The Irish lunch could usually be typified by the limp, refrigerated sandwich served with vegetable soup in a pub. This is no longer the reality and the standard of the lunchtime offerings in Dublin has sky rocketed with great options for vegetarians and those with food allergies and intolerances. Colourful and inventive salads from Brother Hubbard and Roasted Brown are accompanied by excellent coffee. Sandwiches stuffed with high-quality ingredients and bread sourced from the best bakers in Dublin City Food and its spicier counterpart at Pablo's Tortas on Clarendon Market.
Affordable sushi and Bento boxes at Musashi on Capel Street are paired with top notch omelettes and pizzas in the psychedelic interior of Foam Café around the corner. If you're a steak lover then grab a great value steak sandwich over in Bear on South William Street or if you're a hardcore veggie and want to try the best falafel in town then make it your business to head over to The Fumbally in Dublin 8 - it's worth the detour.
All of this list concentrate on delicious lunches that can be grabbed for under ten euro and offer value for money paired with excellent ingredients and supreme tastiness to make keep you fed until dinner.
The Pepper Pot Cafe
If you've spent an afternoon perusing the shops and need a well-earned break then look no further than The Pepper Pot. Perched on the first floor of the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, this quaint cafe offers a delicious and innovative range of sandwiches, bagels, salads and soups as well delicious cakes and scones. Their range of freshly squeezed juices are the ideal thirst-quencher. It's a nice, relaxed atmosphere and looking over the airy interior of the Townhouse centre it makes for a great people-watching spot. The cafe also offers some 'Take Home' goodies including homemade dressings and freshly baked loaves -perfect. ((01) 707 1610)
Stepping into Foam Cafe is like stepping into another world, one full of flower garlands, mirrors and clashing prints over two floors. It's hidden away on Strand Street Great, just a stone's throw from the new Italian Quarter just off the quays. Setting itself apart from the usual coffee shop fare Foam Café has a broad range of things on offer but their flagship dish is the humble omelette. This, they transform with toppings like chorizo, manchego and pear or crayfish and chilli. They also offer a range of pizzas with similarly extravagant toppings. It's a far cry from your usual sandwich offerings and fits in nicely with the alternative surroundings. A great hidden gem to visit. (086 052 1245)
Bear is the love child of popular restaurateur Joe Macken and Irish rugby player Jamie Heaslip. Concentrating on making the most of less popular cuts of meat the two have created Bear which gives off the vibe of being in London's SoHo. The tables are mostly long and high communal tables are punctuated with low hanging lightbulbs and the atmosphere is bustling and exciting, there are no reservations. The menu offers a good mix of different cuts such as Onglet and Bavette as well as sharing portions and delicious sides and sauces. It's a different way of approaching a steakhouse, but certainly one that works. (-)
Brother Hubbard is a recent addition to trendy Capel Street and they're setting the bar high. Coffee and tea is sourced from two of the best Dublin suppliers, 3FE and Wall and Keogh and their homemade drinks including orange and lemon barley water and rose, raspberry and apple are refreshing and different. The newly opened courtyard includes an entirely edible garden and they are currently nominated for 'best scone in Ireland'. The baked goods and lunch menu are of a truly high standard and it's best to show up early in order to get the full quota of choice, you won't be disappointed. (01-441 11 12)
The Itsa family started as a single bagel purveyor in Dun Laoghaire and now includes multiple bagel cafes, restaurants and a flourishing catering business. Run by sisters Domini and Peaches Kemp, Itsa Bagel has gone from strength to strength and centres on an ethical and wholesome approach to eating. You can often get bagels and baked goods for those with food intolerances without compromising on taste as well as homemade lemonades and drinks. The Dun Laoghaire branch is a favorite for those looking to grab a bite to eat before hitting the East Pier for a walk, or simply to warm up afterwards. ((01) 2360644)
The latest addition to the Pablo's family is handily located just beside its Clarendon Market burrito-house but takes some of the most delicious Mexican treats and creates hearty sandwiches with great sides to match. See slow roasted pork, steak and marinated chicken pair up with jalapeno alioli, spinach and cheese in crisp rolls to create a sort of fusion with fluffy Italian bread providing the vessel for rich marinated Mexican fillings.
This is a less messy way to consume all the goodness offered next door in the burrito bar and also allows you to enjoy some of these flavours in a different way. Creating twists on classics like the tuna melt and the sloppy joe makes Pablo's Tortas an interesting alternative to your regular sliced pan sandwich. ((01) 6629773)
The Fumbally found its home in a large space that fell victim to the bust of the Celtic Tiger and had been left empty since its construction. What's come from that is a café and restaurant that is more reminiscent of continental Europe in it's interiors and use of space. You can see all the fresh produce used in the food stacked up in one corner and the salads and ingredients stare out at you invitingly from the counter of the open-plan kitchen.
Originally inspired by street food from around the world, in particular falafel, the Fumbally has now become one of Dublin's best spots for a high-quality lunch that normally features great vegetarian options. The coffee is supplied by 3FE and the cakes are out of this world. (-)
Enter into this mysterious Japanese haunt on Capel Street and you'll be surprised to find a slick and modern interior with light wooden benches and tables and a calm atmosphere. Musashi does great, fresh sushi and regular Japanese staples like Katsu curry at excellent prices. The real jewel though is its lunch menu with vegetarian and fish bento boxes coming in at 8.99 and containing an array of sushi, miso soup, rice and usually a tempura offering along with another meat/fish/tofu concoction. Musashi is also BYOB although if you're on a working lunch this might not be the way forward. For travellers however, this is a great way to eat authentic Japanese food without compromising your budget. (01-5328068)
Located above Filmbase, the Dublin resource centre for film makers, Roasted Brown is one of the hubs of good coffee in the city centre. The floor to ceiling windows and relaxed leather couches are perfect for whiling away an afternoon people-watching while sipping on an excellent brew from proprietor Fergus. The sandwiches, salads and soups come in hearty portions and for good prices while the coffee comes filtered, in a chemex or aeropressed and with a variety to choose from for those into coffee geekery. The spacious, light interior will make you want to stay on long past lunch sampling the cakes from Gruel Gorilla and who could blame you? (-)
Dublin City Food
Nestled amongst restaurants and cafes galore just off Grafton Street, Dublin City Food is setting the bar extremely high for good sandwiches in the city centre. Named after neighbourhoods around the city, the generous sandwiches are served on sourdough or granary bread with a side salad for an extremely reasonable 6.50. The meats are smoked or roasted in-house to create the most delicious pastrami and pulled pork. Daily specials are listed on their Facebook page and are similarly mouth watering. With take-out available these are the perfect sandwiches to chow down on while strolling through Dublin's main thoroughfares for the day. ((01) 485 3273)
About Emily Carson
Emily grew up in Dublin, and studied French and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. During her university years, she lived in both Scotland and France, but traveled around Europe and Southeast Asia.
She returned to Dublin after her studies to find it growing culturally (in spite of the economic downturn). While Dublin was once criticized for its expensive nature, a new wave of inventive and affordable restaurants have popped up as well as interesting and exciting cultural events that prove that Dublin is still progressing and rivals other major European capitals.
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