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Montreal's Best Irish Pubs
Montreal isn't exactly known for its pub culture. Terrasse and 5-à-7 culture? Hell yes. Nightlife culture? A university city like Montreal wouldn't be one without it, especially given how low the legal drinking age goes. But pub culture as it's known across the pond as a community meeting place, a focal point where neighbors and friends converge on a daily basis to shoot the breeze? Not so much. However, a case could be made for Montreal's Irish pub culture, especially on St. Patrick's Day. You see, locals who like their Irish pubs love their Irish pubs.
But which ones reign supreme?
I still remember the spring evening I set out to secure an answer. It led to me to a charming Montreal Irish pub bartender—terribly charming even, complete with Irish brogue and bulging biceps—who insisted on serving me a a poor man's Black Velvet, a half-Guinness/half-cider hybrid, as I sat there jotting down notes.
Partway through the pint, I spotted an inquisitive look on his face.... Why, damsel, jotteth you downeth stuff, it inquired, eyes fixating my notebook. ''Why, I'm preparing a piece on Montreal's top 10 Irish pubs,” I replied before he could ask.
That's when he stopped wiping the bar, pausing long enough to swallow a chuckle. Then he looked up at me incredulously and said, “you mean Montreal's only 10 Irish Pubs?!"
And now, for your top 5.
Full Disclosure: absolutely no one paid their way onto this list. Nor were any conflicts of interest involved in securing a spot.This list of Montreal's best Irish pubs is for information and editorial purposes only. TripSavvy experts are subject to a strict ethics and full disclosure policy, a cornerstone of the network's credibility.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
Le Vieux Dublin
Le Vieux Dublin, aka Old Dublin Pub, claims the title of Montreal's oldest Irish pub, having first opened in 1978. It's a claim, a seemingly undisputed one, that's almost hard to believe considering Montreal has had a prominent Irish community for over 200 years, but even if others may have come before, Old Dublin is still standing, the elder among its currently operating peers.
It's no longer in its original University Street location though, having moved to a nearby venue, just off main downtown thoroughfares like Ste. Catherine Street and yet a stone's throw from all the bustle, just far enough to keep away random riff raff.
Boasting an enviable scotch selection and live music five days out of seven, Le Vieux Dublin is a short walk away from several downtown Montreal attractions, including the Underground City, nearby shopping centres, the Redpath Museum, the McCord Museum and Mary Queen of the World.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
Hurley's Irish Pub
Open since 1993, Irish ex-pats and visitors consistently insist Hurley's is the Montreal Irish pub to visit for a taste of home. I can see why. There's no doubt this pub is the liveliest of the bunch. Loud, brash and perpetually primed for a cheer, don't be surprised if a few regulars break out into a step dance when the evening's live traditional music starts up.
And don't be surprised if the place is packed. If anything you should be surprised if it isn't. So if you want a coveted spot in main room where the band plays, get thee there early.
Finally, a note on service. I spotted some off-putting reviews on Tripadvisor regarding run-ins with allegedly rude staff. Now I've lost count how many times I've had a drink at Hurley's. Can't say I've ever had a negative experience with the pub's busy staff. Usually my problem is the sardine-packing crowds and lack of seats. But after reading a few of the bad reviews, I think I have an idea... what's going on.
Sometimes, visitors unfamiliar with the mores of Montreal don't realize how tipping works here. Tips are generally not automatically added to the bill. Instead, bar patrons are expected to tip. And they're expected to tip well, say $1 for every pint of Guinness, this, even if the service is just so so. I realize this seems ludicrous when the whole point of a tipping system is to reward excellent service. But I've seen many a Montreal bar staffer get away with atrocious, even abusive behavior toward patrons over what was perceived as a bad tip. Judging by some of the things I've witnessed in person at venues other than Hurley's, I'm stunned by what some bartenders in this town get away with without getting fired. Mind you, I'm also stunned by patron attitudes staff have to put up with at times. What can I say, folks? Montreal bar culture is what it is.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
Not to be confused with Ireland's actual embassy -which is in Ottawa by the way - you wouldn't be faulted for confounding Irish Embassy with an Irish sports bar. This place is great for catching the big game.
Friendly staff framed by a gorgeous wood interior, the layout of the downtown pub is brilliant in that not only does Irish Embassy still feel cozy even though it's a fairly big room, but the flat screens are placed so strategically that it you could sit anywhere -anywhere!- and still have a great view of the game. You gotta love that. Solid pub fare and almost daily live music as well. Nice terrasses too. A choice spot for a pint after an afternoon at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts or after catching a game or concert at the Bell Centre, both a five- to 10-minute walk from the pub.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
McKibbins has more than one location in and around Montreal, notably on the Main, but out of all of them, my favorite is the original downtown locale on Bishop Street, which might as well be called an Irish complex. It's huge. Three stories high. My preferred spot? The bottom floor for its smaller size and laidback vibe. It feels more like an Irish pub than the rest of the venue. Mind you, the main floor has its charms when a live band is playing, which is often.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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Ye Olde Orchard
McKibbins isn't the only Montreal Irish pub with a handful of locations. Ye Olde Orchard's original pub on Monkland fared so well—so well that you need the luck of the Irish to score a spot on its terrasse—that it spread forth and multiplied across the Greater Montreal area. Two of the more central locations are just off the Main in the Plateau and south of Ste. Catherine in downtown Montreal. As with most Montreal Irish pubs, live music is on the roster