Following on from our recent visitor’s guide to Irish food in Dublin, which focused on the city centre, we thought we’d take you on a journey to Dublin's Northside. If you’ve got visitors in town and more than 24 hours on your hands in the city, it’s more than likely you'll end up taking a trip to some of Dublin's suburbs and outskirts, and let's face it - a mere 15 minutes outside the city-centre can transform any tourist’s opinion of the place.
Home to the most stunning beaches in Portmarnock, Sutton, Howth, Malahide and Skerries, incredible green spaces like the Phoenix Park, St Anne’s and the Botanic Gardens, the Northside also has its fair share of great restaurants and cafés (although we admit it's still playing catch up with the southside). Whether it’s a seaside village or a leafy suburban neighbourhood, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for a day of eating and drinking, and here are our top spots...
Honey Honey, Portmarnock
This cosy café in Portmarnock village is a little shot of sunshine. Serving breakfast and lunch, it’s always thronged with hungry queues out the door for takeaway and sit-in. Honey Honey has been open since 2018 and filled a much needed gap for a decent café in the area. Serving great coffee, delicious homemade granola and warm sausage rolls, they also have a regularly changing lunch special menu which never disappoints. Nearby Portmarnock beach is a great spot to blow off the cobwebs and get your dose of vitamin sea, flat white in hand.
Calling themselves a ‘health food cafe’ - don’t let that put you off – Fuel keeps the good people of Clontarf going with great coffee, brekkie, brunch and lunch. Previously a small sit-in space, since the pandemic hit Fuel started to operate as a takeaway with a hatch to the outside street, and has kept it that way. We can’t say we mind too much as the promenade is a stone’s throw away, stretching all the way to Dollymount, with plenty of places to have a picnic (weather permitting). There are specials everyday, but also reliables like breakfast baps and granola, and good vegan/vegetarian options too.
The Rock Bakery, Skerries
The Rock Bakery in Skerries is worth the trip out to Skerries alone . The ‘micro-patisserie’/artisanal bakery is currently operating out of a pub, ‘The Snug’ (but a permanent home is coming soon), with a seasonal monthly menu, and they sling delicious baked goods from Thursday to Sunday. Honey chili garlic focaccia, chorizo cheese danishes, pain au citron, ferrero croissants - what’s not to love?
Bodega Coffee, Howth
Offering the best cup of coffee in the village, Bodega Coffee in Howth market is always our first stop on a day out to the seaside fishing village. Influenced by a retro New York vibe, a little bit of Melbourne and a dash of Irish hospitality, they’ve been operating since 2017 and have also recently opened up a Drury Street outpost in George’s Street Arcade. Bodega serves excellent coffee (Full Circle Roasters), and delicious sweet and savoury treats to fuel yourself as you head off on the Howth Cliff Walk.
St Anne's Market, Raheny
The former home of the Guinness family, St Anne's is an extensive public parkland and rose gardens, and a really beautiful green space to while away a few hours in. Bonus is that every Saturday from 10:00 - 16:00 there’s a market to help you refuel after that walk around the park/playground time/game of tennis/Parkrun. One of the market’s recent additions, Bread 41, has - obviously - been a runaway success (with the queues to prove it) but thankfully they arrive well stocked. Food stalls change regularly, but you’ll find everything from falafel, noodles and Indian food, to baked potatoes, burgers and empanadas – and so much more.
Goat in the Boat, Skerries
This sweet little spot in Skerries serves gelato, coffee, glass and homewares. Situated in a prime setting right on Skerries harbour, Goat in the Boat is a great place to enjoy sunny seaside coffees and waffle cone gelato, as well as warming up with Belgian hot chocolate and homemade cakes in the colder months. Their glass studio, located at the back of the cafe, was a lockdown project that they fell in love with, and the glass art is available for sale in their shop. Inspired by the landscapes and seascapes surrounding the area, it’s a great place for visitors to pick up some non-tacky souvenirs too.
Picnic Park, Malahide
Situated right beside the Marina in Malahide, this collection of food trucks has something for everyone – or just for you, if you’re hungry enough and fancy a bit of everything (which we often do). Currently in Picnic Park you can pick from Puck Burger, Paddy’s Pizza, Lick ice-cream, and Puck Coffee. Bites by Kwanghi and El Milagro recently had food trucks here but have moved on, however Adobo Mexico, a truck run by a husband and wife duo from Oaxaca, Mexico, has just joined the crew.
Goat's Gruff, Strawberry Beds
This little food truck started out in August 2019 serving specialty coffee and Neapolitan pizza, inspired by a visit to a community pizza night in Vermont. From fresh pastries for breakfast to sourdough wood-fired sambos for lunch and Neapolitan pizza every evening (made with dough fermented over 48 hours), Goats Gruff is always thronged, for good reason. To top it all, they’ve got a lovely relationship with the Strawberry Hall pub next-door, and share the beer garden where you can enjoy your Goat’s Gruff grub and a Guinness in style. We also love taking a coffee and Media Luna pastry to the Phoenix Park for a stroll.
Starting life as a food and wine shop, Margadh has turned into a wonderful cafe and wine bar, serving toasties and sausage rolls during the day, and small plates in the evening. The sister (or child?) of Mamó, just a few doors down, it's also spread its wings with Margadh RHA, boasting one of the best value tasting menus in town. Margadh is a must-stop in Howth, whether it’s picking up a delicious toastie or the makings of a picnic from their deli shelves during the day, or choosing how many plates you can fit in the evening with a few glasses of seriously good wine. From Cantabrian anchovy toast with preserved lemon aioli, to winter truffle linguine and moules mariniere, the only problem is choosing what to order.
Since Mamó (Irish for grandmother) opened its doors on Harbour Road in Howth back in 2019, we've been well and truly hooked. It’s been firmly at the top of our recommendation lists for anyone visiting Dublin, and word is most definitely out. Run by ex-Etto front of house Jess D'Arcy and chef husband Killian Durkin (ex-Thornton's, Chapter One and Charlotte Quay), the menu changes seasonally and is always focused on sustainable ingredients, sourced from Ireland’s most committed producers, and using the best of North County Dublin produce. Your visitors must not leave Ireland without trying the ‘cod chip’, confit potato chips with taramasalata - Mamó's take on fish and chips.
King Sitric, Howth
Down beside the pier in Howth, King Sitric is ideally located for you to kick back and enjoy the view across Howth Harbour and Ireland’s Eye. The restaurant and guest house been around for over 50 years but most recently handed over the reins to the younger generation, who have turned it into a less formal dining situation and seafood bar, serving the best of Irish fish and shellfish. The seafood here is fresh as it gets, with an abundance of oysters, crab, Dublin Bay prawns and lobster served either whole steamed, in butter sauce, garlic butter, Thermidore or ‘Dublin Lawyer’, a whiskey cream sauce. They're very child and dog-friendly too - always a bonus in our books.
When it comes to Middle Eastern food in Dublin, there's nothing better than Shouk in Drumcondra. The vibrant flavours pack a serious punch, and at a great price too. Their pitas and mezze platters are five star-dishes, and we dream about the ‘batata’ - a whole baked sweet potato filled with onion sumac labeneh sauce, Shouk-style beef and lamb mince, radish, scallions and parsley. The arayes are also a must-order - chargrilled pitta served with beef and lamb, cherry tomato confit, grilled red onion and green chili. As always with Middle Eastern food, there’s loads of veggie options, and they do a nice selection of cocktails too.
La Cocina Cuevas, Naul
Destination Cali-Mex food in North County Dublin. La Cocina Cuevas was opened by Grandma Cuevas in the glorious sunny town of Lodi, California in 1974, where she shared her wisdom with her grandson Jeremy. After almost a decade working in some of London’s top restaurants he decided to bring his Mexican culture and love of food to Ireland. The menu changes every few months, but you’ll always be guaranteed juicy and authentic Cali-Mex style tacos and burritos. Do not leave with ordering the papas fritas – little crispy golden nuggets of potato, served with salsa rojo on the side. You can also get them loaded, where they’re smothered with grilled onions, melted cheese, jalapenos, salsa, guacamole and coriander. Yes.
Da Mimmo, North Strand
This family-run Italian restaurant started life as a fish and chip shop, run by a husband and wife who emigrated from Casalattico (between Rome and Naples) in the 60s. Fast forward to 2010 when it was taken over by their son, Tino Fusciardi, and Da Mimmo was born. Serving homemade wood-fired pizzas, pasta and anti-pasti, with regularly changing specials, delicious desserts and a good wine list – Da Mimmo is a consistent and great Italian restaurant in the city, and one we’ll go back to time and time again.
Just Chubby's, Clontarf
After years of trialing recipes, followed by a pandemic-related delay, the team at 147 Deli brought glorious tacos to Clontarf via Just Chubby's in June 2022. It was a rip-roaring success, selling out constantly and very very quickly (much to the dismay of taco-loving northsiders), but in September they announced that due to a chronic staff shortage they’d be going on a break. So you can imagine the joy and rapturous delight when they announced they were making a comeback on Thursday 2nd February. Serving three tacos – beef, chicken and veggie – and lots of sides like corn ribs and nachos, just come hungry and order everything. Taco early, taco often.
Kinara Kitchen, Clontarf
Opened by none other than Clontarf’s best boy Brian O’Driscoll back in 2001, Kinara Kitchen is an institution and probably one of the best located restaurants in Dublin, right beside the wooden bridge and with delicious views over Bull Island and Dollymount Strand. This is great Pakistani and Indian cuisine – flavourful, consistent and the well-executed menu has a universal appeal. Kinara also has a good wine list and whopper cocktail menu, with lots of nods to local places.
One of the biggest and buzziest openings of a restaurant in this neck of the woods for a while, Potager should be on your list for dinner or a fancy lunch if you're anywhere near the seaside village of Skerries. Run by ex-Chapter One head chef Cathal Leonard and partner Sarah Ryan, since 2019 Potager has been showcasing the best of North County Dublin meat, fish, fruit and veg. It’s also located in the home of the old Munster and Leinster bank in Skerries (and the wine is in the vault – makes sense). This is fine dining but in an unfussy and laid-back setting. It's a set menu for dinner and Sunday lunch, and there’s a veggie option too.