Our bi-monthly list features the most talked about restaurants in Dublin right now. We recently had to increase it from 20 to 25 and currently we're seeing no reason to bring it back down again. This is where the reviewers are reviewing, the instagrammers are instagramming, and where getting a Saturday (or any) night table can take military planning, in alphabetical order...
Where: Blackrock Market
The tiny Indian in Blackrock exploded in 2018 with zero PR attached - just word of very satisfied mouths. Soon it was being called "outstanding" by Tom Doorley and "a revelation" by Katy McGuinness and it was firmly on the Dublin food map. Expect very tasty, very good value food, and the fact that you can BYOB is another reason it's difficult to get a table in.
Where: Setanta Place
The hype for formerly London-based chef Niall Davidson's first Dublin opening was big, and when Allta finally opened in November it delivered on its pre-opening promises. The handmade pastas, charcuterie and hand-dived scallops have been a hit with *most* of the critics, with Leslie Williams saying it blew his mind, and Niall Toner calling the crab bigoli everything he ever wanted.
Read our Allta once over here.
The Argentinean café opened in mid-January with slick imagery and a very different menu to what's currently available on the food scene, and seems to have had a queue since day one. You have definitely seen the dulce de leche pancakes on social media and have probably stood on the SRC waiting for a table. Catherine Cleary called it "very special", while Katy McGuinness said it's a "small restaurant with a big personality"..
Read our Alma once over here.
Where: South Circular Road
Always a cornerstone of the Dublin dining scene, Bastible has been catapulted back into the limelight with the news that ex-Noma chef Cúán Greene is back in Dublin and their new head chef. Catherine Cleary was swiftly through the door, calling it "the start of something truly bloody exciting". Expect a stampede.
Check out Bastible's hunger-inducing Instagram feed here.
Where: Pearse Street
Did cruffins even exist before Bread 41 opened last September? What did we have as a 'treat' breakfast? What did food bloggers pull apart for insta story videos? It's fair to say that Real Bread fanatic Eoin Cluskey's Pearse Street bakery burst onto the scene and shows no signs of slowing down. Watch the sad faces pile up around 10am when they find out that everything's gone and the next bake isn't till 11.
The new neighbourhood restaurant from four industry friends won a Michelin Bib Gourmand within six months of opening, and has given diners across the city reason to get on a bus to Terenure. Leslie Williams in the Examiner saying Circa's "future looks bright", and Ernie Whalley in the Sunday Times calling chef Gareth Naughton's cooking "stylish with inspirational touches".
Read more about Circa here.
Where: Clanbrassil Street
It's always a bit of a tie between who's getting more love - OG Bastible (above) or newer sibling Clanbrassil House, but between Cúán Green heading up the kitchen in Bastible and Clanbrassil head chef Gráinne O'Keeffe being named "best chef under 30" at last year's Food & Wine awards, we'd say they're pretty even right now.
Read more about Clanbrassil House here.
Where: Merrion Row
Etto has been dream dining since opening mid-recession in 2013. One of the most highly rated, consistent restaurants in the city, no one was surprised to see them take home best restaurant in Ireland at last year's Restaurant Awards. Katy McGuinness reviewed them for a second time last February giving out a very rare 10/10, and saying she wouldn't change a single thing about it.
Fish Shop Benburb Street
Simple seafood, sherry and natural wines have been drawing the crowds to Smithfield since day one, and it's one of the food & drink industry's favourite hang outs. Catherine Cleary likened it to "a world class tapas bar", Katy McGuinness called it "perfection", and their Monday Wine Club is without doubt the best value place to drink quality wine in the whole of Dublin. Champagne for €7.50 a glass anyone?
Read more about Fish Shop Benburb St here.
Where: Chatham Street
Vegan and vegetarian restaurant Glas opened at the end of October, and has quickly become the place for those looking to avoid a meat-based meal in the city centre. The critics who've visited so far have seemed pleasantly surprised at how much they've enjoyed it, with Catherine Cleary saying "there's much to like", and Gillian Nelis praising their "very clever work".
Read more about Glas here.
We don't remember a new Italian restaurant ever having the impact Grano had in just a couple of months of being open. By January this year they were booking out weeks in advance, and on the two occasions we ate there, countless people were turned away all evening. Catherine Cleary called it "terrific", and Lucinda O'Sullivan said if she lived locally she'd be there every night.
Read our Grano once over here.
Host opened in Ranelagh in 2017 and was like a corridor of London transported into a street in need. Soon the neighbourhood had a new favourite hangout for handmade pasta, sharing steak and great wine, and more than one critic complained about not being able to get a table. Host is still killing it in the popularity stakes and their fans frequently travel across the city to eat there.
Read our Host once over here.
When Damien Grey split from Heron & Grey business partner Andrew Heron late last year it was a big shock, but Grey revamped and reopened as 'Liath', and reviews soon confirmed it was better than ever. All eyes were on the Michelin awards last month to see if they'd regain the star they effectively gave back on closing the restaurant, and of course they did.
Read our Liath once over here.
Little Dumpling (New)
Where: Little Mary Street
What was formerly (and very short-lived) Fudo Izakaya reopened as Little Dumpling in December, and once word got out about the handmade dumplings they've been some of the hardest seats to nab in town. Expect a queue at peak times but you can book in advance by calling. Don't miss the duck xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and the beetroot dumplings with prawn and crabmeat.
Read our Little Dumping once over here.
Where: Mount Merrion
We didn't think it was possible for Michael's in Mount Merrion to be overshadowed, until little brother and wine bar Little Mike's opened a few doors up. It's left a clean sweep of critics swooning (us included), with Ernie Whalley describing the seafood small plates as full of sincerity and generosity, and Tom Doorley calling it "a delight". The counter seats with a view of the kitchen are the ones in demand, and the wine experience is at the same level as the food.
Read more about Little Mike's here.
The reaction to Mamó would make anyone think it was Howth's first ever restaurant, and their snack take on fish and chips - taramasalata on confit potato - has already reached cult status. Tom Doorley in the Irish Daily Mail loved the "jewel-like explosions of flavour", while Catherine Cleary in the Irish Times called it "a breath of fresh sea air."
Read our Mamó once over here.
Where: Camden Street
When the guys from Featherblade said they were bringing real open-fire barbecue to Camden Street we were cautiously optimistic because of everything that's come in that genre before, but Mister S surpassed all expectations. Leslie Williams in the Irish Examiner called it "one of the best openings of 2019", we had similar sentiments, and wait times of two hours on Saturday night have been reported.
Read our Mister S once over here.
There was a lot of excitement in the industry when it was announced in January that ex-Chapter One head chef Cathal Leonard was taking over the old Red Bank in Skerries. He and partner Sarah Ryan opened the doors in June and unusually Catherine Cleary from the Irish Times was the first in. She called the evening tasting menu "the best money you'll spend on food in Dublin", and after eating there we'd be inclined to agree.
Read our Potager once over here.
Where: Dublin 8
The revamped pub in Dublin 8, taken over by the owner's of The Pig's Ear, hit the ground running, with SIX critics in the door within a couple of weeks of opening. Catherine Cleary in the Irish Times called the beef cheek and bone marrow parker house roll "one of the best beef dishes in town", Niall Toner in the Sunday Times called it "lovingly crafted comfort food", and the place is hopping.
Read more about Spitalfields here.
Where: Grantham Street
The story on Dublin's newest pasta place where every plate costs less than €10 has been one of our most read this year so far, and while only one critic has been in so far, our timelines have been flooded with diners partaking in cacio e pepe and nduja 'tyres' with an Irish ingredient twist. Tom Doorley said they're serving the best ragu he's found in Ireland, which is quite the compliment.
Read more about Sprezzatura here.
Where: Dawson Street
Both Irish and international food critics have cried for years that the The Greenhouse was a two-Michelin starred restaurant with a one-star rating, and last October in London no one seemed more visibly relieved than head chef Mickael Viljanen when Michelin finally made the dream real. It's now one of only two two-starred restaurants in the city and the team seems to be stronger than ever.
Read more about The Greenhouse here.
Where: Francis Street
Casually going about their breakfast, lunch and brunch business since 2016, Two Pups is still one of the most sought after brunch spots in Dublin, and if you go on weekends prepare to queue. They're single-handedly responsible for one of the world's greatest pairings - avocado and garlic peanut butter, and the French toast with plum compote and white chocolate reached legendary status.
Read more about Two Pups here.
Where: Aungier Street
The second, Spanish-influenced opening from the guys behind Etto almost kept us waiting as long as Gertrude, but from the day they announced they were opening at the end of November there's been a steady stream of critics, bloggers and just breathing humans coming out awestruck at the gildas, the mussels, the flan. It also has some of the best bar seating in town and some is saved for walk-ins. Jackpot.
Read more about Uno Mas here.
Where: Thomas Street
The first solo opening from chef Keelan Higgs has given the Liberties in Dublin 8 its first Michelin star, and Dublin's only new one for 2019. They opened just before Christmas last year, got the fire going in the hearth at the back and started cooking, and pretty soon reports were coming in about some of the most exciting cooking in the city. It was hard to get a table before Michelin took notice, now it's almost impossible - but keep trying.
Read our Variety Jones once over here.
Volpe Nera (New)
Ex-Etto head chef Barry Sun's first solo restaurant was the subject of much excitement in the industry at the end of last year, and our article on the opening was one of the most read of the year. The food is definitely Etto-esque, and it's been a straight smash of reviews so far, with Gillian Nelis advising booking early and often, and Tom Doorley describing the food as "outstanding".
Read more about Volpe Nera here.
Ones to watch...
- Amy Austin, the new wine bar from 777 and ex-Luna owner John Farrell - yes we're still waiting
- Stone pizzeria opens in Stoneybatter in the next couple of weeks. The chef's from Puglia and that's about all we know but more when we have it
- Little Forest, the new Italian in Blackrock from the guys behind Forest Avenue has gone completely quiet. Best not to hold out too much hope for that one for the time being