One of the things I love about Dublin is its huge variety of bars, pubs and restaurants. These are some of my favourite places so far for great food and drinks. I know this list will get longer so this part 1 of a series that will continue to grow this for as long as I’m in Dublin.
Oh my word, where do I start describing the food here? If you’re looking for something light and healthy, this is not the place to go. But if you want something hearty, satisfying and rich with flavour, Smokin’ Bones ticks all the boxes. Think barbeque food that is slow cooked and smoked to make it the most melt-in-your-mouth meat you could possibly imagine. When I went, I ordered the Plate of Bones sharing platter, which is more than enough for two. We would have had leftovers if we had stopped when we were full, but with food that delicious, that wasn’t going to happen. The Plate of Bones comes with half a rack of ribs, pulled pork (which was so good it’s unreal), chicken wings, pork belly (again, just amazing), fries and spicy pitt beans. Served with a couple of beers and it’s just the perfect way to indulge on a Saturday night. Other menu options include burgers, chicken wings and other barbeque bites. If the rest of the menu is anything like the sharing platter I had, then it’s going to be a meal to remember.
37 Dawson Street
I’ve been to 37 Dawson Street twice now and it’s definitely one of those places that I can depend on to be a great night out, whether I'm looking for great food and drinks or just a cool place to hang out. The first thing that’s impossible to miss at 37 Dawson Street is its striking décor which is wonderfully eccentric and quirky, from the sparkling mosaic horse by the entrance and the wild boar at the back of venue to the cosy sofa seating and zebra-patterned throws. It’s such a fun place to look around and take in the weird and wonderful interior design. And then there’s the delicious tapas which is reasonably priced (there’s a lunch time offer of two tapas for 10 euros, which is surprisingly really filling) and comes in such a wide variety of options. My favourites are the pork belly, the sweet potatoes and the bruschetta with mushrooms. It’s also become one of my favourite places for wine as the Argentina Malbec I had there was almost too good (several bottles were ordered by the end of the last night I was there). I heard that this venue is popular with local celebrities too, which judging by the look and feel of the place, it’s easy to see why.
The Bernard Shaw
This was one of the first pubs I ever visited in Dublin and it remains one of my favourite places to go for drinks and food. An added bonus for me is that it’s just a few minutes walk from my house, yet even if it were much further, I’d still make the effort to go there. I had heard it was a great pub from a friend’s recommendations so I was keen to check it out. There’s a small set of steps at the back of the initial bar room that lead down to a more animated dance floor with a live DJ set and to a chilled out area ideal for a catch up over a few pints. Yet the place I love the most is outside where heaps of people gather either on the benches in the garden or on the top deck of the double-decker bus that serves one of the finest pizzas I’ve ever had. The Bernard Shaw also hosts a weekly food truck event called Eat Yard, which is packed with innovative, international cuisine and a friendly, fun crowd. I love popping into The Bernard Shaw, getting a glass of wine or pint, choosing any of the delicious food on offer at Eat Yard outside and then settling down under a heater for a good old natter.
Honest to Goodness
During the week, I bring my own lunch to work but Friday is the exception. It’s the one day where I meet with some of my work colleagues and we eat out in some nearby restaurant. I'm really lucky that my work is surrounded by loads of great places to eat so I’m always visiting new spots and trying new food. The most recent I went to was Honest to Goodness, which was just the perfect place to eat some wholesome, healthy, homemade food. I ordered a salad which came with sweet potato, plenty of greens and cherry tomatoes, avocado, chicken (optional), homemade bread on the side and the perfect drizzle of coconut oil on the top. I know using coconut oil is a big thing right now, but I had only ever used it on my hair before. I loved the extra flavour it gave to the salad, so different from olive oil. I spotted a carrot cake by the counter, which I was determined to eat after my lunch yet my salad was filling and I had to leave the sweet for another day. I just checked out their website and I'll definitely have to go back for what looks like the most amazing breakfast-brunch and pancakes.
Deep is actually in a place called Howth which is a tiny little village just north of Dublin and is just a 30-minute train ride from the city centre. I originally went to Howth for the hikes, which I totally recommend for stunning cliff views and wildlife spotting, especially sea birds. However, my day of hiking got even better when we wrapped up the day down by the harbour where there is a small but varied row of restaurants, all with one main speciality - seafood. One of the best things about these restaurants is that everything they serve is completely fresh, meaning the food is delicious, sustainable and it supports the local economy. Deep is this lovely, cosy little restaurant with a nautical theme and the loveliest of staff who really made sure we felt well-looked after and happy. We ordered the seafood platter, which came with the most delicious smoked salmon on bread, fishcakes, calamari (these were divine) and fish goujons. I also ordered a locally-produced beer called Hope Handsome Jack, as everyone knows that the best way to end a hike is with a super cold beer. This beer was an Indian Pale Ale so was light and smooth, but there were other types there to cater for all tastes.
It may not have the glitz nor the glamour, but Fusion Grill is one of my favourite places to eat. While I love dining in quirky, elegant or impressing places, I always feel happy eating in a good old down-to-earth place, which is exactly what Fusion Grill offers with its charming, no-frills canteen-style layout. What I really love about this place though is the food, which is the closest I’ve found so far to typical, everyday Brazilian lunch or dinner. And it seems it’s not just me who goes there for some home comfort food - at lunchtime, it’s packed with Brazilians and the fact that everyone is there speaking in Portuguese takes me right back to Rio for a bit. It was so nice to eat black beans, rice, farofa (a kind of toasted cassava flour) and the classic roasted chicken. It’s simple food but hearty, homely and fills me with nostalgia.
I eat meat but sometimes I crave vegan food because it’s so flavoursome and I’m always so impressed by how innovative and varied it is. I used to think vegan food must be bland and basic, but that’s just so far from the truth. Especially at Blazing Salads, which serves a rich selection of vegan, organic food that just makes me feel so good after eating it. The variety of options is mouth-watering and I love that I can try a little bit of everything thanks to the pay-by-weight system. I always grab a few sweet potato-based dishes and some curried items too (so delicious), as well as a vegan burger, which is full of flavour and has this satisfyingly chunky texture. Blazing Salads has vegan sweets too that I haven’t tried yet but if they taste as good as they look, they’ll definitely become some of my favourite treats.
I live in Portobello, which turns out to be a wonderful place for pubs. I haven’t been to them all (I’m sure I will work my way through them at some point), but I’ve been so impressed by the ones I have visited so far. One of my favourites is Blackbird. I’ve been there just on a Saturday night for a few drinks so while I don’t know what the food is like, I love its lively, friendly atmosphere and traditional pub-vibe. It’s one of those places that’s perfect for a catch up with friends in a fun, young setting although I’d recommend getting there relatively early if you go in a big group as the pub fills up quickly. It was here where I discovered the beer Blue Moon that I’d never tried before but I loved! It seems such a fruity, summery drink and much sweeter than a regular pint (I have a huge sweet tooth).
The Bleeding Horse
The name may not be the most seductive, but this is another one of my favourite pubs and luckily it's just five minutes walking from my house. It’s huge inside and there are dozens of little rooms and stairways that lead to other rooms, each with their own ambient and charm. It gets crowded there on the weekends, which is one of the reasons I love The Bleeding Horse so much - it’s full of people in high spirits who really add to the party feel. While the downstairs is the most animated part of the pub, the upstairs is more chilled and is a great place to settle down for a chat and a drink. There’s always some dance or pop music in the background, which gets a few people dancing as the night goes on.
The Ramen Bar
I love Japanese food and places like The Ramen Bar, at the back of Kokoro Sushi, just make me ask myself why don’t I eat it more often. First, I love the interior design at The Ramen Bar - it’s intimate, elegant and the low-lighting and oriental theme set the scene for a special dining experience. Second, and most importantly, I love the food at The Ramen Bar. This needs no introduction given its name, but The Ramen Bar is most famous for its rich, delicious and authentic ramen, which comes in huge portions and is surprisingly low in calories (the calories are noted in the menu). I love the Gyoza, homemade rolls with traditional Japanese pork gyoza, which is then steamed and fried. It was so delicious that I will definitely order this again as an appetizer before tucking into a steamy, hearty ramen.
Just when I thought I'd finished my list for part 1 in my series of favourite places, I ended up going out to eat and come back home thinking that I just have to include this new place on this list. Ray's simple design and basic layout would never had led me to think that I was about to eat such a good pizza but I'm happy to report I was pleasantly surprised. Made to order, the homemade pizza is made with a thin, crispy base with just the right amount of toppings so it's neither begging for more cheese or swamped in it. There are also condiments of dried garlic to sprinkle on top, which made the pizza even better. It's the perfect place for a cheap yet good eat as a large pizza with fries (crispy, homemade ones) with two drinks cost just a little over 16 euros and is more than enough for two people. It may not be the healthiest choice (the pizza is pretty oily), but Ray's has definitely become one of my budget, weekend treat options.