10 Classic Dublin Restaurants That Are Still Killing It
We spend a lot of time reporting on the 'new' (the first three letters of 'news') and there's no doubting that you guys love a new opening, but we're often asked about restaurants that have been open a long time that are still kicking ass. The honest answer is there aren't many old-timers that get us excited to get up, get out and spend our money, and with the standard of food in Dublin shooting higher each year, much of the old guard have struggled to keep up. Some however seem to be constantly reinventing, innovating and pushing harder than ever, making them feel just as relevant as any hype-inducing new opening, and it's these places that we'll be giving our money to time and time again. For this feature we stuck to restaurants over 10 years old, but we could (and will) give you another list of recessionary restaurants which are as good as they've ever been, around the 5-8 year-old mark.
Chapter One feels like the Grandaddy of classic restaurants, the one who shows everyone else how to do it. It's hard to believe it's been sitting on Parnell Square since 1992, because nothing about it feels old-fashioned or dated - if anything the team here seem to be at the top of their game. The clientele are extremely varied in age and profile, but what everyone has in common is they come here for a proper treat. The laid back, friendly staff seem to be remarked upon by everyone who walks through the door, the food is poised but fun, using much of the island's best ingredients, and they're proof that Michelin-stars don't have to mean stuffiness.
Soothing, Irish/French restaurant Dax on Pembroke Street feels like descending the stairs into a cave somewhere in the Loire Valley. It feels old-school in the nicest possible way, with staff and owner Olivier doing everything possible to make diners feels relaxed and taken care of. Dax has been there since 2005, managing to stay open through the recession when boozy lunches were more frowned upon than Graham Linehan's recent Twitter antics, but current head chef Graham Neville only came on board in 2017. Last year he was named "best chef in Ireland 2019" at the RAI Awards, with Dax named "best restaurant in Dublin", showing that the cream always rises to the top.
Peploe's on St. Stephen's Green has never struggled to attract customers, but the clientele have generally been of an older, monied demographic, or the lunching-ladies-sipping-prosecco type. Last year they had something of a reinvention when chef Graeme Dodrill took over the kitchen, turning the focus strongly onto Irish producers and introducing a trolley for carving chateaubriand, côte de boeuf and legs of lamb. A flutter of critics followed, each more impressed than the last, and it's harder than ever to get a table at peak times.
One Pico has always sat somewhat in the shadow of sibling The Greenhouse, which achieved the incredible accolade of two Michelin stars at last October's awards, but lately they seem intent on stepping up the game and getting noticed more, and it's working. Recently several critics have bemoaned the fact that it doesn't have a star of its own, and the hasselback potatoes must be the best (if not the only) ones in the city.
Monty's of Kathmandu
Open since 1997, Monty's of Kathmandu is one of the only reasons to look for food in Temple Bar. Run by husband and wife team Shiva and Lina, they specialise in traditional Nepalese food, like Jyogi Bhat (Nepalese biryani), Ledo Bedo (traditional Nepalese curry) and kalo dahl. Don't miss the momo's with achar (chicken or vegetable dumplings with barbecued tomato and coriander chutney), and the carrot halwa for dessert (gajar ka halwa). There's also an impressive wine cellar downstairs - ask for a tour.
L. Mulligan Grocer
Stoneybatter's L. Mulligan Grocer is open ten years this year, and feels like Dublin's original gastropub. Sure we had others before it, but nowhere that did it like this. Their opening stance against serving mass market beers (and mass market food) has stood the test of time, and it's one of the most interesting places in Dublin to go for a drink. The food menu never stands still with the kitchen team evangelical about using Irish, seasonal produce, to the point where they regularly send orders back with their suppliers when foreign substitutes are delivered.
Derry and Sally-Anne Clarke's L'Ecrivain has been open for a phenomenal 31 years, and has held onto its Michelin star since 2003. It's still going strong, with Leslie Williams from the Irish Examiner saying in his last review that over 40 or so meals there he can barely remember a dud course, and the pre-theatre menu from 5-7pm for €55 is a great way to experience the French influenced cooking without dipping into the overdraft.
Ananda, part of the Jaipur group, opened in Dundrum in 2008, and shortly after was said to have "redefined Indian food" for the Irish public. Fast forward 12 years and they're held in higher regard than ever, thanks to the 'Sunil Ghai years' (before he left to open Pickle on Camden Street), and then the arrival of Karan Mittal in 2018, whose food (the tasting menu in particular) is a journey through his life and childhood in India. If you think Indian food means chicken tikka masala and lamb korma you need to experience Mittal's roast Roscommon goat leg with fermented rice pancakes and chutneys, textures of tapioca and aged black lime sorbet.
Italian Manifesto in Rathmines opened in the mid-noughties, but current owner Luca Paduano took over in 2009, bringing his 'World Pizza Championship' winning pizzas to Dublin 6. Manifesto are as busy as ever, with locals complaining of not even being able to get a walk-in table mid-week - note to self, do not head to Rathmines without a booking. Staff can be curt, but the food is reliably excellent and the Italian wine list is 53 pages of pure joy.
Chez Max, Dublin Castle
Chez Max's Dublin Castle location opened in 2005, with the Baggot Street site following in 2008 - the latter one of the city's most loved French restaurants until the shutters came down this time last year. The original site has keep the flag flying with its bouillabaisse, l'escargot and steak frites, and there are few nicer terraces for summer evening people watching.