The Irish Pub, Atlantic City
Founded in the 19th century (as the Elwood Hotel), this bar and inn has survived every phase of Atlantic City history, including Prohibition. Back then it was a speakeasy with a trap door where bartenders hid booze when agents raided. “We care about the city as well as the business,” says manager Frank Pileggi. “It’s one of the main reasons we’re actually still here while others have left.” Amid the inn’s Victorian wallpaper and ornate furnishings, the long oval bar stays open 24/7, pulling drafts of Guinness and Smithwick’s. Menu items like the $7 steerburger haven’t changed much in decades, and neither have the prices. The event of the year is Bag Day, held March 18, when patrons who may or may not have overindulged the day before, St. Patrick’s Day, show up for a drink with a bag on their head. It is always well attended.—JH
164 St. James Place, 609-344-9063.
Gushers of Guinness have flowed here since Frank McGovern, fresh from County Cavan, opened the tavern in 1936. Irish music remains a tradition, but you needn’t be Irish to embrace the place. You’ll rub shoulders with businesspeople, city officials, construction workers and folks simply in search of a friendly pint. McGovern’s is busiest on Thursday nights, when Seton Hall and Rutgers folks vote an end to the study week. The back room is replete with police badges, sports jerseys and vintage posters. There are those who favor Yuengling or vodka, allows Patrick McGovern, whose great uncle Frank long reigned here, but there is universal agreement on the virtues of the chili con Kearny.—AC
58 New Street, 973-643-3984.
Tír Na Nóg, Trenton
The words, from Irish mythology, mean “land of eternal youth,” and Michaela McFadden knows their relevance. Her parents met at Tír Na Nóg in 1993, when her father arrived from County Derry. She’s been tending bar since last year, trading jokes, pulling pints, and keeping alive one of the capital city’s last Irish bastions (founded in 1991). Guinness and Jameson flow the most and are raised in cheer when Irish music is performed on weekends. It’s fine to order a half-and-half (a Guinness and lager, but don’t call it a black-and-tan) or occasionally treat yourself to a top-shelf spirit, like a 12-year-old Redbreast Irish whiskey. “We’re not trying to aim for a certain age group,” McFadden says. “Whoever comes in is welcome. That’s how it is in Ireland.”—JH
1324 Hamilton Avenue, 609-392-2554.