Here’s our choice of the top ten pubs in Dublin
10. The Brazen Head
Brazen Head Pub, Dublin. The oldest pub in Dublin, and a must for every pub-lover. The only pub in Dublin with a courtyard, and, in fact, one of the only pubs in central Dublin where you can drink outside If the sun is shining – don’t hold your breath – there are few better places to go. With warm fires and welcoming staff, however, this is also an excellent place to visit on a chilly winter’s eve. The Guinness is among the best you will find, and the food is basic but sustaining, and ideal for a session – plates of chips with ketchup, for example. The Brazen Head is divided into several rooms, some big, some small, but all with a great atmosphere. Service is quick and efficient. The pub attracts a mixed clientele, which indeed is characteristic of all the best pubs in Dublin – young trendies, people who have just left work, drunks, tourists, travellers, people out for a mug of tea, locals, country-folk and even priests will be there – all getting on with the business in hand, of having a pint and putting the world to rights. If that is what you want, few pubs can hold a candle to The Brazen Head.
9. Sackville Lounge
A personal favourite of mine, and the only northside pub to make the top 10. It is an oasis amidst the desert of inner-city north Dublin. The only place where you are guaranteed a seat and quick service on a Friday or Saturday night. Pure north Dublin. It looks like it has been transported from the 1950s. The Guinness is exquisite. The bar is tiny, and most nights of the week the clientele consists of men on their own, chatting or watching the television. At weekends the place becomes a little more lively, with an eclectic bunch of drinkers, including actors and groups of middle-aged women out for a session. It seem to be a place for husbands to hang out on Thursday while their wives take advantage of late-night shopping. Fintan, the barman, easily wins the award as Best Dublin Barman. His standards of service are second to none, and he is a laugh. The toasted sandwiches mean you will not have to leave the place all evening. If you fancy a pint on your own or a quiet chat, head for this place. A word of warning for the easily offended – the toilets are disgusting. But who cares?
8. Messrs Maguire
Messrs Maguire Pub Dublin. A new pub, serving REAL BEER. Yes, a new trend in Dublin is the brewing, on the premises, of wonderful real ales and this pub, along with The Porterhouse, of which more later, is leading the way. It has bouncers on the door but unless you’re steaming you’ll get in. It is simply superb. The Rusty ale is delicious, smooth, tasty, infinitely more-ish. The Haus lager is equally wonderful. They do not serve Guinness, which is nice. Food ranges from generous bar snacks to full blown restaurant meals. The view over O’Connell Bridge is fabulous. A pub in which it is very difficult to resist the temptation to while away the day – or the week. Clean, a touch on the expensive side, attracting a young-ish but discerning crowd, and likely to be mobbed at the weekends – Messrs Maguire is an excellent addition to Dublin’s range of pubs.
7. The Long Hall
Long Hall Pub, Dublin. Worth a visit for three reasons – the superb bar staff, again transported from an earlier age, the cracking Guinness, and the mirrors. This is a pub of mirrors – large, small, distorted, clean, dirty. A popular place for an after-work session, and a good antidote to the more trendy Hogan’s, across the road. An ideal stopping off point if you’re heading to Whelan’s or the The Village to see a band. Overall, another top boozer.
Like most pubs featured here, this makes a point of being piped-music free. Has a snug and a bell to call for pints. The upstairs bar is probably the finest room in Dublin in which to sit having a pint. At the risk of a cliché, the craic here is always good. There is a piano, and usually someone attempting to play it. So instead of listening to Steps through a jukebox, you’re more likely to get crowds of people singing The Fields of Athenry round the old joanna. Can be crowded in the evenings, and has been known to harbour pick-pockets. Nevertheless, any visit to Dublin can only be enriched by a visit to Keoghs.
5. Davy Byrnes
Davy Byrnes Pub, Dublin. Go on a Saturday afternoon and spend all afternoon there. They show the latest scores on Ceefax during the football season. Mentioned in Ulysses, though you’d never know it from the modern décor. Attracts an amazing crowd – locals, tourists, mad old people. Just off Grafton Street. Good, high-quality food and great staff. A good pub for meeting and chatting with eccentrics.
Simply wonderful. Former haunt of Brendan Behan and Paddy Kavanagh, among other literary giants, and again just off Grafton Street so an ideal place to seek solace after spending too much. There is an excellent upstairs room here which is ideal for parties, book launches and leaving dos, but it will be impossible to stop people drifting down to the intimate main bar. Gets packed at weekends, but on week-nights, and especially in the daytime, this is an excellent place to hang out. And the literary connections make you feel like you’re doing something cultural. Good toasted sandwiches. Nip across the road to the heavy metal disco, downstairs in Bruxelles, if you dare.
3. The Palace
Described in The Observer in 1998 as “an almost perfect pub”. Has a snug. Serves what must be among the top 3 pints of Guinness in town. Part of Temple Bar but the drunks do not seem to get there. A journalists hang out. It is usually quite empty at lunchtime. Does a good line in soup and sandwiches. If this was not Dublin, this would easily be the best pub in town.
Mulligans Pub, Dublin. Maybe it is the fact that they serve what is unquestionably the best pint of Guinness you will get anywhere in the world. Maybe it is the friendliness and professionalism of the staff. Maybe it is the big tables in the back room, where you will not be able to help chatting away to some new friends. Maybe it is all these things. Mulligans is special. Smoky atmosphere, perhaps not surprisingly given the number of journalists who have made this their local. No trip to Dublin is complete without a night spent in Mulligans.
1. The Porterhouse
Porterhouse Pub, Dublin. A brew pub. The beer on offer – from the session beer Porterhouse Red to the 7% BrainBlasta, to the hundreds of bottled beers from around the world, is second to none. The lunch and evening menus are first class, including a brilliant Irish Stew, and excellent hot beef sandwiches. There is live music most nights. And you can usually get a seat. The service, at the tables, is perfect. And – thank the lord – they are opening a sister-pub in Covent Garden this year. This is the best place to be, night or day. It stays open until 2.00am as well. It wins awards worldwide for its beer, and keeps the indie flag flying high, against the corporate might of Guinness, who would stamp out this kind of place if they could. For the beer, the food, the décor, the atmosphere, the clientele – I salute you, The Porterhouse. You’re the best.