Meze or mezze; however you spell it, it tastes the same. In Turkish, it literally means ‘appetiser’; in Persian, maza means ‘to relish’. For me, it means the chance to feast on lots of dishes all at once, like a DIY tasting menu. And then there’s the abundance of ingredients like garlic, aubergine, lemon and pomegranate that quite simply taste like sunshine. Whether your preference is for traditional or modern delights, here are some top-notch places around Dublin to get your meze fix
Hey Donna, 137 Rathmines Rd Lower, Dublin 6
Head to Hey Donna for a bold, creative take on meze dining with a Middle Eastern slant and a welcomed vegetable focus. Worthy dips like baba ganoush, hummus & labneh are joined by a menu split into ‘garden’ and ‘grille’. Garden covers slow roasted carrots, hazelnut, carrot top pesto, tahini and unbelievably tasty dunany spelt, grilled radicchio, grape, almond, or honey and from the grill, the berber spiced lamb’s chops. Make sure to visit the bathroom when you’re here – probably the most divine sink set up in the city.
Silk Road Cafe, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2
Escape from busy city centre streets to this serene cafe based in the atrium of the enchanting Chester Beatty Library on the grounds of Dublin Castle. The menu carries the flavours of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean library collection to the food, with plenty of spice, heat and aromatics. Bright, fresh salads are piled high in bowls with a focus on Lebanese, North African and Turkish dishes. Think plenty of hummus, falafel, moussaka and lamb. Don’t miss the irresistible sweets like Persian love cake and baklava the perfect partner to a pot of mint tea.
Umi Falafel, various locations
If you’ve happened to come across an enticing Middle Eastern waft on the street, chances are you’ve stumbled upon Umi Falafel – now with five locations; three in Dublin, one in Cork and one in Belfast. The waft can be pinned to their signature sandwiches – pockets of freshly baked flatbreads stuffed with delicious deep-fried balls of chickpeas and piquant sauces. A substantial meze menu features plenty of flaky filo rolls, bright fresh salads, grilled halloumi, stuffed vine leaves and baba ganoush. Vibrant fresh juices and drinks are a great match (though no booze) and plenty of honey-soaked baklava.
Shouk, 40 Lower Drumcondra Road, Dublin 9
Tucked away in Drumcondra, Shouk is a homely, bright restaurant with boxes piled high with colourful vegetables, serving what they describe as a Mediterranean menu. The pita bar offers fresh, stuffed pita breads with plenty of falafel, hummus and roast vegetables. There are specials and of course, the modern meze favourite; roast cauliflower served with tahini, scallions and pomegranate seeds. The mezze plate is full of more delights like baba ganoush, Moroccan aubergine salad and beetroot pita breads. A great option for dinner and it’s BYOB.
Damascus Gate, 10 Upper Camden Street, Dublin 2
The Camden Street strip offers plenty of options for meze, but my choice is always Damascus Gate. The Lebanese and Syrian-focused menu boasts an incredible array of tempting dishes – Syrian goats cheese balls, great fattoush, excellent lamb kibbeh and falafel. Try the Beirut or Jerusalem meze plates packed with kibbeh, tabbouleh, hummus, baba ganoush, cheese and fatayer (spinach samosas). Make sure to finish with a plate of honey-soaked baklava or, for the full experience, enjoy an after-shisha in the dedicated hookah lounge.
Mykonos, 76 Dame St, Dublin 2, Ireland
They pitch themselves as ‘a little bit of Greece in Dublin city’, and it really is – from the blue and white decor to the music and the Mykonos murals adorning the walls. The food, of course, can’t compare to what you eat in Greece, where fish is fresh from the boats and lemons, tomatoes and herbs plucked from the sun-drenched soil. But if you’re looking for that Greek fix, which I often am; fatty meats cooked slow, plenty of fried cheese and seafood, filo pastry and an abundance of garlic; then Mykonos will do the job. Mix and match dishes to make your own meze, and it’s a great spot also for bigger groups and set menus.
Brother Hubbard, 153 Capel St, Dublin 1
Brother Hubbard Capel Street is one of the best-loved cafes in Dublin, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with an abundance of Middle Eastern flavours. For breakfast, try the vegan avo & peppers, piled high with smashed avocado, chickpea spread, roast peppers, house nut dukkah and beetroot powder on toasted sourdough. Lunch salad plates have a strong emphasis on vegetables and pulses and plenty of house-made hummus. Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday mezze style, and is proudly 50% vegan. Check out their dedicated take away and retail store for plenty of Middle Eastern store cupboard essentials for home.