170720 eater

Article Title:  "The 38 Essential Dublin Restaurants"

Publisher: Eater

Published date: 20th July 2017

Author: Catherine Cleary (twitter: @catherineeats)


The 38 Essential Dublin Restaurants
Ireland’s capital has become a vibrant food city.


Dublin has long been a must-stop on any proper European trip. The Irish capital, which is bisected by the scenic River Liffey, has much to offer travelers, after all: Its streets were once wandered by literary stars like James Joyce, while Trinity College houses centuries-old texts like the famous Book of Kells. Most notably, Dublin has always been a great place to drink, whether you’re grabbing a pint at a local pub or touring the Guinness Storehouse. But these days, Dublin is where you go to eat.

“Dublin has become a more vibrant food city over the last decade,” says Catherine Cleary, food critic for the Irish Times. The economic crash is partially to blame; as rents tumbled across the city, a new generation of chefs could suddenly afford to open their own restaurants. But Cleary says Dublin’s restaurant boom also owes a debt to the Nordic food movement, which “inspired chefs to look to the abundant Irish larder of ingredients for inspiration and deliciousness.” In everything from Michelin-starred dining rooms to crab shacks, chefs are serving beef raised on Ireland’s iconic Burren, wild Irish fish, and lobster hauled straight from Dublin Bay. Dublin dining has also extended beyond traditional Irish fare, with first-rate Indian, Italian, and Chinese restaurants taking their rightful places at the top.

Price per person, excluding alcohol

$ = Less than €20 (less than $22 USD)
$$ = €20-€40 ($22 - $45 USD)
$$$ = €40-€60 ($45 - $68 USD)
$$$$ = More than €60 (more than $68 USD)

Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. L. Mulligan Grocer
18 Stoneybatter
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-709889

This 20th-century Dublin pub got new owners seven years ago and was reinvented as a great place to eat. Menus arrive tucked into books, many of them children’s classics; the bill comes with a bag of candies. In between these childish bookends, the cooking is seriously grown-up, gathering brilliant Irish ingredients like Gubbeen chorizo, grass-fed free-range meat, and farmhouse cheeses together with craft beers, ciders, gins, and whiskeys all under the roof of a proper old pub. [$$]

2. Oxmantown
16 Mary's Abbey, Smithfield
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 318-047030

The streets around Oxmantown are steeped in animal history — nearby Smithfield was the city’s animal market for 300 years. But “ox” is a reference to the Viking word for east; the Eastmen were the Vikings whose stronghold was nearby. In this small place, the art of a brilliant sandwich means every element is taken seriously, like the breakfast sandwich that comes with butcher Jack McCarthy’s black pudding. Grab a stool to eat in or, on a sunny day, hop on the light rail tram from Four Courts and go west three stops to picnic at the museum at Collins Barracks. [$]

3. Fish Shop
6 Queen St
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 314-308594

Dublin is a city by the sea, but for many years you had to go to a high-end restaurant to get really good fish and seafood. Thankfully, that’s changing. Husband-and-wife team Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola met as trainee teachers in London, where they set up a street-food stall as a hobby over the long school holidays. They enjoyed it so much they quit teaching and returned to Dublin to open a fish shack in a south city market. Two years later they opened this Queen Street restaurant and then a second chip shop and wine bar on nearby Benburb Street. They only serve wild Irish fish. The set menu changes weekly according to the catch at sea, while much of the short but inspired wine list is served by the glass. [$$]

4. Da Mimmo
148 North Strand Rd
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 318-561714

Originally opened as a small pizza and pasta place, this family-run neighborhood restaurant has grown more ambitious in recent years. There is a healthy takeaway pizza trade, but put up with the squeeze in the tiny dining room for great rustic Italian cooking like spaghetti with clams or a woodsy mushroom risotto with Italian sausage — and liberal amounts of cream, butter, and Parmesan. [$$]

5. Chapter One
18-19 Parnell Sq
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 318-732266

Dublin writers are probably more closely associated with booze rather than food, but Chapter One is a Michelin-starred restaurant in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum. It’s a special-occasion restaurant where chef Ross Lewis uses the best ingredients from Ireland’s fields, farms, and waves. He teams wild turbot with cucumber gazpacho, langoustine dumpling, and white asparagus. Game is a specialty, with dishes like sika venison with salt-baked parsnip or wood-pigeon terrine. Friday and Saturday night tables are booked months in advance; lunch and pre-theater seatings are easier to bag. [$$$$]

6. Mr. Fox
38 Parnell Square W
Dublin, Ireland
(+35) 318-747778

A fairly new arrival on the less swanky side of Parnell Square, this is a smart basement restaurant where chef Anthony Smith has put together a punchy set of plates. When it’s in season (winter and spring), go for the deer tartare: luscious small pieces of venison jeweled with red currants and topped with Jerusalem artichoke crisps. Desserts are clever riffs on sweetshop and ice-pop favorites, like the much-Instagrammed house version of Nestlé’s iconic Walnut Whip. [$$$]

7. Terra Madre
13 Bachelors Walk
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 318-735300

This tiny basement restaurant feels like a secret patch of Italian soil by the River Liffey. Down a set of old stone steps you’ll find the best kind of Italian peasant cooking, including rich Tuscan stews of octopus and black chickpeas. They serve lardo draped warm on toast and fennel salami imported from Italy with a side of pickled caper sprouts. You don’t have to be Italian to feel at home here. [$$]

8. Rosa Madre
7 Crow St, Temple Bar
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 315-511206

In the menu-hawking clamor of Temple Bar you might long for a quieter restaurant where you won’t feel like a tourist on a conveyor belt. If so, Rosa Madre is your place. Owner Luca de Marzio will talk you through the backstory of your dinner in a way that makes you feel instantly at home. He is obsessed with teaching diners how to appreciate local fish and seafood. There is nothing groundbreaking about the food here, but if Luca recommends a dish, it will be good, like the Dublin Bay prawns served claws and all or scallops diced in their shells with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. [$$]

9. Piglet
Cow's Ln
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 317-079786

There’s a predictability to the meat, cheese, and olives offering in a wine bar, especially when little thought goes into the quality of those staples. Piglet is a wine bar that understands the idea of big flavors on small plates. The brainchild of wine importer Enrico Fantasia, Piglet serves dishes like smoked eel teamed with bean puree and goat bacon on toasted sourdough — a happy marriage of Italian ideas and Irish ingredients. [$$]

10. Chameleon
1 Lwr Fownes St, Temple Bar
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-710362

One of Temple Bar’s oldest spots, this Indonesian restaurant can be found down a quiet street leading to the River Liffey. It offers either a set menu feast or a meal of small plates. The house beef short rib special truly is special, cooked for at least 10 hours and finished with a sweet blackened star-anise crust. Vegetarians will like the Balinese curry, all sunny yellow coconut creaminess with butternut squash and finished with still-crunchy string beans. [$$]

11. Klaw
5A Crown Alley, Temple Bar
Dublin 2, Ireland
(+35) 315-493443

This crab shack is barely bigger than a walk-in closet, so you won’t linger long. Those who pack in like sardines are rewarded with oysters, raw or blow-torched in their shell as they’re brought to your table. It’s the best place in town to try native Irish oysters, as these wild shellfish are expensive and sometimes scarce. But you’ll feel the longer growing time in the heft of their shells and taste it in the creaminess of their flavor. Pacific oysters are served here too, along with lobster and langoustines. The Krab BLT makes for a strangely good combination. [$$]

12. The Pepper Pot Cafe
Powerscourt Town Centre, S William St
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 317-071610

Consisting of little more than a few tables on a balcony, the Pepper Pot can get clogged with an epic line on weekends. But the Powerscourt Centre is the city’s loveliest shopping mall, and your wait will bring you Dublin’s best bagels: nutty, elastic, and cooked fresh that day. The pear and bacon sandwich will convert you to that curious combination. Fresh scones are crumbly, held together with a large dollop of clotted cream and a teaspoon of house-made raspberry jam. [$]

13. The Greenhouse
Joshua House, 21 Dawson St, Dublin 2
D02 TK33, Ireland
(+35) 316-767015

The dining room may have a businesslike atmosphere, but the Michelin-starred food of Finnish chef Mickael Viljanen is wild and adventurous. Viljanen puts Irish ingredients into dishes that sometimes feel like works of imagination. Things are not always as they seem: He bakes celeriac in a rye skin to make it look like aubergine to play with your notions about this smoky silken vegetable. But his creations are always delicious. Viljanen’s food is fueled by his Nordic roots and an obsession with flavor. [$$$$]

14. Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen
15 St Stephens Green
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-610075

In the basement of The Little Museum of Dublin, Hatch and Sons sits where the kitchen would have been in this grand house overlooking Stephen’s Green. Chef and food writer Domini Kemp is one of the brains behind this operation, which teams home-cooked classics like Guinness stew with platters of the best in smoked fish, cheese, and bread. Breakfast and lunch are the main offerings here, but they do stay open until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, making it one of the best supper places around the Grafton Street shopping district, an area not blessed with many great pitstops. A second Hatch recently opened in the Hugh Lane Gallery. [$$]

15. Taste at Rustic
17 S Great George's St
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 315-267701

There’s a celebrity chef behind this operation, but don’t let that put you off. Dylan McGrath built this out-of-the way attic restaurant above his more midrange restaurant Rustic Stone. There are lots of stairs to get to this eyrie, but it’s worth it. McGrath’s young team applies Japanese techniques to the best of Irish ingredients. The results, like barely blow-torched scallops with yuzu and black garlic, are a reminder of how lucky we are to be on a fertile island. [$$$]

16. The Ramen Bar
51 S William St
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 315-470658

The Ramen Bar is the slightly secret back room and basement of a sushi place called Kokoro, giving this restaurant two distinct personalities. Kokoro has the bright-white look of a wiped-clean sushi bar from the outside, but down the back and in an even dimmer basement there’s a darker space with lower notes where ramen is happening. House-made noodles and tonkotsu soup of pork and vegetables simmered for 14 hours are the specialty here. Eat with chopsticks and a roughly hewn wooden spoon for the full slurp. [$]

17. Two Pups Coffee
74 Francis St
Dublin, Dublin City

It looks like a place where the coffee, not the food, is taken seriously, but Two Pups is also an excellent place to eat. It’s a short walk from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, so if it gets too busy, you can order takeout and stroll over to the cathedral’s park. The food is predominantly vegetarian, with much of the produce coming from the terrific McNally Family Farm in north Dublin. They might serve those local beets roasted skin-on with ricotta and paprika-roasted pumpkin seeds, or turn them into hearty vegetable stews. [$]

18. Etto
18 Merrion Row
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-788872

It’s small and noisy (especially as the night lengthens and more wine is poured), but Etto has been crammed with happy eaters since it opened almost four years ago. Book in advance if you want to be sure of a table. The focus at this Italian restaurant isn’t on pizza or pasta. Instead, think fiendish flavors like pig trotter carpaccio or mussels with ’nduja, fennel, and samphire. The wine-soaked prunes with a dollop of putty-thick mascarpone make for a memorably simple dessert. [$$]

19. Cirillo's
140 Baggot St
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-766848

There are dozens of Dublin restaurants serving pizza and pasta, but here the pizza dough is slow-proved over 30 hours and then cooked to papery crispness in a Neapolitan wood-fired oven. The pasta is house made and combined with dense notes of flavor such as venison and wild mushrooms. Desserts are definitely from the dolce side of life, like the lemon ricotta mousse with amaretto-soaked cherries and almond crumble. [$$]

20. Ely Wine Bar
22 Ely Pl
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-768986

Ely restaurateur Eric Robson’s father farms beef and lamb on the Burren, a spectacular landscape of limestone fields sparsely covered with incredibly biodiverse grasslands in West Clare. That beef goes into the restaurant’s sensational burger with grilled cheese and Burren bacon. Eric and his wife Michelle have grown Ely into a small chain, but the original wine bar on Ely Place is the soul of the operation. It’s a clubby place where you can eat and drink well both downstairs in the cozy basement and upstairs in an elegant dining room. [$$]

21. Dax Restaurant
23 Pembroke Street Upper
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-761494

Graham Neville is Dublin’s best chef without any Michelin stars. After culinary school, he worked in Chicago’s respected French restaurants Tru and Les Nomades. He returned home and spent several years at the now-closed Thornton’s, which was then Dublin’s only two-star Irish restaurant. He recently teamed up with French restaurant owner Olivier Meisonnave for Dax, a basement restaurant named after Meisonnave’s home village in southwest France. This new partnership has shifted what was a reliable expense-account lunch place into something a lot more creative. Neville’s prawn-stuffed courgette flower is a true summer treat. [$$$]

22. Forest & Marcy
126 Leeson Street Upper, Dublin 4
D04 WY62, Ireland
(+35) 316-602480

Chef Ciaran Sweeney is from Donegal, which is about as far from Dublin as you can get on the island. After culinary school he put in a stint at the two-star Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham before returning to Dublin and working his way up to sous chef at the Greenhouse. His specialty is his mother’s potato bread with an added twist: He ferments the batter before making the bread and serves it with a spoon-licking foamy bacon cream. Sweeney is a flavor fiend, putting traditional Irish combinations like pork and cabbage together into memorably good dishes, like suckling pig with wild garlic gnocchi and fried baby gem lettuce. It’s a tiny place, but who needs elbow room when the food’s this good? [$$]

23. Osteria Lucio
The Malting Tower, Clanwilliam Terrace, Grand Canal Quay
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 316-624199

Osteria Lucio’s motto is “the food of friendship,” thanks to the bromance between a Michelin-starred chef and his Italian mentor. More than 15 years ago, Ross Lewis was helming Chapter One when chef Luciano Tona visited to cook three Italian meals. The two have been friends ever since. Lewis says the food at Osteria Lucio is closer to what he would serve family and friends at home: Everything is casual, aside from the approach to ingredients. Simple Italian staples are rendered with a touch of finesse, like salt-baked celeriac sliced petal thin and topped with shredded celeriac, grated egg yolk, and walnut pesto, served with ribbons of pancetta. It’s slightly off the beaten track, but well worth a stroll down the docks. [$$$]

24. Las Tapas de Lola
12 Wexford St
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 314-244100

Vanessa Murphy and her Spanish partner Anna Cabrera have three Lolas in their family: Vanessa's mother and Anna's aunt and great grandmother all bear the name. This restaurant is a love letter to all things Spanish and flavorful. Vanessa and Anna make regular pilgrimages to Spain for inspiration and pack it all into a lively menu of small plates. The pork cheek with red pepper sauce is a must-eat dish, while wine, sherry and vermouth recommendations are always worth taking. [$$]

25. Hang Dai
20 Camden Street
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 315-458888

Chef Karl Whelan and music promoter Will Dempsey — two school friends who wanted Dubliners to be able to taste Chinese food like the Chinese do — put their hearts and heads into this restaurant. Though it looks like a takeout spot at the entrance, Hang Dai expands into a room that’s a mashup between a disco and a subway train. The vibe is fun. The food is serious. Duck is the specialty here (preorder it when you book). It comes served with crispy skin three ways, the finale including a severed head from which you can taste a scoop of duck brain if you’re so inclined. [$$]

26. Meet Me in the Morning
50 Pleasants St
Dublin, Dublin City

It’s easy to miss this spartan breakfast and lunch spot off Camden’s busy street — it looks like a pared-down coffee shop with nothing but buns. The menu is short (not much longer than a tweet) and vegetable heavy, with some meat as a garnish. But everything is made from scratch and with thought, like the rice salad, each grain green with tangy sorrel, topped with petals of pickled golden and candy beets and dreamy ricotta, then finished with crisp butter-fried sage leaves. [$]

27. The Fumbally
Fumbally Ln
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 315-298732

If economic times had been better, the Fumbally might never have been. Opened in the teeth of the recession in a vacant shop, the ground-floor space was furnished with thrift-store furniture, and the owners served nothing but falafel until they found their feet. The furniture is still here, but the food has expanded in delicious directions. The cafe’s eggs, which are softly scrambled with Gubbeen, a West Cork cheese, and garlic, then topped with tomatoes and fresh basil on toasted brioche, are one of the best ways to start your day in Dublin. Fumbally has been such a success that it has expanded into the stone building behind the original to serve as a creative food and yoga space — a fun thing to book ahead. [$]

28. Bibi's Cafe
14B Emorville Ave
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 314-547421
Visit Website

Cafes don’t come with a more neighborhood feel than this one. Nestled in quiet redbrick residential streets, Bibi’s was opened by sisters Maisha and Petria Lenehan as a clothing shop with a cafe on the side. Designer Petria has moved to Brooklyn, so the clothes have left the building, and Maisha expanded the cafe into the shop space. Her soup is terrific — like the sweet potato coconut and lime soup with house brown bread — and she makes the best avocado toast in town. The secret ingredient? Fennel seeds. And it’s not only a daytime spot: Bibi’s opens two nights a week for dinner, too, which feels like a proper neighborhood secret. [$]

29. Gaillot et Gray
59 Clanbrassil Street Lower, Merchants Quay, Dublin 8
D08 EV65, Ireland
(+35) 314-547781

The home of Dublin’s best pizza, Gaillot et Gray is run by a Frenchman married to an Irish woman. Gilles Gaillot imports flour from France and cooks the pizzas in a wood-fired oven topped with typically French ingredients. He and his wife Emma Gray grew the business out of a pizza truck. It is vehemently French: Think Emmental cheese rather than mozzarella and merguez rather than Italian sausage. The sourdough bread is the stuff of serious weekend planning — each day’s loaves sell out as soon as they come out of the oven. [$]

30. Bastible
111 S Circular Rd
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 314-737409

Chef Barry FitzGerald worked in Michelin-starred London pub Harwood Arms before he came back to Dublin and helped open Etto (also on this list). Bastible is his own place, opened on a shoestring on a fairly unfashionable corner slightly out of town. The furniture and decor are basic, but the food is not. Everything from the butter to the cheese curd to the bread is made in-house, and the constantly changing menu is driven by what is good and what’s in season. His sourdough is the best house bread in town, and the restaurant does a nifty line of snacks, like creme fraiche with deviled chicken skin finished with honey, thyme, and salt. [$$]

31. Delahunt
39 Camden Street Lower, Saint Kevin's, Dublin 2
D02 K277, Ireland
(+35) 315-984880

The building housing this smart bistro is a timepiece of old Dublin. It was a liquor store selling wine, beer, and spirits that had been in the same family for decades. Much of the old shop was kept, including the gorgeous mahogany counter, which the new owners raised to make a bar. They didn’t rest on the laurels of a beautiful building, though; real thought and effort goes into the food here, like house-smoked salmon and beef cheek braised in stout. There’s a beautiful cocktail bar upstairs accessed through a tiny door at the end of the bar. [$$]

32. Pickle
43 Camden Street Lower, Saint Kevin's, Dublin 2
D02 N998, Ireland
(+35) 315-557755
Visit Website

It looks like it’s been here for decades, but Pickle is relatively new — and so is the idea of bringing authentic Indian food to the city. For a long time, Dublin curry houses had a McMadras feel, with staple westernized dishes that tasted the same wherever you went. Instead of that generic menu, Pickle puts curried goat meat on squares of brioche-style toast and nails fish curry brilliantly with food cooked the way chef Sunil Ghai, formerly of Dublin’s Jaipur Indian restaurant chain, remembers from his childhood. [$$]

33. Veginity
Richmond Place South
Dublin, Dublin City

170720 eater

There is nothing glamorous about the setting of this vegan place: Veginity is a food truck parked in a warehouse down an alleyway. But when you open the unmarked steel door with its horror-movie creak, you’ll be glad you did. Three nights a week from Thursday to Saturday, Australian chef Mark Senn cooks vegan food that impresses everyone, carnivores included. Each week brings a different food theme from around the world, like a recent Indian night with green mung bean dosas folded over tofu tikka masala. You can bring your own wine or beer, so value-wise, it’s a steal. [$]

34. Richmond
43 Richmond St S, Saint Kevin's, Dublin 2
D02 X499, Ireland
(+35) 314-788783

This small, handsome restaurant was once one of the city’s best-known dives, a pitstop between town and the student apartments in Rathmines’s faded Victorian mansions. Back then it served fried breakfasts and wine from midnight until 6 a.m. In recent years, it was reinvented as a super-smart neighborhood restaurant with good food — such as pea risotto with Parmesan and fresh truffle and roasted guinea fowl with butternut squash and cabbage — priced to lure people to this slightly out-of-the-way place. The Tuesday tasting menu is as good as many of Dublin’s more expensive restaurants. [$$]

35. Locks
1 Windsor Terrace, Portobello
Portobello, Dublin City
(+35) 314-163655

City officials once proposed pouring concrete over Dublin’s Grand Canal when its usefulness as a transport artery waned. Luckily, sense prevailed, and it’s now a beautiful linear park in the city. Its best-known restaurant, Locks, held the shortest-lived Michelin star in Dublin dining history: It lasted for one year before the French guide whipped the star away again, nearly sinking the place. Now Locks is once again a beautiful restaurant with a clever young team in the kitchen. They work under Connor O’Dowd, who was head chef at French restaurant Dax before taking over here. Seasonal menus include dishes like violet artichoke teamed with burrata, broad beans, and fennel. Lunches here are long and leisurely, especially on a Friday. [$$$]

36. Fia
155B Rathgar Rd
Dublin, Dublin City
(+35) 314-413344

You will have to go out of your way to find Fia. It’s a lone outpost on a long residential road of expensive Dublin houses between the hustle of Rathmines and its more genteel neighboring village Rathgar. The young, enthusiastic team has cornered the market with Dublin’s best eggs on toast. Two eggs come fried crisp in butter with yogurt (flavored sometimes with harissa, and more recently with lemony garlic) puddled in their dimples, then topped with herbs that taste like they were just picked. [$]

37. Lobstar
(+35) 315-373323

For too long, much of the lobster from Dublin Bay was immediately shipped overseas as soon as it was caught. Up-and-coming chef Zsolt Zakar emerged from a career in midrange kitchens with a simple idea of making one ingredient — the crustacean — the star of his own restaurant in this Dublin suburb by the sea. They do steak here too, but lobster is the star, along with Galway Bay oysters and a great tuna poke. Zakar shows his range with great baking here too, with house-made bread and super desserts. [$$]

38. Rasam
(+35) 312-300600

Nisheeth Tak was one of the first restaurateurs to challenge the one-sauce-fits-all school of Indian cooking. He has been weaning Dublin diners onto increasingly exciting flavors for more than two decades, bringing in talented chefs from India. He mixes and roasts spices in-house, with blends like Kashmiri round chiles, dried fenugreek leaves, and fresh turmeric. Rasam’s beetroot chicken is simmered in a fresh beet and tomato sauce flavored with dry pomegranate seeds and coriander leaves. The restaurant sits above a pub, but has a luxurious and welcoming atmosphere all on its own. [$$]