The almost one and a half million Dubliners have about 750 pubs to choose from in their fair city. But just like so many things in life, it’s not the quantity, but the quality that counts. And the quality of the pubs that I have visited is amazing. It was difficult to narrow down the list, but these are my choices for the best of the best, at least for today.
1. The Oak
The Oak has it all – history, ambiance, a TV for the GAA matches, and the friendliest barmen in the world, bar none. (haha) You can get a ham and cheese toastie and a pint for 8.50. But the experience of The Oak – priceless!
2. The Ivy
The Ivy and The Oak share the same historic building, and while The Oak is the embodiment of cozy comfort, The Ivy offers stylish sophistication. If you fancy a porn star martini after you’ve had a Cute Hoar at The Oak, just make a left at the end of the bar, and you’ll be in The Ivy. The Ivy also has a gorgeous menu including this entree: a pot of proper Dublin coddle with Pat McLoughlin’s cocktail sausages, smoked bacon, potatoes, scallions, and Guinness brown bread. Now that’s Irish.
I wrote my first post on the award-winning snug at Toner’s, so for sentimental reasons I will give another nod to one of the best old-time pubs in the city. I guess you could sit at the bar, but for me it will always be the reigning champion snug, and only the snug. Toner’s is an institution.
If you decide to go to Toner’s, you simply must cross over to the other side of Baggot Street to experience the Victorian pub called Doheny and Nesbitt. To me it’s the most classic pub in all of Dublin. It’s been a landmark and a social institution for politicians, journalists, architects, and actors since 1867. Doheny and Nesbitt’s embodies the essence of Ireland in the form of a pub.
5. The Bank
If you want something more posh than a Victorian pub, then head over to The Bank. It’s stunningly ornate inside with a stained glass ceiling, mosaic tiled floors, and hand carved plasterwork and cornicing. I think it’s the perfect place to meet up with friends for gorgeous drinks and food. It’s not to be missed at Christmas time.
If you want something modern and chic, the Chelsea Drugstore is one of the prettiest pubs in the city. The building was originally a pharmacy at the turn of nineteenth century; the pharmacy owners were the first to discover the healing powers of cocoa. Now it offers healing in the form of beautiful decor and fancy drinks with names like For Bjorn, Discoballs, and Le French Cliche. It also offers bar food for the ailment of “acute hunger pangs”. It’s the perfect place for a romantic date.
The Horseshoe Bar is iconic. Shaped like a horseshoe, the bar is part of the 200-year-old historic Shelbourne Hotel. Locals and tourists go to this chic candle-lit bar for good luck, martinis, and people watching. And just in case you’re in the mood for a private dinner that includes a history talk about the Rebellion of 1916, the concierge can help you with that. (So Irish!) If that sounds too extravagant, just check out the ladies’ room. It’s something else and it’s complimentary.
And I’ll leave you today at Grogan’s, the pub where I first felt at home in Dublin. Grogan’s is a throwback to a simpler time. They do not take credit cards, there is no TV., and there is no music. Locals read their newspapers, order their ham and cheese toasties, and have long conversations with old friends and strangers. The art work on the walls changes every now and then as the pieces are purchased. I’m going back for a beautiful painting of a young girl walking in the rain. I hope it’s still there when I go back.
Please let me know your favorite pubs.
Until the next time, I’ll leave you with an Irish blessing. “May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends.”