No longer are Little Italy and Chinatown the main cultural havens of NYC—other ethnic enclaves like Little Pakistan and Little Guyana have emerged as generations of immigrants enrich neighborhoods with their foods and traditions, buoying the diversity of our city.
Though perhaps acknowledged only by local residents thus far, in Astoria another “mini” neighborhood is popping up with an increase in the young Irish population. The neighborhood already has a rich Irish immigrant history—with most moving to western Queens from Manhattan in the early 1900s for cheaper rent and more job opportunities, particularly in construction and utilities— but neighborhood staples are now joined by more modern eateries opened by those newer to the area.
“Lots of Irish used to live in Woodside and the Bronx, but they’re kind of migrating over to Astoria now, so lots of Irish bars are popping up, which is great,” said Louise Egleston, a bartender at staple Cronin and Phelan’s. She said it helps make the neighborhood feel “more like home.”
Joseph Byrne, co-owner of newer pub The Wolfhound, agrees. “Compared to when I first moved here in 2013, there are so many more young Irish . . . there’s definitely a growing community here,” he said. For the first time in many years, there’s been representation of Astoria in the New York Gaelic Athletic Association’s Irish football league, which the bar owners cultivated.
With well over 20 Irish pubs within the main Astoria avenues — from über traditional eateries to bars with upscale twists, to joints of the more Irish-American variety — Astoria is the place to be this St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Here are 10 of the best spots for embracing your Irish heritage (or lack thereof):
40-11 30th Ave.
From frozen Irish coffee to an Irish breakfast flatbread, Passage’s menu is the definition of a “new spin” on classic Irish pub fare. Named after a small fishing village in Waterford where Vikings entered the country, the restaurant has an interior with a medieval feel, with heavy wood tables and chairs, ironwork lighting and old signage. The bar boasts 168 Irish whiskeys—supposedly the most in NYC, and therefore probably in the country. This weekend doubles as Passage’s third birthday party, with a full four-day lineup of festivities. Thursday will offer live music by Allen Gogarty and $5 Smithwick’s, Friday includes more live music and $5 “favorites” like curry cheese fries, Guinness, frozen Irish coffee, chicken burgers and Jameson shots, Saturday will be a full-day St. Paddy’s Party with a special holiday menu, and Sunday will have Irish dancers at 4 p.m., Passage’s traditional “Sunday Roast” and live music at 6:30 p.m.
45-02 30th Ave.
The Quays (pronounced ‘keys’) is the friendliest neighborhood pub, whose regulars swear owner Dee Flattery, from Roscommon County, pours the best pint of Guinness in New York. She has a few secrets to it — like starting with a completely dry glass and having the keg lines cleaned multiple times a week — but it’s best to discover it in person. If you’re in a sociable mood, The Quays prides itself on feeling like family.
The Irish Rover
3718 28th Ave.
Sports bar meets Irish pub at The Irish Rover, which opened in 1994. Board games, trivia, arcade machines and a bar loaded with TVs may not be quite what you have in mind for an Emerald Isle pub, but Irish locals love this relaxed spot to kick back with a pint. They’ll be having Irish ballad, folk and rebel music and dancing from “Dreams of Freedom” on Saturday at 9 p.m.
If the weather is nippy this weekend, cozy up by Gilbey’s fireplace for a drink. Feel free to bring your own food, as they don’t serve any, and know this as a relaxed spot to take a rest in between more rowdy visits. As usual, they pour a good pint of Guinness.
Cronin and Phelan’s
If you’re looking for classic Irish comfort food, Cronin and Phelan’s is the place. With Irish soda bread baked daily, fresh cream for Irish coffee, and daily specials of shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and beef and lamb stews, you can fill up here before hitting up the local bars for Jameson and Guinness. They’ll be celebrating St. Paddy’s Day mainly on Saturday, with specials like bangers and mash, Irish lamb stew and, of course, corned beef and cabbage (or corned beef on rye). Just be sure to get there early.
38-14 30th Ave.
Co-opened by a former bartender at The Quays, the young Irish owners of The Wolfhound also pride themselves on a good Guinness pour, one of their tricks being that the keg is only about five feet away from the tap. Music is a priority, with weekly shows featuring bands directly from Ireland. On Thursday, they’ll have one of those bands kick things off, a DJ on Friday and Saturday, and an authentic Irish traditional session on Sunday at 3 p.m. Then Monday is their third annual St. Patrick’s “Industry Night” for everyone who worked so hard over the weekend, with discounted drinks.
A longtime neighborhood pub, Doyle’s Corner is another great spot to have on deck if you need to break up the drinking with some greasy bar bites. Expect more standard American bar food here — like quesadillas and jalapeno poppers — but there are also fish and chips to be found. A pool table and darts round out this neighborhood watering hole, with outdoor seating options, as well.
31-86 31st St.
If you want something other than Irish beer or whiskey, Daly’s Pub was voted as having the Best Bloody Mary in NYC. Daly’s St. Paddy’s Day celebration will take place on Saturday, with drink specials, giveaways, dancing and a live DJ at night. There’s a beer garden in the back, so you’ll be set if the sun is out.
38-01 Ditmars Blvd.
The menu for Jack Jones reads more like an upscale gastropub, with bar bites like “deviled eggs with soy and seaweed” and “masala almonds and crispy chickpeas.” But have no fear, tucked behind the bar is a “Siopa Beag,” or a small grocery store stocked with imported Irish products. The draft list holds much more than just Guinness, with craft selections like Long Island’s Montauk Wavechaser and Weihenstephan from Germany, and a mixologist-catered cocktail menu that takes things up a notch. Jack Jones will have live music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and will have traditional Irish fare available all weekend. They’ll keep the celebration going through Monday, when they’ll host a “Recovery St. Patrick’s Day” with all draft beer starting at $2 and increasing in price every half hour.
Lavelle’s Admirals Club
Lavelle’s is one of the oldest Irish bars in the neighborhood, harkening back to 1966. If you want something super simple and super old school, where you can either reminisce with the bartender or nurse a drink in the corner without being disturbed, this is the spot for you.