Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but what does everyone do on the other 364 days of the year when they're looking for a little "craic" (good fun in Gaelic)? The Chicago area has almost too many amazing Irish pubs to name. If you ask just about anyone, they will have a favorite hangout, usually located in their own neighborhood.
While many of the pubs are family-friendly during the day, nighttime is strictly for adults. You'll find large crowds enjoying Irish beer and food in a bar-like, rather than restaurant-like, atmosphere.
Quigley's Irish Pub
43 E. Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540
Mon – Thurs 11:30 am - 1 am
Fri 11:30 am - 2 am
Sat 10 am - 2 am
Sun 10 am - midnight
Quigley's pub was designed and built in Ireland and then shipped to its current location. The interior includes an authentic antique fireplace and bookcases from Dublin, and custom glass and Irish prints fill the walls. Tuesdays are pub quiz nights and the pub hosts live bands on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Of course, the menu is filled with traditional Irish favorites, such as corned beef, lamb stew and beef braised with Guinness. Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday until noon. A large patio in the front of the pub is perfect for outdoor dining and drinking in nice weather.
Ballydoyle Irish Pub
5157 Main Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515 (630) 969-0600
Hours: Mon – Fri 11:30 am – 1 am; Sat 11:30 am – 2 am; Sun 11:30 am – 10 pm
28 W. New York Street
Aurora, IL 60506 (630) 844-0400
Hours: Mon – Thurs 11 am – 1 am; Fri – Sat 11 am – 2 am; 11:30 am – 10 pm
Stratford Square Mall
Bloomingdale, IL 60108 (630) 924-8800
Hours: Mon – Thurs 11 am – 1 am; Fri 11 am – 2 am; Sat – Sun 10 am – 2 am
With three locations in the Western Suburbs, Ballydoyle has quite an extensive fan group. The Ballydoyle locations are all decorated with "reclaimed" items from Ireland, such as old wooden doors, windows, booths, tables and chairs. Ballydoyle also features a large stage in the bar area where local bands and larger touring cover bands play several nights a week. The menu is a great mix of Irish-inspired favorites, such as corned beef balls, boxty, fish and chips, and beef and Guinness stew, plus traditional bar favorites. The Downers Grove and Aurora locations each have a large outdoor seating area.
James Joyce Irish Pub
7138 Windsor Ave.,
(between Illinois Route 43 & Maple Ave)
Mon – Thurs & Sun – 12 p.m. – 1 a.m; Fri – Sat – 12 pm – 3 am
You can't get more authentic than a pub owned by some guys from Ireland. With outstanding service and lots of stained glass and old wood, the James Joyce has gained quite a following even outside of its Berwyn neighborhood. Tuesday is pub quiz night. No food is served, just a great list of Irish (and other) beers and libations.
The Irish Times
8869 Burlington Ave
(between Forest Ave & Prairie Ave)
Brookfield, IL 60513
Mon – Thurs, Sun 11 am - 1:30 am; Fri – Sat, 11 am - 2:30 am
The patrons of this pub say it is a true Irish pub, not just a restaurant or a bar. The outdoor beer garden is a popular feature. The Irish Times hosts Friday night fish frys and an Oyster festival every year in September.
Check back for our picks for best Irish pubs in the southern and northern suburbs.
for more features.