Christina and I recently spent time in Dublin. It was a to-and-from transit spot for a longer trip to Sicily. Since far more readers are likely to visit Dublin than Sicily – and because, frankly, we were somewhat disappointed in Sicily’s restaurants, I’ve decided to focus on the Irish portion of our trip here.
In Dublin, we found an Irish food culture that’s much more vibrant and eclectic than the stew, boiled potatoes and Guinness we get in our Irish restaurants here. Dubbed the Celtic Tiger, Ireland transitioned from one of Western Europe’s poorest countries to among its most affluent between the 1990s to 2008 when it was brought to its knees by the worldwide recession. In 2008, Ireland’s economy shrunk 8.5%. A member of the E.U., Ireland has bounced back and then some. Today, the Irish capital of Dublin is the European headquarters of Google, Facebook, Paypal, Microsoft, Ebay and Linkedin. Dublin is poised for more growth as a beneficiary of the anticipated corporate exit from London as a result of Brexit. This growth and its status as an international city have fueled Dublin’s youthful restaurant scene – and a severe shortage of housing.
Dublin is a pleasant, compact, walkable city with not that many tourist sights and landmarks so it’s a great city for wandering and exploring. Distinctly different from London which throbs with immigrant vitality and ethnic restaurants, Dublin’s restaurants run from traditional to updated pubs to ingredient-driven restaurants with young chefs quite similar in feel to ones we might find in Philadelphia. Its pub culture – especially the drinking part – is most uniquely Dublin. Here are six Dublin restaurants we recommend.
This dark, cozy pub is a short cab ride from central Dublin. There’s no grocery in sight but with a strong neighborhood feel, the menu offers both well-executed traditional Irish fare to more “modern” cooking. $$
An informal, bustling, updated Irish kitchen serves a wholesome breakfast and lunch menu with dinner on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It’s a hop, skip and jump from the top of Grafton Street and across from St. Stephen’s Green. Menu note: Blaas are a distinctive Irish roll and the heading of the sandwich section of Hatch & Sons menu. $
Come here for sparkling fresh seafood in a narrow, hole-in-the-wall “crab shack” with counter-only seating in the Temple Bar neighborhood. There’s no better place for lunch and Irish oysters. Check-out the not-to-be-missed message board. $$
A contemporary menu with an occasional nod to its Irish location, Fade Street has a slick industrial atmosphere that would be at home in any sophisticated world city. The multi-level “Social Club” includes a full-menu restaurant as well as a tapas restaurant and bar. $$$
With one Michelin star, Chapter One is among Ireland’s top restaurants. It’s lovely, small, high-end – and pricey but reasonable for the experience. The gorgeous restaurant is located in the basement of the Irish Writers’ Museum in Parnell Square. The service shines with Irish warmth. One night? One meal? Money not an issue? This is the place. $$$$
Many restaurants are closed on Sundays. Not Pichet. It’s a comfortable white table cloth restaurant offering Irish dining with a French accent from its open kitchen. $$
Top three: I. Mulligan Grocer, Klaw and Chapter One.