Not all Irish bars are created equal, despite how similar many may seem. San Francisco, having had a long history of Irish immigration and a continuing strong relationship with the country — including annual influxes of J-1 visa students from Ireland — has more than its share of Irish pubs and Guinness on tap. But, honestly, some of these bars have devolved into frat bro parties and worse, so if that's not your scene, as we enter the big weekend of St. Patrick's celebrations (the parade and festival are on Saturday) consider our curated list of faves below for your own pub crawls. — Jay Barmann

The Dubliner
One of Noe Valley's go-to pubs and the most Irish of the bunch, The Dubliner (not to be confused with the bar of the same name in West Portal, which is just fine but more of a standard neighborhood sports bar) has been around nearly 30 years and doing the Irish bar scene proud. They host a Thursday trivia night, there's a dart board, and Indiana Jones pinball machine and the crowd tends to be the more mature set in their 30s and 40s — think dads escaping their families for a couple hours to watch baseball, ladies happy hours that aren't afraid of Irish Car Bombs, etc. Pro tip: They don't mind if you bring in pizza from Patxi's up the street. - Jay Barmann
3838 24th Street between Church and Sanchez


Durty Nelly's
A standby on every one of our Irish bar lists, this fave with Irish expats is more than just booze. It's the place to go for Ulster Fry on a hungover Sunday in the Outer Sunset, they make their own homemade sausage rolls, and they serve another Dublin specialty, curry fries, which is kind of like poutine but with curry sauce. Their fish and chips also gets high marks, and if you want to go all-out there's their Durty Balls, a crazy concoction of deep-fried mashed potato balls with cheddar and bacon. — Eve Batey
328 Irving Street between 24th and 25th Avenues

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Flanahan's Pub
In operation since 1978, Flanahan's is a long sliver of a bar toward the end of Noriega, where the Sunset meets the sea. They tout "cheap and stiff drinks" and "old timers" who "don’t bite and they have a whale of a tale waiting for you." These statements are accurate, I say as someone who has regularly verified both. Expect a mix of old Irish guys, surfers, neighborhood residents, and people waiting for their seat at Toyose. Oh, and dogs! Lots of dogs. — Eve Batey
3805 Noriega Street between 45th and 46th Avenues

The Irish Bank
With its al fresco seating in a historic alley, the Irish Bank has an authentic air that's made it a longstanding destination for an after-work pint. A whitewashed cottage facade, brass plaques, and hanging plants are among its many charms, as is authentic food like bangers and mash and shepherd's pie. 'Tis also the place to be on St. Patrick's Day, when it hosts a block party you can expect to be on the rowdier side. —Caleb Pershan
10 Mark Lane between Bush Street and Harlan Place

Photo via Facebook

There are a number of Irish and Irish-owned pubs scattered around downtown, but Kells is one of the more authentic, and it's also a full-service restaurant with locations in Portland and Seattle. What's more, Kells is keeping the legacy of the famed Purple Onion comedy club (originally located around the corner) alive by hosting Purple Onion events there. Being this close to the Financial District means the place can become kind of messy during weeknight happy hours (see this video for proof), but head over there on an off hour for a pint and a Ballycastle Sausage Roll. — Jay Barmann
530 Jackson Street near Columbus

Photo of The Little Shamrock's stained glass window: Rick

The Little Shamrock
Open since 1893, The Little Shamrock is SF's second-oldest bar and a proud survivor of the 1906 quake. Current owner Saeed Ghazi bought the joint in 1974, per Hoodline's recent history of the place, saving the bar from certain closure after the previous owner fell behind in the bills. Populated by a mix of long-time regulars and Golden Gate Park visitors who duck in for a pitcher, it's also known for its fine selection of board games, and its prominent placement in the novels of mystery scribe John Lescroart. — Eve Batey
807 Lincoln Way, between 9th and 10th Avenues

Photo: Yelp

Mad Dog In the Fog
Recently named by The Infatuation one of the best places in town to meet people (i.e. straight men, if you are a straight woman), Mad Dog in the Fog is a congenial, spacious Lower Haight spot with a great beer selection and not one but two pub trivia nights per week (starting at 9 on Tuesdays and Thursdays), as well as lots of soccer on the TV screens. This is pretty much what this place is known for: soccer and trivia. Oh, and they've got a kegerator-equipped table up front for private groups of eight, complete with two taps all to yourselves. - Jay Barmann
530 Haight Street between Fillmore and Steiner

The Napper Tandy
Named for the Irish Revolutionary James Napper Tandy, this Mission pub is known throughout the land for its Monday all-you-can-eat fish and chips feasts, and holds a special appeal for those looking to watch a game, shoot pool, enjoy trivia, and order from a bartender or two with an actual Irish brogue. In addition to all the regional specialties and a classic brunch menu, there's a corned beef quesadilla for you to try, this being an Irish pub in the Mission District and all that. —Caleb Pershan
3200 24th Street at South Van Ness

A Lower Haight bar a with a "love it or get out" attitude, Nickies is a sports bar with an Irish bent that can be heard erupting in cheers during any and all football matches, American, European, or otherwise. The place can give off strong, even territorial neighborhood vibes, but a friendly attitude will get you in good (and it's generally mellower in here than the nearby Danny Coyle's). Food is of the wings, tater tots, and jalapeño poppers variety, and brunch is also on offer. — Caleb Pershan
466 Haight Street between Webster and Fillmore Streets

Photo via Facebook

If you're looking for a tried-and-true Irish dive out in the Avenues, complete with Irish bartendress and plenty of expats and locals, O'Keefe's is the place. The walls are littered with pro-IRA news clippings from back in the day, and one of the original proprietors who opened the place in 1973, Annie O'Keefe, still mans the bar, though her partner Tim is long gone, rest his soul. A definite must-see when it comes to what Old San Francisco felt like in the last century, at least in its more Irish corners, and the drinks are stiff and cheap. — Jay Barmann
598 Fifth Avenue at Balboa

Bantry Bacon Boxty with breakfast potatoes. Photo: Facebook

The Phoenix
One of the busier bars on the Valencia strip remains this dyed-in-the-wool Irish spot with a menu of Irish food, including a delicious Bacon Boxty at brunch (that would be a potato cake topped with Irish bacon, poached eggs, and Hollandaise, pictured above). Maybe the place has some regulars these days (?), but mostly the crowd here is a mixed bag of Missionites and Mission wanderers in their 20s, and the place typically pops off around St. Patrick's Day, so be warned. — Jay Barmann
811 Valencia Street near 19th

The Plough & Stars
Known for live music and lively clientele, the Plough & Stars is a great place to hear traditional Celtic music — flute toodling, etc. — as well as the occasional contemporary band. Fear not the cover charge — it's worth it, and their Guinness is cheap, at least by local standards. — Caleb Pershan
116 Clement Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues

Related: Where To Eat The Best Irish Food In San Francisco

Durty Balls. Photo: AJ C./Yelp