Dublin’s food scene is remarkably vibrant, boasting a plentiful selection of fine dining restaurants and a myriad of cuisines from all over the globe. When it comes to traditional Irish fare, the best place to find authentic flavours is in the kitchen of any busy local pub serving lunch and dinner. The pubs in Dublin are world renowned for serving hearty Irish food at reasonably affordable prices.
One of the best-loved dishes in the country is Irish stew, traditionally made using ingredients like potatoes, onions, carrots, diced mutton (from older sheep) and bacon. These days, restaurants and pubs cook modernised version of the classic stew with different kinds of meat and Guinness stout as an added ingredient.
Where to try: Most pubs in Dublin serve good stews. The Brazen Head (20 Lower Bridge) and O’Neill’s Bar & Restaurant (2 Suffolk Street) offer the traditional recipe (with lamb) and the popular Guinness stew.
This traditional Irish potato pancake is made by mixing grated raw potato, cooked mashed potato and flour with fresh milk to form a batter, then slow cooking the concoction like a pancake until golden brown. Boxty can be eaten with just butter or sugar but is also often served alongside a full Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, toast, and tomato slices.
Where to try: The Gallaghers Boxty House in Temple Bar is known for their delicious boxty and Irish food.
A traditional Irish favourite made with leftovers like sausages, bacon, potatoes and onions slowed cooked in broth until rich and delicious, coddle is the perfect comfort food when the temperature drops on a cold wintry day.
Where to try: While coddle is available in many pubs, you might want to drop by Hairy Lemon on Stephen Street for a good meal and enjoy their fine selection of music.
Another classic dish is Colcannon, the Irish version of bubble ‘n’ squeak, made using mashed potato with cabbage or kale. There is a number of iterations of this dish, with many fine dining institutions creating contemporary colcannons with complex and interesting flavours.
Where to try: The Oliver St John Gogarty Restaurant (18-21 Anglesea St) serves colcannon with all of its main courses.
Black and white pudding
One of the staples of a hearty breakfast in Ireland, black pudding is a type sausage made from blood, meat, fat, oatmeal, and bread or potato fillers. If you’re squeamish about eating blood (you can’t taste it in the sausage), go for the white pudding which is made using the same ingredients minus the blood.
Where to try: Most breakfast menus offer them but if you are willing to splurge a little, head to The Pig’s Ear (4 Nassau St) for a classy meal.
Seafood, cockles and mussels
Being surrounded by sea and with a history of fishing for their food, Ireland makes claim to some of the best seafood in the world. If you have a huge appetite for a fishy feast, you’ve come to the right place.
Where to try: The best area to eat fish and crustaceans is along the West coast and the Cork Kerry coast. But if you prefer moving around the city, Klaw (5A Crown Alley) has people raving about their oysters, Dublin Bay prawns, crab nachos and everything on their menu. If Klaw is packed to the gills, head over to the Rosa Madre along the same street, a classy Italian restaurant that serves excellent seafood.
A good loaf of Irish golden brown soda bread with a spongy firmness is not easy to find these days. Made with only the most basic of ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and soured milk to moisten and activate the soda), the perfect loaf has a crispy textured crust and a tender centre.
Where to try: Fallon & Byrne, the gourmet food purveyor on 11-17 Exchequer Street, sells one of the best traditional soda bread in the city.
The Irish barmbrack is a plain, yet richly fruited bread that’s divine when topped with generous lashings of butter and accompanied by a pot of tea. Traditionally, barmbracks were baked with items such as a ring, coin or cloth inside. Whoever received the slice with the ring inside would marry and whoever got the cloth would be a nun. Today, it is a quintessential Halloween treat in Ireland.
Where to try: Thunders Bakery (various locations) and Hansel & Gretel Bakery (20 Clare St) sell delicious Barmbrack at affordable prices.
No visit to Dublin is complete without sampling a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction. Begin the journey at the world’s largest pint glass and make your way up the seven floors of interactive experiences. Here you can immerse yourself in the drink’s rich history and discover the long-brewing tradition of Ireland’s most iconic stout.
Where to try: St James Gate, Dublin 8.
Combining a cup of hot coffee, one shot of Irish whiskey, two teaspoons of brown sugar and topping it with slightly-whipped double cream, this Irish invention is rich and sumptuous.
Where to try: many cafés and restaurants feature Irish coffee prominently on the menu but our firm favourite is Vice Coffee (54 Middle Abbey St).