Mar 16, 2022

Get your Irish on year-round at Finn McCool’s, New Orleans, La.

In a city known for its abundance of drinking establishments of all shapes, sizes and varieties, it should not surprise anyone that Irish-themed pubs are pretty easy to find in New Orleans.  The French Quarter alone has several I’m fond of, including Molly’s at the Market, Erin Rose and the Kerry Irish Pub, just to name a few. 

But my favorite Irish pub in New Orleans – and perhaps one of the most authentic – isn’t anywhere touristy at all.  Instead, you’ll find it on the corner of Telemachus Street and Banks Boulevard anchoring a wonderful section of the city’s Mid-City neighborhood.  In fact, Punky and I no longer consider a trip to Nola complete without a stop at this always-festive local watering hole. 

Welcome to Finn McCool’s Irish Pub

My discovery of Finn McCool’s was somewhat of a happy accident, as it happened to be right next door to the first Airbnb Punky and I ever stayed at in New Orleans.  We passed the bar as we pulled up to our residence, and a crowd of people had already filled the picnic tables on the sidewalk and began pouring onto the street to watch the New Orleans Saints game from the TVs attached to the exterior of the building.  I knew we had found our home base for that trip and, as it turned out, many more since.  

Day or night, from noon to 1 a.m., Finn McCool’s is seldom slow.  Yet, it is never out of control, either.  Most people seem to know each other here, and the mutual respect and love for the place is obvious.  

So, how authentically Irish is Finn McCool’s?  For one, the owner is from Galway, Ireland, so I suspect he had a pretty solid vision of what he wanted when he opened his bar in New Orleans, and he’s not the only employee there with Irish roots.   

I mentioned my beloved Saints and gameday crowds at Finn McCool’s, but Finn’s is even more known for being a home base where diehard fans of European football can always find the latest matches on TV and root for their favorite club. 

Then there’s the setup of the pub itself, starting with a long, wooden bar that dominates half of the building’s interior.  If we can’t sit outside (the service doesn’t diminish a bit if you’re out there, though), Punky and I always try to get a couple of these prime seats.

Bonus if you get to sit in a dedicated one, I suppose. 

There’s a kitchen on the other end of the bar, and the business out of it always seems to be bustling.  Maybe it’s because the various fried and grilled aromas coming from there smell so good. 

In fact, the pub grub served here really is top notch.  Although the menu is limited, you’ll find the expected fish and chips or Reuben sandwich here, along with American pub staples like burgers and wings.  From my experience, the burger never disappoints, and the plate of crisped brussels sprouts is done extremely well.   

And you won’t have any problem finding something to wash that meal down with here.  You want a pint of Guinness?  No problem.  You want to branch out?  Finn McCool’s offers a dozen more choices – Irish, local and otherwise – on tap.  And about 50 more by the can or bottle on any given day.

Give closer scrutiny to the bottles behind the bar, and you’ll also see the whiskey selection at Finn McCool’s is on par with any other bar in the city.  You’ll have more than 30 to choose from just the Irish whisky selection.

But it won’t take too long being at Finn McCool’s to figure out which drink really sets Finn McCool’s apart from others – their Irish coffee.  They serve it three ways here – traditional, frozen and on the rocks. And chances are someone near you is going to be drinking one.  I went to the trouble of trying all three varieties over a couple visits, and frankly their iced version is the best …

… especially if you’re sitting outside the bar day drinking and watching the world go by. 

Yes, Finn McCool’s Irish Pub is off the beaten path for the average visitor to New Orleans, and maybe even to a lot of city residents, but I think they kind of like it that way.  It’s an authentically Irish neighborhood pub that has become one of our “can’t miss” happy places to go to whenever Punky and I visit New Orleans.  After that first visit, it may become one of yours, too.


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