Some say you can't get a decent pint of the black stuff outside Ireland. We say: rawmaish. Whether you're after the perfect St Paddy's venue, or simply seeking good craic and a well-poured Guinness, these 13 boozers go above and beyond your usual Irish-themed pub. Sláinte!
1. The Auld Shillelagh, Stoke Newington
There can be few pubs in the capital as high-spirited as The Auld Shillelagh on Stokey's Church Street. And that's not just because of the amount of Irish whiskey that's consumed here. The narrow space easily fills with laughter and high jinx, and you can expect regular live music alongside pints of Guinness which have been declared the best in north London. Other highlights include very friendly staff and a large (and well sheltered) beer garden.
The Auld Shillelagh, 105 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UD
2. The Boot, King's Cross
There's something enduringly charming about this boozer tucked away on the backstreets of King's Cross. Alongside some of the more standard Irish pub memorabilia, you'll see all kinds of boot-related stuff, a papier mache seagull and a pair of skis hung above the bar. Friendly staff, a fair chance of getting a seat even on a busy night and well-kept beers (including Guinness) are other highlights.
The Boot, 116 Cromer Street, WC1H 8BS
3. The Cow, Westbourne Park
This Westbourne Park local is a pastiche of an Irish pub rather than the real deal. It offers a fair few Belgian beers and some gastro pub grub alongside a decent Guinness and good craic. It still has Irish-themed wall decorations aplenty and an unmistakably warm Irish welcome. The food is excellent.
The Cow, 89 Westbourne Park Road, W2 5QH
4. Crown & Cushion, Lambeth
Just a stone's throw from Lambeth North station, the Crown & Cushion serves impeccable Guinness, Tayto crisps and that other Irish pub staple — Thai food. An open fire creates an affectionately smokey setting (even in summer) while Irish street signs and the more tasteful end of leprechaun imagery line the walls. There's a small beer garden out back, too.
Crown & Cushion, 133-135 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7HR
5. The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
The maze-like layout of this vast pub allows it to remain cosy despite its size, and also offers solace for drinkers wishing to escape either looming large screen sports or booming live music. It's more subtly Irish than some of the places on this list, but the Guinness is no less superb for it.
The Faltering Fullback, 19 Perth Road, N4 3HB
6. The Kingdom, Kilburn
Note: the Kingdom has now closed. According to Life in Kilburn, it'll soon be another Irish pub, The Mean Fiddler. We hope it's just as good.
An Irish pub through and through, The Kingdom is — to our mind — the most characterful of Kilburn's many similar spots. It's low-lit, old school, hardcore and has a tight knit bunch of regulars, but so long as you're up for this there's a good time to be had, especially if there's any kind of Irish sport on the telly.
The Kingdom, 229 Kilburn High Road, NW6 7JG
7. Madden's Bar, Finchley
One of north London's most welcoming Irish pubs, you don't need to be one of the many regulars to feel at home in Madden's. Take in knick-knacks such as the carved wood figures of an unnamed band (including a jazz trio) and perhaps opt for some of the homemade Thai food, which is a good step above Irish pub average. There's also a pool table upstairs.
Madden's Bar, 130 High Road, N2 9ED
8. The Sheephaven Bay, Camden
This green-fronted pub near Mornington Crescent station is one of London's more spruced-up Irish establishments, with a decent pub food menu complementing the usual drinks list. Don't let that fool you into thinking its lacking in character though — this place has bags of it.
The Sheephaven Bay, 2 Mornington Street, NW1 7QD
9. The Tipperary, City
The site occupied by The Tipperary on Fleet Street has been a pub since 1605 and an Irish pub since 1700, making it London's oldest Irish pub and (probably) the first pub outside Ireland to serve draught Guinness. With a decorative tiled floor and vintage Jameson signage covering the walls, you can feel the history. So long as simple stereotypically Irish fare is what you're after, the cheap and cheerful grub is pretty enjoyable too. The Irish music soundtrack divides opinion.
The Tipperary, 66 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1HT
10. The Porterhouse, Covent Garden
This behemoth of a bar deserves a mention for its sheer size, array of beers and the fact that it brews its own Irish stout. Catch it when its quiet and you'll be able to taste your way through the biggest range of Irish beers in London (plus many from elsewhere), but at other times it risks being uncomfortably busy with snail-pace service.
The Porterhouse, 21-22 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA
11. The Toucan, Soho
Rocking a design that screams Guinness galore (including stools that look like massive pints of the stuff), this itsy pub just off Soho Square can often be rammed to the point of unpleasant. Find it when it's not, though, and it's a treat to behold — with toucans painted on the walls and everything. Decent Guinness goes without saying, and there are also a fair few whiskies to choose from.
The Toucan, 19 Carlisle Street, W1D 3BY
12. Waxy O'Connor's, Soho
Named after a candlemaker (hence the name) born in Dublin in 1788, this rather epic drinking mall — there are four bars over six floors — is an impressive sight to behold. As well as a 'tree' looming in the centre, it features all manner of wooden pulpit-like areas and pew-style seating; appropriate for somewhere where drinking is like a religion. As well as being big, it can also be rather brash and touristy but it remains good fun all the same. Also try spin-off Waxy's Little Sister on Wardour Street.
Waxy O'Connor’s, 14-16 Rupert Street, W1D 6DD
13. Blythe Hill Tavern, Catford
Proof that you should never judge a book by its cover. The tired cream exterior and translucent windows suggest the kind of pub you're better off walking past. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Blythe's tie-wearing bar staff are unfailingly lovely and helpful, while the regulars all banter back and forth like the oldest of friends (which they possibly are). Sporting gimcracks and Irish keepsakes (the owner Con Riordan is from Limerick) pepper, but don't overwhelm, the pub. A cosy front bar holds around five tables, and encourages inter-group conversation. The rear area is larger, and more gregarious, especially when the rugby's on.
Blythe Hill Tavern, 319 Stanstead Road, Catford, SE23 1JB
Know an excellent Irish pub that’s not included in this list? Tell us in the comments below. And browse more drinking options in our huge pub database.