A Guide to the Best Irish Bars in St. Louis (According to a Local)

best irish bars st louis

There’s something about an Irish Pub that just feels cozier than a regular Midwestern dive bar.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to sit in a corner booth of a place that smells like cigarette smoke from decades past. I’m a Missourian, after all. But I have been known to find myself drawn to a pub, with the loud soccer fans and the breakfast fry ups transporting me back to my time abroad.

Though the places I visited in Dublin and Belfast were, undoubtedly, the best Irish Pubs I’ve ever been to, St. Louis doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to good, authentic pubs.

But will it remind a true Irishman of their home? I reached out to my Irish contact (aka a good pal of mine who immigrated with her family from Ireland when she was a kid) and asked her what made a place truly feel authentic — the atmosphere, the sports, and the people.

With that in mind, today I’m awarding the best Irish bar in St. Louis for each of those categories.

Map of the Best Irish Pubs in St. Louis

The Atmosphere: John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub

Listen, I’m not going to get kicked out of my own damn city. I understand how the dominos fall and they fall in shapes that spell McGurks is the BEST.

And, truthfully, McGurks is the best! There’s a reason it’s been singled out nationally as one of the best Irish Pubs not only in St. Louis but in all of the states. I don’t want to be blasphemous because I know the point of this article is the Irish part of the pub, but the spinach and artichoke fried raviolis make me think that John D. McGurk came to St. Louis one day and saw God. It’s the only explanation I have.

Originally established in 1978 as a one room pub, McGurk’s has slowly but surely become a central part of the STL zeitgeist. It’s known around the Midwest for its authenticity; a good portion of this comes from the rotating musicians that travel from Ireland and Northern Ireland to St. Louis just to perform at McGurk’s. From Galway to Dublin to Cork to Derry, these musicians bring the incredible atmosphere of live music with their performances, and a piece of Ireland to the Midwest.

As their website says, McGurk’s is a place where Irish history meets Soulard tradition. It’s made itself a heart inside the city, and it’s easy to see why people flock here.

  • Address: 1200 Russell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63104
  • Website: McGurks

The Sports: Maggie O’Briens

Maggie O’Briens might have been dubbed best food because of their fish and chips, but the fourteen TVs and four big screens in their downtown location and the twenty-five screens in their Sunset Hills second location really cements them as the Irish Sports Bar in downtown St. Louis.

Open since 1979, Maggie’s is a staple of the STL sport community. Though it is no longer run by its original owner, STL local Eddie McVey is now the one who owns and operates the business. The Downtown location even offers free parking and a shuttle service to get customers to and from games, cinching its position as a sports-lovers favorite.

As my Irish friend directed me when considering this article, an Irish Pub is not really an Irish Pub unless there is soccer playing. And, though she is willing to accept a place as an homage to an Irish Pub without it, there really should be rugby playing, too.

I called both locations to confirm — soccer and rugby are on one of the many, many TVs and big screens that Maggie’s has to offer.

  • Address 1 (Downtown) 2000 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103
  • Address 2 (Sunset Hills) 3828 S Lindbergh Blvd #118, Sunset Hills, MO 63127
  • Website: Maggie O’Briens

The People: The Pat Connolly Tavern

I’ll admit that before writing this article, I didn’t know anything about Pat Connolly or his family. Of course, I’d heard of this pub because I exist within the city limits and do occasionally speak to men. But I had never known Pat’s story and now I am a huge Connolly Family Stan and will be going to their weekend brunch at least once a month.

Pat immigrated from Dunmore, County Galway in 1929 and opened the Pat Connolly Tavern in 1942. He ran the bar until 1960, when he sold it to his long term bartender and started working at the Blackthorne Pub, another local STL favorite.

Now, the current owners, Teresa Connolly and her son Joe Jovanovich honor Pat’s memory and legacy in the bar that stands strong, seventy-five years later. Three generations of the Connolly and Jovanovich families have run Pat’s, integrating family, community, and care into the business. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Pat’s integrated a Nourish the Neighborhood program into their business, allowing customers to donate when they placed an order so that a meal could be passed forward. So far, they have donated over a thousand meals since November 2020.

It’s obvious that this is an integral part of the business. It’s enough to make you want to go there even if the food is terrible. Thankfully, the food is absolutely not terrible. Their menu has a diverse range of options, from fried chicken to tuna salad and things in between. My personal favorite comes from their weekend brunch menu. The Pat’s Benedict is not something I expected out of an Irish Pub, but I am so, so grateful for it.

  • Address: 6400 Oakland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63139
  • Website: Pat Connolly

Honorable Mention: Seamus McDaniels

Though Seamus McDaniels does not carry all of the quote-unquote traditional Irish food, it would be a shame to leave this place off the list.

Situated in Dogtown, which is known for its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the subsequent neighborhood wide party that ensues afterwards, this Irish Pub is deeply beloved by its patrons. Seamus has some of the best bar food in the city — those onion rings could make brothers out of enemies and make war out of love — and the staff is always kind, helpful, and, most importantly for a pub like this, non-hovering.

My recommendation? The veggie blackbean burger with the provel cheese. This burger makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I should change from working at my home office to one of their patio seats.

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