While I am a budget traveler at heart, dining out and drinking is one of my favorite indulgences while traveling. Luckily, Dublin is a great place to eat and drink while staying relatively budget-friendly. Check out 5 tips below for the best pubs and restaurants for getting an authentic Irish dining experience without breaking the bank.
Drink Guinness With a Whole New Perspective… Literally
One of my absolute FAVORITE images to take away from any city I go to is a skyline view. More often than not this sends me on a scavenger hunt for the best rooftop bar in town and then battling other photo-hungry tourists for a decent picture of the view. Thankfully, the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse offers me a good view and an even better bar. Dominating the 7th floor of Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, the Storehouse’s Gravity Bar provides a 360 degree view of Dublin and a complimentary Guinness to enjoy it with. Best off, this is a great bang for the buck because the Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s top tourist attraction and something I would have done anyway.
Eat and Drink Where the Locals Do
When in Dublin, do as the Dubliners do and find an authentic Irish pub. If you’re looking for the traditional Irish pub experience, O’ Donoghue’s is your place. Donned with a superbly Irish name, O’ Donoghue’s is a common drinking spot for Dublin locals. The pub is small in size, but huge in camaraderie with the different groups of pub-goers simultaneously meshing into one and cheering ‘slainte’ (Irish equivalent of ‘cheers’) with their friends beside them.
If you’re looking for a bigger, younger atmosphere I suggest a visit to The Long Hall. The interior of this pub is true to its name. Lavishly ordained in deep red and gold colors, The Long Hall still maintains a casual vibe and fun atmosphere. Despite being one of the oldest pubs in Dublin, locals and tourists alike flock here for an authentic outing in a traditional Irish pub experience. The Long Hall attributes its historical presence in the community to its great atmosphere and proud staff.
And, while pubs are great for drinking, Irish pub food is surprisingly great. Of course, you can gorge on the traditional fish and chips at O’Donoghue’s and The Long Hall. But you’ll also find stellar food at trendier options like Fade Street Social, where you can try perfectly cooked steak or unique duck samosas.
Don’t Be Afraid to Branch Out
Ireland is irrevocably associated with Guinness, leaving many visitors feeling like they’re locked into drinking the black stuff in order to reap the most authentic experience. However, it doesn’t have to be this way if you aren’t a fan of stouts! Ireland is now playing host to microbreweries like Metalman Brewing with their flagship Pale Ale and Franciscan Well Brewery’s banana-infused Friar Weisse.
And, if you want to drink Guinness but not stout, you can do that, too. Guinness Storehouse has a really cool Connoisseur Experience which pairs guests with a Beer Connoisseur in a luxe private bar. It turns out that Guinness produces many different types of brews, including Bitters, Extra Stout, Smooth, and even a few non-alcoholic varieties. This experience requires an advanced reservation, but the intimate, small-group tasting session is worth the wait.
Dublin Specializes in Adorable Cafes
While Dublin has plenty of great restaurants, you can get a lot of bang for your buck by having lunch at its adorable cafes. Take for instance, Queen of Tarts on Cow Lane. Queen of Tarts serves homemade soups and deliciously stuffed sandwiches on fresh bread. I highly recommend saving room for dessert as this place specializes in creamy sweets and tarts. Order a pot of tea and complete the table set-up, pleasing your taste-buds, belly, and those food-hungry Instagram followers. They’re open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch with the option for cakes and treats at every meal.
While you may not think that you’d find good food in a shopping plaza, my second favorite cafe in Dublin is the Pepper Pot in the Powerscourt Town Centre shopping plaza. Whoever decided on this location was either a marketing genius or a shopaholic (or both?). If you’re lucky, try and score the balcony table that overlooks the mall’s center and enjoy people-watching with a savory sandwich in hand. Similar to Queen of Tarts, The Pepper Pot has mastered the art of serving fresh soups, salads, and sandwiches in an adorable café setting. Everything is made daily so every choice is a sweet one.
Lastly, keeping up with the shopping and dining atmosphere is Avoca on the popular Suffolk Street. Just like The Pepper Pot, Avoca is located in the upstairs loft of a quaint little shop. It makes the perfect lunch spot before shopping and after with its ideal location near one of Dublin’s best shopping districts: Grafton Street. Come hungry as their portions are generous.
Irish Food Isn’t Just Fish and Chips
When you are ready to splurge a bit, go beyond the ordinary with Ireland’s farm to table cuisine. It’s easy to think that Irish food is just fish and chips and brown bread with butter. But, Irish chefs are coming up with innovative food trends that are all their own, focused largely on the country’s fresh produce and seafood.
At Pichet, try French-style cuisine with local Irish ingredients, like their potato gnocchi; gnocchi might seem like an Italian dish but potatoes are typically Irish and the Pichet version pairs the dumplings with smoked Gubbeen cheese from Cork, Ireland. Or, at 1837 Bra and Brasserie, which proudly proclaims that all their raw ingredients are 100% Irish, try classic Galway oysters poured with Guinness stout.
No matter what you choose, you are certain to enjoy a delicious Irish experience regardless of your budget.
Akila McConnell’s mind (and waistline) expands as she eats and travels around the world. Follow her @atlfoodwalks. Kelsey Kennedy loves eating at home and abroad. Follow her at https://wanderingpeach.wordpress.com/.