“The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink, and somebody to love you.” Brendan Behan
Dear reader, the first two things are easy, especially in Dublin. The third one can be a bit more difficult, no matter where you might be.
I have eaten my way around Dublin for many months now, and through it all, I have carried you around in the background. Here are my top ten places I can recommend to eat in Dublin. All of them are in the center of town and all are within walking distance of each other. And in each place you can have a nice meal for around ten dollars or so. Please let me know your favorites!
1. Queen of Tarts– There’s no place like it. This one of a kind cafe was started twenty years ago by sisters Regina and Yvonne Fallon who trained as pastry chefs in New York. The main cafe is on Cow’s Lane, but there’s the original one that has just been redone just a two minute walk away on Dame Street. It’s more than the best desserts I’ve ever had. (My favorite is the Victoria sponge cake.) It’s also the creative menu that changes weekly. All of the soups, salads, sandwiches, and tarts are fresh, healthy, and delicious. And ultimately it’s the ambiance that makes Queen of Tarts my favorite place to eat in Dublin. The last few times I was there I noticed that my bill had a 10% discount. When I asked why, my waitress Isabelle said, “You’re a regular.” Why don’t all restaurants do this?
2. Industry – This place has it all. It’s a home and lifestyle store with a cafe. The menu changes every day, but all of the salads and soups are the best I have ever had. The cafe’s manager, Marcus MacInnes, says that the salads all use a hint of authentic North African and Middle Eastern flavors using fresh herbs, spices, and a touch of creativity. I get my usual at least three times a week – a pureed soup, two salads, and two pieces of chargrilled salmon with pesto sauce. It’s hard to choose just two salads. Here are a few examples – beetroot, marinated feta, pomegranate molasses with preserved orange and beluga lentils with carrot ribbons and orange juice. You get the idea. And the people watching is the best.
3. Considered – This place is like a home away from home. I go here every day for my cappuccino and pastry. (The polenta cake with pomegranate seeds is my favorite.) But I really go for the people. Enrique who is from Brazil is one of the most cheerful people I have ever met. The last time I was there, he gave me a book that he thought I might like. The people at Considered are very considerate.
4. Lemon – Lemon has is all, from cappuccino to the best Belgian waffles to the best crepes, both sweet and savory, to sandwiches and omelettes. My favorite sweet is the waffle with strawberries, fresh cream, maple syrup, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My favorite crepe is the power deluxe with spinach, cheddar, smoked organic salmon, creme fraiche, and a side of rocket.
5. L’Gueuleton – I go to L’Gueuleton on Sundays. This bistro has the best French food and Old World wines. Inside it’s all exposed red brick walls, industrial beams, and a copper ceiling. Outside is a beautiful heated and covered street terrace. But what I like best is that the kitchen is on display and you can watch head chef Aoife Barker and the rest of the chefs at work. It’s all-around spectacular.
6. Cafe Topolis – I go to Cafe Topolis when it’s raining. So I go to Cafe Topolis a lot. It’s authentic Italian and their wood oven pizzas are the best in town. I always get the lunch special which includes a cappuccino, minestrone soup, and penne pasta with a salmon pink vodka sauce. It’s the epitome of comfort food.
7. Jo Burger – Sometimes nothing can make things better than a burger can. At Jo Burger you choose your burger (including Pat McLoughlin’s 100% Irish lamb), choose your bread (including half nude and nude), choose your style (including caramelized chili banana, bacon, and goats cheese), and choose your extras (including a fried egg and smoked applewood cheese.) And there’s outside seating. Need I say more?
8. Cafe Boulevard – I go to Cafe Boulevard for lunch with a friend to get the beef bourguignon. It’s the real deal – beef slowly braised in beef jus and Pinot Noir, baby mushrooms, and onions served over mashed potatoes. The lunch special comes with a cappuccino and it’s only 10 euros. It’s so amazing that I ate it before I could think of taking a photo.
9. Mykonos Taverna – I go to my favorite Greek restaurant when I first arrive in Dublin, when friends come to visit, and when I want to feel at home. The last time I was there my friend Dimitri told me that the soup of the day was avgolemono soup, one of the greatest inventions of mankind. It’s really just chicken soup with orzo that’s thickened with eggs and spiked with lemon, but it really does help with everything life might throw at you. Anyway, I got vegetable soup instead. Dimitri felt so bad about the mistake that he offered to have his chef make avgolemono just for me on the day of my choosing. I chose Friday. It was just as good as I thought it would be.
10. Murphy’s – I know, I know. It’s just an ice cream place, but it’s not just an ice cream place! I mean, they make their own sea salt from Dingle sea water! You can’t go to Dublin without going to Murphy’s. You just can’t.