Best Irish Pubs in Toronto

McVeigh's Pub in Toronto, photo by John Vetterli
McVeigh's Pub, photo by John Vetterli
McVeigh's Pub in Toronto, photo by John Vetterli
McVeigh’s Pub, photo by John Vetterli

When March 17th comes along, everyone claims to be Irish in order to feel more a part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But the Irish aren’t picky; they’ll celebrate their day with anyone, no matter your heritage. St. Patrick’s Day in Toronto is almost a national holiday, but there will be no need to book off work this year as March 17th falls on a Saturday. Due to the Saturday celebration, you’ll find many Toronto bars getting busy earlier this year so plan to embark around noon or risk waiting in line at the more popular Irish bars in Toronto.

McVeigh’s New Windsor Tavern

Perched at the corner of Church and Richmond Streets, McVeigh’s is family-operated and offers a homey, welcoming atmosphere in somewhat tight quarters. Enjoy live Celtic music most nights at this authentic Irish bar. Guinness is the beer to enjoy at McVeigh’s and don’t pass up on the food as it’s reasonably priced and well made. You’re going to have to get here really early on St. Patrick’s Day or risk waiting outside in line for a few hours.

The Galway Arms Irish Pub

This Irish pub is located on a strip of the Queensway, but you won’t find a more authentic Irish bar in the western section of Toronto than the Galway. Many of the friendly servers are from the Emerald Isle and you’ll hear live Celtic music most nights and of course rugby, soccer, football and hockey blaring on the HDTVs. In fact, the Galway is so Irish that it celebrates St. Patrick’s week.

Irish Embassy Pub & Grill

The Irish Embassy Pub in Toronto
Irish Embassy Pub, photo Irish Embassy Pub

Located at 49 Yonge St. (at Wellington), 647-977-6386, the Smithwick’s, Guinness and Kilkenny brews will be flowing at the Irish Embassy, an upscale Irish bar decked out in mahogany wood paneling enjoyed by nearby King and Bay investment banker types. As (Irish) luck would have it, the Leafs play their Hwy 401 rivals in Ottawa on March 17 so you’ll be able to enjoy “Grapes” and all the hockey action on the Irish Embassy’s four 50″ plasma TVs. The Irish Embassy will not be taking reservations on March 17.

Fionn MacCool’s on the Esplanade

Located at 70 The Esplanade, 416-362-2495, Fionn’s on the Esplanade is one of the most popular bars in Toronto for St. Patrick’s Day. This bar gets more packed on St. Patty’s Day than a 504 King streetcar so you’re definitely going to have to book off early to stake your space on March 17. If you manage to get in, you’ll enjoy the live Irish music and jovial spirits, as well as a dance floor for Celtic jigs. Fionn MacCool’s does not accept reservations on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Ceili Cottage

The Ceili Cottage at 1301 Queen St. E. (at Alton Ave.) exudes charm through its exposed brick, dark interior, good Irish food including expertly-shucked oysters and impressive taps menu. It’s going to be a tight squeeze in this tiny Leslieville pub on St. Patrick’s Day, with barely room to turn your head, but locals know this is the place to be on March 17 to fully appreciate the spirit of the Irish.

Foggy Dew Irish Pub

The Foggy Dew Pub
The Foggy Dew Pub, courtesy Foggy Dew

Although part of a corporate chain, the Foggy Dew at 803 King St. W. (at Niagara St.) shakes that mantle off well due to the hearty, relaxed vibe inside. Reservations will be accepted up until 2 p.m. Don’t panic if you have to wait outside because the Foggy pitches a heated outdoor beer tent for overflow guests. Top 40 band, Graffiti Park, will be performing at 7 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day and you’ll find a good amount of space for dancing.

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