It’s official. You no longer need to shrink into your shoes when your hipster buddy from Brooklyn comes into town and asks “Where’s good for food around here…? Dublin is currently bursting at the seams with brilliant places to eat and few would argue that there’s ever been a better time to eat out in the city.
If you’ve money to spend – there are a host of seriously impressive places to take any gallivanting gourmet: The Greenhouse, Chapter One and Restaurant Forty-One – are all at the pinnacle of their game and promise an exquisite dining experience. While places like The Pig’s Ear, Locks, Ananda, Asador and Dax offer more affordable fine dining.
But it’s really the eateries at the other end of the spectrum that have shaken up the Dublin dining scene and brought with them a whole new buzz. In a Phoenix-from-the ashes story, the downturn has seen a new wave of enterprising foodies emerge to open up exciting places in previously unsexy locations. Clanbrassil Street now has The Fumbally, Capel Street is on the up with Brother Hubbard and Musashi and the gritty streets around Smithfield market have Oxmantown – each place drawing the crowds with their simple but imaginative food and creative flair.
The combination of pocket-friendly prices and feisty flavoured food is where it’s at right now. Counter dining and shared plates are big hits – the Dillinger’s counter and Las Tapas de Lola are two of our current favourites – and small, we love small. Small menu, short well-chosen winelist and cosy venue – surely the formula for a perfect evening? Etto, Isabel’s and La Maison all do this beautifully.
And, of course, coffee is king. We’re spoilt in Dublin at the moment with the slew of brilliant owner-operated cafes that have sprung up. Café in a car park anyone? Five years ago you might have laughed – now we can’t get enough of the flaky Slavic/French pastries served up at Sasha House Petite pastry bar and bijoux café in Drury Street car park. We also love Coppa with its killer sandwiches and cheapest barista coffee in town (€1.90); Tower Bites Café above Tower Records for its great muso-inspired soup and sandwich combo; Cup on Nassau Street with its gorgeous beech-panelled interior; Science Gallery Café on Pearse Street where they take coffee so seriously they have started to roast their own (Cloud Picker coffee) and The Cross Gallery Café on Francis Street where you can get your fix of contemporary art and caffeine in one go.
Still sitting there? Grab your bag and go…