The taps flow with Guinness, Smithwick’s, and Harp. High-definition televisions play overseas soccer matches in surround sound. Walls of flagstone and exposed brick flank the tiered dining space of the cozy corner pub. The Irish Times truly does embody the vivacious Gaelic spirit—a spirit that thrives until 2 a.m. seven nights a week. CBS Philly praised this dedication to authenticity and placed The Irish Times on its 2012 list of Top Philadelphia Irish Pubs for St. Patrick’s Day.
In between pints, the menu tempts diners with a selection of traditional Irish staples and assorted international comfort foods. The slow-simmered stew features hunks of lamb, carrots, and celery in a Guinness, merlot, and lamb gravy, and the traditional Irish breakfast—complete with black and white puddings, rashers, and Irish sausage—is served all day long. Dishes from farther abroad include a trio of hummus, pico de gallo, and baba ghanoush and wraps filled with teriyaki-glazed chicken tenders, pineapple, and individually polished sesame seeds.
Mac's Tavern may be far nicer than Paddy's Pub from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but they do have one thing in common—Mac's is owned by Rob and Kaitlin McElhenney, who play Mac and Dee Reynolds on the show, along with a small group of their friends.
The building's house-like façade has long been an Old City fixture. In the 1700s, it was the Skinner’s Dry Goods Store and served such famed customers as Benjamin Franklin, even though it refused to accept payment in the form of bills with his face on them. These days, more than 17 draft beers rotate through the taps behind the stained wood bar and a jukebox sets the background score.
Though the tavern itself is historic, Mac's dedicates itself to modernity, as evidenced by a seasonal menu that might list a roasted beet salad in a balsamic-caramel gastrique or buffalo chicken cheesesteak, a twist on the hometown staple. And every Sunday, the brunch burger arrogantly bestrides mealtimes with its topper of smoked bacon, a fried egg, and a seven-cheese sauce.
The green-, white-, and orange-striped façade of O’Neals Pub hints at what one may expect to find inside: a menu replete with shepherd’s pie, beer-battered fish and chips, and Irish beef stew along with an extensive selection of beers and whiskeys from the Emerald Isle. These Irish staples share space on tables with American pub grub such as creamy bacon mac 'n' cheese, hearty sandwiches, and 100% Angus beef or veggie burgers. Between bites, guests can marvel at the Celtic cross carved into the woodgrain on the front door, practice their aim on the dartboard, or play pranks on friends by slyly filling their bagpipes with mashed potatoes. Guests may also turn their attention to one of the pub's 20 TVs, which all have Direct TV packages, or bask in the sun on the outdoor patio, where oversize umbrellas provide shelter to those scanning the horizon for telltale rainbows after thundershowers.
Max’s Brew Bar is new on the Northern Liberties scene, but it aims to feel like a neighborhood fixture where groups of friends have socialized for years. Yes, there are Eagles, Phillies, and once-in-a-lifetime Eagles vs. Phillies games charging across the TVs, but there are also plenty of spaces designed just for conversation and a collection of board games including Jenga and Connect Four. All the while, bartenders work 34 taps—pouring everything from Great Divide's Hercules Double IPA to 21st Amendment's richly fruity Lower Da Boom—as the kitchen crafts health-conscious finger foods. The menu includes grilled paninis, sea-salted edamame, and silken hummus, although the selection changes seasonally to accommodate new ingredients. While outdoor seating surrounds the Piazza entrance, nightly karaoke invites patrons indoors to belt out their favorite tune or recite their favorite State of the Union address.
Named not for the 19th-century novelist who wrote The Portrait of a Lady, but rather its location near the intersection of Henry Avenue and Jamestown Street in Roxborough, the Henry James Saloon is a no-frills neighborhood pub that has been propping up local drinkers for years. Housed in a tiny one-story rectangular building with a sign that suggests you should “Eat, Drink and Don’t Hurry,” the Henry James embodies the same easy-going attitude inside. Red walls, neon beer signs and multiple TVs constitute the majority of the atmosphere, while the pub menu is surprisingly extensive, with a long list of favorites like roast pork sandwiches, patty melts, pizzas and more. The more impressive “mealwiches” are a fitting portmanteau, stuffed sandwiches that eat like a full meal, combining chicken tenders, cheese, bacon, ranch dressing and more all under one outsized bun.
A corner pub in Manayunk with a nice selection of craft beers on draft and more than 60 bottles including ciders, wheats and barleywines, Old Eagle Tavern exudes a comfortable, easygoing vibe. There’s a rectangular bar and Formica tables, and the wood-paneled walls are decorated with tin beer company signs and old serving trays. Practice your aim on one of the two dartboards, or shoot for the corner pocket on the pool table, both of which are free of charge on Monday nights. The usual supply of burgers anchors the menu, but these beef patties are wrapped in freshly-baked buns from Wild Flour Bakery in Northeast Philly. The rest of the menu wanders a bit from traditional pub fare, including the popular chicken and waffles meal. You can’t go wrong during the generous happy hour on weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m., when all draft beers are half price.