Six Irish joints for pub grub
Celtic Crown Public House This large Irish pub’s marquee announces its daily specials to the neighborhood; time your visit based on the signage and you may find yourself with a bill for $1 burgers or 25-cent wings. Even at full price, Celtic Crown is still worth a visit for better-than-average bar food. As you’d expect at an Irish pub, the corned-beef sandwich is satisfying, as is the barbecue-rib plate (note to true ’cue fans: They’re baked, not smoked), and you can indulge your inner grammar-school student with Tater Tots. With TVs blaring and bar patrons quaffing another one, the atmosphere is loud, but the waitstaff never overlooks the diners for the drinkers. 4301 N Western Ave (773-588-1110). El: Brown to Western. Bus: 49, 78. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $6.
Cullen’s Bar and Grill With the waitresses brandishing brogues along with the shepherd’s pie and Guinness pints, you know this Lakeview Irish pub is the real deal. Besides potpies, fish-and-chips, and other Emerald Isle imports, everyone from neighborhood families to tipsy Cubs fans stops in for the above-par bar grub. You can’t go wrong with the char-grilled skirt-steak sandwich, turkey-and-corned-beef Reubens, and Bass Ale–battered onion rings the size of your head. 3741 N Southport Ave (773-975-0600). El: Brown to Southport. Bus: 9, 22, 152. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $10.
English With high-top tables and a bar that runs the length of the room, it’s clear this Britishish spot is putting its pounds on the pub scene. New and old come together on both the cocktail list and the menu: Drinks include a traditional Pimm’s Cup and a St. Germain Champagne cocktail, while classic fish-and-chips and a turkey burger topped with braised fennel and smoked gouda are among the food choices. The Newcastle-battered cod is crispy, fat and flaky, and the duck confit dumplings are indicative of chef Radhika Desai’s whimsical, worldly style. 444 N LaSalle St (312-222-6200). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Merchandise Mart. Bus: 65, 125, 156. Lunch (Mon–Sat), dinner (closed Sun). Average main course: $17.
The Hidden Shamrock Laying claim to being Lincoln Park’s oldest Irish pub isn’t what made us fall for this bar. Instead, it was the charming, airy space with exposed brick, roaring fireplace and original artwork. Of course, having 17 taps (two dedicated to Guinness) on hand didn’t hurt either. If you can, pop in on a slower night (when the joint isn’t overrun with Trixies) and try some of the Irish house specialties, such as traditional lamb stew, shepherd’s pie and fish-and-chips. (Not your cup of tea? Don’t worry—they’ve got nachos and wings here, too.) 2723 N Halsted St (773-883-0304). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Diversey. Bus 8, 76. Mon–Fri 4pm–2am; Sat 10am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $4, average main course: $10.
Mrs. Murphy and Sons Soda bread? Black-and-white pudding? Not so much. This Irish bistro serves food you’d find in modern-day Dublin, which means Guinness isn’t just on the epic beer list, but also in a rich onion–and–white cheddar soup. And bangers and mash? They arrive in the form of savory lamb sausage and fingerlings roasted with Morbier cheese and apples. If a full meal isn’t in the cards, stop by for a great Irish whiskey at the gorgeous bar. 3905 N Lincoln Ave (773-248-3905). Bus: 11, 50, 80, 152. Brunch (Sat, Sun), dinner (closed Mon). Average main course: $18.
The Pepper Canister If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to actually feel years being taken off your life with a single meal, Pepper Canister’s Irish-ish pub menu is just the ticket to kill your curiosity. Go the fried route with the Scotch egg, a hardboiled egg rolled in sausage and deep fried. Or go for the “toastie special,” a buttery, oniony, cheesy mess of a grilled sandwich that’s apparently all the rage in Ireland. Combine either dish with a beer and you have the perfect meal for the hungry, the hungover and anybody trying to pack on the pounds. 509 N Wells St (312-467-3300). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Merchandise Mart, Red to Grand. Bus: 65, 125. Lunch (Mon–Fri), dinner (Mon–Sat). Average main course: $10.