Dublin now punches well above its weight when it comes to restaurants. But there are so many of them clamouring for your attention it can be hard to know where to go. This makes the quest for the best restaurants in town an ever-evolving challenge.
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.
So we’ve curated a list of the five must-visit dining destinations in the capital right now. If you’re heading out in Dublin this month, it absolutely has to be in one of these restaurants. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Grano is probably the cosiest enclave in Stoneybatter. It serves full-on Calabraian enchantment. Despite stiff competition from many Grano is widely regarded as the best pasta in the city. It’s also the spot that Stanley Tucci anointed on his most recent trip here.
Owner Roberto Mungo ensures that every handmade pasta dish, crafted from the finest Italian ingredients, follows his mother’s cherished recipes. Grano’s popularity is a testament to its authenticity and you can genuinely taste it in every bite. If you’re not lucky enough to get a reservation, their smaller venture next door, Afianco, always keeps a walk-in table.
You can also find Grano’s excellent wares at the Peroni pop-up in Temple Bar all month!
Row Wines, a Bereen brothers’ spot, stands out as a new and vibrant hotspot. It’s a spot where culinary art meets the actual craic. This restaurant isn’t solely about the food; it’s an immersive experience that includes live DJs and expertly crafted cocktails. It also catches some excellent sun opposite Pygmalion on Coppinger Row making it perfect for after-dinner shenanigans in the last of the Augustian summer sun.
Unlike other places, there is no minimum spend at Row Wines. So you can just stop in for a small plate and few wine if you’re just a little curious. That said, it is the small plates that take centre stage. With dishes like rosti loaded with crab and flatbread topped with a foaming Coolea cheese dip, you’ll get sucked in happily.
Afanti is an exciting newcomer to Dublin’s culinary scene, introducing Uyghur cuisine to Ireland. With a captivating blend of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern flavours, Afanti offers a unique taste combo, even in the epicurean hotspot that is Parnell Street. It hit the circuit with force capturing the attention of all the national publications as well as smaller food media.
Founded by Uyghur sisters Eleanor and Halnur Halmurat Afanti captures the essence of their cultural roots while delighting diners with Turkish-Chinese fusion dishes. Afanti directly translates to ‘Mister!’. The name is a signifier to those in the know that this is specifically an Uyghur restaurant.
According to the Irish Times, the family behind Afanti have been in Ireland for many years and are Irish citizens but retain their Uyghur nationality. The restaurant is a living testament to the rich cross-pollination of flavours that history has woven along the Silk Road.
Mae is a haven that pays tribute to tradition and family while still being kick ass. The Ballsbridge spot serves modern, locally sourced cuisine, celebrating Irish producers. As it sits atop French Paradox, it should come as no surprise that Mae has an impressive selection of French wines on offer. From natty to fancy.
Mae straddles the fine line between casual and fine dining impeccably well. Here Grainne has managed to create an intimate, relaxed atmosphere despite being seemingly always being fully booked. Cooking is modern Irish but with the style level of OG Channel. If the seasonal menu features something chonky diners are welcome to select a knife from a range crafted by Ireland’s finest knife-makers and forges. These include talented artisans like Sam Dunn, Fingal Ferguson, Ryan Tate, Sam Gleeson, and Jonathan Allen
Chef Grainne O’Keefe is an industry powerhouse, who has had the kind of illustrious career many dream of. She launched Mae in August 2021 drawing inspiration from her late grandmother Mae for whom she named the restaurant. Not content with that she also writes a weekly cooking column for the Irish Times, having taken over from JP MacMahon earlier this year.
Most recently the Michelin Guide name-checked Grainné’s apple tart as a pilgrimage for level must try. So she is hotly tipped to be en route to a star of her very own.
Variety Jones, helmed by brothers Aaron and Keelan Higgs, recently moved to a sleek 30-seater establishment next to its original Michelin-starred location. While there was a small hiccup in the form of a ghastly headline-grabbing fire their first week they have bounced back like the champions we know them to be.
Keelan, the head chef, orchestrates his flavourful seasonal menu using live fire and a wood-burning oven. The tasting menu is an exploration of inventive concepts, from stuffed pasta to expertly grilled fish and meats. The new menu is supposedly a whole notch up, according to social media reports.
The restaurant’s rise to fame within a year of its inception, earning and retaining a Michelin star, is a testament to its innovative dishes and warm service. The integration of a cool curated wine list makes this spot a must-try. Especially if fine dining has your name on it this month.
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