The Best Restaurants in Dublin, From Korean Comfort Food to Modern Irish Cuisine
Variety Jones focusses on seasonal ingredients | Courtesy of Variety Jones
Dublin’s restaurant scene is a veritable smorgasbord of culinary delights. With gastropubs, burger joints, fine dining, fast-casual establishments and more, there’s never been a wider variety of tempting places to eat. Culture Trip has rounded up the best restaurants in Dublin to give you a true taste of what the city has to offer.
While Dublin was once renowned solely for its lively music and pub scene, in recent years, the Irish capital has become something of a foodie destination. The next generation of talented young chefs has taken up residence in the city’s dining establishments, transforming the culinary landscape and shining a spotlight on Irish produce – whether it’s excellent meat, fresh dairy or seasonal vegetables. Today, visitors to Dublin will find an array of dining options. Whether you’re hankering for haute cuisine or café fare, there’s somewhere to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.
Restaurant, Irish, Contemporary
Variety Jones prepares its meals on an open hearth fire
Located on Dublin’s Thomas Street, between the towering Christ Church Cathedral and Guinness Storehouse, is Variety Jones – a restaurant so small and unassuming that you might miss it if you blink. You are likely to smell it, though, thanks to the open hearth fire that crackles merrily in the small open kitchen. On this goes all manner of fresh vegetables, local meat and whole fish, delivering smoky, chargrilled dishes packed full of flavour. The small menu features shareable plates and changes often, with an ever-rotating catalogue of dishes accompanied by a clever wine list overseen by the restaurant’s passionate sommelier.
Discreetly tucked away on a side street just beside Trinity College Dublin is The Vintage Kitchen – a small restaurant tightly packed with tables and chairs that are rarely seen unoccupied as the venue is usually brimming with keen diners. It serves a set evening menu best described as hearty modern Irish, with dishes such as wicklow duck liver crème with lime jelly, and tender lamb shank and vegetables. Portions here are huge, so be sure to arrive with an appetite. As well as a BYOB policy, which is relatively unusual for Dublin, The Vintage Kitchen will also let you play your favourite LP on its 1970s record player.
Sano Pizza is situated on the edge of busy Temple Bar
There is almost always a queue for a table at Sano Pizza, but as past diners can attest, the wait is well worth it. This buzzy, brightly lit pizzeria on the edge of the busy Temple Bar area is something of a rabbit warren, with tables set across two curving floors. Sano Pizza is also one of the city’s best cheap eats, turning out perfectly charred, puffed-up pizzas topped with authentic Italian ingredients. Pizzas start at €6 (£5.50), and you can add a glass of wine or beer for less than a fiver. There’s a high turnover of patrons, and while it’s not necessarily somewhere to linger, service is always charming.
Despite being one of Dublin’s grandest landmarks, Parnell Square is often overlooked by visitors, which is a shame given it’s home to the impressive Dublin Writers Museum and the excellent Mr Fox. This basement restaurant is known for its fantastic high-end cuisine, served in a refreshingly informal atmosphere. There’s a great set lunch menu, but it’s the chateaubriand for two on the dinner menu that really stands out. Utilising excellent local produce, Mr Fox is contemporary Irish cuisine at its finest. The restaurant is simply decorated with bare floor tiles and quirky fox motifs; enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif in the tiny bar that adjoins the dining room.
The vibrant, colour-saturated interior of this lively restaurant is the perfect indicator as to the nature of its food. Pickle specialises in Indian cuisine – vividly spiced and a riot of texture and colour – with a modern twist. Along with traditional curries, you’ll find the likes of locally sourced tandoori scallops, spicy fauzi chicken wings and venison samosas. The restaurant is famed for its kid goat mince curry, a moreish dish studded with black cardamom, and there are plenty of delicious veggie options, too. Pickle is slightly more expensive than your average curry house but well worth it for something a little different. The lunch menu, however, is keenly priced.
Situated in the historic neighbourhood of Harold’s Cross, Craft is a small restaurant that makes modern bistro dishes with fine-dining flair. Having retained a Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2017, this busy restaurant is well worth visiting. Craft is popular for weekend brunch, serving a traditional full Irish breakfast alongside more adventurous dishes such as charred cabbage with hazelnut pesto. Come dinner time, and the succinct menu is a vibrant, seasonal affair that boasts plenty of regional produce.
The humble burger has been elevated to a cult gastronomic item at the incredibly popular Bunsen. This mini-empire has dedicated itself to the art of the burger, coming up with a winning formula – a soft amish dinner roll, pure Irish beef patty, pickles, cheese and its signature sauce. These are proper roll-up-your-sleeves burgers that have garnered a loyal following, which has seen the independently owned restaurant expand with various locations around Dublin and beyond. Bunsen does one thing here and does it well, which also means there aren’t any vegetarian options – although it makes delicious fries.
Nightmarket specialises in Thai cuisine made with local products
Located in the well-heeled neighbourhood of Ranelagh – a short tram ride from the city centre – is Nightmarket. This authentic Thai restaurant specialises in the comforting home cooking of Chiang Mai and spicy seafood dishes from Hua Hin. Among favourites, you’ll find the likes of khao soi gai (a Chiang Mai-style noodle soup) and pla neung manao (steamed whole fish with chilli, garlic and lime). The cocktail menu has also been given a Thai twist, with the classic sidecar receiving a zingy lemon ginger kick and the whiskey sour featuring tamarind, lime and anise. Nightmarket serves brunch that delivers the punchy, tangy flavours of Thai cuisine with nary a poached egg in sight.
You’ll find no uninspired bowls of olives at Uno Mas – it does modern Spanish cuisine that elevates your usual tapas experience. The small yet stylish eatery, which features bare white walls and deep-green leather seating, does a dazzling range of pintxo and sharing plates, as well as more substantial starters and mains. The menu changes regularly but always offers a variety of authentic Spanish bites such as salt cod croquetas, squid a la plancha, chorizo and jamón ibérico. The wine list is lengthy and detailed, with plenty of options for all palates and price ranges, as well as some interesting ports and sherries for those craving a sweet ending to their meal.
Provenance might be something of a foodie buzzword, but it’s not one that this sophisticated restaurant on Dublin’s busy Camden Street takes lightly. Delahunt produces everything in-house, from its bread to smoked salmon. It’s been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for its contemporary fine dining and offers an often-changing set dinner menu that has featured the likes of Irish beef with grelot onions and potato and beef cheek dumplings. Housed in a listed Victorian building, Delahunt has a romantic vibe with dim lighting, stained-glass windows, lace curtains, dark-wood floors and inky-blue walls. The restaurant operates as a café during the day, and at night-time, you can pop upstairs to The Sitting Room, its classy Mid-Century Modern bar that serves bespoke cocktails using seasonal spirits and ingredients.
Pub, Restaurant, Bar, Gastropub, Irish, European, $$$
L Mulligan Grocer’s meals celebrate local produce
L Mulligan Grocer may look like your average Dublin boozer from the outside, but don’t be fooled because this is among the best gastropubs in the city. Inside the bar, you’ll find elegant renditions of classic pub favourites such as a free-range scotch egg with beer-pickled silverskins and home-made relish. It’s a little pricier than your usual pub meal, but the local ingredients and superb cooking are worth every penny. L Mulligan Grocer has an extensive beer list, including craft beers, IPAs, sharing bottles, gluten-free beers and cider, as well as a wine list featuring bottles from small, independent importers.
Rich tapestry wall hangings, shimmying belly dancers, live acoustic music – Damascus Gate is a feast for all the senses. Most importantly, the traditional Lebanese and Syrian dishes are exceptional and include chargrilled meats, meze and sweet desserts like knafeh (a Syrian cheesecake). Damascus Gate makes some of the best Middle Eastern food in Dublin. Both the suburban location in and the more central Camden Street venue are BYOB but also have an extensive wine list, with some interesting Lebanese varietals available.
For a taste of Korean comfort food, head to Chimac in Dublin’s city centre. The restaurant’s name combines the Korean words chikin (chicken) and maekju (beer), two things it does very well. Using only the best Irish free-range birds, Chimac fills decadent sandwiches with classic Korean fried chicken – try the KimCheese, which is livened up with dripping cheddar, kimchi and gochujang mayo. The chicken is also served as crispy nuggets with a side of pickled daikon, while a panko-breadcrumbed tofu option pleases the vegetarians. Wash it all down with a craft beer or a frosé.
Restaurant, Vegetarian, Irish, European, Vegan, Street Food, $$$
You don’t have to decide what to order at Forest Avenue, a chic restaurant in Dublin’s leafy Ballsbridge neighbourhood. Offering just a six-course tasting menu takes confidence, but this kitchen more than delivers with a contemporary, inventive menu that looks as good as it tastes. The elegant plating lets the seasonal and local ingredients shine, and the menu changes frequently, though there’s always an option for vegetarians. The decor is pared back, with bare white walls and pendant lighting, while the service from the husband-wife team behind this stylish restaurant is impeccable.