12 S. Great George's Street
Tel: 353 1 672 7720
Situated in the former Bewley's Café on George's Street, Café Bar Deli serves wholesome Italian food at extremely reasonable prices. Standards like spaghetti Bolognese and pizza (try the one with feta, spinach, chorizo, and basil pesto) are served in small and large portions, and there's a decent wine menu, too. The Edwardian dining room is big on atmosphere, as is Bewley's on Grafton Street, where a second outlet is located (velvety booths and Harry Clarke stained-glass windows). Both shore up a dining space that has served Dubliners for decades. Café Bar Deli attracts a varied crowd; you're as likely to encounter well-dressed businessmen as starry-eyed couples or spaghetti-throwing toddlers. Consider it an all-things-to-all-people kind of place.—Pól Ó Conghaile
Open Mondays and Tuesdays 12:30 to 10 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 2 to 10 pm.
59 Glasthule Road
Sandycove , County Dublin
Tel: 353 1 280 9120
It's worth making a day trip to Sandycove, not just for the James Joyce Museum but also for lunch at Peter Caviston's wonderful cult restaurant, with its Little Mermaid murals, wainscoting, and orange pine benches. The Cavistons have been fisherfolk for over half a century, with a thriving deli business on-site that gradually grew into an epic bakery-greengrocer-wine store as well as fishmonger. The restaurant itself opened in 1995, but the buzz continues—actors, writers, taxi drivers, bank tellers all make their way to the suburbs for the catch of the day. Highlights include roast monkfish with Dijon mashed potatoes and rosemary oil; char-grilled marinated swordfish with mango-melon-chile chutney; fried haddock with tartar sauce; and the famous house-smoked salmon and Irish cheeses. The restaurant's lunch-only policy (sittings at 1:30, 3, and 5 pm) was recently expanded to include dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings (sittings at 6 and 8:15 pm). Reservations are essential.
Open Tuesdays through Fridays 12 to 3 pm and Saturdays 1:45 to 3 pm.
1819 Parnell Square
Tel: 353 1 873 2266
Chapter One serves cutting-edge Irish cooking in the basement of what was once the home of John Jameson, the man behind Ireland's most famous whiskey, and is now Dublin's Writers Museum. Chef Ross Lewis is well known for his slow food philosophy, and dishes like hake with crushed Jerusalem artichoke, Morteau sausage, shellfish, lemon butter and tarragon emulsion, or slow-cooked spring lamb with organic parsnip puree, spring vegetables, capers, and mint, bear that out deliciously. Lewis's staunchly loyal clientele is proof of this place's well-deserved popularity. And while cutting-edge doesn't come cheap, there are excellent lunch and pre-theater options (served from 6 to 7:45 pm, from €30 for two courses).
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 6 to 11 pm.
14 and 16 South Frederick Street
Tel: 353 1 677 3815
This rustic Italian restaurant lies at the heart of the growing food empire of husband-and-wife team Eileen Dunne and Stefano Crescenzi. Many of the dishes at Dunne & Crescenzi are Stefano's family recipes—a mix of Roman and Piedmontese cuisines, such as bresaola (cured beef, thinly sliced) with Parmesan shavings, wild baby arugula, fresh lemon juice, and Tuscan olive oil served with warm ciabatta bread. The "bruschetteria" and mozzarella bar (the cheese can be ordered with char-grilled vegetables, peppers, or tomatoes and basil) are a nice touch, and the quality of ingredients is made clear up-front: The kitchen uses only D.O.P. products and extra-virgin olive oil, and no trans fats. Laid out across three rooms on South Frederick Street, the trattoria's shelves are stuffed with hundreds of bottles of Italian wine, and though service can be brusque, prices are forgiving. If you judge a restaurant by the number of clients, you're in the right place—there's a line here most nights. Curiously, Booker Prize–winning novelist John Banville will only dine at table 14.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 7:30 am to 11 pm, Sundays 10 am to 10 pm.
137 Rathmines Road
Tel: 353 1 491 3731
Jo Macken's gourmet burger joint is a thoroughly bohemian beast. Organic beef or lamb burgers are served in a variety of styles (Tladi comes with smoked applewood cheese and fresh apple; Zondi with green Thai curry mayo, coriander, and chile), all held together by a wooden skewer and none breaking the €12.50 barrier. While the servers tend to look like they've just rolled out of bed, the menus come taped into old Beano and Dandy annuals, and the cutlery is dished up in tin cans, it all works perfectly with the communal benches, the DJ spinning soul and R&B, and the delicious pots of homemade ketchup.—Pól Ó Conghaile
Open daily noon until late.
109A Lower Baggot Street
Tel: 353 1 661 1919
Hidden away in Dublin's Georgian neighborhood, L'Ecrivain is a small restaurant built on a split level, with a high, peaked ceiling and blond woods that lend it a Scandinavian feel. Chef/owner Derry Clarke gives local ingredients—Dublin Bay prawns, West Cork lobster—the French treatment and has won a Michelin star for his efforts. The hefty wine list of 200 bottles is regularly updated, as is the seasonal menu, with its emphasis on smaller producers. While L'Ecrivain is an upmarket choice, the vibe here is very relaxed, with a pianist tinkling away on the baby grand on Fridays and Saturdays. Despite Clarke's recent ill-advised media adventures (Fáilte Towers, anyone?), he remains one of the few Michelin star chefs you'll find smiling and having the craic as he signs dishes off from an open-plan kitchen. Book early.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm.
1 Fade Street
Tel: 353 1 675 3708
This gem off South Great George's Street was tiny when it first opened in 2004, but now L'Gueuleton has expanded to all of 60 seats! They don't take reservations, so show up at 5:30 pm and be patient—they'll call your mobile when they're ready for you. Worn-out tables with bowls of sea salt and fresh pepper set the stage for unstuffy French food: steak béarnaise, escargots served with Roquefort Pithiviers, and chicken liver and foie gras parfait. You can't swing a cat without hitting a Toulouse sausage in Dublin nowadays, but the sausages here (served with a large dollop of choucroute, Lyonnaise potatoes, and rich, juicy gravy) are the best. Bare brick, big windows, and a whisper-quiet jazz soundtrack complete the picture. The original chef, Troy Maguire, has gone on to pastures new, but under Warren Massey, L'Gueuleton remains at the center of Dublin's affordable restaurant revolution.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 12:30 to 3 pm and 6 to 10 pm.
20 Upper Merrion Street
Tel: 353 1 661 3572
Home as it was to Peacock Alley, the restaurant in which Conrad Gallagher, the enfant terrible of Irish cooking, made his name, it's fair to say that Pearl Brasserie comes with baggage. Chef Sebastien Masi and his partner, Kirsten Batt, have quietly been building up a head of steam since opening in 2000, however. At the table, the French staff feigns great interest in every iota of your well-being, while in the kitchen, Masi is a sure hand; try the pan-fried tiger prawns served with red pepper risotto and fresh basil. The decor is contemporary, with eclectic flourishes like Belle Époque light fixtures and vaulted little alcoves. The set lunch (€22 for two courses) is one of the best-value meals in town.—Pól Ó Conghaile
Opens Mondays through Fridays 12 to 2:30 pm and 6 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays 6 to 10:30 pm.
St. Michael's Pier
Tel: 353 1 284 5590
Follow the purple glow atop the St. Michael's Pier ferry terminal to find this aptly named squat glass lighthouse of a place, then mount the metal violet-lit stairs into the mauve-toned room with its navy and eggplant chairs and wooden tables set with cobalt-blue wineglasses and votives in amethyst holders. The look may be gimmicky, but luckily the food isn't. It's solid, satisfying, and large, with a lot of trendy dishes—trendy from the 1980s or '90s, that is. You might accuse a chef who writes a menu that includes tandoori chicken, warm goat-cheese tart, deep-fried Brie with berry compote, blackened Cajun chicken, steak au poivre, and tournedos Rossini of being retro-ironic, but Paul Lewis is not. He just likes that food—and so will you. He includes some innovative dishes too, like scallops and black pudding with Pommery mustard sauce or crisp-roasted Barbary duck with black-cherry-brandy sauce. There's a plate-glass window for taking advantage of the glorious view of the marina, and, better still, outside tables. Best of all, a glass tower with a 360-degree view over Dublin Bay is perched above it all. Reserve ahead for those tables, especially in summer.
26–28 Clarendon Street
Tel: 353 1 679 2000
Don't judge Saba by the uninspired decor (dark wooden tables and lighting that casts a dull orange glow)—just wait for the food. Chef Taweesak Trakoolwattana (Tao, for short) once cooked for the Thai royal family, and his menu is never less than snap-fresh. Dishes are divided into noodle, wok, and curry, as well as Saba specials like hake in banana leaf and char-grilled tiger prawns. Be sure to order the Phad Khiang, with shiitake mushrooms, ginger, spring onions, baby corn, and peppers, which has just the right crunch and a zingy sauce with rich notes of soy and oyster. This is not the place to come for a quiet meal, but if you're after a quick bite of something spicy, this bustling Thai restaurant with fast and friendly service is a good bet.—Pól Ó Conghaile
Opens daily noon until late.