Ireland is well-known for its earthy, hearty meals. Its land is dedicated to its sheep, cows and crops, its coastlines produces amazing seafood, and its chefs are dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional cuisine.
Irish specialities include:
- Soda bread: Bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk form the raising agent mixed in with flour to create soda bread, a staple of Irish cuisine. Once baked, this is sliced and spread liberally with butter.
- Irish stew: Traditionally made with mutton, onions, and potatoes, this can be found on every pub menu.
- Colcannon and champ: Cooked with a comforting mash of potatoes, cabbage or kale and butter or cream, it is flavoured with scallions (spring onions). Champ is a similar, mashed potato favourite, flavoured with scallions, milk and butter.
- Boxty: Potato dumpling, potato pancake and potato bread are used to describe boxty, and some say the name originates from the Irish phrase "arán bocht tí", meaning "poor-house bread".
- Shellfish: Shellfish abounds in Irish cuisine; from clams in Connemara, to Molly Malone's famed cockles and mussels, and Dublin Bay prawns (langoustines), which have their own festival in Howth in April.
- Boiled bacon and cabbage
- Irish salmon
- Black and white pudding: This savoury sausage patty consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread and oatmeal, with the added bonus of blood in black pudding.
Cafes and Restaurants in Dublin
Ireland's foodie reputation is improving. It is rich in natural products like beef, lamb, and produce and also has an exciting group of Irish chefs re-inventing traditional cuisine.
Restaurants in Dublin
Here are some of the top restaurants in Dublin:
- Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud: Offering contemporary French cuisine, this is one of the best restaurants in Ireland. It is Ireland's only two-star Michelin Restaurant.
- The Winding Stair: Irish food is done right with everything locally sourced and organic. Irish farmhouse cheeses and cured meats are a specialty.
- Shanahan's: This American-style steakhouse features excellent local seafood and lamb dishes, plus their delicious Oreo cheesecake.
- Chapter One: Qualified as contemporary Irish, this location just below the Dublin Writers Museum serves Michelin-starred food.
- Bad Ass Café: Everyone loves Italian food, even the Irish. This pizzeria with sandwiches and salads also offers Friday Comedy.
- The Abbey Tavern: The traditional Irish Dinner is featured here, along with live music.
- Diep Le Shaker: Diep Le Shaker provides that rare authentic Thai cuisine.
- La Cave Wine Bar & Restaurant: A charming wine bar with over 350 wines by the bottle, plus 30 wines by the glass.
For a complete guide of more than 200 restaurants in Dublin visit Visit Dublin Guide.
Pubs in Dublin
Pubs might be the oldest tradition in Ireland. You will find different pubs: some are for young people, other for old, some for live music, and some for their homey ambiance.
The most famous area for pubs is the area known as Temple Bar. Based around the one and only Temple Bar, the whole area lights up on a Saturday night.
Popular Irish pubs in Dublin:
- The Stag's Head: A quintessential Dublin pub with Victorian decor and cozy wood-panelling. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the mounted stag's head.
- The Chelsea Drugstore: Dublin's hippest bar takes its name from a London chemist.
- The Brazen Head: Ireland's oldest pub dates back to 1198. This pub has been serving alcohol since before offical licensing laws were even enacted!
- Café en Seine: A stylish café bar on Dublin's popular Dawson Street.
- The Church Bar, Cafe & Restaurant & Club: A 17th Century church converted into a café and bar in Dublin's center.
- The Quays Bar & Restaurant: Situated in the heart of Temple Bar, they serve traditional Irish food in the old Irish tradition of craic agus ceoil (fun and music).
Pub Crawl in Dublin
Pub-crawls are a great way to get social with locals, expatriates and tourists. Rowdy, and usually a bit drunken, these can be fun if you are in the mood.
Pub-crawls usually include entrance to multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally travelling by foot or public transport to each destination, and ending in a club.
Popular Dublin Pub Crawls:
Vegetarian Dining in Dublin
Irish food doesn't lend itself to vegetarian fare, but restaurants in Dublin are experimenting with local and international cuisine. Dublin's vegetarian scene is small, but of generally high quality.
Here are the very best options for vegetarians and vegans looking to dine in the old town.
- Happy Food: HappyFood has an incredible set menu full of vegetarian and vegan options and shifting daily specials. This vegan spaghetti Bolognese with olive tapenade and walnut cheese is one of their favorites.
- Umi Falafel: A variety of Middle Eastern falafel are presented with a modern twist.
- The Big Blue Bus: Delicious pizza comes out of a renovated double decker bus. The Molly Malone is a popular option with toppings of buffalo mozzarella, tomato, oregano and fresh basil.
- Punjabi By Nature: One of the best Indian restaurants in the city uses locally sourced Irish ingredients to create exotic fare. There is also a delivery service.
- Blazing Salads: Make yourself a customized salad with their self-service salad bar. Vegetarian and vegan pizza are also readily available. There is take away and dining in.
- Cornucopia: A Dublin institution since its opening in 1986, there are quick snacks and full meals for both vegetarians and vegans. Pair any meal with high-quality organic wine.
- Green Bench Café: The menu changes daily but there is always a delicious veggie option.
Drinks in Ireland
Tap water is safe for drinking, however many Irish prefer the taste of bottled water instead.
- Irish Tea: Served black with either sugar or milk, Irish tea is a staple. Usually a strong blend of several black teas such as Assam Indian teas, there are several Irish companies that produce the iconic tea. Barry's and Lyons are the market leaders.
Ireland is a beer-drinking country and there are many good quality local beer breweries. Also, craft beers have been becoming increasingly popular.
The most international Irish beers are:
- Porter or stout such as Guinness, Murphy's Irish Stout and Beamish stout
- Irish red ale such as Smithwick's (pronounced Smithick's)
- Lager such as Harp Lager
Moreover, Irish whiskey has quite a reputation. The most famous local brands are:
- Jameson's Whiskey
- Paddy Whiskey
- Old Bushmills and
- Tullamore Dew
Liquor in Ireland
Another popular drink in Ireland, and almost unknown anywhere else, is Poitrín spirit and Bulmer's cider.
Poitín - This intense alcoholic drink was once deemed illegal it is so strong. Elderly people even rub Poitín on their skin to help with arthritis.
Baileys Irish Cream - This famed alcoholic Irish drink began in 1974, combining Irish whiskey with the great tradition of dairy farming. Baileys only uses cream from Irish cows in their product.
Liquor Laws in Ireland
The minimum age for buying and consuming alcoholic beverages is 18 years. Off-licence sales of alcohol is only permitted between the hours of 10.30 am and 10.00 pm on weekdays and 12.30 pm to 10.00 pm on Sundays.
In Dublin, as well as some other municipalities, it is illegal for a licence holder to sell alcohol in a closed container (i.e., can or bottle) for consumption. While there is no national legislation prohibiting drinking in public, Dublin local authority has prohibited the consumption of alcohol in a public place.