Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: Hang Tough, George Voronov
The nay-sayers will be dismissive. “A whole day for two on fifty quid? Impossible”. I can hear it in the annoyingly nasal voices. But with staying in coming out more and more expensive why way the energy crisis, it’s almost our moral obligation to have a nice day out. So we’re here to show you how.
It truly can be done, my friend. If you want to spend a whole day in the city centre with your favourite partner in frugality, then this is the day for you.
Wandering around with no wiggle room money, window shopping is absolutely no fun. So I’m not going to recommend it here. Some free things you can do with your morning include The National Museum, The Hugh Lane Gallery, The Natural History Museum, IMMA, Collins Barracks and such. If you’ve read the last two budget-day-out articles, you already know that.
So to level up your next-to-nothing day-out game, try starting with “free events today” on Eventbrite. There’s always a little something, and it changes every week. I filter out the “family-friendly” ones because being surrounded by kids is not my day-out-dream. Sin é nearly always has something in the evening. There’s usually some sort of talk or guest lecture and the odd gig. Every Sunday evening in Wheelan’s, there’s a free gig from The Dublin Blues Cartel that’s constantly popping.
If you fancy learning about this season’s designer shoes, you can quaff free bubbly and listen to DJ January Winters in Brown Thomas from Friday at 17:00. Every Friday in Smithfield, you can also get a free ticket on Eventbrite for what they call Grá Fridays. Your free ticket entitles you to a complimentary drink and 20% off full-price drinks for the evening. So if you’re willing to do the registration and walk, that’s two free drinks of a Friday with a bit of a walk.
This week if you’re looking for a free thing to do that’s cultural and not the same five museums I’ve recommended before, then I’d be heading to ‘Voyage’ by Hanneke van Ryswyk at Hang Tough Contemporary on Exchequer Street. The Exhibition Launch Event is on Thursday at 18:30. But the exhibition is on all weekend and should be an excellent way to while away a morning. Rascals are also launching a new beer on Thursday. So, if you swing into them after six and before seven, if you want to top off your affordable day out with a free beer.
The first stop on every full day out is coffee. You can stick to the spots in our Dublin on a Score piece if you drink back coffee. But if you, like most coffee drinkers, are a milk-based coffee consumer, then you want to hit up Simon’s Place on George’s Street. Milky coffee’s cap out at two fifty – including cappuccinos and mochas. There’s no mention of alt milks on their menu. But they are usually extra, so factor that in if that’s your poison.
It’s also a great spot to stop if you’re into people-watching and outfit-spotting. You can also grab what could be Dublin’s most affordable eggs on toast for a fiver each here. Meaning breakfast and coffee come in at seven fifty each or fifteen total. Leaving you with thirty-five quid for the rest of the day.
Alternatively, you could head to The Cheeky Piglet and get two hashbrowns and a coffee for a fiver. This works more like a snack than breakfast, though. And it’s up in Fumbally Court, so it is a little further outside the centre than I’d usually recommend.
Lunch wise? You have a load of options. If you want to keep the extra for a blow-out-adjacent dinner, you must lean into the fiver soup lunch. Oxmantown, Soup Dragon and a wealth of others titter around the fiver mark for their soup.
Then there are also quesadillas in MASA starting at a fiver. But the average spend is a tenner per person. So you’d need the willpower to keep it to the minimum.
That said, if you’re down to hit the tenner each and leave only fifteen to twenty for dinner, then you have the sharing platter in UMI for eighteen quid. Or grab a burrito from literally any burrito place, specifically Mama’s Revenge, if you’re looking for quality. If you want, you could also hit up Reyna for a whopper kebab for eleven euros. Along that vein, you have the Chicken Gyros from Yeeros coming in around eight yoyos.
Felling pasta? grab Spaghetti Al Limone, in Fasta for nine euros. Asian-wise, there are as many options as there is diversity in Asian food. I’ve mentioned most places on capel street, but also Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodles at Lee’s Charming Noodles come in under a tenner. Of course, we all know DiFontaine’s and Bambino for a slice, but also Southpaw has a Pecorino Pizza Portofoglia comfortably under a tenner.
As I always recommend, if you want a pint with your lunch, it’s Grogan’s for a pint and a toastie. It comes in a little over a tenner each if you add ham.
After lunch, you could hit up another museum, head to a park, walk down the Liffey to Grand Canal and have a god gander at The Poolbeg Towers. You could also do some walk-by alternatives site seeing- Saint Audoen’s Gate or hitting up Stoneybatter where the Spice Girls filmed the STEP music video.
When dinner time rolls around, you have to take stock of what you did during the day. If you went for the fiver breakfast and the fiver lunch, then you’re probably gonna want a decent feed for your leftover forty blips.
If you’re looking for two courses, then capel street is the spot. Throw a stone; most places will feed you a starter and a main for fifteen to twenty each. There’s also a massive sushi platter in Kimchi Hophouse that’s only thirty quid, so you could add drinks to your budget.
If you have an even thirty left, hit up Nomo for their OG ramen. It will fill you and delight you equally for €14.95 each. There’s also Sprezzatura as an option. Most of their pasta comes in around twelve to thirteen. Equally, you have Bonobo or Kodiak for pizza. If you stick to the classic marg and get a half pint, you can booze a bit too.
Let’s say you did the cheap lunch and expensive breakfast, and you only have twenty-five thirty quid left, Ireland’s biggest chimichanga for two in The Hungry Mexican at twenty-five euros. Kokoro Ramen Bar has Ramen for two for twenty-five too. Along with the classic pick of a Dash Burger and split chips.
If you want dinner for two with a drink but only have a tenner each left in this fifty quid budget and think it’s impossible, do I have a deal for you? In Ranelagh, at Er Buchetto, you can get a cheese and charcuterie board with two Aperol Spritzes for only twenty euros. The perfect date night spot if you’re saving all your spare euros for the inevitably large electricity bill that’s headed for us all.
If you went a bit over bored and got the expensive breakfast and the expensive lunch without realising and you’re genuinely down to a tenner between you and dunno how you’re gonna cope but you’re famished … take a deep breath. You can always grab a dinner box and split it. You’ll have to skip the garlic dip, though.
You could split a three in one from Xian Street Food too. Or you can get a seven-inch pizza from Boco for seven squid, which isn’t really enough to feed you till you’re full. But it’ll keep ya going. That way, you have three quid left to blow.
Here is where you head to one of those free drink events if you’re trying to stretch it out. But you could top your day off in a completely different way.
Hear me out: the best way to end a day out on the cheap is to play the Lotto. It adds a little excitement to your day with your leftover two quid. Each picks three numbers and do one line only. Then, leave it up to the man-made deities and dream about which overpriced gaff you’d buy if you won. Then if you actually win, it’ll keep you humble because you’ll never forget how broke you were when you bought it. So it’s a win-win even if you lose.
Elsewhere on CHAR: Why I Hate The Word Foodie