As ardent lovers of travel, we enjoy The New York Times “36 Hours” column that outlines a day-and-a-half itinerary of sights and dining in cities around the world. So when they covered Dublin this past November, I saved the article to take with The Daughter and me on our recent, week-long trip there. As usual, the NYTimes was right on point with their suggestions. Yet, what if you have more than 36 hours in Dublin? How will you know what to do with the rest of your time?
Between the two of us, The Daughter and I have had a bit of fun in Dublin and were both eager to return. The Daughter lived and studied there in 2014, devoting herself to a five-month quest in search of the most haunted pubs, the finest scones, the best burgers, and the most exceptional coffee. I visited twice during her stay and focused on getting to know the city’s wine-centered restaurants that routinely whip up creative, delicious, farm-to-table cuisine and have firmly established Dublin as a foodie haven.
The structure of our days when The Daughter and I travel together goes something like this: breakfast (large), lunch (only occasionally, as we prefer a big first meal of the day and a light meal or snack with afternoon tea or coffee), late afternoon pub stop, and dinner (to be savored, lingered over and luxuriated). This routine leaves convenient breaks between meals for sightseeing and cultural endeavors.
After laborious research, we humbly offer these suggestions for your food and beverage pleasure if you find yourself in Dublin for 36, 48, 72 or any amount of hours. Please consult the photo gallery captions for even more details on the luscious offerings at our various stops. Lest you get impression that we spent all our time eating and drinking, we also offer our top favorite sight-seeing activities.
Bell and Pot — Traditionally, this is our first breakfast stop of every trip to Dublin. Tucked on a quiet block in the city center, the colorful wing back chairs and quaint sitting area by the fireplace lure you inside. Once there, it’s hard to resist a cappuccino and Dr. Pot’s Green Eggs. 3 Mercer Street, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 902 2821.
Queen of Tarts — Scones, sweet treats and baked goods galore, one can also find heartier fare like baked eggs. A Dublin favorite for everything from coffee, tea and sweet treats, to breakfast and lunch. The Cow’s Lane location is larger with more seating than the Dame Street shop. Cow’s Lane and Dame Street, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 633 4681.
Hatch and Sons — A small but extremely well executed menu, Hatch and Sons has a light bright interior and cozy handful of tables. Highly recommend the baked eggs, which come with a bounty of bacon, sausage and Irish brown bread on the side. Best latte of the trip. 15 Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 661 0075.
The Cake Café — Hidden in a small courtyard behind a lovely paper and stationery store, The Cake Café offers warm hospitality, great coffee and tea, and fresh ingredients that are beautifully prepared. We sampled the open-faced sandwich and the baked eggs breakfast, both delicious. The Daintree Building, 8 Pleasants Place, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 478 9394.
Peploe’s — This was our only true lunch of the trip and what an amazing lunch it was. The very elegant Peploe’s rightly belongs in the fine dining category. Difficult to decide amongst the offerings, we feasted on organic free-range chicken with Parma ham and fig stuffing and grilled, peppered pork tenderloin with red wine risotto, paired with lovely Sancerre and White Burgundy (a.k.a. Chardonnay), respectively. Their lengthy wine list is impressive, and they know how serve good wine. (Peploe’s also serves dinner.) 16 Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 676 3144.
Coffee, Tea, Snacks
The Bald Barista — One of the best coffee shops in Dublin. Serving rich, dark, coffee in style of the owner’s native country, New Zealand. If you’re lucky, your coffee might be prepared by the Bald Barista himself, who apparently looks exactly like the logo. Perfect for an on-the-go coffee any time of day. 55 Aungier Street, Avalon House, Dublin 2. Tel.+353 86 312 9980. Also at St. Stephen’s Green.
Cocoa Atelier — A maker of beautiful and luscious confections. Specializing in chocolates, they also make divine macarons. 30 Drury Street, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 6753616.
Kaph — A specialty coffee house that also pours a lovely pot of tea. Adjacent to Cocoa Atelier, for convenient pairing of confections and beverages. A cool, hip vibe in an old buidling with high ceilings and windows with character. 31 Drury Street, Dublin 2. Tel. ++353 1 613 9030.
Kehoe’s — A centrally located pub, not far from the hustle and bustle of Grafton Street, the city’s main shopping area. Has lots of little nooks and crannies of places to sit. Feels like stepping back in time. Always busy with a lively crowd. Known to be haunted, we did not see any ghosts ourselves. The bartender said that usually doesn’t happen until after the third pint. Excellent Guinness. 9 Anne Street South, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 677 8312.
Kavanagh’s — By the back gate of Dublin’s largest cemetery (see below), Kavanagh’s is better known as The Gravedigger’s Pub. It’s most notable ghost is an older gentleman in a tweed suit who enjoys a pint at the bar from time to time. While Kavanagh’s location next to a cemetery gives it plenty of potential ghosts, apparently Irish pubs in general are said to be often haunted because long ago they served as a holding place for dead bodies until the medical examiner could arrive. Kavanagh’s has an eerie, authentic feel and pours a wonderful pint of Guinness. 1 Prospect Square, Glasnevin, Dublin 9. Tel. +353 86 3745260. [Little known tip: there is a Kavanagh’s next door at 2 Prospect Square. This is not the historic, haunted Kavanagh’s.]
Dunne & Crescenzi — Just as Bell and Pot is our traditional first breakfast stop, Dunne & Crescenzi is our traditional first dinner. Beloved by locals, Dunne & Crescenzi is credited by Food and Wine Magazine as having brought “real Italian food to Ireland.” Always bustling and open all day, we’ve had superbly delicious and authentic meals here. 14 – 16 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 675 9892.
Bunsen — The. Best. Burger. In. Dublin. Actually, it’s the best burger I have ever had in any restaurant in any city. That’s all you need to know. The Daughter’s painstaking best burger quest was definitely successful. A menu so small it fits on a business card. So good we went twice. 36 Wexford Street, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 552 5408.
ely wine bar — A favorite of ours, ely has everything you could want in an amazing dining experience, from the cozy downstairs tables to the brilliant service, the exceptional wine list at very reasonable prices, and, of course, the exquisite food. We wrote about ely in a post last year and will write about our most recent dining experience in more detail in an upcoming post. We are stark, raving fans of this establishment. 22 Ely Place, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 676 8986.
La Cave Wine Bar — Another favorite of ours, La Cave feels like I would imagine it would in quaint Paris bistro in the 1940s. The food and wine always impress us here. We wrote about our first dining experience there in a post last year. The warm goat cheese salad is something I dream about regularly. 28 South Anne Street, Dublin 2. Tel +353 1 679 4409.
Stanley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar — Only about six weeks old when we visited, we felt lucky to have been tipped off about Stanley’s by our Dublin Twitter friend, @MagsWinetoTry. From the warm welcome received in the street level wine bar, to the exquisite service, wine and meal in the cozy, candlelit upstairs dining room, we are confident that it won’t be long before it’s impossible to get a reservation here. 7 Saint Andrew’s Street, Dublin 2. Tel. +353 1 485 3273.
Kilmainham Gaol — A haunting experience to tour the damp and chilly halls of the jail that served Dublin from the late 1700s until the 1920s. The Kilmainham curators have astutely preserved the jail just as it was when last in use. There are no kitchsy wax figures or displays that seek to turn it into an “attraction.” Instead, the place literally feels like the last prisoner just walked out the door before you got there. The 45 minute tour gives a moving overview of both tragic and heroic sides of Ireland’s history. Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8. Tel. +353 1 453 5984.
The National Library — A glimpse of the elegant Reading Room, with seemingly every shade green represented on it’s ornate ceiling, and a visit to the excellent Yeats exhibit are well worth a stop. I especially loved the surround sound booth where a selection of Yeats poems are read by famous Irish voices, including Seamus Heaney, Sinead O’Connor and, startlingly, even Yeats himself.
Glasnevin Museum and Cemetery — You’d never imagine that a cemetery tour could turn into a vivid history lesson, but that’s exactly what happens. In a relatively small space of land, you will find the graves of 1.5 million of Dublin’s most important and most ordinary citizens and their stories along with them. A very unique lens on the city’s history. Finglas Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 11. Tel. +353 1 882 6550.
Brú Na Bóinne (also known as Newgrange) — About an hour outside Dublin in the Boyne River valley, this 5,000 year old tomb was built by an astrologically astute community of farmers and is older than both Stonehenge and the pyramids in Egypt. Standing in the eerily quiet interior chamber and looking up at the perfectly preserved ceiling is an incredible experience. The number of visitors into the tomb’s interior is strictly limited in order to preserve this treasured site. Not all day tours there from Dublin can guarantee entrance, but Mary Gibbons can. She is the most friendly, hospitable, witty and knowledgeable tour guide I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t go to Newgrange with anyone but her. Tel. +353 86 355 1355, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs by Sara Chapman Heegaard and Lucy Mathews Heegaard