By Jessica Colley—
Some destinations have a clearly defined national cuisine, while other places require visitors to dig a little deeper. When it comes to food in Ireland, there are many places to find cheap eats with national character in Dublin – if you know where to look.
From underground options to food markets to cheap eats in fancy places, Dublin is full of opportunities to banish the idea of bland Irish food for good. Stick to fresh seafood (don’t miss out on local smoked salmon) and artisanal products like Irish cheese and your trip to Ireland will be flavor-packed.
The following is a list of a few favorite cheap eats in Dublin. Some are hidden in the basement of department stores while others are clearly visible on the city’s best streets. These tasty nibbles will show that you don’t have to spend a lot for serious flavor in Dublin.
Avoca Food Hall
11-13 Suffolk Street
Tel: (+353) 1 677 4215
Avoca is the kind of place your mother would love – full of hand-woven blankets, funky picture frames, and plenty of tools for the kitchen. Yet when you stand in front of the door at this store in central Dublin you’ll notice a different kind of clientele going inside and straight down the stairs. These are locals that know of the pleasures in the basement food hall.
Avoca is known for its food (they even have a couple of beautiful cookbooks). But for me, the best way to sample a taste of Ireland in the food hall is with the baked goods. For breakfast or an afternoon snack I would stop in for a wild berry scone, crispy on the outside, fluffy and moist on the inside. Ask for cream and jam when paying at the counter to get the full Irish experience.
Another staple in the Irish diet is brown soda bread. If the weather is nice, Avoca is a great place to stock up on picnic supplies – don’t miss that brown soda bread.
Ely Wine Bar
22 Ely Place
Tel: (+353) 1 633 9988
If you’re looking for one place to abandon your budget, take a seat in the restaurant section of Ely Wine Bar for a variety of Irish-inspired dishes. Cheapos trying to stick to their budget will want to take a seat in the bar and order from the bar menu instead, where local flavors can be tasted in the form of Irish cheese or my favorite: Irish oysters.
Across the country, oysters from the west of Ireland are praised for their size and intense flavor. Ely Wine Bar serves up Kilkee Pacific Oysters with horseradish sauce and some brown bread for substance. Although Ely is known for its wine list, nothing pairs with oysters quite like a pint of Guinness.
Temple Bar Food Market
Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
For a sampling of the national flavors of Ireland all in one place, head to the Temple Bar Food Market on a Saturday and bring your appetite. Here you can throw back a few more of those delicious Pacific oysters, sample a range of Irish cheeses, and indulge in one of my favorite sandwiches on the planet: the Paddy Jack Sandwich.
This incredibly filling and affordable meal consists of two massive slices of fresh olive bread topped with just-carved roasted lamb, brie cheese, a pile of greens, and your choice of dressing. Take a stroll throughout the market first and sample a few other options before making the Paddy Jack sandwich your grand finale.
Your favorite Irish eats?
Do you have an Irish restaurant to add to our list? Share with us in the comments section.