Houston Music

Houston's 10 Best Irish Bars

With Saint Patrick's Day coming up on March 17, we present to you a list of some great Irish pubs in Houston that you might want to visit on that holiday, when many celebrate the patron saint of Ireland and Irish culture. For others, of course, the date is just an excuse to wear green and party while drinking mass quantities of green beer, even if they have no idea who Saint Patrick even was.

These bars are nice to hang out in year-round actually, as they offer a place to leisurely drink and socialize; if you hang out in any of them regularly you will get to know the regulars and eventually be a part of that bar's community if you so choose, similar to the communities that make up the original pubs or "public houses" back in Ireland that these bars model themselves after.

Ashford Pub is the Irish bar to visit on the west side of Houston outside the Beltway; the wild Saint Patrick's Day party here is sure to have plenty of green beer for you to indulge in. Ashford also has a lot of weekly events to come out for during the rest of the year, such as Texas Hold Em' Poker, pub trivia, steak night, karaoke, live music and more. This is a happening place to frequent if you live out in Houston's "Energy Corridor" or are out in the area visiting for work or pleasure; the owners have the Irish pub spirit and hospitality down pat, no pun intended. (13308 Westheimer, ashfordpub.com)

When we first visited this place, the manager we spoke with asked us, "Would you like to see a hooker?" No, it's not what you think: he took us over to a painting of a fishing boat in Galway Bay off the west coast of Ireland known as a hooker, from which this pub takes its name. Galway is teaming up with Giulietta Sociale next door for a Saint Patrick's party next Saturday (March 14) starting at noon; the party will feature live cover bands and multiple DJs on the spacious patio out front and rooftop, with $2 green beer and $4 Jameson and Fireball shots. Besides being an Irish bar, Galway is big on sports, with 48 true high-definition TVs bringing in dedicated international soccer fans, so the pub sometimes opens up early in the morning throughout the year for live games; American football is also big here. (5102 Washington, facebook.com/galwayhookerhtx)

The Harp calls itself "Houston's Friendliest Irish Pub"; a bold statement, but we have always had a great time at this bar on lower Richmond, and the people we have encountered have always been cool so we can't argue with the claim too much. Tuesday-night trivia and Wednesday-night league darts are always fun, or just come out and relax out on the spacious patio or on a comfy couch inside while enjoying an adult beverage. Expect to see a big crowd on Saint Patrick's Day, many of whom will be no doubt wearing green light-up beads. Expect the odd patron wearing a green Afro wig as well. (1625 Richmond, theharphouston.com)

Pimlico may be one of the most authentic Irish bars in Houston. In fact, the owner himself is from Dublin, where his father owned a bar of the same moniker in the '60s through the '70s; it took its name from the street it was located on, just a few blocks from the Guinness beer brewery. Paying tribute to the world-renowned Irish beer, a fence outside has been branded with the famous Guinness logo, and Guinness posters and memorabilia adorn the walls and shelves, along with other authentic items from Ireland. A line of the finest Irish Whiskeys is available here and you can also get some authentic Irish bar snacks like Smiths scampi fries and Tayto cheese & onion potato chips. A two-story patio with a view is located out front; at 4 p.m. on Sundays, local musicians show up to play authentic Irish music inside. In addition to having green beer and a big party on Saint Patrick's Day, Pimlico has their one year anniversary party coming up on the weekend of March 21-22, with musical entertainment lined up from the Saint Thomas Alumni Pipe Band and the Blaggards. (810 Waugh, pimlicopub.com)

Located downtown at Texas at Main in the Rice Lofts building, Shay McElroy's has a nice patio out front for people-watching as well as comfortable furniture inside to relax on; it was acquired from the former hotel's Old Capitol Club. Owner John McElroy is a Dublin native and had an impressive, authentic 19th-century bar shipped over from Ireland, which is now the centerpiece of the establishment. Shay McElroy's has an excellent selection of draft and bottled beer along with scotch and Irish whiskey and the place can be a welcome respite from the daily grind of downtown 9-to=5 office life during the week. Good food can be had here as well, including pizza, salads, snacks, and sandwiches; give the triple-decker Main Street Club a try. (909 Texas, mcelroyspub.com/shaymcelroys)

Formerly known as Brian O'Neill's, this Rice Village Irish bar got a makeover in 2014 and a new name in the Gorgeous Gael; its new namesake is Jack Doyle, an Irish immigrant who became famous as a British heavyweight boxer, Hollywood actor and tenor. The makeover provides more space inside and on the patio; a new back bar and kitchen was also added as well as new, lighter wood, making the place brighter while retaining the Irish friendliness and charm. Gorgeous Gael has an impressive collection of Irish whiskeys and domestic/craft beers, and plans on expanding a new menu that now includes burgers and slow-cooked wings; check out the live music here on Friday nights. The Gorgeous Gael has a big Saint Patrick's Day party coming up the day of, from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., featuring Irish musicians and dancers as well as a big bash on Saturday the 14th leading up to the holiday. (5555 Morningside, thegorgeousgaelbar.com)

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
David Rozycki
Contact: David Rozycki