In Dublin, you'll find plenty of traditional Irish food: potato cakes, salmon, Irish stew (mutton, onions and potatoes), prawns (fresh from Dublin Bay), oysters and breads. But don't stick just to the traditional fare. In addition to a respectable selection of international eateries, you'll find restaurants that specialize in a distinctive school of New Irish cuisine. It uses rich, indigenous Irish foodstuffs prepared with influences from the European continent and the Mediterranean.
Eating out in Dublin is pricey, although an increasing number of places offer set lunch and dinner menus, Early Bird specials and pretheater menus that are a good value. Pubs also offer affordable sandwiches and light meals. Check with the tourist board for a list of such restaurants.
Dining times are generally 7:30-10 am for breakfast, 12:30-3 pm for lunch and 6-10 pm for dinner.
One cautionary note: Although Ireland was considered smoker-friendly in the past, legislation banning smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants and pubs, is now in effect.
Expect to pay within these general guidelines, based on the cost of a basic dinner entree for one, not including drinks, but including tax and tip: $ = less than 15 euros; $$ = 15 euros-25 euros; $$$ = 26 euros-40 euros; and $$$$ = more than 40 euros.
This welcoming Michelin one-star restaurant, housed in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum, offers local and seasonal Irish fare prepared with French influences. Specialties include Aberdeen Angus fillet of beef with parsnip puree, wild mushrooms and pepper cream, and scallops with a risotto of peas. If you ask nicely, it will prepare an outstanding tableside Irish coffee. The pretheater dinner Tuesday-Saturday beginning at 6 pm, at 36.50 euros, is deservedly popular. Open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner only. Closed first two weeks of August and for two weeks in December and January. Reservations recommended. $$$-$$$$. Most major credit cards. 18-19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1. Phone 01-873-2266. http://www.chapteronerestaurant.com.Eden
This trendy eatery in the heart of Temple Bar is architecturally stunning—the tile work evokes 1950s poolside cabanas—and the food is cutting-edge New Irish cuisine. The menu includes organic beef-and-Guinness stew. A terrace allows guests to enjoy Temple Bar's summertime concerts and films while savoring dinner. Daily for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch. Reservations recommended. $$$-$$$$. Most major credit cards. Meeting House Square, Dublin 2. Phone 01-670-5372. http://www.edenrestaurant.ie.Fallon & Byrne
A food and wine lover's delight, this three-floor emporium in the center of town boasts a wine bar, a gourmet "food hall" market and restaurant. All is fresh, contemporary and beautifully presented. Prices are reasonable. Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for lunch only. $$-$$$. Most major credit cards. 11-17 Exchequer St., Dublin. Phone 01-472-1000. http://www.fallonandbyrne.com.Gallagher's Boxty House
This is one of Dublin's most tourist-oriented restaurants, but don't let that put you off. Few places serve the potato variations, Irish stew and other dishes that constitute traditional Irish cuisine—Gallagher's does them well and at reasonable prices. Daily for lunch and dinner. $$-$$$. Most major credit cards. 20-21 Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Phone 01-677-2762. http://www.boxtyhouse.ie.L'Ecrivain
Its name means "the writer," and everything about this handsome, airy restaurant demonstrates owner-chef Derry Clarke's passion for Irish culture. Try the signature starter of baked rock oysters with York cabbage and crispy cured bacon with a Guinness sabayon, followed by wild sea bass with chickpeas and tomato confit. L'Ecrivain has an excellent wine list, and its personable service suits everyone from executive "suits" at lunch to cozy couples in the evening. Open Thursday and Friday for lunch, Monday-Saturday for dinner. Reservations recommended. $$$-$$$$. Most major credit cards. 109A Lower Baggot St., Dublin 2. Phone 01-661-1919. http://www.lecrivain.com.Roly's Bistro
Wonderfully consistent, Roly's French-influenced Irish fare never disappoints. Try the Kerry lamb and vegetable pie with roasted parsnips and thyme, or the roast breast of duck with braised red cabbage and caramelized pear. The service is efficient, the white starched tablecloths very civilized, and you'll be surrounded by a mix of society ladies who lunch, businesspeople and, on weekends, family gatherings. A good value for the money. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended. $$$-$$$$. Most major credit cards. 7 Ballsbridge Terrace, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Phone 01-668-2611. http://www.rolysbistro.ie.The Brazen Head
This place claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland. Its most famous resident was the Irish rebel Robert Emmet, whose writing desk still sits in the restaurant, and whose portrait, along with those of other patriots, adorns the wall of the bar. There are two bars, and the old bar used to roll back to reveal an escape tunnel for Emmet when the British army got too close. No-frills bar food includes beef-and-Guinness stew and a wide variety of seafood. Daily for lunch and dinner. $$-$$$. Most major credit cards. 20 Bridge St. Lower, Dublin 8. Phone 01-677-9549. http://www.brazenhead.com.Thornton's
One of the most imaginative and artistic chefs in Ireland, Kevin Thornton creates "haute" Irish food that sings with flavor, freshness and integrity. Specialties include warm white asparagus with truffle hollandaise; fillet of sea bass with broccoli, braised white onion and ginger; and blood-orange souffle with blood-orange sorbet. Menus reflect the finest seasonal ingredients; the atmosphere is elegant, quiet and a trifle chilly. Prices are through the roof, although the three-course set-menu lunch for 25 euros and pretheater dinner at 47 euros are among the best values in the city. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended. $$$$. Most major credit cards. 128 St. Stephen's Green (Fitzwilliam Hotel, first floor), Dublin 2. Phone 01-478-7008. http://www.thorntonsrestaurant.com.