Second best bar in the world

It’s an entirely subjective list, but no less valid for that [Hmmm.. – Ed]. The Guardian’s deputy travel editor, Isabel Choat, lists her favourite bars in the world and vying for the top slot is the other National Trust owned bar in Northern Ireland, Mary McBride’s in Cushendun [pictured in sunnier times – Ed].. Strangely the National Trust website doesn’t seem to list McBride’s..From the Guardian article

2. Mary McBride’s, 2 Main Street, Cushenden, Northern Ireland

The Antrim coast is more spectacular than Big Sur in California – according to a recent survey by Jacob’s Creek. And Cushendun is one of the prettiest villages along the 23-mile route. Stop off there and you’ll inevitably end up in Mary McBride’s. Once the smallest pub in the world, it was extended after Mary died (she’s probably turning in her grave – she never drank herself and disapproved of women drinking). The décor is nothing special but the setting is – on the mouth of the river Dun and within staggering distance of a white sandy beach. I go here with my boyfriend, whose dad lives a few doors up. But I’d feel perfectly comfortable having a drink here on my own (even if Mary wouldn’t approve).

Her full recommended list is

1. Chez Georges, 11 rue des Canettes, 75006, Paris
2. Mary McBride’s, 2 Main Street, Cushenden, Northern Ireland
3. Vesuvio, 255 Columbus Avenue, North Beach, San Francisco
4. OJ’s restaurant and beach bar, Crabb Hill Beach, St John’s, Antigua
5. Rooftop bar, Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Du, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
6. Sirocco bar and restaurant, 1055 Silom Road, Bangkok, Thailand
7. Puro Beach, 1 Cala Estancia, Palma, Mallorca
8. No Shoes Club, Baie de Somme, 22 Allée de la Grève, 80550 le Crotoy, France
9. Rio Scenarium, Rua do Lavradio, 20 Centro Antigo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
10. Smoke bar and diner, 14 Trinity Road, SW17, Tooting, London

It seems that McBride’s is a regular stopping off point for Guardian writers

Lunch that day, a delicious bowl of chowder washed down with yet another pint of Guinness, is in Mary McBride’s tiny bar in Cushendun. The village bears more than a passing resemblance to a Cornish fishing hamlet. The landlord, Lord Cushendun, commissioned Clough William-Ellis, the architect behind Portmerion in Wales, to build the place. The result is a collection of pretty yet sturdy white washed cottages sitting under slate roofs.

I’m sure there will be other candidates suggested for Slugger’s own recommended list..

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  • The chowder in Mary McBride’s is sublime…also, I hate Guinness but everyone tells me it is the best pint you’ll get.

  • andy

    The inclusion of Smoke in the top 10 ruins any credbility.
    A veritable hell-on-earth of risible cocktails at ludicrously high prices.

    Without meaning to go all touristy on you, Dick Mackss in Dingle should surely have made the top ten.

  • Pete Baker


    It is an entirely subjective list..

  • Realist

    “The chowder in Mary McBride’s is sublime”

    You’re not wrong there CaveCanem – delicious with a whack of their wheaten bread. Proper food.

    And, I’ll vouch for the Guinness too.

  • Yours, etc

    Vesuvio???? Not even the best bar in North Beach, much less the world. Subjective is one thing, but not getting out much is another.

  • andy

    I realise that. I think it was a good thing to post, just thought I’d add my own subjective take on it 🙂

  • thomas

    She should have just called the article “I’m well travelled, look where I’ve been”

  • wild turkey

    given 27 years on the ground empirical research on the subject it is my opinion (subjective of course)the current incarnation of mary mcbrides does not even rank amongst the top 10 bars on this island.

    the old bar, which i had the privledge to visit on a few occasions was a great place. quite similar to dumigans in portaferry (is dumigans still there anyone?). however,the new mcbrides (expanded version) tends to target the tourist trade. which is fair enough…but a great bar it aint

    on the issue of chowder, there is far better chowder at nickel and dime bars, restaurants and trailers on the new england coast than mary mcbrides (current incarnation) has ever served up. i tried a bowl at mcbrides once, and only once, sent it back making a remark about campbells mushroon soup in the process… and the waiting staff agreed.

    in my view this top ten list is, as thomas said above, more of a list of look where i’ve been than any serious consideration of what makes a good bar.

    note to mick, heres a potential thread for a slow newsday. just what are the 5 to 10 characteristics that make up a good bar? questions on a postcard please.

    by the way, and not getting personal mick, but a certain vince fealty in bangor ran a great bar for years. it would rank above the mary mcbrides in my experience

    mcbrides in its current incarnation may be a good business, and i wish them well, but as a good bar? c’mon, it wouldn’t even make it in my top 100.

    why not an article on the top 10 poseur travel writers?


  • DK

    I’d rate the Spaniard in Belfast. Always a good crowd and always entertaining. The fact that it appears to be a converted 2 up 2 down makes it all the more appealing.

  • budealty

    Mary McBrides was once a lovely place for a chowder, despite the miserable serving staff. It has now, for some strange reason, stopped serving the stuff and the menu is no more exciting than that of a motorway truck stop.. It has lost much of it’s charm and seems more a spot for watching the football than taking in any atmosphere. Unfortunate insofar as the tourist trade it targets is looking for somewhat authentic Irish craic, and aside from a mediocre pint of Guiness, they’ll not find it here. It could so easily slip back into being somewhere quaint, but seems to go the opposite path, getting worse each year. With all the write ups and good ratings it’s had in the past it seems absurd that the management (who as I understand it, change frequently), do not grasp what a little gem it could be.