It has often been said that Belfast is a world-class city for wining
and dining. The bill won’t break the bank either, as it’s one of the UK’s cheapest cities for food and entertainment. From fresh seafood straight from the Irish shores, to perfectly grilled steak and veg, the city has an amazing selection of restaurants and dining experiences to choose from. We’ve listed our favourites below!
Restaurant, Contemporary, Healthy, $$$
Molly’s Yard may resemble a quaint Irish shed, but don’t be fooled by its humble exterior: this restaurant has a fabulous reputation and full tables every night of the week. The 5-10-5 (priced) all day menu is a bargain for anyone looking to try quality food on a budget. Choose from seafood chowder, portobello mushrooms with blue cheese and walnut stuffing or a classic chutney-garnished burger. The flavours are local and exciting, incorporating artisan fudge makers and bakers from the region, among many more. Located a stone’s throw away from Queen’s University
on Botanic Avenue, it’s the perfect way for a graduate to enjoy an evening of fine dining.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Central American, Jerk, $$$
In the heart of the Cathedral Quarter
, Hadskis sits on the cobbled streets of Belfast’s headline district for pubs and nightlife. The menu includes a pea and pesto risotto, grilled picanha main and a rhubarb and honeycomb mess (a Northern Irish twist on the classic Eton mess). The restaurant has a chic and classy interior, but the food is the real star of the show. There is an outdoor seating section and the option to sit by the bar if you’re dining for lunch, or table options for the evening diner. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the crazy menu options in the city’s Cathedral Quarter, where you’ll find most of the popular food and bar restaurants.
Made in Belfast
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
The funky interior of Made in Belfast is reflected in its food cocktail menu, and it doesn’t disappoint. Fish is soaked in gin before being served and burgers are topped with Irish cheddar, in fresh Belfast baps. All meat and fish options are free-range and sustainable, sourced locally. The company has also opened a Grill restaurant on Hill Street, and has a second building on the edge of the Cathedral Quarter: all fill up quickly. Be sure to pair your meal with an amazing drink from the cocktail menu, where Cosmopolitans come with a meringue topping and flaming fruits. This is one of Belfast’s most colourful and artsy restaurants.
Mourne Seafood Bar
Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
The Mourne Seafood Bar has become a household name in Northern Ireland, with restaurants in Belfast and Dundrum
. The seafood chowder is a favourite and is sold at the annual Continental Christmas Market
, but it’s also available year-round in their Belfast restaurant, adjacent to the City Centre. This menu is perfect for a fish lover who doesn’t care for fussy flavours, as the Mourne Seafood Bar serves up fresh and traditional fish, including a range of shellfish dishes sourced from their own shellfish beds in Carlingford Lough. If you aren’t a seafood fan, there are red meat and chicken options available, and the restaurant has an extensive wine collection.
Restaurant, Seafood, Steakhouse, none
Coco is located right beside City Hall, making it popular place for office workers after weekday shifts. It has an elegant and classy feel, with menu options including seared scallops, venison and herb gnocchi, pork belly with a side of cauliflower Puree and pickled grape, or even a Jerusalem
artichoke soup starter. The menu oozes skill and expensive taste, although the menu is surprisingly affordable. Desert is even better, with a popular salted caramel pudding. You’ll love the elaborate art that accompanies the fine wine menu. The cocktail menu has amazing alcoholic alternatives, from the lychee martini to the blood orange gin cocktail and passionfruit cosmopolitans. This restaurant continues to be a local favourite and promises a fantastic meal.
The Barking Dog
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
This restaurant is a millennial take on the posh restaurant. The interior is dimly lit with handmade candles, the food arrives on a wooden board and the outdoor seating is a treat, on the side of Malone Road, Belfast’s most affluent (and student filled) area. The food is a mix of modern flavour and traditional dining, with menu options including salt and pepper scampi, creamy lemon bacon pasta, an odd twist on classic linguini (served with black tagliatelle) and a cheeseboard to share with friends. There’s also a classy Spanish wine collection. The chocolate truffle desert served with coconut creme is one of the best deserts you’ll try in Belfast, and they have a great cocktail menu to keep you all night. Plus the name doesn’t deceive: the restaurant is dog-friendly too!
Deanes at Queens
Restaurant, Contemporary, Steakhouse, Seafood, $$$
Deanes is the most expensive restaurant on this list, but its reputation is among the best in the UK. Head Chef Chris Fearon appeared on BBC’s Great British Menu,
and Deanes at Queens, the South Belfast branch of the establishment, holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
The restaurant is perfect for brunch, as it has a relaxed feel with open windows and an open-plan floor, including a small wine bar and the bar and grill to the side. The service is first class, and main courses include roasted hake, salt-aged loins of beef and a Mourne blackface lamb rump, accompanied by vegetables and purées. While the menu options aren’t the most exotic in Belfast, they definitely taste like no other food in the city.
If you can’t stay for lunch, Deanes has its own Deli Vin Cafe, for wine and small snacks. If you are booking as a group, the company will help you co-ordinate the perfect dinner party and customised party menu for all guests, including dietary requirements.
House of Zen
Restaurant, Asian, $$$
Skip the takeaway and experience Asian cuisine in a quality restaurant and cocktail bar. House of Zen is in the beautiful St Anne’s Square, a busy food hub in the centre of the Cathedral Quarter. The restaurant makes use of its close proximity to the MAC Live Theatre
, offering a pre-theatre menu that you can book in advance. The menu serves meat with the flavours of Asia, from homemade wasabi pepper to lily bulb and almond sauce, alongside great chicken and fish dishes. If you are a fan of prawns, House of Zen has to be on your food list. You’ll be blown away by the options, which include a number of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. They also have a lovely collection of aromatic Asian teas, or you can upgrade and order one of their famous teapot cocktails, designed to share between two, and arrive to the table in a ornate Chinese teapot — a twist on the ol’ afternoon tea.
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Permit Room is tucked behind City Centre, and it’s a great place to take a shopping break. The interior is halfway between a high-class café and casual restaurant, and it serves all-day breakfast, so is a perfect brunch spot. The lunch and dinner options include a number of Thai dishes, as well as burgers topped with mushroom ketchup and buttermilk chicken schnitzel, but the flavours aren’t overly adventurous and won’t scare off the more fussy diners. Sunday is the perfect day to visit, as the restaurant hosts its weekly brunch event and cocktail menu, which keeps your health in mind with its alcoholic green smoothie drink.
James Street South
Restaurant, Contemporary, Fusion, Seafood, Steakhouse, $$$
The team at James Street South had so much success when they first opened in 2003 that the original head chef opened a cookery school in the city. The interior of the restaurant feels like an art gallery-turned-food hall, and the menu reflects the legacy of the chefs: everything has found its way onto this menu, from soups to steamed fish to steak and more. This restaurant is perfect for someone looking to try something very different for dinner. It may be one of Belfast’s most expensive restaurants, but you won’t get the quality for this price anywhere else in the UK.