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by Jessica Colley—
Before I tasted the Paddy Jack Sandwich, I thought I had tasted Irish lamb. Then one Saturday I was browsing through an outdoor food market in the Temple Bar District of Dublin and my perceptions were forever changed. This €5 sandwich consists of two country-thick slices of olive bread, generous slices of roasted lamb, brie cheese, special sauce, and a pile of arugula and mixed greens.
For me, this sandwich embodies something special about outdoor food markets in Dublin. The farmer who raised that lamb somewhere in the country outside of the capital city was the one who had carved the tender, flavorful meat and made my sandwich by hand.
Ready to partake? Here are three outdoor markets worth visiting in central Dublin:
1. The Temple Bar Food Market
Meeting House Square
Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Temple Bar Food Market is the opposite of every sprawling outdoor market you’ve ever visited where nothing seriously enticed you. This market is densely packed into Meeting House Square in the center of Temple Bar. My advice is to arrive hungry, and do some nibbling before you commit to the Paddy Jack sandwich. Arrive early for breakfast, and try one of the sweet crepes and a mug of milky Irish tea. Biscuits and scones are also arranged in tempting piles.
After taking a stroll through Temple Bar, return to the market for two of the best delicacies in Ireland: cheese and oysters. Sheridan’s Cheesemongers is one of the best cheese shops in the city and they set up a stall at the market. John Mac’s Oyster Stall brings oysters that were harvested on Friday from the west coast of Ireland, in County Clare, and are devoured weekly by seafood enthusiasts. Don’t leave without trying the Paddy Jack sandwich – even if you have to divide it by two or three people.
2. The Mespil Food Market
Thursdays 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Some outdoor markets are all about food–but the Mespil Food Market adds atmosphere, too. This market is located in the leafy Ballsbridge neighborhood of Dublin–about a 15-minute walk through the Georgian district to the banks of a flowing canal.
On a sunny day, there is almost no better place to Dublin to take a seat and devour pizza, barbeque chicken, falafel, or even a second Paddy Jack sandwich. This market also specializes in sweets, so grab a cupcake for your walk back into the center of Dublin.
3. Smithfield Market
Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Beyond the opportunity to taste local food, outdoor markets also offer the chance to explore new neighborhoods. The Smithfield Market will attract visitors across the River Liffey to the northside of Dublin, where the Smithfield Market takes over the largest square in the city on Sundays. If you happen to be in the city on the first Sunday of the month, you will be subjected to the tradition of the horse market in addition to regular market fare such as fresh fruit and baked goods. Unlike other markets, there is a picnic area here where you can relax (and devour) in comfort.