Food & Drink

Old Shillelagh is Detroit's three-story Celtic funhouse



Everyone has a story about Old Shillelagh. The towering, three-story edifice on Monroe Avenue in Greektown is unfamiliar to hardly a single metro Detroiter.

We once mused that the Old Shillelagh doesn't just stand on a foundation of brick and mortar, but upon a base fortified by drunken debauchery and inebriated revelry held together by the stickiness of intoxicated recollections of evenings spent making merry. Today, this is still true. And perhaps it's even more true come St. Patrick's Day, a special day when everyone is just a little bit Irish. Although you can pretend to be Irish at the Old Shillelagh all year round.

While it's an obvious destination come March 17, the Old Shillelagh tends to pack in the crowds the other 51 weeks each year. Sure, at night it's a three-story party replete with DJs, heated tents, dancing, live music, and plenty of booze, but during the day it's a calm lunch destination known for delicious burgers, friendly staff, and casual vibe. There aren't many places that can be both nightlife hotspot and beloved lunch joint. Old Shillelagh manages — and balances — both roles perfectly.

The staff has often remarked that the place is like a can of Pringles. You can't just have one beer at Old Shillelagh. A pint inevitably leads to two, then a shot, and then a night spent at one of Detroit's cultural institutions.

Of course, Detroiters aren't the only ones who value this place as the best of the best. Recently the bar landed on Thrillist's list of America's best Irish bars. Of the joint, they noted it's known for offering free shuttles to Detroit sporting events and concerts as well as its massive tented St. Patrick's Day party.

Oh, and about that party.

Doors to the Old Shillelagh open at the early hour of 7 a.m. on March 17, but St. Patrick's Day will actually be the culmination of their biggest fete of the year. The party starts on Friday, March 13 with an Irish lunch of corned beef, fish and chips, Reuben sandwiches, and other traditional Irish cuisine. Saturday is what they refer to as St. Practice Day, and Sunday they open bright and early so you can have a shot of Jameson and a Guinness before the parade begins.

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