Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: George Voronov
Ireland has been raising the localised culinary culture bar for years, turning once-dismissed neighbourhoods into must-visit destinations. We have teamed up with Hop House 13 to celebrate local businesses in some of our favourite neighbourhoods. Next Up: Phibsborough
Phibsborough is the heart of Dublin 7. It borders Glasnevin to the North, Cabra, Stoneybatter, and Grangegorman to the West, and Drumcondra to the East. It dates back to the 19th century when the rail and canal terminus at Broadstone brought life to what was then considered a ‘fringe’ of Dublin.
Phibsborough’s allure is somewhat unconventional. It’s not a leafy town like Ranelagh, it’s not as manicured as nearby Drumcondra. Phibsborough is an enclave built on grunge and community. It was the place to be with its ice rink in the 90s. It was once home to an Irish ‘Johnny Cash Appreciation Society’. Many a love-match was made at the frequent county-colours nights in McGowan’s. Time Out magazine has recognized Phibsborough as one of the ‘coolest’ city neighbourhoods in the world—twice.
The beating heart of Phibsborough is Bohemians Football Club. Bohs are flying high both on and off the field. They’ve cleared their debts and through the first five league home games, the attendances averaged 3,211 which is up +44% on last year. They are fourth in the League of Ireland Premier Division at time of writing. Bohs have generated a real community spirit in their Phibsborough home and created a club identity that is inclusive, modern, and genuinely wholesome.
You can’t talk about Phibs without going in on the much-maligned Phibsborough Shopping Centre. Everyone was giving out about its brutalist 1960s architecture unironically for what seemed like years but recently it has developed some actual fans. There was a fight to save it from complete destruction and now it’s undergoing redevelopment, but with the aim to ‘maintain’ its historical integrity.
In recent decades, Phibsborough has transformed into a perpetually up-and-coming area all while maintaining its shabby-chic charm. Characteristic redbrick terraces, Dalymount Park, thrift stores, and excellent pubs all contribute to its unique character. Initiatives like the local festival Phizzfest have fostered a strong sense of community. Phibsborough exudes youthful energy with a mix of students, new Irish residents, yuppies and everything in between.
You won’t have trouble getting around Phibsborough. The neighbourhood is extremely well-connected to the Dublin Bus network. Routes 4, 9, 38/A/B, 46A, 83, 83a, 120, 122 and 140 all pass through. The Phibsborough Luas stop isn’t too far away either, though technically in Cabra. There’s sometimes so much happening that it’s hard to know where to start, so that’s where this guide comes in.
Originally an Oxmantown spin-off, micro-bakery Elliot’s has been making a name for itself. Located at 330 North Circular Road they have been known to sell the fugg out by as early as 11:00 sometimes. Elliot’s has earned its devotees by offering a range of delectable baked goodies from Basque cheesecake to maritozzi and savoury brioche. They are completely unlike other bakeries in the city and are forging their own path into the hearts and stomachs of Phibsborough locals.
A quick look at their Instagram will make trying their baked goods a top priority. Their breads, made with organic flour, water, and salt, using locally grown and milled wheat in Ireland, are a highlight. For those with a sweeter tooth, their Strawberries and Cream Maritozzi is a little treat that is genuinely perfect for a Saturday morning. It’s a tender, pillowy maritozzi roll lightly toasted and filled to the brim with luscious strawberries and billows of fresh cream. A Maritozzi is a traditional Roman pastry that has come to take centre stage in London bakeries if TikTok is to be believed. It’s basically a light, sweet bread-type thing filled with cream and various toppings. Elliot’s bring that Italian classic to the fore here. It’s a hoolie if ever there was one encased in sweet treaty goodness. The perfect way to embrace your inner Little Treat Girlie. You can visit Elliots from Tuesday to Saturday between 08:30 15:00.
Leinster Street’s Bang Bang Café is more than just a coffee shop and deli. It’s a grocery store with a twist. Siblings Daniel and Grace Lambert opened Bang Bang to inject fresh energy into the area. The concept was simple with Daniel’s New York vintage store experience and Grace’s passion for food. Smoosh ’em together and what have you got? An icon!
The café’s name pays homage to Thomas ‘Bang Bang’ Dudley, a colourful Dublin character known for staging mock shootouts with a large key as his ‘gun’ in the 1950s and ’60s. He had ties to Dublin 7 so it made sense to honour his legacy when naming their little venture.
Fresh pastries arrive every morning at stupid o clock (04:00) while Grace prepares delicious soups and sandwiches. Their shelves feature artisanal preserves, pastas, milk, freshly baked bread, fruits, vegetables, and individual eggs.
Bang Bang sources its beans locally from Glasnevin roastery Silverskin. Sweet and savoury pastries are delivered daily from Project 12 in Smithfield. The café’s interior is charmingly maximalist. The walls are exploding with artwork, including vinyl records and local character portraits by illustrator Colin McGinley.
Bang Bang Café is more than a place to grab a meal; it’s a hub for the community. Palestinian and LGBTQ+ flags fly proudly outside, and the mish-mash decor inside is uniquely charming. With consistent queues since its opening, Bang Bang Café is the place to hit up if you want to taste what it’s like to be a local.
Is this Ireland’s best sports bar? Quite possibly. This bar takes soccer seriously with national and club football flags, scarves, and moments from soccer history adorning its walls. Even the wallpaper features FIFA PlayStation covers evoking nostalgia. Nestled on Phibsborough Road, The Back Page are purveyors of fine beer, and even a ping pong table, along with exceptional pizza. It’s where you’ll likely find former Ireland and Leeds footballer Johnny Giles enjoying a drink.
The Back Page’s exterior features street art paying tribute to Giles’ colleagues, including an Eamon Dunphy quote and a colourful caricature of the late Bill O’Herlihy. The Back Page goes beyond beverages and pizza, offering game rooms with ping pong, darts, foosball, snooker, FIFA, PS4, Nintendo Wii, and Xbox One for entertainment making it a great first date or birthday spot.
The Back Page is a great place to watch even the nichest of sports. There is always something on the screens and you are bound to find your sporty tribe among its patrons. But especially if you are a League of Ireland fan. It is one of the few bars in the country where you can watch pretty much all League of Ireland matches among the growing throngs of people who are also mad for it.
Eat Yard is the food market section of The Bernard Shaw. The Bernard Shaw, which opened in its original location on South Richmond St. in 1895, underwent a remarkable transformation in 2006 by Bodytonic, turning it into one of Dublin’s hippest spots. The OG Bernard Shaw opened Eat Yard as a temporary pop-up that was so popular it became a full-time endeavour after its resounding success.
Eat Yard moved to Dublin 7 along with the rest of The Bernard Shaw after they were pushed out of the city by unhappy neighbours and hoteliers. But Dublin 2’s loss was Phibsborough’s incredible gain. During the day, you can enjoy toasties, avocado sandwiches, and quality coffee.
Eat Yard has done more for pricing Ireland as an individual and regional food culture than people realise. Eat Yard hosts regular pop-up festivals featuring music and whiskey, cheese and wine, and even a gin festival in late May. They launched Ireland’s first Crisp Festival in 2021.
Currently, Eat Yard is home to Janets, Fugu, Bunga Bunga, Village Pizza and Nice Burger. Janets is known for selling some of the best Dumplings available in the entire city. Bunga Bunga hits with homemade pasta and Fugu is known for its innovative seasonal Irish street foods. There’s also a wine and cheese shop where you can compose your own cheese board and pair it with a wine. Eat Yard offers a selection of Irish craft beers, including Hop House 13 and their own brews when available.
Listen we can’t cover them all so here’s our long list just in case you are looking for something a little different try Loretta’s, Two Boys Brew, Bohemian’s Bar, Yeeros, McGowans or Hong Kee.
Please drink Hop House 13 responsibly.
visit drinkaware.ie for more info