Louisville has dozens of “Irish Pubs”. Bardstown Road has Flanagan’s, Molly Malone and O’Shea`s. Downtown has a few Irish Pubs as does St. Matthews. I have nothing against these places. Most of them have great food. Very few bars can top Flanagan’s beer selection. And the owners of O`Shea`s are great people that are known for their generosity and charity work. None of the “Irish Pubs” come close to the Irish Rover, Louisville’s first true Irish Pub.
The Irish Rover sits at 2319 Frankfort Ave. in the heart of the historic Clifton Neighborhood. They opened their doors around 18 years ago and became the first and original Irish Pub in Louisville. The Irish Rover is owned by Michael Reidy and his wife, Siobhan. Mr. Reidy was born and raised in County Claire in Ireland. That’s correct; the owner was actually Ireland born and knows the correct way to run an Irish Pub. He also has the Irish accent most “Irish Pub” owners lack.
The bar area looks very Irish in nature. I spent a week in Ireland a few years back and most Pubs there look exactly like the Irish Rover’s setup. Their bar area is a decent size. Next to it are a few booths. The dining area is two different sections with tons of room. They also have a lovely outside area for dining. This is perfect during great weather. You can sip a Guinness, eat authentic Irish food and people watch all at the same time. The inside is neat because the Reidys have decorated the walls with Irish signs, paintings and pictures. Most “Irish Pubs” in Louisville seem to lack this.
One thing I have noticed about “Irish Pubs” in Louisville is the lack of Irish Food. Walk into Flanagan’s for instance. You see things like Buffalo Chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries and pizza. The Irish Rover has Irish food. They have Bangers and Mash, Scotch Eggs, Irish Whiskey Steak, Fish and Chips, Guinness Stew and tons more. Why go to an Irish Pub to eat German Potato Salad? Would you go to an authentic Italian Restaurant to eat Grilled Cheese or Chicken Noodle Soup? I’m guessing you would expect Italian food. When I walk into an Irish Pub, I expect to see Irish Food on the menu other than just Fish and Chips.
The prices at the Rover are more than reasonable. Sandwiches come with chips (fries) and range from $6.95-$8.95. Their meals range from $6.95-$12.95, and Irish Dinners range from $10.95 to $19.95, with the Irish Whiskey Steak being the most expensive. My favorites are the Lamb Burger (medium rare), Irish Meatloaf (makes American Meatloaf look sick) and the Smoked Salmon and Potato Gratin. I also love the Welsh Rabbit, Fish and Chips and Guinness Stew. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Their alcohol selection is beyond great. They keep a small, but awesome draft beer selection. They also have an above average selection of bottled beer. I come to the Rover for their Irish Whiskey selection. The first row alone is enough reasons for me to set foot inside the Rover. They have all the Jameson, Bushmill, Red Breast, Middleton (best whiskey ever) and more. Don’t worry; if Irish Whiskey isn’t your thing, they have a great selection of Scotch, Bourbon and Vodka.
What really makes the Irish Rover awesome? Simple, the hospitality. When I was in Ireland I was shocked at how the mass majority of people were so friendly. They never know a stranger. When you walk into a Pub you become their friend. The same can be said about the Irish Rover. I normally sit at the bar. Many times while sipping an Irish Whiskey, Mr. Reidy will stop by to see what kind I am drinking. He loves to talk Irish Whiskey. I’ve taken dates there and Mr. Reidy always stops by our table to make sure the service and food was good. Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten to know bartenders/managers Mike, Matt and Lacey. They are very friendly people, easy to talk with and funny. Mike has helped my Irish Whiskey education, Matt makes fun of my love for UK basketball and Lacey listens to my “bad luck with female” stories. They all should get a raise!
If you want a real Irish Pub experience, the Irish Rover by far, is your best bet. The look, the feel, the food, the drinks and the hospitality are as Irish as you can get in Louisville. Nothing against the other Irish Pubs in Louisville, but they all fall very short of the Irish Rover. Next time you are coming down Frankfort Ave. stop by and check it out for yourself. Sip a pint, taste some real Irish food or stop in to make a new friend. You can’t go wrong with the Irish Rover, the best Irish Pub in Louisville.
The Irish Rover
2319 Frankfort Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206