There's something exciting happening in Ireland.
Irish food has undergone a 21st century renaissance.
The Dublin restaurant scene is alive and kicking. Local produce and fully traceable, fresh ingredients are the norm.
Vegetarian and organic options abound. You'll still find traditional dishes.
Read on to find out how Dublin food is now spiced, cosmopolitan and colourful.
🏨 Best Dining Close to Grand Canal Hotel: The Old Spot
Lots of Vagabonds and Driftwooders stay at the Grand Canal Hotel. It's central. It's comfortable. And it's the pick-up and drop-off point for all our tours.
Turn right out of the Grand Canal Hotel, walk for less than 5 minutes, and you'll find a variety of fun dining options.
The pick of the bunch in this foodie neighbourhood is The Old Spot. Front of house is a smart and atmospheric pub. The back room hosts an unfussy dining room with a seasonal but affordable evening menu.
Won't take our word for it? The Old Spot won best gastro pub in Ireland 2019.
Location: 14 Bath Ave, Dublin 4, D04 Y726
Honourable mention: The Schoolhouse
A great spot for a la carte dining was the near unanimous verdict.
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🛬 Best Food Near Dublin Airport: Kealy's
Dining in, or near, airports is notoriously tricky. You'll find the usual fast food joints alongside overpriced bistros and pub grub. Dublin Airport is no different.
Kealy's is a traditional Irish pub serving a full dinner menu, 7 nights a week; steaks, burgers, pasta and some fish and vegetarian options. Located minutes' walk from several Dublin Airport hotels, you shouldn't be too far away. Even better, Kealy's is highly rated on TripAdvisor.
Location: Swords Road, Cloghran, Dublin Airport
Honourable mention: Swords and Santry
Staying at Dublin Airport? Still got the exploring bug? The nearby towns of Swords and Santry have multiple dining options.
Little Venice is a family-owned Italian restaurant in Santry. It's only a 10 minute taxi ride south from most Dublin Airport hotels. Similarly, Swords lies 10 minutes north of Dublin Airport. Some highly-rated spots in Swords include:
🥔 Best Traditional Food in Dublin: The Woollen Mills
Is Irish food bland? At Woollen Mills, any preconceived notions will be blown away.
This is Irish cuisine with a modern twist. Fresh and locally-sourced food with foreign influences is the theme.
The first floor dining room has a quirky feel owing to its former life as a haberdashery. With window seats looking onto the Ha'penny bridge and river Liffey, The Woollen Mills restaurant makes a perfect spot for a bit of people watching too.
Woollen Mills all booked up? Yarn is a pizza restaurant on the roof terrace of Woollen Mills that serves wicked cocktails. Another sister restaurant, The Winding Stair is just around the corner. You'll enjoy similarly lovely food and riverside views with the added bonus of a bookshop on the ground floor.
Honourable mention: Boxty House
The humble spud made beautiful. The tagline for Boxty House restaurant sums up its appeal nicely.
Potatoes will forever be associated with Ireland and Irish food. Boxty is a type of thick potato wrap popular in the northern half of Ireland. At Boxty House, you can experience boxty on its own, stuffed with meat or vegetables or served as french fries. It's also a great opportunity to try a Dublin speciality; coddle, a pork stew.
Vagabonds and Driftwooders on our Facebook Group loved Boxty House too.
Location: 20-21 Temple Bar, Dublin
🍟 Best Fish and Chips in Dublin: Leo Burdock's
Chip shops, as we Irish folk call them, are commonplace across Ireland. Thick-cut potatoes are deep-fried in tallow. Doused with malt vinegar and sprinkled with salt, they're then served piping hot in brown paper bags.
Founded in 1913, Leo Burdock's is not only a small chip shop chain, it's an historic Dublin institution. Hungry Dubliners have eaten at Burdock's for over 100 years, alongside celebs like Tom Cruise and Metallica. Don't be surprised if you find a queue snaking out the front door and down the street!
You just can't beat Leo Burdock's though. Crispy golden fish with a hearty serving of chips. So bad. So, so good.
City locations: Christchurch and Temple Bar
Honourable mention: Klaw
No chips. And the fish are mostly crustraceans. Klaw couldn't be much further from Burdock's in terms of Irish food traditions.
But the casual vibes here pair beautifully with a menu of fresh shellfish.
There's a full bar too; try oysters and Guinness! A winning combination.
🐔 Best Wings in Dublin: Elephant & Castle
Hankering for chicken wings? Look no further than Elephant & Castle. The spicy buffalo chicken wings here are famous among Dubliners and visitors alike.
Owing to its reputation and location - slap, bang in the middle of busy Temple Bar - you may need to wait a while during peak times. Elephant & Castle don't take bookings, unfortunately. Trust us, the wait will be worth it.
Even if chicken wings are not your thing, Elephant & Castle do great burgers and brunches too.
Location: 18-19 Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Honourable mention: Canal Bank Café
A short and pleasant stroll along the Grand Canal from the Grand Canal Hotel lies the Canal Bank Café.
This is a casual, crowd-pleaser of a restaurant with an all-day brunch menu, great cocktail list, relaxed atmosphere and, most importantly, some extremely delicious buffalo chicken wings.
🍳 Best Brunch in Dublin: Farmer Browns
Brunch is a Dublin obsession. Whether it's a full Irish breakfast or a stack of pancakes you're in the market for, cafés all over Dublin vie for the title of overall brunch champion.
Our current favourite brunch spot is Farmer Brown's. It's located only minutes walk from the Grand Canal Hotel.
Location: 25A Bath Avenure, Beggar's Bush, Dublin
Honourable mention: 3FE
Like Irish food in general, Irish coffee standards have come up a notch or three in recent times. 3FE lead the pack.
A 4 minute walk from the Grand Canal Hotel, 3FE Grand Canal Street offers not only delicious barista-brewed coffee but a healthy and delicious brunch menu.
Location: 32 Grand Canal Street Lower, Dublin 2
🍕 Best Pizza in Dublin: Osteria Lucio
Chefs Ross Lewis and Luciano Tona have combined Michelin-starred powers to produce the pizza of their dreams at Osteria Lucio.
Suffice to say, this is definitely not street pizza, served from a hole in the wall. The dining room is classy. The wine list is carefully chosen. Typical toppings include Gubben chorizo and fresh figs.
We're getting hungry just thinking about it!
Bonus points for being walking distance from the Grand Canal Hotel.
Location: Malting Tower, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin.
Honourable mention: Paulie's Pizza
Paulie's Pizza serves up some of the finest Neapolitan-style pizzas this side of Chiaia.
Caputo '00' flour; San Marzano tomatoes; the meltiest mozzarella cheese; slow-proved dough and a white-hot wood-fired oven; perfection!
For those staying in the Grand Canal Hotel, Paulie's is conveniently located nearby.
Location: 58 Upper Grand Canal Street, Dublin 4
🥙 Best Food Market in Dublin: Temple Bar Food Market
Running for 15 years, the Temple Bar Food Market offers a wide variety of small Irish food producers and great street food in central Dublin.
Open Saturdays from 10am-4:30pm, this is a perfect if your tour starts on a Sunday or Monday and you need fresh air and good food to help get over your jet lag. Enjoy some baked goods, grab and go bites. The stall vendors are very knowledgeable and friendly, making the market a great way to spend time tasting and learning about Irish food.
Location: Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin
Honourable mention: People's Park Market
Feel like a daytrip? Hop on a train from central Dublin. After a scenic 20 minute journey along Dublin Bay, you'll be in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced dun-leera); an historic port.
People's Park is the venue for a bustling local food market each Sunday, from 11am-4pm.
While you're in Dun Laoghaire, other attractions include:
🍦 Best Desserts in Dublin: Murphy's Ice Cream
We'll admit it: we're biased on this one. Murphy's staff often hijack our tour vehicles in Kerry. Our poor, unsuspecting Vagabonds and Driftwooders are force-fed delicious gelato against their will!
Handmade in the beautiful town of Dingle, Murphy's Ice Cream is also available in Dublin. There are some crazy amazing flavours to try. Irish brown bread, anyone? Dingle Gin? Elderflower?
We guarantee you WILL NOT be disappointed.
Location: 27 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2
Honourable mention: Queen of Tarts
The Queen of Tarts serves up both breakfast and lunch fare. But it's the delicious desserts that are the stars here.
Let your mouth water over a selection of delicious cakes, tarts and pies. Coupled with a pot of tea or coffee, it's pure heaven!
Worth mentioning too that Queen of Tarts brew a mean Irish coffee.
🥂 Best Fine Dining in Dublin: Chapter One
Feeling flush? Chapter One is one of the top restaurants in Dublin. Michelin-starred, it continues win a string of new awards with each passing year.
Diners at Chapter One enjoy a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. The food is French-inspired but contemporary Irish in nature. Seasonal, local and - it goes without saying - delicious!
But what sets Chapter One apart is not just quality, but value. All menus are reasonably priced for a Michelin-starred restaurant. A three-course pre-theatre menu comes in at €44.
Honourable mention: Forest Avenue
Relaxed and informal in atmosphere, Forest Avenue is nevertheless serious about its food. The menu changes with the seasons and features magnificent produce from all over Ireland. A tasting menu is available for under €70. There's a small but excellent wine list.
Sister bistro Forest & Marcy is close by. It's equally great.
Location: Sussex Terrace, Ballsbridge, Dublin 1
Once you've seen Dublin check out some of the other best cities in Ireland.