Best foodie spots to dine with kids in a city better known for its pubs
Dublin has always been known as a great place to drink, but it’s only within the last ten years or so that it’s started gaining some real street cred among foodies. With an ever-changing, expanding, and diversifying restaurant landscape, there’s much more to Dublin’s food scene these days than the meat and potatoes of the days of yore. And this being Ireland’s capital city, its family-friendly atmosphere goes without saying. So here’s our list of our top 10 places to eat in Dublin’s City Centre.
11-13 Suffolk St.
Located atop a seven-floor mini department store in the heart of an often very gray city, Avoca Cafe is a bright and cheery ray of sunshine. With a warm, rustic yet modern style, it serves up breakfast, brunch, and lunch with a focus on fresh Irish ingredients and baked goods. It’s a great spot for a bit of respite and views of Dublin after shopping along Grafton Street.
KidTripster Tip: In a city where sausage and rashers are king, Avoca is a breath of fresh air, offering fresh, healthy options like green juices and avocado toast – two things my family and I found on very few menus in the heart of the city.
2/Hatch & Sons
15 Saint Stephen's Green
A popular spot for breakfast and lunch, Hatch & Sons is a cozy cafe along the northern side of St. Stephen’s Green, offering a modern take on traditional Irish comfort food. Nestled in the basement of a historic Georgian townhouse, the space is warm and fuss-free – and so is the food. This light-filled Irish kitchen serves up wholesome food made from only what’s available locally. It’s also the only restaurant in Dublin serving sandwiches on blaas (soft, floury, white rolls unique to County Waterford). Make like a local and try a sausage or bacon blaa for breakfast or the beef and Guinness stew for lunch.
Photo courtesy: Hatch & Sons
3/Elephant & Castle
18-19 Temple Bar
Located in the heart of Dublin’s famous Temple Bar area, Elephant & Castle has become famous for, of all things, its chicken wings. Not just any chicken wings, but “American-style” chicken wings. Both its wings and burgers came highly recommended to me. At first, I scoffed at the idea. It couldn’t possibly have wings as good as American wings… could it? I had to find out. Challenge accepted. I have to say, they are, in fact, excellent wings, even by American standards. And the burgers are decent, too. So while I’m not one to recommend ultra-American fare while traveling abroad (because I feel like you should taste and experience the local food), I will recommend this place because 1) it’s delicious, 2) it’s family-friendly, and 3) it’s a favorite with the locals which, in my book, counts for something.
KidTripster Tip: For dessert, stop in Aunty Nellie’s Sweet Shop in Temple Bar. This adorable shop with a vintage vibe specializes in traditional Irish sweets and sources them locally. Admittedly, I had never heard of boiled or penny sweets, but the sight of them sure made my Irish husband nostalgic. And the “American” section - complete with Marshmallow Fluff, Pop Tarts, and Twinkies - made me both laugh and blush in embarrassment all at the same time!
Photo courtesy: Elephant & Castle
4/Marks & Spencer Cafe
15-20 Grafton St.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that a cafeteria atop a department store would have one of the most stunning views in Dublin. It’s just one of the many surprises that my family and I found at the Marks and Spencer Food Hall. This clean, spacious, and modern eatery is truly “cafeteria-style.” Grab a sandwich and drink from one of the refrigerated cases or order a hot meal up at the counter and take it away on a tray. Then snag a spot by the window or, if the weather is nice, out on the rooftop deck where you can sit and enjoy the fresh air and the music of the street performers down below on Grafton Street. The cafe’s menu offers everything from breakfast sandwiches to soups, salads, and freshly-baked “jackets” (baked potatoes) piled high with a variety of toppings. It also has savory pies (like steak and ale or chicken and leek) and fish and chips. I also liked that the prices were reasonable; the most expensive item on the menu is about $13.
KidTripster Tip: When you enter the Food Hall on Grafton Street, you’ll see a cafe on the ground floor, but the actual restaurant and outdoor seating area are upstairs.
5/Gallagher's Boxty House
20-21 Temple Bar
My family and I stumbled upon this cozy spot years ago on a very cold and quiet St. Stephen’s Day (the day after Christmas). Many Dublin bars and restaurants are actually closed on Stephen’s Day, but Gallagher’s Boxty House was open and boy, are we glad it was. The specialty at this small but hugely popular restaurant in Temple Bar is, as the name indicates, boxty – a paper-thin potato pancake unique to the Ulster region of Ireland. Much like a crêpe, boxty is served with a variety of savory fillings. Also on the menu, you’ll find juicy burgers, seafood chowders, and Irish stews with fresh Irish soda bread. If you were hoping for a pint of Guinness with that beef and stout stew you ordered, you’ll have to try something else. This is one of the few establishments in Dublin that doesn’t have Guinness on tap. Instead, it offers two other Irish stouts: Murphy’s and Beamish.
KidTripster Tip: Be prepared to be squeezed in next to your neighbors if the restaurant is busy. The tables are tightly packed together, so it’s not great if you have a stroller. Reservations are recommended on weekends. Go early with young children.
Photo courtesy: Boxty House
6/Fallon & Bryne
11-17 Exchequer St.
Evidently, there’s more to this food hall phenomenon than it being just a big-city, trendy, American foodie kind-of-a-thing. The fad has officially gone farther afield and now the Irish are into it. With a gourmet market on the ground level, a wine bar and bistro on the lower level, and a fancier restaurant on top, Fallon and Byrne has all your food needs covered. With its Instagram-worthy aisles neatly lined with Irish teas, local preserves, and gourmet chocolates, it’s the kind of place where fruit is artfully arranged like in a still life painting and where you have a choice of at least a dozen different kinds of potatoes. After wandering though the market, head down to the wine cellar where you’re welcome to any of the bottles on the wall and where you (and your kids) are welcome to have lunch or just a few nibbles with your wine. During our stop here, we sampled a table full of small plates like Spanish almonds, marinated olives, crostini with dips, a cheese board, and potato wedges (because, it’s Ireland!). While we just snacked late in the day, it does offer lunch items like soups, salads, sandwiches, and main courses including roasted chicken, slow-cooked beef brisket or baked hake (fish) with smoked aubergine (eggplant).
KidTripster Tip: Know that there are two Fallon & Byrnes. The one that I’m suggesting is in Dublin City Centre; the other one is newer and bigger but south of the city center.
7/Queen of Tarts
Cows Ln./Dame St. & Cork Hill/Dame St.
The last time that my family was in Dublin, we came across two locations of this restaurant. Both were positively packed with people and pastries in the pretty, glass cases. The fact that both locations are almost always busy is a pretty good indication that something good is happening behind the ruby red doors of the Queen of Tarts. And while the focus is on dessert, the menu is full of all sorts of soups, salads, sandwiches, and quiche for lunch. For breakfast, you’ll find everything from oatmeal and a vegetarian frittata to smoked bacon and leek potato cakes, smoked salmon and eggs, and the hearty full Irish. It also has some of the best scones that I’ve ever tasted!
KidTripster Tip: This place is tiny, so if you’re traveling with a stroller or need a high chair, forget it.
28 Wicklow St.
OK, so maybe putting an ice cream shop on our favorite restaurants list is a bit unorthodox, but we’d be remiss not to mention Murphy’s. Rain or shine, a visit to this little shop on Wicklow Street with the baby blue facade is a must. I don’t think that I’m alone when I say this could quite possibly be the best ice cream in the world. It’s definitely in my worldwide top 5 – right up there with some pretty out-of-this-world Italian gelatos and Oregon Tillamook Ice Cream. Murphy’s ice cream originated in the seaside town of Dingle, which is along the Ring of Kerry. It uses only milk from rare Kerry cows and focuses on the rich flavors of the region. Caramelized Brown Bread, Irish Orange Marmalade, and even Guinness are just some of the flavors available for adventurous ice cream lovers. Personally, I love a scoop of Carmel Honeycomb combined with a scoop of Dingle Sea Salt. Yes, that’s a double scoop, but who’s counting!
14-15 Trinity St.
For a slightly fancier, maybe sans-little-ones kind of dinner, try Pichet or the place that will forever go down in history for me as being “that place with one the best soups that I’ve ever tasted.” It was split pea soup with ham served with a side of potato croquets. I could have had just that and died happy, but that was only my starter. It’s a vibrant, modern restaurant with delicious food that combines French, Italian, and Irish cuisines using fresh local produce. The menu changes seasonally and rarely disappoints.
10/Le Petit Parisien
17 Wicklow St.
Whether you’re in need of a strong morning coffee or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, Le Petit Parisien is the perfect place for it. With dim lighting and tiny tables, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a 1920s cafe in Paris. Along with coffee and beautiful French pastries, the cafe also offers breakfast and lunch items like oatmeal, pancakes, omelets, baguettes, quiche, and croquet monsieurs.
Another hot tip for coffee lovers: if you happen to visit Trinity College to see the Book of Kells (which you absolutely should), be sure to grab a “Trinity Coffee” at the coffee shop located on the campus quad, opposite the Long Room and gift shop. Made with strong Italian espresso, frothed milk, and a shot of Irish cream, then topped with a sprinkle of chocolate in the shape of a shamrock, it’ll bring a smile to your face.
Marcia Breen is an American writer who went to London, met an Irishman with a Russian name, and followed him to Bermuda. Nearly a decade later, they are married and living in New York City with their 3-year-old daughter and extremely lazy cat. Marcia is now fluent in Irish (yes, it’s different than English!) and addicted to Tayto, Jacobs Fig Rolls, and Barry's Tea.