With summer holidays drawing to a close, and the purse strings tightened for back to school season, there’s still plenty on offer that won’t break the bank and still satisfies your taste buds. Here, I’ve gathered together some of my favourite more affordable dinner spots around Dubin — hopefully, with a bit of something for every palate and budget...
Lucky Tortoise, 8 Aungier St, Dublin 2
After popping up in various venues around town, dim sum doyens Lucky Tortoise have set up a new temporary home on Aungier Street, which will be open until at least March. They offer a unique take on Asian eating in Dublin, serving a mix of modern dim sum, made from scratch and served family style. Order the whole menu for €20 and there’ll be no arguing when the bill splitting comes.
Sano Pizza, 1-2 Exchange Street Upper, Temple Bar, Dublin
Sano pitch themselves as fresh, affordable pizza and that’s exactly what they are — not what you’d expect to find in the middle of Temple Bar. Their Neapolitan Pizza menu prices start from €6 and they’ve received plenty of rave reviews for their them. Add an extremely affordable drinks menu, with glasses of wine from €4, and you’ve got a recipe for quite a delicious bargain dinner.
Hailan, Capel Street, Dame Street & Dundrum
A brilliant option for fast, tasty dining, Hailan serves up everything from Chinese hot pot to Korean barbecue and lots more in between. Browse the extensive laminated menu to find plenty to fix any cravings. Bold, robust bibimbap is always good, as are the dumplings. They do plenty of authentic, traditional hot dishes for the more adventurous diner.
Da Mimmo, 148 North Strand, Dublin 3
Da Mimmo offers a homely, old-school approach to Italian but don’t let what first strikes you as a crowd pleaser menu, featuring lasagne and bolognese, put you off. The pasta dishes here are both comforting and well executed and most come in at around €15 and under, as do their excellent woodfired pizzas. There’s something for everyone here and worth seeking out.
The Ramen Bar, 51 South William Street, Dublin 2
Ramen reigns supreme at this handsome Japanese spot — all dark wood, paper lanterns and bamboo. They make luscious broth bases from scratch and fresh handmade noodles are piled in every bowl. Probably one of the most comforting, tasty and filling feeds you can get in Dublin, they are a joy to slurp through and there is plenty of options for customisation on the menu.
Zakura, Wicklow Street & Baggot Street
Zakura is a relaxed Japanese eatery, usually full of hungry hordes that flock for its affordability and generous BYOB policy. The menu covers several distinct styles of Japanese cuisine, including gyoza, tempura, yakitori, sushi and sashimi. The broad appeal, cosy Japanese interiors and friendly service make it a popular and busy option for tucking into some comforting, filling food.
Featherblade, 51b Dawson Street, Dublin 2
A steak restaurant in the cheap eats guide? Yes, you read it right. Featherblade favour the more affordable cuts of meat rather than flashy, expensive cuts which means their signature steaks, the feather blade and hanger, come in at only €14. An enticing sides menu, featuring truffle mac and cheese and beef dripping chips, could easily blow your budget but it’s still the best value steak dinner in town.
Bao House, 34 Aungier Street, Dublin 2
For a fun feed, head to Bao House on Aungier Street for soft, steamed, folded bread-like buns; a sort of Taiwanese version of a hamburger, stuffed with tender pork belly, crispy duck, grilled chicken or tofu. They also do rice bowls, curries and other specials — all wonderfully comforting Asian street food. If you’re eating in, it’s BYOB and they do great meal deals and cater for vegetarians and vegans.
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 and reasonable meze menu features plenty of flaky filo rolls, bright fresh salads, grilled halloumi, stuffed vine leaves and baba ganoush.
Arisu, 120 Capel Street, Dublin 1
This is a great option for a tasty, casual dinner, serving dishes packed with flavour. Search through the massive menu for the three B’s - bibimbap, bulgogi and barbeque. Most of the mains come in at less than €15. All the BBQ dishes are great fun; the meat arrives raw and is cooked on a grill built into your table, then you build your own bites with crunchy lettuce shells and scoops of kimchi.
The Big Blue Bus at The Bernard Shaw, 11-12 South Richmond St, Dublin 2
The Big Blue Bus is a 1979 double-decker bus converted into a pizza restaurant, located in the back of the busy Bernard Shaw. They use organic, unbleached flour for a thin crisp base with the all-important chewy crusts and then add an eclectic mix of toppings, somehow getting the balance between artisan and tasty as hell just right. Monday to Friday from 4-6.30pm, you can grab a pizza with a pint or a glass of wine for only €13.
Musashi, various locations
These lively and casual noodle and sushi spots have a solid reputation for serving up the best authentic sushi, sashimi and maki in the city. Order beyond sushi for tempting tempura and katsu and plenty of authentic Japanese favourites, like Tako Sunomono (a cucumber, seaweed and octopus salad). They do a solid ramen selection, as well as perfect serves of bento. They do BYOB in Capel Street & Parnell Street.
Shouk, 40 Drumcondra Rd Lower, 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, with prices from €6, 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. A great option for dinner and it’s BYOB.
KuRaudo, Townsend Street and Stoneybatter
KuRaudo on Townsend Street, and with a recently opened branch in Stoneybatter, is a charming, under-the-radar option for your Japanese fix. The menu covers the usual dishes we’ve come to expect, with lots of noodles, some good ramen and a few tasty rice dishes. Freshly-made sushi and sashimi are served artfully on slates. There are plenty of options for seafood lovers and vegetarians.
Bunsen, various locations
The top dog of the burger spots, their tagline is ‘Straight Up Burgers’ and it doesn’t get more straight up than a business card-sized menu of hamburger, with or without cheese, fries and then soda, milkshake or beer. Burgers are fresh minced Black Aberdeen Angus, perfectly melting cheese, pickle for umami and a classic American Amish dinner roll bun. All served up to us on a dinky, retro silver tray, wrapped to minimise mess. Simple and sublime and worth a wait at busy times.
Nut Butter, Forbes St, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2
A beautiful space to dine in, this bright, light-filled space is an Instagrammer's dream, all muted pastel interiors, geometric tabletop designs and plenty of greenery and raffia. The plant-focused food is great too, featuring vegan favourite jackfruit along with Irish brisket for protein bowls and tacos. They open for dinners, serving ‘late plates’ along with wines & beers.
Voici, 1A Rathgar Rd, Dublin 6
Unabashedly French in appearance, the staff are clad in Breton stripes and crêpes are cooked in a repurposed Citroën. Choose from authentic galettes crafted with black sarrasin flour from Brittany, served with Irish twists — the Allez Les Bleus is stuffed with pear, Cashel blue and walnuts & drizzled with honey or try Le Traditionnel with Irish ham, cheddar and Ballymaloe relish. All come in under €14 and the concise wine list has some nice and reasonable options.
Fowl Play, 45 Hogan Place, Dublin 2
A pub friendly feed can be just the thing when you’re eating on a budget and Fowl Play’s tasty barbecue menu has lots on offer at purse-friendly prices. Generous serves of rotisserie chicken come with pickled red cabbage and sides and the snack menu is hard to resist, featuring padron peppers, croquetas and frickles. And happily, they don’t cut corners on ingredients - the chicken used here is always free range.
Dublin Pizza Company, 32 Aungier Street, Dublin 2
Served from a no-frills hole-in-the-wall on Aungier Street, pizza here is eaten street side or sometimes taken to hospitable neighbouring pubs. Their mix of authentic Italian taste and Irish-focused toppings is a joy. Mozzarella is Toonsbridge from West Cork, along with the usually exclusively Italian scamorza. Charcuterie comes from On The Wild Side in Kerry and they also use a Teeling's salami. They even grow their own seasonal herbs.
Kimchi Hophouse, 160-161 Parnell Street, Dublin 1
Tucked away in an old-school pub on Parnell St, Dublin’s oldest Korean restaurant is a much-loved and not-so-secret dining gem. It more than delivers on great value and really tasty food with a broad Korean-Japanese menu. Try some Korean tapas, a bit of sushi, steamed wontons, sizzling bowls of bibimbap, washed down with some cold beers.