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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019
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Persian kebabs and organic pizza: 3 Irish spots serving genuinely tasty late-night food

It’s not all about garlic cheese chips, you know.

WHAT DO YOU think of when you think of late night food? Garlic cheese chips? Battered sausages?

What if we told you there’s more to it than greasy chipper fare? We decided to profile three late night food haunts going above and beyond to serve quality food into the wee hours.

Zaytoon, Dublin

Vegetarian Kebab 😎🍽🌞 #zaytoon #vegetarian #vegetariankebab #dublin

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Few kebab shops have managed to cultivate a reputation to match that of Zaytoon. Open since 2001, the restaurant has fed thousands of hungry bellies and marked the end of many a night out.

The men behind the beloved late night haunt are Jamshid Kamvar and Azad Shirazi. The two men have been business partners for many years and previously ran a carpet shop, Pars Oriental Carpet Gallery, on Dame Street for many years.

They decided to get into the kebab business after realising that kebabs were often looked down upon. “Particularly in Dublin there was not a Persian restaurant at that time,” explains Shirazi.

We saw an opportunity to bring Persian cuisine to the Irish people and up the quality of the kebab in Ireland.

They opened the first branch of Zaytoon on Parliament Street in 2001 and opened a second branch on Camden Street in 2005, both of which continue to go strong. They now employ eighty people and have family working in both branches.

“We don’t cut corners when it comes to our ingredients,” says Shirazi.

For example, our saffron is 100% pure and sourced all the way from Iran. Saffron from Iran is known to be one of the best in the world.

(He’s not wrong – saffron from Iran can sometimes be more expensive than literal gold.)

They also pride themselves on cooking their own bread in an authentic clay oven and preparing everything fresh. That means no freezers – or “terrible flavour-sucking machines,” as Shirazi calls them.

Zaytoon is open until 5am, seven days a week. That means they get a lot of loyal trade from the post-pub crowd – but there are plenty of daytime fans too.

A lot of our dishes are actually really healthy low calorie options, which means we get people coming in who are trying to ‘be good’ during the week.

With seventeen years under their belt, Zaytoon continues to thrive. Shirazi and Kamvar hope to expand in the coming years and open even more branches, including some outside of the capital.

Long live Zaytoon.

KC’s, Cork

Like Roy Keane, The Young Offenders and Tanora, KC’s is something of a Cork institution at this stage. The takeaway has been on the go in Douglas since 1958 and its signature sandwich, the King Creole, is considered a local delicacy.

KC’s, also known as KC & Son & Sons, was opened by Kenneth and Edith Crawford in 1958. Their grandson, Zac Crawford, recalls it was opened after Kenneth was fired from his job for his religion. (He was a Jehovah’s Witness.)

Edith originally hailed from the USA and the couple briefly toyed with the idea of moving there to start a new life.

“But they were brave enough to embark on the risky idea of a fish and chip shop in Douglas,” says Zac.

Initially it was just the two of them, my grandmother’s sister and a couple of local staff,” The menu was simple – fresh fish and chips, fish cakes and sausages.

They soon diversified their offering beyond the usual fish and chip fare. Indeed, Edith Crawford is credited with bringing the first hamburger to Cork – fierce exotic in those days.

The couple’s son, Wesley, eventually took over the business and introduced pitta bread to the menu following a trip to Greece in the 1980s. “Since then pittas have taken over our menu and remain our biggest sellers,” says Zac.

The King Creole has since become their signature sandwich. It’s cajun chicken, lettuce, mayonnaise and chips in pitta bread. Another standout is the Kansas City, which is BBQ pulled pork in pitta bread. Other popular menu items include the Chicken Bombay. “Basically battered curry chicken,” explains Crawford.

The family continue to source food locally and make most of the food on site:

There are five or six of us in from 7am each morning. We make all our sauces, spice mixes, marinades and rubs ourselves.

KC’s celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this year and continues to attract queues out the doors from hungry locals looking to devour a King Creole.

“The secret to our legendary queues isn’t rocket science,” says Crawford. “We’ve kept the same principles my grandparents started with. Good, honest food, served quickly and at a reasonable price.”

Dublin Pizza Company

Best pizza in Dublin

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For too long, people looking for quick takeaway pizza in Dublin had to contend with greasy slices that had been sitting in a window all day.

In 2016, Michael Ryan saw a gap in the market for authentic Neapolitan pizza in the capital. Taking the ethos of Italian cookery to heart, he decided to form Dublin Pizza Company, which would allow him to “celebrate Irish produce on an Italian pizza”.

The result? Fresh pizzas made in front of you that include ingredients from a veritable who’s who of Irish producers, including Toons Bridge Dairy, Coolea Farmhouse Cheese and On The Wild Side.

late night food dublin Source: Instagram/gastrogays

Dublin Pizza Company has now been operating since 2016 out of a small hatch on Dublin’s Aungier Street. There is no seating and it’s strictly takeaway only, but that’s just part of its charm. As Ryan explains:

The informal style of the hatch serving straight to the people allows the customer to see the whole process of the pizzas being made fresh after only sixty seconds in the oven.

Now that’s fast food.

Dublin Pizza Company stays open until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and until 3am on Friday and Saturday. “This brings everyone from people taking a pizza home after work to others putting in some work in the pub,” jokes Ryan.

With its emphasis on craft and fine produce, it stands out in a late night food landscape dominated by chippers and burger joints. ”Dublin Pizza Company aims to give even the late night customer a high quality product,” says Ryan.

As for where it goes from here? You can expect to see them on the festival circuit this summer – and who knows, maybe you’ll find a hatch near you in the near future.

More: ‘They’re works of art hidden in plain sight’: Dublin’s most Insta-worthy lamp posts

More: The tribute to a failed Spanish general on Cork’s Cornmarket St

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Amy O'Connor

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