In the Black In the Black

Ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, the Insider steps out into the night to locate the best Guinness in the capital…  

By Alex Webber | Photos By Ed Wight 

Irish Pub (ul. Miodowa 3) Where better to begin than Warsaw’s original Irish pub? Opened in 1991, it’s doubtful that the place has seen a cleaning lady since, but the general sense of murk and muck does add to the authenticity: it looks and smells like a pub should. Served by a stern, expressionless barman, the Guinness arrives in a mug that’s seen better days but is actually surprisingly decent. Nothing memorable, but not the calamity you may anticipate from a Polish-run Irish pub on the edge of Old Town.

Shamrocks (Rynek Starego Miasto 29/31) Spread out across a series of vaulted cellars, Shamrocks is the one to fear: our last visit brought with it live noise from Status Q-woeful, and a Guinness that looked and tasted like something fished out of a toilet. Slightly better luck tonight though – this time the Guinness only makes us retch. Amazingly, the place fills to capacity, mainly with locals who don’t know better and startled looking tourists trying to find their way out of the labyrinth.

Molly Malones (Krakowskie Przedmieście 41) On entry find a narrow room usually packed with people pressed against the wood-carved bar. Upstairs we go, to a large open space whose only nod to Ireland are the green walls. The rest is a sham: are they telling us pierogi really belong on an Irish menu? Even so, it’s hard to get served – the place is rammed and the staff disinterested. The Guinness is passable, but by the time it lands we’ve lost interest ourselves.

Legends (ul. Emilii Plater 25) If Warsaw’s Irish pubs can’t get it right, can Warsaw’s lone English bar? Damn right it can. It’s a sexy Guinness this one, and served in a bubbly environment full of jesting and gossip. A proper expat social point, it’s the first time in the evening where the idea of a Guinness challenge has felt like the smart idea that it was when it was coined.

Warsaw Tortilla Factory (ul. Wilcza 48) As implausible as it sounds, Warsaw’s best Irish pub is actually a Mexican restaurant. Irish-owned, what WTF lacks in terms of corny leprechaunry it makes up for in terms of genuine craic: nights pass in a blur of banter. Pushing the party along is Poland’s best Guinness: so good that the Insider’s expert panel of Guinness tasters come to blows over the last pint of the night. Hand’s off.

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