2019 was the year of great food in Dublin. For the most part it was very easy to think of somewhere to eat, and sidestep the fear of a disappointing experience, or a meal that wasn't worth writing about. Every month seemed to bring a new opening more exciting than the last, or an established restaurant pushing themselves to the next level. We can't wait to see what 2020 has lined up, but these were our 10 favourite once overs in 2019...
10) Bun Cha
Moore Street Vietnamese Bun Cha was one of our favourite meals of last year and the best Vietnamese food we've found here to date. Although it's quick and simple, we think about the smoky chargrilled pork and blisteringly crisp spring rolls an abnormal amount, and if our remit wasn't to try as many restaurants as possible so that we can tell you about the best ones, there's a good chance we'd be there every week. Read the Bun Cha once over here.
The lovely family-run operation that is Alma in Portobello seemed to have weekend brunch queues from day one, but an August weekday was an ideal time to try their steak, eggs and chimichurri, and dulce de leche lattés, and experience their now famous Argentinean hospitality. Read the Alma once over here.
After a visit to Host in March we left wishing every niehgbourhood had one. How many Dublin suburbs have a place to call their own for handmade pasta, natural wine and snappily dressed wait staff all dressed in white. Lucky Ranelagh. Read the Host once over here.
7) 3 Leaves
After several failed attempts to get a table in the ever popular 3 Leaves in Blackrock Market, we finally bagged a table for Sunday lunch in April, and instantly understood why they've gathered such loyal fans. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that this is what they'd be eating if they travelled to India and did their restaurant research properly, and this is as far away from take-away tikka masalas and supermarket samosas as you can get. Read the 3 Leaves once over here.
6) Mister S
Fire makes everything taste better. That's what we left Mister S thinking in September. Dublin finally has a bone fide barbecue restaurant, and what head chef Daniel Hannigan and team are doing here with beef short ribs, pork tomahawks and fire is nothing short of magic. Read the Mister S once over here.
There was a lot of excitement about the new restaurant from ex-Etto front of house Jess D'Arcy and ex-Charlotte Quay/Chapter One head chef Killian Durkin in Howth, and Mamó is everything the North Dublin fishing village has been waiting for. They buy much of the menu from local producers and direct from the boats, and the talent both in the kitchen and front of house makes it well worth travelling across the city for a visit. Read the Mamó once over here.
Niall Davidson's return home after previously opening Nuala in London had the city's foodies at fever pitch, especially after the opening was delayed by six months. It was worth the wait though, and gave Davidson, along with chefs Hugh Higgins and Christine Walsh, more time to scour the country for the best Irish produce and perfect their pasta recipes. Read the Allta once over here.
From the first moment we heard about Potager anticipation was high. An ex-Chapter One head chef, selecting from the bounty of food grown and produced in North county Dublin, and opening in the pretty seaside town of Skerries, which up to that point didn't have anywhere to make us jump on the train for a food journey. Enter Potager, one of our best meals of 2019. Grown up dining but never dull, expect the unexpected in Skerries. Read the Potager once over here.
2) Variety Jones
Just before Christmas of 2018 we hightailed it up to Thomas Street to get the scoop on Keelan Higgs' bootstrapped new restaurant in the Liberties. Early reports of the food cooked over fire were encouraging, but two visits there early in the year had us thinking this was some of the most exciting food in Dublin. Michelin obviously thought the same as they awarded them a star in October, just 10 months after opening. Read the Variety Jones once over here.
The most remarkable food experience of 2019 was a visit to Liath, the second incarnation of Heron & Grey. We didn't think they needed to change anything, but on walking into the completely transformed, Scandi-esque dining room, we were wowed. Chef Damien Grey's food is never less than goosebump inducing, and in Liath he and the team are the best they've ever been. Read the Liath once over here.