As soon as there’s a hint of spring in the air, the urge for comfort food tends to lessen as our minds turn to summer vibes, big bright salads and plenty of fruit and veg. We want to eat stuff that makes us feel as good as the sun on our skin. But where are the best feel-good, healthy spots guaranteed to put a spring in your step? These are our eight favourites.
Tiller & Grain, 23 Sth Frederick St, Dublin 2
A much-welcomed newbie on the city centre cafe scene, yellow tile clad Tiller & Grain is literally as pretty as a picture, as is their food. The focus here is on healthy and nutritious ingredients using as much local and seasonal as they can. There’s a short breakfast menu of porridge, overnights oats and pastries but lunch is the real reason to visit. Fresh salads are piled high ready to be picked and mixed for a bowl or take away box. Recent combinations include summery watercress, courgette, asparagus, grilled baby gem and strawberry delight and butterbean hummus with roasted red, golden and candied beetroots with chervil and pickles. Filling, tasty grains like farro always feature along with a selection of meat or fish to be added. The place is tiny so perhaps have a nearby grassy take away spot in your mind when headed for lunch.
Kale & Coco, 18 Grangegorman Lower, Dublin 7
Starting out as a smoothie bowl pop-up, the wonderful Kale & Coco recently opened a beautiful, very Insta-worthy permanent café in Stoneybatter. It’s plant-based everything here, with smoothie bowls, salads and every superfood non-dairy latte you can imagine. The smoothie bowls, usually made with a base of frozen banana are packed with goodness and topped with granola, nuts, seeds fresh fruit and even flowers. Nourish Bowls are ‘buddha bowls meets salad’ with umami-packed options like Finding Nori Black - black rice, edamame, mango, slaw, pickled ginger, nori flakes and toasted sesame seeds. Everything here is bright, colourful and enticing.
Tang, 9a Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1 & 23c Dawson Street, Dublin 2
The brilliant Tang evolved from a dinky frozen yoghurt joint on Dawson Street to a rustic, relaxed cafe with a strong vegetable focus and now has a second wholesome outpost on Abbey Street. Both spots serve early breakfast from 7.30am offering eggs, granola, pancakes and excellent Roasted Brown coffee. Lunches are changing seasonal salads, full of earthy Middle Eastern flavours with plenty of dukkah, zaatar and sumac featured. Choose from marvellous slow cooked lamb, chicken and veggie friendly falafel, hummus and lots of beans mean plant-based eaters won’t go hungry.
Cocu, 9 Baggot Street Upper, Dublin 4 and Hatch Street Upper, Dublin 2
If you don’t believe a salad can fill you up then you haven’t tried Cocu. Their colourful, bursting build your own boxes are full of tasty, nutritious delights. Middle Eastern Chicken is probably the most popular with roasted red peppers, avocado & feta and sumac dressing. Spiced Turkey comes with crispy bacon, steamed broccoli and sriracha yoghurt or try the Moroccan Spiced Chickpeas with herby couscous, cucumber,
pomegranate and minty yoghurt dressing. Then choose your base of sweet potato, rice or leaves and toppings of nuts, seeds or herbs. Texture and flavour are key with their bold combos, it’s no wonder both shops are out the door with queues of suits daily. Do join them, it’s worth the wait.
Nut Butter, Forbes Street, Dublin 2
This smart restaurant in Grand Canal is a bright light-filled space. An Instagrammers dream all muted pastel interiors, geometric tabletop designs and plenty of greenery and raffia. The idea behind Nut Butter is a focus is on bigging up plant-based food but also offering choice. They have salad bowls like Kalette Caesar and Squash Cranberry & Almond and also a great lineup of poke bowls and protein bowls all featuring plenty of kale, quinoa and avocado. A great place to try vegan favourite jackfruit which pop-ups in lots of dishes, alongside Irish brisket for protein bowls and tacos. There’s an interesting tempeh chorizo on the menu, sushi grade tuna and plenty of kale, quinoa and avocado. Simple breakfast staples of porridge and toast are pimped up with plenty of bright, fresh toppings, and homemade nut butters.
Eathos, 8-11 Baggot Street Lower and 13 Baggot Street Upper, Dublin 4
Now with two Baggot Street locations, it’s even harder to It’s hard to walk by Eathos window displays stacked with mouth-watering baked goods. So don’t. Head here for an extensive menu with plenty of feel-good factor that won’t make you feel like you’re missing out. Breakfast and brunch are particularly good — a delightful acai smoothie bowl is topped with toasted quinoa granola, passionfruit, coconut chunks and cacao nibs and the buckwheat pancakes are great. At lunch, there are piled high pretty salads always with strong protein options - miso blackened salmon, juniper smoked Tipperary beef, chargrilled tuna and roasted cauliflower. They also do all day brunch and of course that wonderful window of treats, with plenty of virtuous choices.
Sprout & Co, various locations
As Sprout continues to expand (check out the newish Exchequer Street spot) it’s a joy to hear they have started growing all their own leaves on a farm in Kildare. This freshly grown goodness is the base for their bright, stylish salad bars with an array of nourishing salads and wraps. Signature salad bowls offer bright, nourishing combinations like Japanese Salmon, Paprika Chika and the irresistible Satisfied Turkey Bowl. Bowls can be adapted to suit vegans and veggies or build your own protein grain bowl. Irresistible sweet treats supplied by Nutshed are all made without gluten, dairy or refined sugar. They also stock the excellent Boringly Good Almond drinks and well made Roasted Brown coffee comes with dairy-free options. Their cold-pressed vegetable juices will cool you down and put a spring in your step.
Blazing Salads, 42 Drury Street, Dublin 2
This wholefood stalwart has been serving up delicious salads on Drury Street since 2000 and their super fresh vegan salad bar is well known for being hard to resist. The deli always has a selection of warm, filling hot dishes. Think Provencal lima bean casserole or butternut squash and spinach gratin. The super-fresh vegan salad bar is well known for being hard to resist, full of flavour and texture. The buckwheat with roasted kale squash and aduki is divine. Luscious bakes are made fresh onsite each day, with plenty of dairy-free options. They also have a well-stocked selection of vegan-friendly larder ingredients and homemade frozen meals to take home. Nab the bench outside for the ultimate alfresco people-watching lunch spot.