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From cheese to chimichurri: 22 innovative Dublin restaurants changing the way we eat in 2019

The capital’s food culture is changing. Here are the places pushing it forward.

Image: Mad Egg

THERE HAS NEVER been a better time to be a foodie in Dublin. The restaurant and café landscape is arguably healthier and more competitive than it has ever been with hot ticket eateries opening on what seems to be a weekly basis.

“We’ve always lagged behind other European and global cities in terms of variety and quality of food offering, but it’s changing so quickly,” says Lisa Cope, editor of All The Food. “It’s like there’s an electric current running through the city.” 

The recession helped kickstart this restaurant boom with budding chefs availing of cheap rents and opening interesting, modern establishments. More recently, chefs and restaurateurs who emigrated during the economic downturn have started to return home and are bringing with them the knowledge they have gleaned from working in the likes of London and New York.

As a result, the capital is now home to an eclectic selection of food joints to cater to nearly every palate and price point. Whether you fancy something high-end or casual, homegrown or exotic, you’re sure to be covered. All in all, it’s an exciting time to be a foodie.

“We’re seeing people getting seriously excited about food now – running to new restaurants, or to try new dishes on a menu, or buying tickets for pop up chef events before they sell out,” says Cope. “A new breed of food adventurers are being born. People are travelling around the country just to eat at Ox in Belfast, Ichigo Ichie in Cork or Aniar in Galway.”

With all this in mind, we decided to spotlight some of the cafés, bars and restaurants that are changing how we eat in 2019.

Bon appétit!

New cuisines

Over the past few years, chefs from both home and abroad have been broadening our culinary horizons and introducing Irish palates to foreign cuisines.

For instance, Nick Reynolds has been bringing a slice of the Caribbean to Rathmines with his pop-up venture Lil Portie. Alma in Portobello serves up breakfast and lunch with an Argentinian twist. Both Lucky Tortoise on Aungier Street and Bowls by Kwanghi on Marlborough Street are serving up modern dim sum at bargain prices.

Shouk is a little gem in Drumcondra doling out reasonably priced Israeli food while Grano in Stoneybatter is winning rave reviews for its authentic southern Italian cooking. That’s before you get to the likes of Brothers Dosirak, Kopitiam and Makati Avenue on Capel Street, which serve up Korean, Malaysian and Filipino food, respectively. 

“There are still a lot of gaps in the food scene in Dublin that are ripe to be filled,” says Cope. “Peruvian, Ethiopian, high end Japanese, more regional Chinese, a Dan Barber style farm-to-fork operation, and more ‘fast, cheap, good’ options like Lucky Tortoise. But it’s not a matter of someone deciding they want to open a restaurant and pulling a cuisine out of a hat. It needs to be the right person with all of the passion and love for the project or it won’t work.” 

Where does your food come from?

How many times have you seen McNally’s seasonal greens or Gubbeen chorizo namechecked on a brunch menu? Provenance is the name of the game these days with more and more chefs making a conscious decision to cook with local and seasonal produce. Think cafés like The Fumbally, Assassination Custard or Meet Me in the Morning. 

Cope points to chefs like Niall Sabongi of The Seafood Café or Gaz Smith of Michael’s “serving Irish people the the freshest fish straight from Dublin Bay” or fast casual chains like Mad Egg committing to only using Irish, free-range chicken as moves in the right direction. 

“[These] are all really encouraging signs of where we’re going with food, but there’s still a long way to go,” she says.  

Wine culture 

“One thing that’s been exciting to watch is that we’re finally developing a wine culture,” says Cope. She’s not wrong. Over the past few months, several wine bars and café cum wine bars have popped up around the country.

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In Dublin, you have Loose Canon, which specialises in natural wine and cheese. Across town, you have the likes of Granthams and First Draft, which are coffee shops by day and wine bars by night. Buzzy Gertrude on Pearse Street has a wine list to die for. Even Krust on George Street has started serving vino in the evenings. 

“There are at least two more wine bars to come in the next couple of months and more in the planning,” says Cope. “It’s long been difficult to get a really good glass of wine in a bar in Dublin, and we’re looking forward to seeing more places pop up.” 

How very continental.

Filthy clean eats

As more and more people dip their toe into veganism, cafés and takeaways are beginning to expand their menus and realise there is a world beyond tofu. BuJo in Sandymount recently became the first restaurant in Ireland to serve the ‘Beyond Meat’ burger, which they describe as “a plant based burger that looks, cooks and satisfies like beef”.

Vish Shop on Dorset Street, meanwhile, is a plant-based takeaway offering vegan versions of chipper classics like fish and chips. Their cauliflower wings are sublime. Beast on Victoria Quay is a vegan takeaway and café that specialises in the likes of vegan jambons, vegan chicken balls and, yes, vegan garlic cheese chips.

Clean eating has never been so filthy.

More: ‘Better BBQ than Hong Kong’: The insider’s guide to finding fantastic Chinese food in Dublin>

About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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