Date night. We all love it. Whether you want to impress a new love match, recapture the magic of life before kids, or ensure it's known that you're still making the effort, sometimes a romantic restaurant is necessary to set the scene, but food is always numero uno at ATF so no red-draped, candle-lit, rubbish food serving establishments may apply.
Luckily, we’re in no shortage of cosy, dimly lit spots in Dublin city, where the food is incredible, the wine is top notch, and the acoustics are just right, with enough chatter to not feel like everyone around you can hear everything you’re saying (very important). Here are some of our top picks for date night in Dublin City Centre...
(We're also big fans of the solo date, perfect for when you want to bask in that main character energy. See some of our favourite solo dining spots here.
Amuri, Dublin 2
Relatively new on the scene, Sicilian restaurant Amuri opened last summer, tucked away on Chatham Street just above The Corkscrew wine shop – all you’ll see from the outside is a doorway with the restaurant’s name painted on Sicilian-looking tiles. If you’re looking to reminisce about that romantic trip to Sicily, this is the place to do it, with specialty ingredients like Red Tuna Bottarga, olive oil and pasta imported from top Sicilian producers. It's an authentic experience that we think you’ll fall in ‘amuri’ with. (It's also this week's Once Over - read it here).
Frank's, Dublin 2
The natural wine bar serving small plates on Camden Street is the perfect location for the informal dates that don’t require the full-blown three courses, but still feel special. Most importantly, Frank’s serves great food and wine, from couple David Bradshaw (chef) and Katie Seward (wine and front of house). You’ll join a communal table for your small plates from a regularly changing menu, and Frank’s is walk-in only, so ideal if you've been put in charge of booking and left it a little too late.
Fish Shop, Smithfield
A go-to restaurant for industry folk for quite some time, Fish Shop on Benburb Street gets it all right. Our favourite thing to do is order everything on the snacks and shellfish menu – the gilda and anchovies and russian salad are musts – but you’ve got your also got your pick of the beer battered catch of the day, with a choice of fish like hake, haddock, plaice or brill. It’s a cosy place with bar-style seating so be sure to reserve a table, and with some great bars close by (Fidelity is a few steps away), and its proximity to the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, it’s a great option for a movie, dinner and drinks night.
Terra Madre, Dublin 1
Nestled in the basement of a Bachelor’s Walk building, Terra Madre feels like stepping back in time to a traditional Southern Italian trattoria. The restaurant is what you might call intimate, with only space for around 15 or so diners, and it's a great setting for authentic Italian dishes and decent wines. The menu features antipasti, primi piattis of great quality pasta dishes, and secondi featuring wild boar and slow cooked beef cheeks, with a choice or two or three desserts. The ravioli del ‘Plin’ (handmade pasta from the Piedmont region, made using a traditional technique known as ‘Plin’ or ‘the pinch’) with black and truffle and cheese fondue is one of our go-to orders, and we reckon it will be yours too once you've tasted it.
La Maison, Dublin 2
Nothing says romance quite like a French restaurant – one of our favourites in the city has to be La Maison, the French brasserie on Castle Market. In the summer there’s outdoor dining, but it’s also a cosy restaurant setting for those dark winter evenings when only a hearty French meal like confit duck paired with a good Pinot Noir will do. There’s lots of traditional dishes to choose from here, including Coquilles St Jacques, Coq au Vin, and a 30oz Côte de boeuf for two, if you’re sharing. You’re also perfectly located right next to Grogan’s for that pre or post-dinner drink, when you don't want the night to end.
Piglet, Dublin 2
Wine-bar/restaurant Piglet on Cow’s Lane feels just the right distance from the hubbub of the city without being too far removed, and their wine list is a so-called ‘carefully selected mess’ of natural, biodynamic and organic wines alongside classic European picks. Seating indoors or at the bar is an ideal option for date nights on chillier evenings, and their outdoor terrace complete with heaters is a great spot year round. There’s a set two or three course menu, or you can go à la carte, and the food has a Mediterranean influence - but we're really there for the wine.
Be sure to ask for a table overlooking the canal on your next date night at Portobello restaurant Lock’s. It's always a solid choice for creative fine dining with the best Irish ingredients, with dishes like Guinness and treacle bread with cultured butter; hash browns with dulse seaweed, cod's roe and shallot; Castletownbere scallops with preserved sea buckthorn; and saddle of Sika deer with ‘bratwurst’ boudin. A stroll down the canal post-dinner on a summer’s evening would be the ideal ending.
Library Street, Dublin 2
Located on Setanta Place, adjacent to Kildare Street, Library Street has been one of the most sought after tables in town since it opened. Try the choux buns with horseradish and Cantabrian anchovies, crispy stuffed chicken wings, and Paris Brest with stout, yuzu and espresso. It's the perfect way to round off a cultural day-date with your other half if you’ve been enjoying the National Library, National Museum or Gallery, all within a hair’s breadth of the restaurant.
Note, Dublin 2
Buzzy wine bar/bistro Note will definitely deliver for date night – tables for two are against the window, and the warm wooden paneling and relaxed room setting give us serious Copenhagen vibes. Note serves top quality bistro style dishes, and their wine list is next-level. They’ve also had some very interesting pop ups including welcoming the Wildair + Contra team from NYC for a six course tasting menu, and Irish chef and author of the Ómós Digest Cuan Greene for another.
Fallon & Byrne's Wine Cellar
The basement of upmarket food hall Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street is the perfect candlelit location for a romantic rendezvous. Its walls are lined with over 200 of wines from around the world, so you’re guaranteed to find something you both like. Even better if your date night lands on a Sunday - there’s just €1 corkage from Sunday to Tuesday which is some of the best wine value in the city. For food there’s a good selection of charcuterie, pastas, pizzas and desserts to nibble on.
Etto, Dublin 2
You'll be hard pressed to find a list of best restaurants in Dublin that doesn’t include Etto, but this Italian/Irish bistro with a stellar wine list is always top of our minds for a cosy date night too. With relatively limited capacity for seating, you can nab a table for two or bar-seating and definitely make sure to book well in advance because it's as popular as ever. You may not leave without ordering their signature of red wine prunes with vanilla mascarpone dessert – two spoons please.
La Gordita, Dublin 2
Newcomer La Gordita is our latest entry for date night dining. From the people behind Las Tapas De Lola, La Gordita is like their sophisticated older, cooler sister who always wears great jackets you want to steal. Pick a table for two or bar seating, with some in the front offering great people watching out onto Montague Street. Pitched as Spanish ‘bodega style’, it’s more a place to really get settled into a three-course meal (and they stipulate that you must order a main so unfortunately you can't just gorge on tapas), and we loved the pan con ajo (their version of garlic bread), and the fried aubergine with sugar cane honey.
Bastible, Dublin 8
Dublin 8’s Bastible is contemporary Irish dining at its best and has been one of Dublin’s most in demand restaurants since it opened its doors in 2015. Since earning a Michelin star in 2022, it’s also been even harder to get a table, so this is for a special date night that requires a bit of advance planning, but it will be worth it. Offering a five course tasting menu, complete with snacks and petit fours, it’s substantial and delicious in equal measure, with a strong Irish influence.
D'Olier Street, Dublin 2
If you’re looking for fine dining in Dublin city centre, in a beautiful setting but without the fuss, D’Olier Street should be high on your list. It feels special without being serious, the ten-course tasting menu features incredible breads and desserts from a renowned, formerly New York based pastry chef, and the restaurant happens to be in D’Olier Chambers - one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, in our humble opinion.
Bar Italia, Dublin 1
The god-tier carbonara will have us coming back to Bar Italia again and again, and for a cosy date night grab a table by the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Millennium Bridge. Its chiefly Roman-staffed kitchen has been really bringing the goods for the past year, with top quality house-made pasta, pinsas (Roman pizza) with 72-hour fermented dough, and an extensive wine list. You’re also only a short walk to Bar 1661 where you can enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail in a very romantic (and award-winning) setting. From Bar 1661 to Bar Italia - that’s our kind of bar-hopping.
Margadh RHA, Dublin 2
The newest addition to the Mamó empire (also a great date-night spot in the 'burbs), Margadh RHA is located in the RHA Gallery on Ely Place (the clue is in the name). It's a wonderful way to round off a cultural date spent checking out the latest exhibition, and following your meal you can take a little stroll around Stephen’s Green to walk it off. The tasting menu is some of the best value in town, and the wine list is a joy.
Uno Mas, Dublin 2
Etto’s Spanish sister, and also a permanent resident on those best restaurant in Dublin lists, Uno Mas is a top-tier date night choice, with some of the best counter-dining in town. All the Spanish favourites are here to choose from – gildas, padron peppers, that tortilla, Morcilla Ibérica, and their flan de queso (even if you don’t think you like flan, you’ll like this) is cult-status level at this stage.
One Pico, Dublin 2
This is old school dining with a distinctly French flair, all in a warmly lit setting with crisp white tablecloths and plush seating. One Pico on Molesworth Place is Dublin institution-level at this stage, but with new head chef Zhan Sergejev taking the reins in 2022, it’s been given a new lease of life. The food looks as skillfully produced as ever, and it's clear the kitchen is aiming for Michelin star level food.
Pickle, Dublin 2
Camden Street’s Pickle is our go-to for great Indian food that feels elevated and sophisticated, and is a solid date-night option as long as your other half doesn't mind spice. This is vibrant, authentic North Indian food packed with freshness and flavour, with dishes like tandoori guinea fowl, goat keema and wild boar vindaloo. Head chef and owner Sunil Ghai is one of the foremost Indian chefs in Ireland, and has the awards and legions of fans to prove it.
A Fianco, Stoneybatter
Next door to Grano (another great spot for a romantic date night – but we thought we’d give their wine bar a nod this time), A Fianco is an Italian-only wine bar serving small plates from caponata to Calabrian-style anchovies, and 40-month aged red cow Parmigiano. It’s a cosy spot, with just 16 seats, or you can pitch up at one of the standing areas. A Fianco (meaning ‘next to’) takes bookings for their counter or window space, so be sure to reserve a table in advance.
What's your favourite date spot in Dublin with great food and wine? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.