There are many things that draw us back to Dublin, again and again. As searingly soulful as it is deeply historic, the Irish capital buzzes with a love of life that captivates even the most cynical of visitors. It’s the city with everything going for it – bar the weather, admittedly – and that includes fine dining. Having undergone somewhat of a restaurant revolution, it’s no longer a question of what are the best restaurants in Dublin, but experiencing some of the best restaurants in the world within Dublin.
The legacy of its rich literary heritage – this is the hometown of James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde, to name a mere few – is as present as its unrivaled pub culture, so it’s no surprise some of the city’s finest restaurants are accompanied by libraries or, in the case of one restaurant, residing in a former bank vault.
Winding cobbled roads, beautiful architecture, layers upon layers of history, and never a dull moment. It’s time to add to the list of what makes Dublin such a special city its dining scene. Elite Traveler has rounded up the best restaurants in Dublin.
[See also: Chefs Fighting to Make Fine Dining Sustainable]
“Wait till I tell you, he said. Delahunt of Camden street had the catering and yours truly was chief bottle water. Bloom and the wife was there…” as the passage from James Joyce’s Ulysses goes. The immortalization of this haunt in one of English literature’s greatest novels would be reason enough to visit. But when you factor in the romantic charm of this former Victorian grocers’ shop, and the luscious flavors of the minimalist and modern menu, this is a wonderful restaurant that doesn’t buckle under the pressure of the building’s literary and historical weight, but rather enhances it.
Oozing elegance and sophistication, Patrick Guilbard is a restaurant experience that promises glamour and gild as much as an extraordinary culinary journey. Aesthetically, the restaurant- which is hidden within a Georgian townhouse a minute’s walk upon Merrion Street- is zealous in its approach to magnificence, featuring hand-crafted marquetry and a gilt barrel ceiling. And as for the food? The two Michelin stars speak for itself, but let us speak louder: Guilbaud and his team are masters in delivering a final product that is both faultless and flawless. Highlights include the blue lobster ravioli and the lacquered barbarie duckling.
And we’re back with Dublin’s captivating alliance between fine dining and literature. Found just beyond the National Library of Ireland, and overlooking the magnificent Trinity playing grounds, the three-story Pig’s Ear has a library of its own on the third floor. A bright and airy space that the Michelin guide describes as “homely retro”, Pig’s Ear is a no-fuss and yet refined space that serves up a small but versatile menu of beloved Irish classics. Think traditional favorites such as shepherd’s pie and pork belly, but updated for the modern cosmopolitan dining experience.
When we say Dublin wears its literary heritage with pride, we mean it: the acclaimed Chapter One restaurant, by Finnish chef Mickael Vijanen, is not only named after the beginnings of a novel, but the restaurant itself is found tucked beneath the city’s Writers Museum. This is a restaurant that celebrates brilliance and creativity, with the two Michelin stars to show for it. Viljanen combines classical French techniques with a predominantly Irish larder of ingredients for a menu that is as striking as it is sophisticated.
Found on the second floor of the 5 star Fitzwilliam Hotel, Glovers Alley presents a delicate- and oh so hard to strike- balance between contemporary and classic. Worth going for the ambience alone, the restaurant’s soft pink and green hues balances out the glamour of the Art Deco salon aesthetic for a meal that feels timeless, but by no means old fashioned, a middle ground furthered by Michelin award winning chef Andy McFadden’s bold, creative approach to his dishes. The tasting menu with a classic wine pairing comes to €230 per person, and it’s worth it for the scallop, lardo, tomato and langoustine bisque alone.
A Chinese restaurant situated considerably far away from the city center might not sound like the most orthodox of fine dining recommendations, but China Sichuan is not one to be overlooked. Rather, the Michelin recommended Sandyford restaurant uses almost entirely Irish produce in their extensive menu of Cantonese and Sichuan dishes, featuring both reliable classics and thrilling specialties. Established in 1979, it is a family run business that offers some of the best Asian dining in the country.
Taking its name from the traditional Irish cooking pot, Bastible honors the country’s culinary heritage of hearty cooking, but applies a fresh, youthful gaze to not only the menu, but the restaurant experience itself. And it works, fantastically; the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star in acknowledgement of its stellar culinary prowess. With an open kitchen featuring in the interior, and the bustle of the exciting, hipster Portobello area exterior, Bastible is a vibrant environment worth committing an entire evening to.
What was once a banking vault is now a vibrant, stylish French bistro with an Art Deco mural that reflects the ambience of the dining room; cultured and cosmopolitan, notably sophisticated and significantly fun. Owner Barry Canny, formerly of Browne’s Brasserie, sought to create a space with an unrivalled buzz across the city, and establish a European city style bistro atmosphere in the heart of Dublin. His vision has seen great success; today Peploe’s is somewhat of an institution in its own right, the experience only further enhanced by the fantastic, Michelin recommended food.