Gone are the days when eating on the Emerald Isle meant potatoes, anonymous meat and limp, gray veggies -- or, on the other extreme, upscale and exclusive restaurants for those on an unlimited budget.
Today’s Dublin, and other Irish cities, offer just about anything you might want. Everything from creative new takes on traditional Irish food, to Continental cuisine, Asian bistros, pizza, burgers, Mexican or Mediterranean places guarantee you will eat well in Ireland whether you want to splurge or save. Pubs often serve hearty, well priced food, and you can also snack in cafes and cosy tea rooms. For many visitors the choice is not “Where can I eat” but “How on Earth do I choose?”
Guidebooks, websites and local newspapers can help steer you to find the perfect spot, though of course your host family and coworkers will be a wealth of information as well.
The one thing we encourage all ELI’ers to experience is Dublin’s rich pub culture, which goes well beyond mere beer drinking. Pubs are ubiquitous. It’s hard to find a street without at small drinking hole. The Irish have been meeting, socializing and listening to music in pubs for hundreds of years, and Dublin has many historic places where you can indulge in the traditional Guinness or try fine crafted beers from local brewers taking beer in exciting new directions. Don’t drink beer? No problem! Ask the bartender about wines, local whiskeys, mixed drinks or other libation, and you’re likely to make his or her day. Seek out pubs that also feature live music, from traditional Irish works performed by serious musicians, to popular sing-alongs where locals and tourists both take part.
Below is a small list of some of the better known pubs in and near central Dublin. Some are historic favorites, others more off-the-beaten path and quieter. Most retain that traditional pub look, with dark wood, mirrors, marble, stained glass and myriad decorations that reflects the specific character of their owners and patrons.
Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub – James Joyce, Ulysses
- The Cobblestone (77 King St N, Smithfield, Dublin 7) Rough Guide calls it “arguably the best traditional-music venue in Dublin.”
- O’Donoughes (15 Merrion Row) Dating back to 1789, it’s among the most beloved traditional pubs.
- Davy Byrnes (21 Duke St.) Leopold Bloom, James Joyce’s hero in “Ulysses” was a frequent customer.
- The Brazen Head (20 Bridge Street Lower, Dublin 8) Ireland’s oldest pub! Folks have been partying here since the end of the 12th century.
- The Stag’s Head (1 Dame Court) Popular with Trinity College students, said to be James Joyce’s favorite pub.
- L Mulligan Grocer (18 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7) Features craft beer and a modern take on Irish cuisine.
- The Long Hall (51 S. Great George’s St) A popular, ornate Victorian-style pub.
- Anseo (18 Camden Street Lower) Trendy, but unpretentious, funky and very popular.
- John Kavanagh “The Gravediggers” (1 Prospect Square, Glasnevin, Dublin 9) Virtually unchanged in 150 years!
Find a pub you love and want to recommend to fellow ELI’ers? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list!