It may be a bit much for every day, but no visit to Dublin would be complete without trying at least one traditional Irish breakfast.
There are almost as many different opinions on the Irish breakfast as there are Irish people, but most can agree on the basics – sausages, bacon, eggs, baked beans, black pudding and white pudding. The latter – along with the occasional potatoes – distinguishes the Irish breakfast from its British counterpart. Also indisputable is the importance of local food provenance, and the prominent role of breakfast in Irish life. “It is the most important meal in Ireland,” says Jitka Smolkova, events manager at The Woollen Mills restaurant. “It sets you up for the day ahead.”
Here are Culture Trip’s picks of the best places to try this traditional meal in Dublin, with descriptions from the experts themselves – the chefs, owners and staff behind this staple meal.
Up early? Look no further than O’Neill’s on Suffolk Street, which opens its doors at 8am. Its “Really Good” breakfast is a true stunner. “Our breakfast consists of 14 items, including tea or coffee and wholegrain toast with jam,” says Iveta Melgaile, general manager of O’Neill’s. “We source only locally produced ingredients, and we [even] have our own potato cake, which everyone loves – it’s a ball of mashed potato filled with Dubliner cheddar and covered with breadcrumbs.” Other breakfast highlights include Irish maple-smoked bacon and Crowe’s Farm pork sausages.
Pádraic Óg Gallagher is a genuine potato expert – so much so that he’s even written papers on the subject – and has made his career out of cooking boxty (an Irish potato pancake). In 1988, he developed the Leitrim pan boxty, which retained the traditional 70 percent potato content, yet was so thin that it could be filled like a tortilla wrap. It’s no surprise then that you’ll find a famous Gallagher boxty on the side of your breakfast, which also includes a fried egg, black and white puddings, streaky bacon, sausages, grilled tomato, baked mushroom and toast.
“A trip to Ireland is incomplete without a full Irish breakfast,” says Jitka Smolkova, events manager at The Woollen Mills restaurant in Dublin 1. “We support small, artisan producers; Pigs on the Green Farm is an Offaly-based, family-run operation and supplies us with free-range rare-breed bacon and sausages. We also use Fermanagh black bacon – a standout product in a county famous for its pork, made by Enniskillen butcher Pat O’Doherty. We add tomatoes grilled with thyme and garlic as well as locally sourced mushrooms. Sourdough toast comes from the in-house bakery, and we serve it with too much Cuinneog Farmhouse butter.”
Located on buzzing O’Connell Street, family-run Flanagan’s has been serving Irish comfort food since 1980. Its breakfast has all the classics: bacon, sausage, a fried egg, tomato, beans, mushrooms, both black and white puddings, and toast. An Irish breakfast is usually enjoyed with tea, but you may wish to make an exception here as the artisan coffee is a highlight. The 1920s-inspired decor features moody slate-grey walls and gold-coloured frames and light fixtures. There’s also an impressive array of whiskies if you want to make that coffee a little more – as they say – Irish.
Sisters Regina and Yvonne Fallon trained as pastry chefs in New York, returning to Ireland to open Queen of Tarts on Dame Street in 1998. Another branch on Cow’s Lane shortly followed, and in 2019, Queen of Tarts has cemented its reputation for quality bakes. Its aptly named Hearty Breakfast comprises Irish bacon, pork and leek sausage from Kelly’s of Newport, a fried egg, potato-chive cake, roasted tomato, relish and toast. Its vegetarian option uses mushrooms and baked beans. With a homely, Parisian feel and a wide selection of hot drinks, it’s a lovely place to escape the Dublin rain.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Mary Sheehan.