By Aileen Power
In a boom of creativity and a poof of great smells, a new breed of Dublin restaurants, cafés and gastro bars have sprung up all over the city.
The new arrivals range from hip bars and grills to groovy cafés, and pop-up restaurants to fashionable fast food. Along the way, the city’s culinary champions have found new ways to sharpen their offerings.
It’s all about trendsetting and inventive food but with mid-range and reasonable price tags. Expect re-imagined ethnic foods, locally sourced ingredients and Irish-flavoured nosh.
And expect to find it in Dublin 2’s exciting gastro quarter, around South William Street, Castle Market, Fade Street and George’s Street.
South William Street
Damson Diner is a hipster habitat that celebrates Asian and American cuisine, with a menu broken down to ‘In a Bowl’, ‘From the Grill’ or ‘Bites’.
In-house infusing of Irish spirits mean packed-with-flavour cocktails too. Whet your whistle with rum and Wexford strawberries, Jameson Irish whiskey and Tipperary cherries, or Cork Dry Gin with wild Irish elderflower and MacNally Farm gooseberries.
Just down the street, Eden Bar and Grill is bang on for exciting light bites and cocktails. The kitchen is open, so you can see your dishes under construction, while live jazz and other performances are part of the gig.
Jo’Burger, meanwhile, offers a unique take on burger culture. Everything is organic and features locally sourced imaginative ingredients. There’s a live DJ set every night and the menus are presented in comic book annuals.
L’Gueuleton French dining
Fade Street, off South William Street, is another natural habitat of young, outgoing Dublin.
l’Gueuleton, is an old favourite in the area, and still a stylish French-influenced and reliable spot to linger over a great meal and wine. Nab a window table to watch the hordes of trendies strut along the street outside.
Just above it, is No Name Bar. Also variously called the Secret Bar, The Bar with No Name, 3 Fade Street and the Snail Bar. Part of the craic is locating the place itself – it lies up a sparse-looking staircase behind an unremarkable entrance with a large wooden snail hanging above the door. Famous for its mojitos, the No Name Bar also serves up a mean brunch menu at weekends.
Chef Dylan McGrath (of Irish Masterchef fame) is the man behind the wildly popular new Fade Street Social. It’s made up of two eateries: a gastro bar that serves tapas, beer and wine, and then a fancier space more akin to a traditional restaurant.
George’s Street to Temple Bar
Taking the ethos of tapas but swapping the Spanish for another cuisine is another neat trick of Dublin eateries.
Just weeks old, Dhaba on Anne Street (off Grafton Street) breathes life into Indian cuisine with modern tapas dishes of delicate flavours served by enthused staff.
Entering the Izakaya Bar on George’s Street is like stepping into a Tokyo drinking house. Their formula of Japanese tapas (from sushi to gyoza) and trendy atmosphere makes for a full house almost every night.
Across the road, Mexican restaurant 777aims for the ambiance of the New York restaurant scene. Their no reservations policy means you have to be there early in the evening to beat the queues, but the food and drink at Triple 7 (as the staff call it) is authentic and special and worth it.
Off a quiet side street from Temple Bar lies the shiny new, and indeed glass-fronted Dux & Co. It’ll be the kitsch wallpaper and Bring Your Own Wine (BYOB) policy that’ll bring you in, but the inventive, appetising and great value menu will keep you coming back. The bill is served by hipsters in a glass jar of hard sweets – prepare yourself for a ‘huh, is that all?’ moment as you read it.
Cheap, chic and constantly changing – now that’s what we call a revolution.