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Best Dublin Restaurants

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Many Dubliners remember a time, in the not-too-distant past, when spaghetti was an exotic specialty and olive oil could only be bought for medicinal purposes. Things changed fast, thankfully, and as the economy (and the influx of foreign workers) grew so too did Dublin’s culinary landscape. It isn’t New York but at least now you'll see as much sushi, falafel and tagine on the menu as meat and two veg. The city centre south of the Liffey is your best bet if wandering in search of a tasty bite, the selection of restaurants north of the river is still abysmally small with the exception of the Moore Street and Parnell Street areas where you'll find a pocket of great authentic Asian restaurants. The website www.menupages.ie is a good resource for reviews and current menus of the city's main eateries.

Town Bar & Grill

Neighborhood: St Stephen’s Green Price: Expensive

Many of the best Dublin restaurants have been discovered and are getting the international attention they deserve. Lauded in practically every Irish food publication and included in Conde Nast’s coveted ‘Hot Table’ selections, Town has always been a magnet for the city’s celebrities, jet set crowd and politicos from the nearby Dail. In the basement of an elegant townhouse, Ronan Ryan's dark, candlelit room comes alive after dark with the clink of expensive crystal and conspiratorial chatter. People—watch over your napkin as you feast on a contemporary Italian menu of Grilled Hake fillet, Cannelloni, and fresh Oysters. Come early on a Sunday evening and round off your week with a bite and a laid-back jazz session.

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Town Bar & Grill  

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill

Neighborhood: St Stephen’s Green Price: Expensive

Dawson Street has long been the golden mile of the best Dublin restaurants and bars, though high rents and the Tiger’s demise mean only a handful of its older contenders remain. Celeb chef Marco Pierre White’s first venture in Ireland has been receiving thumbs up all around. Local critic Paolo Tullio enjoys its ‘casual chic.’ Even though the flamboyant TV chef may not be sweating it out in the kitchen nightly, all his chefs trained under his beady eye in London. Expect top-notch sauced steak filet, pork belly with applesauce, or grilled organic salmon with hollandaise. Nothing fussy here—just excellent ingredients, beautifully executed in a Parisian brasserie-style dining room, all hopping with buzz.

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Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill  

Eden

Neighborhood: Temple Bar   Price: Expensive

Irish bible ‘Food & Wine’ magazine says “Eden has managed that paradox-paradise with just a little bit of sin for sauce,” and who are we to argue? With its aquamarine mosaic walls and ceiling to floor windows onto Meeting House Square, this top Dublin restaurant’s minimalist surroundings belie the wonderful, organic seasonal menu that brings the best of Irish produce to your table. Roast sea bass with salsa verde and couscous, or beef in Guinness ale are clear winners with its glitteringly hip patrons. U2’s members are regulars here.

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Odessa

Neighborhood: South Great Georges Street
Price: Moderate

The original Dublin bar & grill is still the best restaurant in Dublin for a pre-cinema bite. It keeps ‘em coming for its laid-back vibe, retro décor and now with its new recession-busting “Soul” menu. Following on from last year’s bargain tapas-style menu (still available Mon-Thurs), the Soul menu offers delicious Moroccan lamb tagine, creamy fish pie or Toulouse sausage in substantial portions for a wallet-friendly price that will make you a regular. Try the next-door member's club of the same name that opens to non-members for gigs, movies and storytelling nights as well as the same delicious menu.

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Coppinger Row

Neighborhood: South Great Georges Street
Price: Moderate

Brought to you by those canny folks at the South William Bar, Coppinger Row packs them in every night of the week. It’s the best place to eat in Dublin for its brasserie style cheap ‘n’ cheerful menu of fried whitebait, garlicky king prawns or sea bass cooked in a skillet. With its industrial-tile walls, blackboard, mismatched seating and high zinc bar, this place wouldn't look amiss in New York's Lower East Side. Young friendly staff, low lighting and an eternally hip crowd make this the hottest place in town for now.

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Coppinger Row  

L'Gueuleton

Neighborhood: South Great Georges Street
Price: Moderate

It seems nothing can deter the masses from L’Gueuleton’s doors. This top Dublin restaurant’s no-reservations policy, combined with the recent departure of star chef Troy Maguire, has done little to dint the popularity of this Great George’s Street hot spot. Invoking the seamy allure of a cozy and dark brasserie in Pigalle with its exposed brickwork, tealights and open zinc bar. The simple French-influenced menu produces the upscale comforts of steak-frites, beetroot and goat’s cheese salad, garlicky escargots or Boeuf Bourguignon and never fails to hit the spot. Located in a beautiful building opposite the Victorian Georges’ Street Arcade, try to nab a window table to watch the hordes of young trippers pour into trendy nearby watering holes such as the Market bar, Hogan’s and, above the restaurant, the bar with no name.

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Green 19

Neighborhood: Camden and Wexford streets Price: Budget

It may be small but it’s perfectly formed as a top place to eat in Dublin. A relative newcomer on the Dublin culinary scene, Green 19 tapped into the city’s appetite for quick, casual and affordable dining in relaxed surroundings. The small room with earthy wooden décor, decent art to ponder and a little secret mezzanine balcony that’s perfect for summer drinks, has been packed since opening its doors three years ago. All mains, chock with flavor—from pot roast chicken to organic burgers and Mexican beef burritos—cost a mere tenner (as in ten euro note) and though they may skimp on cost, the quality of the ingredients is always first rate. Patrons from the bohemian Camden and Wexford Street community mostly come for a bite and after work cocktails. They love nursing the bar’s legendary “Scotch Bonnett:” a homemade chili and vanilla jam shaken with lemon, vodka and Laphroaig whisky.

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Green 19  

Peploe's Wine Bistro

Neighborhood: St Stephen’s Green Price: Budget

Come early just so you can pull up a stool at the bar in this beautiful subterranean 18th century room with its vaulted-ceiling, overlooking St Stephen’s Green and order something from Peploes’ menu of 200 fine wines. Always busy, always atmospheric, Peploe’s is the best Dublin restaurant if you want to grab a post-shopping plate of lobster linguini, roast wild boar or duck confit before hitting the hotspots of Dawson Street. Ever popular with Ladies Who Lunch crowd, as well as sophisticated suits and sassy it-girls, its 25 euros pre-concert, three-course menu offers amazingly good value. Small plates are also available in the afternoon and early evening, the perfect accompaniment for a glass of Merlot and a friend with gossip.

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Peploe's Wine Bistro  

La Rotana Cafe

Neighborhood: Portobello Price: Budget
Don’t be put off by the fish ‘n’ chipper-style service area or the awkward strip lighting of this cozy Lebanese eatery near the canal in Portobello. What it lacks in pretension and snazzy furnishing is most definitely your gain. Prices are ultra reasonable (you can bring your own wine as they don’t charge corkage), service is super friendly, portions generous and if you’re a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine you’ll love the lipsmackingly delicious hummus, falafel, sharwma and smoky baba ganoush. Everything is homemade and packed with fresh herbs and zinging with garlic. A mezze plate is a great starter to share followed by a Lebanese special such as Fattat Dajaj, a scrummy mix of marinated chicken topped with toasted nuts and crispy pita, served with rice and a garlicky yogurt.

Wagamama

Neighborhood: St Stephen’s Green Price: Budget

Modeled on Japanese ramen (noodle soup) bars, the emphasis in this clean and modern city centre eatery is on casual healthy dining. Food is served on long communal tables with benches on polished concrete floors in café under the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. Servers tap your order into electronic keypads that ping straight into the open kitchen and arrive with efficient speed. They don’t stand on ceremony here so it’s best to order a combination of dishes and dig right in as soon as they arrive. Try the Shichimi Squid or Ebi Katsu, breaded prawns with a spicy chili sauce or delicious teriyaki beef and noodles washed down with Origami—a mix of plum wine, sake, cranberry juice and fresh lime (and you thought it was about folding paper).

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