By Adam Slight
Ottawa has somewhat of a reputation for being saturated with Irish and British pubs. With 13 Royal Oak locations in the city, sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish an authentic Irish pub from just another exercise in Irish branding. A few months ago we even ran an article highlighting some of Ottawa's best non-British/Irish pubs. That said, with St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate this weekend, and expected day-time lineups around the blocks at both Heart and Crown locations, we thought we’d highlight some authentic taverns in Ottawa worth your time and thirst.
Located in Old Ottawa South Patty’s Pub holds a debated claim to being Ottawa’s first Irish pub (Molly McGuire's contests this claim). Patty’s is an authentic Irish pub; dimly lit with the light scent of stale beer in the air and old Guiness ads and lobster traps lining the walls. The food selection at Patty’s is also worth mentioning—typical pub grub, like chicken wings, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie—but cooked with fresh ingredients and a respect for diners. The chicken wings are the best in the city in my opinion, hands down.
Also found in Old Ottawa South, Quinn’s is owned by the previous owners of Patty’s Pub—so needless to say, one can expect a similar authentic approach to the Irish tavern tradition. Quinn’s is small but cozy with a great decked patio for the summer. Quinn’s is known for its deliciously fresh burgers, which are completely worth seeking out if you haven’t had one before. Wash one down with a few pints, and you’ll wish you didn’t forget most of your St. Patrick’s Day the next morning.
While not really an Irish pub, we felt that The Manx had enough old world authenticity to make it onto this list. The Manx is a true British-style watering hole tucked away on Elgin Street near the Elgin Street Diner. The Manx is intimate and rich with authentic atmosphere—a great place to meet with friends over some drinks in the afternoon or evening. You should be aware that space is very limited at The Manx, but this is part of its charm. This friendly atmosphere leaves a positive infectious buzz in the air ideal for beer drinking and catching up with old pals.
Nobody can say that O’Brien’s Pub and Eatery found on Heron and Bank isn’t authentic. This dive-y Irish pub offers foggy plastic drinking glasses, stringy chicken wings, 3 brands of beer, and lively karaoke sessions on weekends. While not decorated in typical Irish pub tropes, O'Brien's in many ways embodies the spirit of an Irish pub. If you seek an unpretentious pub atmosphere where you can go, have fun, and let it all hang out, then O’Brien’s is a worthy candidate!
In some ways the D’Arcy McGee’s on Sparks Street is opposite to The Manx. It operates in a large, historical, high-ceilinged building, with an expansive patio outside. It also attracts a sometimes rowdy crowd in the evenings, with live music and plenty of beers on tap. Hit up D’Arcy McGee’s on Sparks Street if you’re looking for a downtown experience but are interested in venturing outside of the Byward Market.