that gives bars of all stripes a boost in business: It's one of the busiest days of the year (if not THE busiest day of the year) for bars, and especially Irish pubs. Most pubs in Dallas are hosting St. Patrick's Day-related events of some kind, but with the 17th falling on a Thursday this year, we're looking at St. Patrick's Day Week in 2022.

Here's the 10 best Irish pubs in Dallas right now:

Cannon's Corner Irish Pub
Cannon's opened in 2019 as the first neighborhood Irish pub and restaurant in Oak Cliff — one of four Irish pubs around DFW from Ireland native Alan Kearney (Crafty Irishman, Playwright), a rising star in Dallas' Irish pub scene. Like its siblings, it boasts certain Kearney staples including his signature Scotch eggs as well as the cozy seating and warm, welcoming atmosphere for which Irish pubs are known. It's a neighborhood pub that both embraces the history of the building and strongly reflects the area. "It's a copy of a pub in Ireland — it reminds me of bars where I grew up," Kearney says.

Crafty Irishman
Small but friendly bar that opened on the ground floor of the historic Mercantile Building in 2016 was the first Irish pub in Dallas from founder and native of Ireland Alan Kearney (Playwright Pub, Cannon's Corner). Scotch eggs and the shepherd's pie are standouts, and they serve their beer and cider at the correct temperature. But bigger than that is the way it has become embedded into the fabric of downtown Dallas, a reliable mainstay open long hours with a congenial demeanor, helping to create a sense of neighborhood in the Central Business District as well as adding a little Euro/Big Apple/Upper East Side flair.

Dubliner Irish Pub
One of Dallas' original Irish pubs, The Dubliner was opened in 1994 by Peter Kenny, a native of Dublin, and helped create the thriving Irish pub market in Dallas. A staple on Greenville Avenue, the bar is worn and comfortable inside, with a friendly patio facing the street. It houses a large selection of whiskies, both Irish and Scottish, plus imported and craft beer; they take great pride in the quality of their draught Guinness, hailed by many as the best in town. They possess a strong sense of community, whether they're amiably hosting animal rescue events or serving as home base to Dallas' Vespa scooter rider meetups.

Harwood Arms
Another concept from the Harwood Hospitality group (Happiest Hour, Magnolias: Sous Le Pont, Mercat Bistro), Harwood Arms may not be Irish exactly, but they've created a literal copy of an English pub in London, dartboards and all, providing an incomparably authentic atmosphere that alone would merit a slot on this list. They've covered other essentials, too, including a plentiful selection of beer on tap and a well-executed menu with beer-battered fish & chips, London broil, and Reuben "fries" — a bed of French fries topped with shredded corned beef.

Holy Grail Pub
Husband-and-wife Brian and Christi Rudolph opened this European-inspired pub in 2009, with a major selection of craft beer and classic Irish dishes like corned beef with grilled cabbage, executed with chef-caliber flair. The couple has created a hospitable space with cozy seating nooks and dartboards on the wall. Brian is a beer aficionado and there's always something notable on tap, as well as beer-themed dinners and special events. They do a brisk weekend brunch and will be featuring special dishes to celebrate St. Patrick's Day such as Guinness Stout pancakes with Jameson Irish Whiskey maple syrup and Bailey’s whipped cream.

Lochland's
Irish pub and beer garden opened in 2020 in the Lake Highlands/Lochwood neighborhood of East Dallas and has quickly become a local favorite. No surprise since owners Peter and Cheryl Kenny have lots of experience in the genre: Peter founded the Dubliner and they previously owned Capitol Pub and The Gin Mill, both on Henderson Avenue. Lake Highlanders love their Irish comfort food including shepherd's pie, fish & chips, and a burger they promise is one of the best in town. They truly serve the needs of the neighborhood with attentive service, a dog-friendly outdoor space, and excellent weekend brunch.

Old Monk
One of Dallas' oldest and most revered Irish pubs, the Old Monk is one of a trio owned by native-of-Ireland Feargal McKinney (along with the Skellig and Spider Murphy's). It's been a pioneer in so many ways, from being on Henderson Avenue way before Henderson Avenue was cool to being one of the few places you could find good beer prior to the craft beer movement. They also have cocktails, whiskey, and food that was way better than the dreck served at other bars, setting a standard that many bars have followed. They were even early on the vegetarian front, one of the first places to serve a veggie burger that happens to be really good.

The Playwright
Authentic Irish pub in Dallas' Arts District is from Alan Kearney, native of Ireland and founder of Crafty Irishman in downtown Dallas and Cannon's Corner in Oak Cliff. With this very traditional Irish bar, Kearney has succeeded in a location where many a previous operator failed, thanks to a menu of fun, loosely Irish-themed dishes such as "Irish nachos" — potato chips topped with ground beef and Guinness cheese sauce — and reasonable prices including drink specials and a happy hour menu of $5 "Irish tacos" with fillings such as corned beer and beer-battered cod.

The Skellig
One of three Irish pubs on Henderson Avenue owned by Feargal McKinney (Old Monk, Spider Murphy's), the Skellig features Feargal trademarks such as good-quality food and a robust selection of beer. What sets it apart is its rustic ambience, with a pronounced emphasis on outdoor space. That includes two patios, one with a number of features that make it feel more like an outdoor living room than patio: wooden community tables, picnic-style benches, fire pit, crushed gravel on the ground, and a 25-foot live oak tree. In the post-pandemic era, outdoor space has become so important, giving The Skellig a less traditional, more contemporary vibe.

Spider Murphy's Pub
The third of three Irish pubs on Henderson Avenue owned by Feargal McKinney (Old Monk, Skellig), Spider Murphy's feels a bit upscale compared to its siblings. Located in the former Vickery Park space, it has Dublin-style fittings with dark woods and vintage photos on the walls. The bar menu goes past the usual pub emphasis on European beers, Irish whiskeys, and scotch, with a cocktail program that's more serious. So is the food, which eschews Irish staples in favor of Southwestern items such as fried chicken tenders, wings, elote fritters, and nachos in five varieties including fajita steak and bean & cheese.

------------------------------------

Honorable mentions go to The Celt in McKinney, Chet's Dallas in the West End, Delaney's in McKinney, the Fillmore Pub in old downtown Plano, the Irishman Pub in North Dallas, and the Londoner in Addison.