© david sanger photography / Alamy
Marie Asselin
January 21, 2015

Though its French origins are more frequently acknowledged, the province of Quebec also incorporates a large Irish community. In the 17th century, many Irish living in France were sent to help colonize Quebec, and quickly became one of the major ethnic groups present in New France. Today, half a million Québecers claim Irish origins, but historians say that a more realistic estimate of those with Irish descent could reach as high as 40 percent of the provincial population.

Regardless of the exact figure, there is an undeniable “shamrock spirit” in Quebec. The city hosts its own well-attended St. Patrick’s Day parade each year, and pubs are among the favorite gathering places for locals wanting to spend a relaxed evening with friends. The possibilities range from classic Irish watering holes to more trendy modern taverns, but all offer the cheering promise of good drinks (especially whiskies and beers) and a good time.

Pub Saint-Alexandre

This 25-year-old, English-style pub serves one of the city’s widest selection of beers from Quebec and around the world—two dozen on tap and over 200 bottled varieties, (including exclusive private imports). Adding a spirited note to the selections is a renowned line-up of over 50 single-malt whiskies. Live jazz, blues, and folk shows, a food menu that delivers more than the usual pub fare, and a central location on busy rue Saint-Jean are irresistible draws for a diverse and friendly crowd.

Taverne Grande-Allée

A newcomer on Grande-Allée, this laid-back tavern is a welcome addition to an area more usually known for its better-dressed restaurants and bars. The place has a decidedly masculine look, with exposed brick walls, rustic wooden furniture, artworks featuring skulls and Mexican wrestler masks, and TVs showing hockey matches in the background. Appealing to everyone, however, is the affordable menu that features meatballs, tacos, and other delicious snacks that slide down easily with the tavern’s selection of Quebec beers.

L'Oncle Antoine

A block away from Place Royale, the city’s historic settlement, L’Oncle Antoine’s unique character invites a mixed clientele of both locals and visitors. The pub is located in the stone cellar of one of the city’s oldest houses (which dates back to 1754). A thirst-quenching selection of bottled and on-tap craft beers from Quebec and around the world pair with the pub’s inexpensive no-fuss menu.

Pub du Parvis

When you want to watch televised sport events, Pub du Parvis is one of the liveliest spots to go to; though small, the pub has several screens where matches are shown to crowds of fans. With its stone walls, rough-hewn wood, mounted deer heads, and a fireplace, the space has a warm, cozy atmosphere that pairs perfectly with its friendly service. The surprisingly extensive menu features burgers, pizzas, grilled meats, and pasta; a hearty brunch is served on weekends.

Pub Galway

A well-liked local hideout, Pub Galway sits off the tourist-beaten path on rue Cartier. Visitors seeking out this lively address will be greeted by a classic Irish quote—“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met”— and an authentic atmosphere, complete with rich woodwork, stained-glass accents, and Irish flags and memorabilia. Popular cocktail hours, a selection of 20 draft beers, and a tempting selection of Irish whiskies all guarantee a good time.

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