There was a time when ethnic food was foreign (pardon the pun!) to Dublin. Even when I arrived almost seven years ago, it was pretty hard to find a good burrito. Now, of course, burritos abound, and we’re getting even more adventurous with Vietnamese pho and Japanese tapas and apparently some of the best margaritas in the world. Thank goodness, says my belly! Sometimes a good burrito is about the only thing that will hit the spot.
So now, without further ado or grumbling bellies, let’s talk about the best spots for ethnic food in the city.
When it comes to burritos, I am a die-hard Chipotle burrito bowl fan. We don’t have Chipotle in Dublin, but we have Pablo and I’m equally enamored. Pablo Picante has three locations around the city centre and they’re not quite the same as Chipotle but by far the yummiest in the city. There are other burrito spots in Dublin, and everyone is entitled to their favorite, but Pablo wins for me. And guacamole doesn’t even cost extra!
For a sit-down Mexican meal, 777 has a beautiful interior and award-winning margaritas. They also have great happy-hour-esque deals (did you know happy hour is illegal in Dublin?) like two-for-one margaritas on Mondays.
Every so often, Michael and I head out for a date night without a real idea of where we want to go, but with two hungry bellies. My favorite place for atmosphere and food that arrives fast is tapas at Bar Pinxto or the Port House. The two spots are owned by the same people and the menu is identical. They’re just about a ten minute walk from each other, with the Port House on South William Street and Bar Pinxto on the corner of Meetinghouse Square. Here’s the best local tip. On weekend evenings it’s really hard to get a table at the Port House, but Bar Pinxto almost always has tables free.
Salamanca is another Spanish tapas spot, but I prefer the ambiance at Bar Pinxto and the Port House. They have exposed stone walls and are lit almost entirely by candles. They’re great for a date night, but I’ve also been there with my mom and girlfriends before, so they works for all occasions.
I have a funny story about Middle Eastern food in Dublin. When I visited Michael here for the first time, before we were engaged and just around our first year anniversary of dating, Michael and I decided to celebrate said anniversary by going out to dinner. Michael chose Kinara, a Pakistani place on the coast in Clontarf. Unfortunately, we kind of ended the dinner in an argument about who knows what, something about our future and what we were going to do with our lives. In retrospect, it was so silly (and we were so young!), but at the time it meant so much and I was really upset. I can’t remember much other than we finished the dinner in silence. I can’t even remember how we got home.
All that to say, I haven’t had Middle Eastern food in Dublin since. Ha! But, I have recommendations for you nonetheless. First, for a romantic dinner (that hopefully doens’t end in an argument), try Chameleon, it’s the most recommended by all my friends for the best cosy, special feel. You can also try Kinara, in Clontarf, Malahide or Ranelagh. Since our visit they’ve added an extensive cocktail menu in partnership with the Blind Pig Speakeasy founder, Paul. For takeaway, we have friends who adore Bombay Pantry. It would be perfect for a picnic! And I’ve been told the chai at Delhi O’Deli is the best going. I have that one on my list to try out very soon.
Japanese food has become so popular that both Musashi and Yamamori, probably the two most popular Japanese restaurants in the city, have both expanded from their original locations. Yamamori has three locations around the city – one for noodles, one for Japanese tapas, and another for sushi.
Musashi has two northside locations, one on Capel Street that offers BYOB for a small corkage fee on wine, and another down at the IFSC toward the ferry terminals. If you’re staying at the Spencer Hotel, the IFSC Musashi is a great option in the neighborhood.
So far as I know, we don’t have tons of Vietnamese food in Dublin, but we do have Pho Viet, which is a local favorite for pho. It’s very convenient if you’re exploring the north side of the city, just off O’Connell Street a few blocks up Parnell Street. Perfect for lunch if you’re at the Writers Museum or up at the Garden of Remembrance.
Dublin actually has a little Italian Quarter that crosses the River Liffey down past the Hapenny Bridge, north to south, with a collection of Italian restaurants. Two of the best are also two of the more authentic and rustic – Ciao Bella Roma and Terra Madre. Ciao Bella Roma does a great little €10 lunch special that includes a glass of wine. Terra Madre is a teeny basement restaurant with about five tables. The buratta appetizer is beyond creamy and the main dishes are warm and filling.
Barbecue isn’t quite ethnic food, but hey, I’m sneaking it into the end of my list. Pitt Brothers does pretty authentic (I’m not much of an authority coming from Maine, but our Texan and Alabaman friends concur) southern American barbecue. Plus, you get free ice cream after your meal! And while we’re on the topic of American-style meat, Crackbird does delicious fried chicken (order the half chicken and you can easily split it between two people).
Every once in a while, I start a post hoping to whizz through to the end so I can click publish – just so I can get your recommendations. I know I’m giving you some great tips for finding ethnic food in Dublin in this post, but I know there are so many more that I might not even know about yet. And I can’t wait for my local Dublin residents to give us even more tips for ethnic food in the city!
So, if you’re reading this on the day it’s published, check back tomorrow or the next day. I’m confident the comments will be helpful for us all!
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