Words: Shamim de Brún
Dublin has a plethora of culinary strong suits these days, making it hard to know where to go. So every month, we will rank the five best restaurants of the moment. The main criteria are that they must be serving an experience worth going out of your way for.
This essential list covers the entire city and spans every cuisine and price point. It will satisfy all your depraved dining needs. From where to get a banging bargain bite to where to blow half your paycheck on dinner.
This list answers the question, “Where should you eat if you only had one night left to eat?”
Fallon & Byrne, a sprawling Dublin city centre institution, offers a food hall deli, a basement cafe and wine cellar and an elegant brasserie on the first floor. It’s easily forgotten sometimes because it is a stalwart OG. It’s a classic Parisian style reminiscent of the Paris you see on TV.
This restaurant has been playing a slow burn game for a few years that’s now catching fire. Between their themed weeks and pop-up event wine tastings. If you were judging by Instagram, you’d probably blink and give them a miss. Their socials leave a little to be desired and don’t do them justice. But the food has been a high-quality classic for years, and their early bird features a cucumber and melon gazpacho that converted me into a cold soup fan.
While this is not a spot for the natty winos, it’s a hundred per cent a place to cut your teeth on wine. In their wine cellar, you can get one euro corkage. On literally any wine. They’ve been the talk of the town in a way that’s impossible to ignore.
It’s no shock that we’re Big Fan-s here at CHAR. We’ve written about them extensively. Last month they proved they are a force to be reckoned with by maintaining the highest quality at their base in Aungier street and selling out their Roe & Co Distillery pop-up.
Their pop-up menu was a textural Disney Land. Eating it was better than being in what is conventionally marketed as the happiest place on earth. If you thought their bao was as good as they could get, you missed out on their game-changing charcoal bao. It was like going from a board game to a PS5 seamlessly.
You can tell the team has big things happening behind closed doors. I think this is going to be a big year for Big Fan.
This place has been in the sustainable spotlight recently, with some calling for Michelin recognition long overdue. I’ve returned to it a few times because I’m a bougie local but because it’s a phenomenal feed without the pretence.
There’s also the perfect amount of space and ambience, which I find many restaurants struggle to get right. Here it seems as effortless as their understated decor. It’s the perfect spot if you’ve veggie in your food party because the vegetarian meals are good they’d tempt even the most ardent carnivore.
Co-owner Colm Maguire has designed a fascinating wine list where he balances a focus on low-intervention wines and benchmark producers. It encapsulates all of the qualities of a restaurant I look for when the treat-yo-self devil appears on my cold shoulder.
You can’t blink for seeing Chimac everywhere recently. And justifiably so. This chicken joint has been on a steady incline since they popped onto the scene with the force of a tidal wave. From ice cream sammies to at-home sauces, a second venue, and most recently, a wine pairing with Table Wine. You can’t turn around for Chimac news, and sure why would you want to.
With sustainably procured chicken and Bucky slushies, they are hitting all the right notes this month, and I can’t wait to see what their new multistory venue reveals.
Volpe Nera‘s new summer menu needs to be tasted. It’s a menu full of words even the weather-beaten initiate doesn’t know. But surrendering to the unknown is part of the fun, and if you’re nervous, the servers have all the answers. They must have top-notch staff training there because there isn’t a question they don’t know the answer to.
Between their legendary dumplings, ceviche, and courgette flowers, you will be hard-pressed even to pick a starter. I’ve already talked about how their strawberry basil dessert is refreshing for a restaurant of this calibre to offer individual courses and not require the customer to sit down for an entire multi-course tasting menu.
‘Black Fox’ takes its name from its position midway between the suburbs of Blackrock and Foxrock. It’s the only place I’ve been in the past month that I am still talking about weeks later. So if you can swing fifty quid for two courses and a glass of wine, you absolutely should make a beeline out here and experience what summer tastes like to head chef Barry Sun.
Elsewhere on Char: What Even is Whispering Angel