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Dublin Offers Variety of Budget-Friendly Dining



The recent rise in Dublin’s casual dining scene has seen budget eateries and early bird menus hit the city centre and beyond. Gone are the days when Dublin was considered so expensive that it was easy to be priced out of a good meal. This list is a mixture of low-cost, casual restaurants for burgers or burritos and more high-end restaurants that do great deals. You’ll find everything from tapas bars to fried chicken eateries and asian food with free ice-cream to sweeten the deal. The value is based on the amount of food you receive for your money and the quality of said food.

Whether it’s a pizza you’re craving, a high-quality Indian or to relax at a French-style café there is an option that won’t break the bank but won’t leaving you feeling short changed at the same time. With so many restaurants and cafés popping up in Dublin week-to-week it has become more important than ever to have your food keenly priced. As a result you’ll find more and more establishments offering flat-rate main courses, excellent early birds and fast-food favourites with higher quality ingredients but affordable price tags. It’s never been a better time to travel on a budget in Dublin.


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Located on bustling Camden Street, it would be easy for Neon to get lost in the abundance of asian restaurants that line either side of the road. The concept and execution however put them a cut above the rest. With chic d�cor and long, sharing tables you order at the till and with lightning fast service even in rush hour you'll find a large, hearty portion of your dish of choice. The emphasis is on dine and dash, your food is served to your in take out containers and you're encouraged to then use the bowls on hand to make it into as much of a sit down meal as you would like. Pair this with your free soft serve ice-cream and the deal has most certainly been sweetened.

Recommended for Best Value because: Little touches like giving your diners free, self-soft-serve ice cream makes the experience better for all and creates a friendlier atmosphere.

Emily's expert tip: If you're staying nearby Neon also deliver if you want to be guaranteed decent Asian food at an affordable price, sadly no ice cream included.

Read more about Neon →




Bunsen is the newest addition to the Wexford Street food trail and it promises authentic, American-style hamburgers with the perfect arrangement of beef, bun, cheese and toppings. Proprietor Tom Gleeson went through 12 different prototypes before settling on his current recipe and it's an excellent combination. Expect perfectly cooked Aberdeen Angus beef, oozy cheese, a soft bun and crunchy fried, all served on a classic red, plastic tray with a milkshake. The décor is very much in the minimalist camp but the concentration is definitely on the food and expansions in the coming months look to be very exciting. A typical meal will only cost you at most €15.

Recommended for Best Value because: It's attention to detail and dedication to the hamburger cause that makes Bunsen stand out - you know what you're getting.

Emily's expert tip: Ask for a double hamburger if your stomach can't be satisfied by one patty.

Read more about Bunsen →




The sister restaurant to the original Jo'Burger in Rathmines, the town version on Castle Market offers more space, more music and a bigger drinks menu to boot. The same branding and atmosphere that can be seen throughout all of Joe Macken's restaurants is here in abundance - you might sometimes feels like you're prepping for a night out while you munch on your burger. The same great quality food and interesting flavour combinations still apply however and the giant jam jars of homemade spritzers and lemonades can be 'spiked' to create super sized, delicious cocktails. This is the perfect place to go for an offbeat, quirky meal that eschews the usual burger joint format.

Recommended for Best Value because: There are few places in the city that keep a young, vibrant feel along with good quality and value food.

Emily's expert tip: Definitely opt for a 'spiked' drink for �9.95 as you'll get great value for size and one of the tastiest drinks in town.

Read more about Jo'Burger Town →


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Southside suburbs


Tucked away on the corner of South Lotts Road and Upper Grand Canal Street is a small restaurant serving what is arguably the best pizza in Dublin. Paulie's is always packed to the brim and serves up delicious wood-fired pizzas cooked to an authentic Neapolitan recipe. They use only approved flour, tomatoes and slow-proved dough cooked to perfection at 450 degrees celsius. If pizza isn't your thing never fear, there are plenty of delicious Italian main courses and pasta dishes with just as much attention to detail worth trying. Mix this with an intimate, bustling atmosphere, great music and outdoor seating with a canopy and blankets for cooler evenings and you've got a winning combination.

Recommended for Best Value because: The relaxed atmosphere and terrace area are perfect for summer dining.

Emily's expert tip: Book ahead as Paulie's is a small restaurant and often fills up fast.

Read more about Paulie's Pizza →


Green Nineteen is another relaxed eatery on Dublin's buzzing Camden Street and prides itself on its 'local cafe-bar' atmosphere where almost all main courses come in under �10. Don't think that this means compromising on taste and quality however - the d�cor is modern and funky, the produce is sourced in the same places as Dublin's top restaurants and the cocktails are top-notch with everything from your classic Negroni to a more adventurous Mexican Green. Expect treats like slow-braised pork belly with chorizo and white bean cassoulet and Moroccan spiced lamb tagine - the menu hops around the globe from curries to steaks. This is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat when you aren't sure what you're craving.

Read more about Green Nineteen →




Kinara Kitchen is a new addition to the great restaurants to be found in southside suburb Ranelagh. It has the unusual combination of having a fantastic dedicated cocktail bar with high-end Pakistani cuisine. The cocktail bar is headed up by Paul Lambert, proprietor of covert Dublin bar The Blind Pig and his attention to alcoholic perfection is evident in his mix of classic and inventive new tipples. Kinara started off as a single restaurant in North Dublin seaside suburb Clontarf, the success of which has spawned two more establishments including Kinara Kitchen in Ranelagh. Upon tasting the food you'll see why, this is delicate but flavourful cuisine that doesn't play into the often overpowering nature of Indian and Pakistani food. The early bird menu of 3 courses for �19.95 is an absolute steal.

Recommended for Best Value because: There are plenty of vegetarian options here for the veggie diner in your life, something many restaurants don't offer.

Emily's expert tip: Get the early bird menu and then opt to spend some of your budget on the fantastic cocktails. The Pulp Fiction is a particular delight.

Read more about Kinara Kitchen →




CrackBird, one of restaurant entrepreneur Joe Macken's litany of trendy Dublin eateries has been rehoused several times, now taking pride of place in an old Chinese restaurant on Dame Street. Macken has pretty much single-handedly brought fried chicken back in fashion, but it's the quality of CrackBird that really makes it a cut above the rest. You can opt for a full or half chicken in either buttermilk batter or soy and garlic. The sides are all reasonably priced and you can wash it down with a large jam jar full of lime and ginger spritz or homemade lemonade.

Recommended for Best Value because: Expect cravings for the soy-garlic chicken with whipped lemon and feta dip - Crackbird is the only place that can sate this.

Emily's expert tip: This is perfect sharing food; bring a friend or two for the entire chicken in a bucket and you won't go hungry.

Read more about CrackBird →




Pablo Picante's has been voted the best burrito in Dublin and the quick expansion of this Mexican Haven from a single small burrito bar into 3 busy restaurants is proof of this. Run by Irish man Colm McNamara, Pablo Picante is a fictional 'luchador and chef' who has brought his wares to Ireland after learning his trade in the Americas. Regardless of how much of his story is reflective of reality the food here is delicious and the range of burritos and burrito-related options will leave your mouth watering. There is plenty of rivalry in the Dublin burrito scene so rest assured you're receiving the creme de le creme here.

Recommended for Best Value because: Dublin has a wealth of burrito bars but Pablo's is repeatedly voted the best.

Emily's expert tip: If you're a student there are some great deals for burritos and drinks - be sure to ask at the bar for them.

Read more about Pablo Picante's →




There are Port House restaurants dotted around the city, but this particular version, which includes Basque 'Pintxos', the Northern Spanish version of tapas alongside the usual patatas bravas and manchego style dishes. Located right in the heart of Temple Bar, The Port House has a really broad reaching menu for both food and drink and you're likely to need a few dinner companions in order to sample a good proportion of what's on offer. Most of the dishes themselves come in between �3.50 and �7.50 and around 3 dishes per person would quell the fire in your belly. As a result you can have a very interesting and varied meal without breaking the bank. Almost all the wines come by the glass as well as the bottle so you can ultimately walk away well fed and watered for about �20.

Recommended for Best Value because: Not just your average tapas joint, this has great regional focus.

Emily's expert tip: If you're feeling particularly decadent try the foie gras with a Pedro Ximinez reduction.

Read more about The Port House Pintxos →




Located just outside of Dublin Castle, set back from the hustle and bustle of Dame Street, Chez Max is a traditional French caf� serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a charming little garden that will transport you to Paris on a sunny day. Expect typical French caf� fare: tartines, rich salads, moules frites and beef bourguignon amongst charcuterie and cheese platters. The early-bird menu is the star here - two courses for �19 for rich and filling food in lovely surroundings. Carafes of wine on offer mean you can get affordable drinks accompaniments as well. A lovely little spot.

Recommended for Best Value because: A quaint, but quality driven restaurant that transports you elsewhere.

Emily's expert tip: Check out their great lunch deals, mimicking the classic 'formules du jour' you'll find in France.

Read more about Chez Max →


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Meet 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...  More About Emily

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