Bray has undergone a palpable transformation over the last number of years. Thanks to its proximity to Dublin, plus the surge of trendy restaurants, buzzy bars and quaint local cafes that have popped up around the gorgeous promenade, Bray has been enjoying a considerable rise in both popularity and population of late.
This small seaside town is coming to rival its neighbouring Greystones village and further-afield Howth, and it's definitely a place that's worth checking out this summer. In fact, we recommend you venture out there quick, before the secret gets out and the place becomes thronged with tourists and foodies coming from every corner of the world to see what all the fuss is about.
Image via Dockyard No. 8 Instagram
Dockyard No. 8 has created a relaxed atmosphere where customers come to enjoy great coffee and delicious food. Not only are they known for their stand-out brunch, but the cafe is dog-friendly, making it the perfect place to head to after a weekend walk on the Bray promenade.
If you dare to veer off the beaten track towards Caffe Letterario Gattanera, you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous, quaint, old-school Italian cafe. Come here in the morning for zingy coffee with artisan bread, or treat yourself to a charcuterie board and wine in the evening (or after 12, at least).
Image via Platform Pizza Instagram
For big juicy pizzas with light and crispy bases and a tomato sauce that’s so full of flavour you’ll forget where you are, Noah’s Ark is a casual affair with a light-hearted approach to dining. Expect young, friendly staff who accommodate to any dietary requirements in a friendly and efficient manner.
No prize for guessing what they serve here! However, what the name may not suggest is the wide selection of non-pizza culinary they offer as well. The salads are always generous and flavoursome, whilst the flatbreads are enough to set you up for the entire day (and next morning too, in some cases).
Betelnut Cafe is located in the Mermaid Arts Theatre, and provides theatre-lovers and foodies alike with beautiful, freshly-made breakfast, lunch and coffees six days a week (closed Sundays). Drinks are available pre-show and during intervals, and they do catering requests too.
Image via Ocean's Bar and Grill
Fine dining in Bray doesn’t get much finer than Ocean’s Bar and Grill. This is a stunning restaurant to venture to with friends or family if you’re celebrating something particularly special. The food is of exceptional quality, the decor is chic and classy, and the view overlooking the promenade is a delight, rain or shine. Allow us to recommend the rib-eye steak.
Owned by the same people who brought us the aforementioned Platform Pizza, the neighbouring Box Burger packs an equal amount of punch in the food it produces, just with more focus placed on burgers, buns and hearty sides. A trip to Box Burger is an obvious “must” for beef burger lovers everywhere, but equally compulsory if you’re vegetarian or vegan, as their meat-free variation of patties are nothing short of sublime. The aubergine burger would tempt even the most die-hard carnivores to veer a la veggie.
An incredibly unassuming exterior, but prepare to be met with a huge waft of spices and eastern fragrances that smell so good your tummy will be rumbling aggressively within minutes of being handed a menu. This is traditional Pakistani cuisine at its finest, in fact, such was Daata’s popularity in the area that they only recently opened a new restaurant in Greystones.
Imge via The Harbour Bar
This is one of Bray's top spots for live music with traditional and acoustic sessions every Wednesday-Sunday in the bar, and live bands in the lounge every Thursday-Sunday. These guys are also big fans of the novelty events and festivals, embracing everything from whiskey and comedy to jazz and even toastie festivals! And if you still need convincing, it was voted by Lonely Planet as one of the best bars in the world. How’s that for impressive?
Located in The Royal Hotel & Merrill Leisure Club, McGettigan’s is known for being a great place to go to when you want to watch a match in a buzzy atmosphere whilst enjoying superb quality food and drinks. Live music takes place on the weekends too, making it a great place to go with a group of friends.
The Martello boasts one of the best beer gardens in town, making it is a brilliant option when the weather is fine over the summer months (although the abundance of heaters means it remains a top location to enjoy drinks and socialising during the winter too). The bar turns into a hopping club over the weekend, so be sure to bring your dancing shoes along.