As the third largest city in the country, Chicago comprises a breadth of cultures, religions and ethnicities. But come March 17, everyone in Chicago is Irish. Or Chi-rish, as it’s become over the years. Why? Chicago has one of the country’s largest Irish populations — with the most concentrated in the Bridgeport, Beverly and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods on the South Side. Each year, the city dyes the Chicago River Kelly green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day while thousands of revelers watch from the streets above. This year, that will take place on Saturday March 11. That said, celebrations happen all over the city — Bridgeport, River North, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Wrigleyville.
Some people start their day with “kegs and eggs,” basically they start drinking first thing in the morning while, hopefully, having breakfast. Suffice it to say, there are some pretty drunk people stumbling around Chicago’s streets, but there’s also some respectable celebrating with parades taking place downtown and in Beverly that are very family friendly.
With an abundance of Irish bars around town — not to mention non-Irish bars and plenty of restaurants that get into the spirit — there’s no shortage of places to get your Irish on, whether you want a pint of Guinness or a plate of corned beef. Here’s a sampling of great spots where you can raise a pint to St. Paddy on this most Irish day of the year.
Dyeing the Chicago River: Takes place the morning of March 11. Great vantage points are along Wacker Drive between Michigan and Columbus and along the bridges on those two anchor streets.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Stretching along Columbus Avenue between Balbo and Monroe, this year’s parade takes place on March 11 starting at noon following the dyeing of the river.
Cindy’s at Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: (12 S. Michigan, Loop) Enjoy a special pastrami sandwich on parade weekend. On St. Patrick’s Day, start your day of celebrating and exploring Chicago on the right foot with a full Irish breakfast, corned beef cheeks and cabbage.
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: (12 S. Michigan, Loop) Stop in to Game Room, Drawing Room or Cherry Circle Room on the hotel’s second floor on March 11 for a special of Corned Beef Sandwiches with Guinness-soaked Swiss, Sauerkraut, Rye, and Thousand Island Dressing ($15), offered again on March 17 with a bonus of frozen Irish coffees.
The Gage: (24 S. Michigan, Loop) will have live music from Fiddling Finnegans and Irish-inspired specials all week leading up to March 17, including house made corned beef and cabbage, a Guinness stout cake and drink specials including the Bridgeport Fizz made with Tryconnell Irish Whiskey, lime juice and mint meritage simple syrup.
Howells & Hood: (435 N. Michigan, River North) will host its annual patio party on March 11 starting at 8:30 a.m. with bag pipers, specialty drinks and dishes like Guinness Lamb Stew and Shepherd’s Pie. Stop by before or after the river turns green.
Kitty O’Shea’s: (720 S. Michigan, Loop): This 30-year-old Irish bar will host a variety of events and offerings including Guinness samplings, pint-glass engravings, a house-crafted red ale and traditional Irish food offerings.
GreenRiver: (259 E. Erie, 18th floor, Streeterville): The appropriately named bar, which pays homage to famous historical Chicagoans through its drink menu, will have corned beef hash with sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions during brunch service March 11 and 12. To give your morning an extra kick, order their Irish coffee made with Jameson Caskmates, Cynar amaro and the GreenRiver houseblend of Sparrow Coffee.
Shinnick’s Pub: (3758 S. Union, Bridgeport) is as authentic as they come. The family took over the pub just after Prohibition ended and has been drawing in locals and Chicago White Sox fans pretty much ever since. Pop down for a pint and to hang out with one of Chicago’s truest Irish bars.
Cork & Kerry: (10614 S. Western, Beverly) is another true favorite in one of the city’s most diehard Irish enclaves. If you’re heading down for the South Side Irish parade on March 12, stop in for Irish egg rolls, the Southside Irish burger or a Paddy O’Melt — and, of course, a pint to wash it down after you raise a toast.