Dublin’s culinary landscape is changing as more people adopt a plant-based diet. From vegan fish and chips to Ireland’s only vegan butcher, here’s where to find the best vegetarian and vegan dishes in the city.
Traditionally, Irish food is associated with beef-filled stews, meaty fry-ups and fish and chips, but Dublin is also home to some long-established vegetarian restaurants and newer vegan venues. Experimenting with unique ingredients and cuisines from around the globe, these meat-free menus are revolutionising Irish cuisine.
Centrally located on Wicklow Street, Cornucopia has been a family-run business since 1986. After discovering the joys of a raw vegan diet while living in Boston and working for a health organisation, the restaurant’s founders returned to Dublin and opened a restaurant that promoted the benefits of whole food. Since opening its doors, Cornucopia has expanded its premises, fine-tuned the menu and even launched a recipe book. This unpretentious, self-service restaurant encourages diners to feel at home and dig into its wide range of hearty vegetarian and vegan dishes, including soups, salads, sweet potato curry, tofu stir-fry and goulash. With compostable packaging and a variety of “zero waste” products, Cornucopia is environmentally focused, and almost all the restaurant’s waste is recycled or composted.
Sova Vegan Butcher, named after owner Bart Sova, is Ireland’s first vegan “butcher”, styling plant-based food as meat. It’s also the only strictly vegan fine-dining restaurant in the city, with a menu that includes vegan classics such as seitan steak, tempeh “cesar” salad and pulled “porc” bap. After a number of successful pop-up events, Sova launched a permanent brick-and-mortar location in trendy Portobello. The restaurant’s minimalist decor is echoed in the beautifully plated dishes, which don’t compromise on taste or nutrition.
Traditional fish and chips is a must when visiting Ireland, and vegans and vegetarians don’t have to miss out on this local treat in Dublin. Vish Shop is a 100 percent vegan takeaway, and its star dish is its take on traditional fish and chips. Its mock “fish fillet” is made from battered cassava and wild seaweed and served with samphire for an authentic taste of the sea. One of Vish Shop’s food trucks is permanently stationed at the Eatyard food market on South Richmond Street; once you’ve finished your meal, grab a drink in The Bernard Shaw bar or sample some dessert from the other food vendors.
A no-frills option for vegetarians in Dublin, Govinda’s is run by the Hare Krishna movement and has two city-centre locations – one on Aungier Street and the other on Abbey Street. The restaurant’s small menu offers a mix of Indian and Western dishes that are prepared with organic produce grown on its farm. One of the most popular options on the menu is the Govinda’s Special, a selection of vegetable dishes with basmati rice and salad. The selection varies daily but usually includes two Indian vegetables, a paneer tomato-based curry, a range of side dishes, such as fresh chapati and samosas, and a home-made lassi (a yoghurt drink).
The chefs at Damascus Gate hail from Lebanon and Syria, and with more than 20 years of experience in the kitchen each, they take pride in serving authentic Middle Eastern food on Dublin’s Camden Street. The restaurant’s extensive menus clearly separate vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes; to sample a range of dishes, opt for the vegetarian Jerusalem Mezza platter that comes with warak (stuffed grape leaves), falafel, hummus and more. The staff is happy to advise on vegan options and will often tweak dishes on request to accommodate your dietary requirements. Bring your own bottle of wine to relax, or head to the shisha bar at the back of the restaurant after your meal to continue the evening.
This casual, unpretentious restaurant serves up Lebanese cuisine, and except for a couple of dishes that include cheese, the majority of Umi Falafel’s menu is vegan. Here you’ll find freshly prepared, home-made falafel in sandwiches and salads, along with sides like vegan spinach filo pastries, stuffed vine leaves and lentil soup. With a number of branches throughout Dublin, Umi Falafel can be found in Ireland’s oldest shopping mall, George’s Street Arcade. Its falafel salad and wraps are the ideal vegetarian meal after an afternoon spent wandering through the Victorian red-brick arches while browsing through independent shops and local artists’ studios.
Token Dublin won Dublin Restaurant of the Year just a few months after opening in 2017, and it’s easy to understand why when you see the versatile menu. Designed in the style of a retro gaming arcade, complete with game machines and a pinball parlour, Token offers a vegan take on old favourites, including vegan fried chicken, hotdogs and buffalo cauliflower tacos. Based in Smithfield, this vintage-inspired warehouse space is just a 15-minute walk or a short tram ride from the city centre.