By Colette Fitzpatrick
Look, like it or not, people are starting to lose their minds in this country once more. Hopefully, we have all learned something and we aren’t looking into another massive crash and that, today, any potential prosperity (however possibly short-lived) leads to more careful and conscious consumption. All of that being said, one of the biggest and most important upsides (IMHO) to upturns in the Irish economy is always that the Dublin food scene gets bigger, more adventurous, and more diverse. It feels like a day doesn’t go by without some sort of new eatery, café, or bar opening up and, as a rather obsessive foodie, and someone with no real responsibilities or dependents, I get to a lot of them. So, I thought I’d share the knowledge and tip y’all off to five new foodie experiences and establishments in Dublin that I heartily recommend.
1. Chimac, 76 Aungier St, Dublin 2
I love me some fried chicken. I especially love Korean fried chicken and a beer (a very typical and hugely popular pairing in Korea that has it’s own nickname, “chimaek”, or “치맥”, which is a combination of the words, “chicken,” and “maekju” meaning beer and from which this restaurant gets its name). After a long day? Man, that shit is satisfying. And while there are several places to get Korean-style fried chicken in Dublin (Kimchi Hophouse, Druken Fish, Brothers Dosirak, Hailan), none of the other purveyors sell free-range chicken, which means I normally have to wait until I get to London twice a year for fashion week to get my fix (isn’t that what fashion week is really about, the eating around shows?). Cue Chimac with that free-range fried delight, coming to my rescue. Admittedly, I’m less keen on the fact that it is an Irish-run operation as I prefer to go as authentic as possible with food but beggars can’t be choosers and their KBBQ wings with the locally brewed Rascal’s Born Sippy Lager and the company of a good pal is a delicious stress-reliever that my life was missing up to now. Check it out.
2. Café Bombo, 34/35 Thomas St, Dublin 8
Look, let’s be real. Sometimes being pretty is just enough. That’s the case with the utterly instagrammable Café Bombo. I would have loved it simply for its gold accents, marble counters, neon pink sign against a teal niche, tropical wallpaper with monkeys indulging in martinis, vodka and cigarettes, pink velvet upholstery, and wicker seats. But, actually, there is more to it than that and it is more than just pretty. It is breezy and peaceful, a perfect spot to read for a while or meet someone for a catch-up (I’ve done both), the people working there are lovely and warm, the clientele is a nice mix of the old school Dubs from the area and the tourists attracted to Guinness down the road, the prices aren’t mental (which they sometimes are in places finished this well), and the bits I’ve had to eat are delicious. I highly, highly recommend the pistachio and raspberry tart. Cute but simply good and rather quirky underneath it all, this is one of those Instagram hotspots that actually really live up to the hype.
3. Proof Pizza, 34/35 Thomas St, Dublin 8
Actually housed in the same store as Café Bombo, I can’t help but also recommend Proof Pizza (I’m not in their pocket, I swear). Post my annual visit to the NCAD grad show across the road, the skies opened and I was driven to find cover. I ran back to Proof Pizza, having noticed it the last two times I was in the cafe and decided to get dinner there while I waited for the rain to stop. It ended up being an excellent decision. Pizza is my call for the next Dublin food obsession and new pizza shops are popping up all over the gaff – so choice is abundant and debates are passionate about where the best spots are (Are you Team Sano or Team Pi, that is the question) – so I have formed a distinct set of criteria for deciding on whether or not a place is a winner. Can you get a basic pizza for under a tenner (a Margherita should never be more)? Is the Margherita any good (baseline for measure of any pizza joint)? Are there decent beer options? Proof passed on all three and also had the added bonus of offering some tasty non-alcoholic options beyond the norm as well (hello, strawberry lemonade). It’s not revolutionary but it’s good pizza, satisfying, and at a decent price point. Look, I know I’m singing their praises a lot but I’m really impressed that this place doesn’t have a serious case of notions considering how it looks.
4. The Virgin Mary, 54 Capel Street, Dublin 1
A non-alcoholic bar? In Dublin? The very notion garnered a lot of bylines from those who were like, “WTF?” and people screaming, “Yes, about time.” I’ll admit, I was, and continue to be, a little unsure about it from a practicality point of view. I mean, if I’m not drinking I can just have a coke, right? Just as satisfying and less pricey. However, that’s easy for me to say as someone who has a choice to drink or not, given my mood or inclination on any given day. But if you don’t drink, for whatever reason, or you’re staying away for a while, for whatever reason, why shouldn’t you be able to have something well made, with effort put in, in an elegant, adult setting? Having just experienced it myself last night, I can say that it is nice to be in a bar environment without the chaos, noise, and rowdiness. And everything I had was delicious. I’m constantly complaining that there isn’t much to do in Dublin during evenings that doesn’t involve alcohol, especially during the summer. This is a very pleasant alternative and I’ll definitely be back sometime…probably without going for a beer afterwards too…It was the Friday of a long week, what can I say…?
5. Brew 204, 204 Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin 6W
Cafés are kind of my thing. I mean, I run a Dublin café account on Instagram. I’m obsessed. So, when a cute new place popped up around the corner, I anxiously awaited its opening and stalked their socials for potential clues about D-day. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, they opened their doors to a cute, airy space with lots of plants and natural wood tones, a cream and rich green colour scheme, pretty dangling light fittings, great attention to detail, and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. I’ve only had a chance to do a pre-work run so far but I plan to go back soon to explore their extensive menu of different beverages and their very tasty-looking melts.
So, now that you’ve got the lowdown, here’s your homework: get out there and treat yourself to some great food and drinks and let me know what you think. What are your foodie pics among the latest batch of Dublin openings?