Like the saying goes, “Everyone’s Irish on St.Patrick’s Day.” But here in the 716, the strong Irish heritage that helped make this city what it is (awesome) has left a legacy of fantastic Irish pubs that you can hooley your face off at all year round. So pull that green t-shirt out from the bottom of your drawer. It’s time for a tour of some of the best Irish joints in town.
Part One: St. Paddy’s Day Favorite’s
Darcy McGee’s, 257 Franklin St.
Darcy McGee’s is ground zero for all things Hooley on downtown parade day here in the Queen City. And it’s about as authentic an Irish Pub as you can find. It’s built in the style of a traditional pub, their Shepherd’s Pie is legit and they’ve got a great selection of Irish beers on tap. And if that’s not enough, their general manager, Conor, is originally from Ireland.
If Darcy’s is Ground Zero on downtown parade day, Gene McCarthy’s is the pulsating green hub of the Old First Ward. The rest of the year it’s the local bar of choice in a part of town that was home to a majority of Irish immigrants in Buffalo’s early days and whose descendants still call the neighborhood home today. McCarthy’s has done a great job staying true to their Irish roots while keeping up with the times by installing the adjacent Old First Ward brewery and an outdoor patio.
Part Two: South Buffalo’s Finest
Irish heritage is alive and well in South Buffalo, so much so that many street signs are also in Gaelic. This neighborhood has earned its own category. Let’s go.
We’ll kick off the South Buffalo part of our tour with Doc Sullivan’s. New owner Tommy Cowan has done a great job preserving the neighborhood charm that made the bar a local hit. The other thing that made it a hit? Their Smitty wings, which are still on the menu and as delicious as ever. Order them the same way that made them legendary: extra crispy with a side of fries.
A few blocks down from Doc Sullivan’s is Conlon’s, another favorite that many locals will swear is the best Irish Pub in town. Conlon’s is also known for its delicious wings.
Beer cheese soup! The Blackthorn is one of my personal favorites. Their Irish Beer Cheddar soup is so delicious that even Guy Fieri, host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, figured out what the rest of have known for years: that soup is the truth. Make sure you don’t just stop by at dinner time. Drop in late at night for a stubby bottle of Genny. If you’re lucky, Joe Lynch, one of my favorite Irishmen, will be holding court at the end of the bar.
Potter’s Field, 425 Potters Rd.
Another personal favorite of mine, Potter’s Field is the perfect spot for a Sunday Funday in the fall. Ever heard a Wocka Flocka Flame song in an Irish bar? If you stay long enough after the Bills game ends. the regulars will dump five laundry days worth of quarters into the high tech jukebox and you’ll be treated to the oddest, most wonderful dance party and sing-along you’ve ever witnessed.
Part Three: Overtime
Last but not least, an under the radar pub that locals know well, and visitors are lucky to find.
Shannon Pub, 2250 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda
Shannon Pub is the Northtowns’ answer to a landscape dominated by the Irish watering holes south of the city. It serves up a traditional Irish breakfast just like what you’d find on the Emerald Isle. What really sets it apart is the live Irish music on stage multiple nights each week.
That completes our tour of the best Irish Pubs in Buffalo. Whether it’s Saint Patrick’s Day or a Tuesday, there’s always an Irish Pub in Buffalo to be explored. And chances are, wherever you end up, they’ll be ready to hooley.
(Bonus Tip From the Editor: The Irishman Pub in Williamsville, 5601 Main St., is another popular favorite in the Northtowns and features a large patio facing Main Street that’s great for relaxing in the warmer months.)