We’re in the midst of a mini May heatwave (yay!). Here Ali Dunworth shares her favourite places to eat while exploring in the sun…
We’re all guilty of saying it, (perhaps because it’s so true) but when the sun shines in Ireland, sure where else would you want to be?
Tempting as it may be to set up camp in your nearest outdoor spot, why not use this exceptional burst of weather as a chance to explore the city and its surroundings in places that really excel in the sunshine. And of course, we wouldn’t want you to go hungry – so we’ve made sure our exploring list means no need for a picnic.
Just grab yourself, some great food, and go.
The Phoenix Park and Phoenix Cafe
Did you know we have one of the largest urban parks in Europe right here on our doorstep? The Phoenix Park, stretching 11km round on the edge of town, is a tremendous parkland full of quiet corners and unexplored patches.
The easiest way to get around is most definitely by bicycle. You can hire these in the park or simply get the Luas and grab a Dublin bike from Heuston Station. When you need refuelling, there are a few options but none finer than The Phoenix Café, an award-winning, eco-aware restaurant that toils away all summer long, serving everything homemade.
Think organic eggs for breakfast; tasty baking and bright café classics of salads, quiches and sandwiches. Park life never tasted so good.
Seapoint Swim and Roast Chicken Sandwich at Poulet Bonne Femme
Sometimes a sea swim is the only thing for it and how wonderful is it that spots like Seapoint are only a Dart trip away? But before you set up shop for a dip, do yourself a favour and pop around the corner to the delightful Monkstown branch of Avoca.
This picture-perfect store is home to the original branch of Poulet Bonne Femme, which you’ll smell before you see with an unctuous waft of fresh roast chicken. Their classic Roast Irish Free Range Chicken Sandwich, served in pillowing soft sourdough with a layer of fresh greenery and lashings of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, tastes incredible with the taste of the sea in your mouth.
Wrap it up, make your way back to the sea for a joyful swim and then dig in. Bring a comfy towel; the concrete surrounds are not the most comfortable for picnicking. But the view and the vibe more than make up for it.
Dollymount Strand and Happy Out
Trundle across the delightful Bull Island wooden bridge that reaches out to Dollymount Strand and you won’t believe you’re only a stone’s throw from the city centre. The five kilometre-long stretch of sandy beaches and dunes suits for a usually windy, brisk walk rather than a dip and a sunbathe.
But you’ll find plenty of people doing both, and usually, there are some kite surfers to watch in awe. If you’ve small people to entertain, it’s the perfect place for running off energy. Whatever you go for, you’ll be pleased that the marvellous Happy Out have set up shop on the edge of the beach.
A funky shipping container serving excellent coffees, tasty toasties and a few treats along with smiley, happy service. Nab a seat out the front and drink in the views; it’s an Instagrammer’s dream.
Brittas Bay and The Bay Cafe
If you feel like taking a day trip, one of the finest beaches that’s just over an hour’s drive from the city is Brittas Bay. White sands stretch 4 km long, with dunes galore for exploring, climbing and wallowing in. The Blue Flag beach is always nice for a swim but be warned; this is a popular spot and you’ll need to get there early secure a parking spot.
Once a bit of a no man’s land for food, The Bay Cafe is a worthy addition and a super place to stop off before or after your beach visit. Hearty breakfasts, fresh baking and good coffee mean this small cafe is packed but they are friendly and fast so don’t be put off by a wait. Everyone is just as eager as you are to get to the beach.
Skerries, Stoop Your Head and Storm in a Teacup
Then to the other side of town, a day trip to the seaside village of Skerries is otherworldly on a sunny day. It feels like you are much further than a train ride from town. Walk the seafront and admire the bobbing boats in the marina before heading to the quaint Stoop Your Head; an old-school pub serving hearty fare you want to eat.
An open seafood sandwich with a glass of Guinness is a must. But make sure to save space for an ice-cream. Down the street you’ll find, Storm in A Teacup, a charming, tiny ice-cream parlour on the harbour serving retro dessert, crêpes, milkshakes and of course, ice-cream.
Bray Head Cliff Walk
This walk is always a big draw when the sun comes out, so again, get there early. The breathtaking 10km route stretches from Bray to Greystones; both easily accessible by Dart so it’s up to you where to start.
Bray is the most popular but my preference to head to Greystones and fuel up on some Happy Pear goodies before embarking on the stunning route. The walk winding around Bray Head, with impressive views, is well maintained and can suit a brave runner too.
Ending in Bray offers plenty of choice for a hungry day tripper, with Platform Pizza great for families, Box Burger for a hearty feed, Cowfish from something more special and the Harbour Bar for that well deserved drink.
Airfield Estate and Overends Kitchen
An escape to the country is only a Luas ride away with Airfield Estate a working farm, gardens and exceptional café handily located in Dundrum. It’s open year round but when the sun shines on these beautiful grounds, you really get to see it in all its glory. Animal lovers will enjoy exploring the fields full of goats, sheep, chickens, pigs & Jersey cows.
Take time to stroll around the immaculately maintained ornamental gardens and admire all that grows in their organic kitchen gardens. Happily, this is where most of the produce used in the in-house restaurant Overends Kitchen ends up.
Nab a table on the terrace and settle in with a cold glass of white wine, dig into the extensive menu packed with local produce and tasting as good as it looks. A real farm to fork experience.
Read more: Eight of the best child-friendly cafes in Dublin
Read more: Ten of my most recommended restaurants in Dublin
Read more: Weekend brunch? Where to get the best Eggs Benedict in Dublin