Even as Ireland emerges as a modern culinary destination, its most famous traditional dish has lost none of its appeal. If anything, Irish stew is more popular than ever, even being served in mini mugs at the Oscar Wilde pre-Oscar party in LA this year. These are the best places to try it in Dublin.
In recent years, O’Neill’s was listed as one of Lonely Planet’s top five places to find real Irish food in Dublin. Locally, this comfortable, 300-year-old bar and restaurant on Suffolk Street is known for its comprehensive food menu featuring Irish favourites, in particular, its stews. Served from 11.30am onwards, they offer both a beef and Guinness stew and a regular traditional Irish stew – the latter made with diced Wicklow lamb, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and a ‘bouquet’ of herbs, including thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.
Dublin’s Brazen Head pub lays claim to the title of being the oldest in the country, dating back to 1198. As well as hosting some of the best live traditional music sessions to be experienced anywhere in the city, The Brazen Head serves bar food from 12 noon to 9.30pm daily, offering classic Irish dishes like honey and mustard glazed bacon and cabbage, and, of course, Irish stew. The Guinness here is flawless also.
Situated in the heart of the Temple Bar cultural district, Gallagher’s Boxty House specialises in the traditional Irish potato cake known as a boxty. But their menus also incorporate other areas of Irish cooking more generally, including their own version of Irish stew, made with pearl barley. If you can’t make it to Gallagher’s Boxty House, you can try Chef Pádraic Óg Gallagher’s take on the recipe here.
Owned by Galway Bay Brewery, The Black Sheep bar on Capel Street is a craft beer lover’s dream. But as well as pale ales and chocolate milk stouts, Dubliners come here for the food, which breathes new life into long-established dishes like Dublin coddle – theirs is made with Italian sausage, pancetta and sun-blushed tomatoes. Those who enjoy a twist on convention will also love their lamb hot pot, which consists of the traditional Irish stew ingredients cooked in a stout gravy and covered with a potato gratin topping.
Located close to St Stephen’s Green, The Hairy Lemon is an integral part of local Dublin culture. It was named after one of the city’s many ‘characters’ – a jaundiced 1940s dog-catcher said to look like a lemon with facial hair – and was one of several Dublin pubs featured in the film adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments. It is also known for serving excellent Irish food – so much so that its owners recently released their own cookbook. Their Irish stew is regularly named as one of the best in Dublin.
The chefs at Madigan’s pub on O’Connell Street do typical Irish dishes exceptionally well, and their rich stew is one of their menu highlights. Made with tender Slaney Valley lamb and seasonal root vegetables, and served with homemade soda bread, the always-comforting dish is especially reliable here – the perfect reward after a long day of shopping on nearby Henry Street.
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