The concept of a “best” corned beef and cabbage is relative: if you don’t like the stuff, it’s doubtful you ever will. If you do, it’s a pretty difficult dish to mess up too badly. That said, we looked for places where the cabbage retains a hint of crispness with a pleasing aroma (not sulfurous), and the corned beef trends pink, thick and juicy (and preferably housemade). The absolute best takes on the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal has been slow cooked for a day or two. Extra points if you receive a side of “veg and mash.”
There are, according to the most recent scientific estimates, 12 quadrillion “Irish” pubs in Murray Hill and all along 1st and 2nd Avenue. Most are packed to the brim with Connecticut frat boys talking (American) football. Neary’s (which actually opened on St Patrick’s Day, back in 1967) has an air of authenticity most of those bars cant touch, despite its slightly generic, old-school design. Jimmy Neary (whose Irish roots run deep) still chats with guests nightly. Corned beef and cabbage (along with prime rib and other meaty classics) are a house specialty, and the succulent dish—some of the best in the city—is something to be wept over. Dress appropriately: People still respect their elders here, and beer pong is best left to the kids.
This 144-year-old Hell’s Kitchen mainstay re-booted itself a few years ago with a renovation, a good scrubbing and an almost miraculously upgraded menu. Once a slightly desperate 11th Ave outpost, it’s now a destination for locals and tourists alike. Unlike many Irish-influenced taverns and pubs, Landmark keeps their juicy take on corned beef and cabbage on the menu year-round. On Monday nights, catch a traditional Irish music jam session (if you can play, you can join) from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m, with historian/musician Don Meade.
Hours: Mon to Sun -7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If you tend to avoid the crowds on St. Patrick’s Day by locking your door and blasting the U2, swing by this friendly one-stop grocery shop for all things Irish. Soda bread, Smithwick’s Ale, Barry’s tea, black pudding (raw or pre-cooked), and an incredibly fresh meat selection. This time, you’re here for the constantly refreshed steam table featuring Irish sausage rolls, shepherd’s pie, roast meats and yes, corned beef and cabbage (served as part of a weekly special on Thursdays). If you live in the ‘hood, you can even have your groceries delivered.
The Cuckoo’s Nest
Hours: Mon to Sun–10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
The two best ways to enjoy Irish bars: “crawl” from pub-to-pub in a neighborhood hosting loads of options, or linger for a good long time in a quality space with good friends. Cuckoo’s Nest is the latter. Boasting excellent traditional foods, live music and a dedicated, friendly Irish crowd, this bar is perfect to share the craic (conversation and good times) with your new friends. The bar’s seasonal corned beef and cabbage dish is pink, slow roasted, and quickly gobbled up on St Patrick’s Day.
Related: NYC’s 5 Best Irish Pubs
Hours: Mon to Sun -11:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.
With 22 beers on tap (including many Northeast specialty brews), 20 more in cans and bottles, and a rotating cask special, you’re here for the brew and socializing (it gets loud) as much as anything else. But the Upper West Side’s pub menu is also a thing of beauty, with huge, handcrafted burgers rarely left unfinished. The regular menu is pretty Americanized, but drop in on St Patrick’s Day to find slow cooked corned beef specials, play a round of darts, and perhaps meet bagpipers, soldiers or police officers who’ve popped in after the parade.
The Dog and Duck
Hours: Mon to Sun -11:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.
This new gastropub in the heart of a Queens neighborhood packed with traditional Irish bars is relatively spacious, well lit and convivial. The menu, featuring contemporary riffs on traditional dishes, like braised organic lamb shank with honey port gravy and pork bangers with scallion mash, don’t receive rave reviews, but the service does. For St Patrick’s day, the owner plans to offer corned beef and cabbage, bacon and cabbage, and other holiday selections. With the luck of the Irish and weather permitting, the attractive back patio will be open to enjoy as well.
Related: The 10 Best Gastropubs in NYC