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David Lissner
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Where to find authentic Irish fare this St. Patrick’s Day

corned beef and cabbage public domain image


Corned beef and cabbage is not authentically Irish, says Nuala Kavanagh, who runs Bridie McKenna’s in Highwood. “In Ireland we eat Irish bacon and cabbage. Corned beef came into play when the Irish started to immigrate to America and they could not find the real true traditional Irish bacon and they used the inexpensive corned beef cut of meat.”

Though corned beef will be ubiquitous in Chicago this weekend., here’s where to find some more authentically Irish bites.

  1. Bridie McKenna’s, Highwood.

    Irish dancers, fiddler and jigger, bagpipers and Irish poetry readings feature all weekend, and authentic plates start with Irish breakfast and go on to shepherd’s pie and lamb stew. Irish hot toddiess will also be served (a shot of hot Irish whiskey added to boiling water, with a slice of lemon, cloves and sugar.

  2. Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro, North Center.

    Check out dishes such as boxty-style potato cakes with smoked salmon and herbed creme fraiche ($7); shepherd’s pie filled with tender chunks of lamb, carrots, leeks and pearl onions topped under a layer of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes ($18.50) and beef and Guinness stew with roasted root vegetables and mashed potatoes ($16.50).

  3. Johnny O’Hagan’s Irish Pub, Wrigleyville.

    Look for traditional Irish stew of lamb, parsnip, carrot, onion, and barley ($10); Irish style chicken curry with red and green peppers, onions and choice of fries or rice ($12) and Irish breakfast featuring Irish bacon, sausage, black and white puddings, two eggs any style, potatoes, beans, and tomato ($11).

  4. The Ashford House, Tinley Park.

    Traditional Irish specialties include a mixed grill of Irish bacon, lamb chops, sausage, black and white puddings and more ($10.95); bacon and cabbage ($11.95) and lamb stew ($10.95).

  5. The Gage, Loop.

    Through Sunday, March 18, live Irish music features along with Chef Dirk Flanigan’s featured dishes, including curried goat loin rutabaga hash with sultanas, chutney ($14); The Gage colcannon (leeks, kale and whiskey-braised Gunthorp Farms pork shoulder, $12); “coddle” (house-made rabbit sausage, roasted Gunthorp pork belly, potato, mustard and cabbage, $21); “pepper and salt-corned” Irish salmon brown bread salad with horseradish, leek and Guinness vinaigrette ($26); and baked apple crispy oats with buttermilk ice cream and fennel ($9).

  6. Claddagh Irish Pub, Geneva.

    Classic dishes from Ireland include bacon and cabbage ($13.99), shepherd’s pie ($13.99), fish and chips ($13.99) and hearty fish pie ($12.99).