St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration held every year on March 17, the death date of the aforementioned patron saint of Ireland.
A public holiday in Ireland, this day is also widely feted in the United States as an excuse to wear green, eat green and/or Irish food, as well as consume large amounts of alcohol.
What’s great about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is how all-out this city goes. On the day, there is a giant parade along Fifth Avenue from 44th Street up to 79th Street from 11 am-5 pm. The parade itself is a dry event, but the rest of the day definitely doesn't have to be.
Where to Drink on St. Patrick's Day
Though the main purpose of St. Patrick’s Day is to honor Saint Patrick, this holiday has become synonymous with drinking. If you’re in need of somewhere to celebrate on the day, here are seven NYC bars and pubs to grab a pint and have a rollicking good time with your friends:
Tir Na Nóg (Times Square and Midtown West by Penn Station): This Irish pub has an extensive whiskey list and Irish beers like Guinness among its generous selection of adult beverages. While you’re at it, tuck in to some corned beef and cabbage, ale-battered fish and chips, shepherd's pie and some Irish bangers and mash.
Fiddlesticks Pub & Grill (West Village): This homey Irish bar serves up pints of Guinness and bottles of Mangers Irish Cider, among the dozens of alcoholic beverage choices. The menu features Irish favorites like Guinness beef stew, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and Irish breakfast in addition to sandwiches, salads, burgers and more.
St. Dymphna’s Bar & Restaurant (East Village): Named for the patron saint of mental illness, this neighborhood bar has been pouring perfect pints of Guinness since 1994. Also on tap is Smithwick’s, Ireland’s popular ale that has been brewed since 1710. As it’s always wise not to drink on an empty stomach munch on a full Irish breakfast, fish and chips, bangers and mash, or shepherd’s pie.
McSorley’s Old Ale House (East Village): This Irish saloon has been around since the 1850s, but only started allowing in women patrons in 1970 after a court ruling found the bar guilty of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Come for the ambiance and the history—beverage choices are light or dark McSorely’s Ale.
McGettigan’s (Midtown West): This Irish bar is newer to NYC, having only opened here in June of 2015. It’s a popular spot to catch sporting events and grab pub favorites like porter Irish beef stew and fish and chips. On St. Patrick’s Day, sample a breakfast special—Irish breakfast with a pint, Irish coffee or hot whiskey—for just $18. There’s also a special St. Patrick’s Day menu all day long, live music starting at 5 pm and a DJ from 11 pm-close.
Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room (Midtown East): Though not an Irish bar or restaurant, Atwood definitely has the Irish spirit and is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with an all-day Happy Hour, as well as $6 Fireball shots, $8 for a shot of whiskey and green beer, and $15 pitchers of green beer. There are no Irish eats on the menu, but the macaroni and cheese was voted best in NYC by Time Out New York in 2015. If you’re going to soak up that alcohol, you may as well do it with highly rated carbs.
The Grafton (East Village): This neighborhood bar is a great spot to watch European football and rugby. Guinness, Mangers cider and Irish coffee are featured on a lengthy libations menu. Great Irish brunch options include the Grafton full Irish—a veggie version is available as well—and fish and chips, but The Grafton is best known for its custom burgers if you need something savory to go along with your drinks.
Where to Get Irish Grub on St. Patrick's Day
What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than by eating Irish cuisine? Here are just a few of NYC’s best restaurants for ordering Irish eats:
Molly’s Irish Pub and Restaurant Shebeen (Gramercy): This traditional Irish bar has sawdust on the floor and a log-burning fireplace. Dine on traditional shepherd’s pie, Irish lamb stew, pub sausage and mashed potatoes, corned beef and cabbage, as well as other Irish favorites.
O’Lunney’s Times Square Pub (Midtown West): Here you'll find great food in a festive atmosphere, right in the middle of Midtown. Order a traditional Irish breakfast daily before 4 pm, or get some corned beef on rye, bangers and mash, chicken curry with rice, shepherd’s pie, homemade beef brisket and more.
P.J. Carney’s (Midtown West): Since 1927, this place has been a hub for all sorts of folks. It’s short distance from Carnegie Hall and Theater District allowed it to attract performers, hotel porters, journalists, musicians among other visitors to the area. While American dishes dominate the menu, you can find shepherd’s pie and fish and chips among the savory options.
Those looking for an upscale take on Irish cuisine, should check out these restaurants:
The Fitz (Midtown East): Situated in the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel, The Fitz offers a modern take on the Irish bar and lounge. In addition to elevated American dishes, you can order Guinness-battered cod served with fries, traditional chicken curry, Irish breakfast and shepherd’s pie.
Rock & Reilly’s (Midtown West): Located in the Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel, this sizable—yet intimate—Irish sports bar offers upscale gastropub fare. Grab a Guinness or signature cocktail and enjoy some Irish nachos (house-made kettle chips, peppered bacon and Irish cheddar cheese).
Neary’s (Midtown East): On St. Patrick’s Day, Neary’s is celebrating its 50th year of service. This renowned Irish restaurant is synonymous with embracing its customers like family. Signature dishes include corned beef and cabbage, as well as broiled meat and seafood options. Proper attire is required, so look presentable and get ready to be welcomed like you’re visiting home.
Oleanders (Williamsburg, Brooklyn): Located inside McCarren Hotel & Pool, this American restaurant is going green on the 17th. Executive chef Christopher Reid (formerly of the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel) will be preparing fish and chips, Irish whiskey lamb stew and corned beef and cabbage spring rolls, putting a spin on this familiar Irish fare.
Experience Shows and Main Attractions for a Complete NYC St. Patrick's Day
In addition to the St. Patrick’s Day parade and partaking in Irish libations and cuisine, you can also spend the day getting cultured! Visit these great spots around the city to explore Irish arts, heritage and history:
One World Observatory (Financial District): Spend St. Patrick’s Day looking out over NYC! There is a “Passport to Ireland” package for those age 21 and older that includes an exclusive VIP tour of One World Observatory—featuring fun facts and trivia about Irish New York from a certified tour ambassador—an Irish Pride pin, a beer voucher, a commemorative One World Observatory glass and access to a specially priced beer offer. Those wanting to skip the lines can upgrade to the “Irish Pub” package, which includes everything from the “Passport to Ireland” package. Visitors of any age can opt for the “Irish Pride” package, which features priority admission and an Irish Pride pin, all for the cost of a standard admission ticket.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Midtown East): This Roman Catholic cathedral, named for Saint Patrick, was completed in 1878. Additions and renovations were done throughout the 1900s and the building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. St. Patrick’s underwent an extensive restoration from 2012-2015. Guided tours are available at 10 am on designated days and you can attend Mass daily. On St. Patrick’s Day, there is a special, ticketed Mass at 8:30 am.
Merchant’s House Museum (NoHo): Built by Joseph Brewster and then purchased by wealthy hardware merchant Seabury Tredwell three years later in 1835, this historic house was lived in for almost 100 years before it opened to the public as a museum in 1936. The Tredwell family had servants during their tenure in the house and they were often young women from Ireland. They worked long hours and were paid poorly for their physically demanding jobs. In spite of everything, these young women—called “Irish girls” regardless of age—endured and worked hard to send money back to Ireland in order to fund emigration for sisters and cousins.
American Irish Historical Society (Upper East Side): This hub for Irish culture and knowledge has been open since 1897—Theodore Roosevelt used to be a member. The Society has a library with over 10,000 volumes or Irish and American Irish history and literature. There are also newspapers and newsletters dating back to the late 1700s, as well as early- and mid-1800s newspapers. The Society also hosts exhibits and sponsors events throughout the year.
New York Irish Center (Long Island City, Queens): This center opened in 2005 and celebrates Irish heritage while emphasizing the importance of learning about ourselves as people and how we connect and relate to each other as a community. You don’t have to be Irish to visit the New York Irish Center—being Irish at heart and embracing the Irish spirit works too. There are events, classes and activities nearly every day at the center.
Irish Arts Center (Hell’s Kitchen): Multi-disciplinary programming about Ireland and Irish America—including performance, exhibition and education—is at the forefront of the Irish Arts Center’s events calendar. This haven for Irish culture offers everything from theater to music, dance, forums, classes and more. I saw a play here a few months ago and had the best time! On St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish Arts Center is hosting its 7th Annual Book Day. There will be 11 pop-up Irish Arts Center Book Day locations smattered around the city in all five boroughs giving away FREE books written by Irish and Irish-American writers, as well as writers from Mexico (as this amazing event is held in association with the New York City Council, New York State Assembly, Consulado General de México en Nueva York Consul General of Mexico in New York, Consul General of Ireland, Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, Literature Ireland, and Call Me Ishmael). The event lasts from 7 am until books run out.
Irish Repertory Theatre (Chelsea): This Off-Broadway theater stages works by Irish and Irish-American playwrights that highlight the contemporary Irish-American experience. Eugene O’Neill’s “The Emperor Jones,” starring Obi Abili, is running through April 23, 2017.