We count down the 12 Days to Christmas, why not the 17 Days to St. Patrick’s Day? If there’s one holiday that should be a season of cheer, it’s this one, we say. Here’s Edition 15 of the Vacay.ca St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown — where we name 17 of the best Irish bars in the land!
Day 15: Failte, Waterloo
Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
WATERLOO, ONTARIO — This university town an hour away from Toronto is known for the new. A techy hot spot that’s home to BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion, Waterloo features upscale shops and trendy cafés in its downtown. In that setting, the little white house on King Street seems like a curiosity. Enter and you’ll find it has lots of charm to it, too.
The building, which dates to the late 19th century, resembles an Irish cottage and bar manager Terry Meyer laughs as he remembers when it was still occupied by a homeowner. “When I was growing up, I’d see the woman who lived here stringing her laundry out across King Street.”
The house, in fact, faced the other way, he said, but at some point in its history it was made to turn onto King Street and a door was put in and regulars have streamed through since Failte opened up in 1998.
Meyer never imagined he’d be running an Irish bar out of the place. But that’s what he’s been doing for the past 13 years at Failte. The pub’s name means “Welcome” and even though the interior is dark and gloomy, the people aren’t. It’s a neighbourly, unpretentious place that feels very much like an Irish pub should.
Patrons come for the Guinness, of course, and for the music, with live Celtic bands weekly. There are also food specials from a menu that features your usual pub fare, but at decent prices. (The delicious Fish and Chips, with haddock, are $11 for one piece and $15 for two.)
St. Patrick’s Day plans: Failte will open at 10 am, serving an Irish breakfast and the music will commence shortly thereafter, with live bands and bagpipers. “Irish dancers usually show up too,” says Meyer. With the weather as warm as it is in southern Ontario this year, revellers will have the benefit of Failte’s rear patio on March 17.
Quote from an Irishman: “If you want to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, you go to Failte — if you can get in. It will be packed. In this part of Ontario, that’s the only real Irish pub around,” says Peter Martin, a Dubliner and also the chef and owner of one of the best restaurants in the Waterloo Region, 41 in Kitchener.
Cost of a pint of Guinness: $6.24 (including tax) — and it’s a good pour from Meyer and crew.
You know it’s authentically Irish because: The Irish drink here. “We have a lot of people from Ireland come in here,” says Meyer. “It’s about as close to Ireland as you can get.”
Contact: 85 King Street North, Waterloo, ON; 519-747-4530; www.mollyblooms.ca/locations/failte-waterloo