Eat Like a Local: Dublin

Five easy ways to amplify your Dublin dining experience.

By / September 2012

There are places I’ve traveled to once and that feels like enough. Dublin is not one of those places. There are also places I’ve grown to love after considerable time spent walking the streets, meeting the people, eating the food. But Dublin is not one of those places either. Dublin is a place I loved from my first glimpses out of a rain-speckled taxi window, from my first stroll through St. Stephen’s Green on a sunny July afternoon, from my first pint in Temple Bar.

In the fleeting three days that I blew through the Irish capital this summer, I was already plotting my second trip by the end of the first evening. What left me wanting more? Was it that tiny bit of Irish in my bloodline? The sunny demeanor of the locals who burst with kindness, warmth, and a wicked sense of humor? Butter so good that I’d lay down my life for it? In one sense: yes. But in another, it was far more.

No matter how many times I return to Dublin (and I will), I get the feeling it may never be enough. There is too much to know about its history, too much to see behind each overflowing window box, too much to taste at every market stand or hole-in-the-wall pub. Here are five of my favorite ways to eat like a local in Dublin, whether it’s your first time in the city or you’re headed back for seconds.

1. Wake to pastry and a little prayer.
Queen of Tarts on Dame Street does a mean brunch, but you can beat the crowds and save some precious sightseeing time by grabbing a raspberry scone and coffee to-go. With pastry and brew in-hand, walk a few blocks down to Christ Church Cathedral and grab a seat at one of the tables on the church’s lush lawn. Take in the towering views, savor your pastry in peace, and lick the powdered sugar off of your nose without judgment.

2. Eat your lunch with a side of lit.
Don’t make the same mistake I did and miss out on the Winding Stair. With its focus on sourcing what’s local and brilliantly Irish, a meal here serves as a great introduction to dining in Dublin. On a budget? The one, two, or three-course lunch options with a glass of wine fit almost any bill.

3. Share a drink with Guinness and Jameson.
I know what you’re thinking and yes, a visit to the Guinness Storehouse or Jameson Distillery is hardly “local.” But the histories of these institutions are required reading for any wannabe Dubliner. (Not to mention that every local I spoke to gushed about both as must-dos while in town.) Whether you’re a beer and whiskey drinker or not, there is plenty to keep your attention — and the tastings on either end of the tour don’t hurt either. So get to the sky-high Guinness Gravity Bar for a proper pint or become a “Qualified Whiskey Taster” for Jameson and say a toast to history.

4. Change up your culinary pace at Ely Wine Bar.
As the lone restaurant on quiet, residential Ely Place just off of St. Stephen’s Green, Ely is a wine haven for whenever you get pint weary. This subterranean spot hums with cool stone walls, the flicker of candlelight, and gleaming wooden tables. What arrives on the plate won’t disappoint either, especially the organic beef burger made with meat straight from the Burren and topped with red onion jam and marinated mozzarella.

5. Get out of town.
As a traveling eater, you’ll often find your most memorable meals far away from urban centers and in the small towns that tend to be on the way to somewhere else. So it was that I found myself en route to the west coast and pausing at a by-the-road pub in Doolin. I devoured a warm and luscious bowl of seafood chowder, overflowing with hunks of flaky fish the size of a baby’s fist, and a slice of brown bread slathered in good, Irish butter. I was glad for its warmth in my belly as I stood on a cliff’s edge an hour later with my coat collar turned up against the wind, inhaling the salt of sea crashing below, and blinking away the droplets of foggy moisture collecting on my eyelashes.


Martha Miller is the food columnist for EthnoTraveler.