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Ultimate Food Guide to: Dublin’s Top Hidden Gems

Words: Emily Mullen

After much racking of brains, trawling of the internet and broken down email threads we are proud to present, The Ultimate Dublin Food Guide, Hidden Gems edition! A guide that cuts through the mire of food and drink reviews made by every Tom, Dick and Harry, with opposable thumbs and access to 3G.

The best part of putting together the Ultimate Food Guide was picking the brains of the people who truly know about food and drink in Dublin. Because the people who eat, sleep and sometimes smell like food are the people to place your trust in when it comes to recommendations. These experts have put their life’s work into making food for other people and that gives them a keen appreciation for the work of others who do the same.

Some of the places that have cropped up have been very illuminating. This is an important list because, frankly, we can all stand to be a bit more adventurous with our food and to push our boundaries out, step further afield, order that weird thing on the menu and just get out there and go for it.

What constitutes a hidden gem, is different to different people, but our contributors were centred on their understanding of it. They all went for places that not a lot of people know about and/or places that don’t really get the credit they deserve. Whereas our previous list charted off the beaten track spots; food pilgrimages that were further afield, these hidden gems are for the most part hiding in plain sight.

The doors have been swung open, covers were thrown off and the answers revealed. Into your ear let us whisper The Ultimate Food Guide to Dublin’s top Hidden Gems:

10. Artybaker

The Sell-Out Pastry

Artybaker chalked up some good results in our Ultimate Dublin Food Guide to Pastries that was released recently. The Sandycove haunt took the number 4 spot and was exalted by chef Holly Dalton. Launched by Romain Tessier, a man with a pretty varied CV which parkours from the head baker at London’s iconic Hotel Cafe Royal to a previous Great British Bake Off: The Professional’s contestant. The team have been living up to their name and have been creating some truly class pastries, pushing the boundaries on what should or shouldn’t be included into the folds of pastries. There is a warning on the website that they will serve pastries until they sell out, which is the true sign of a gem. Mister S co-owner Paul McVeigh listed the arty-farties in his top list of gems.

Location:

Dún Laoghaire’s 27 Sandycove Road


Opening times:

Wednesday-Sunday 8.30-17.30 (or until they sell out)

For more information visit their Instagram.

9. Locks

Hidden Canal Gem

Most wouldn’t consider Portobello to be too hidden, but Locks’s proximity to the canal can at times obscure it from vision. The neighbourhood restaurant serves up refreshing plates of modern Irish cuisine, taking cuts and ingredients that aren’t as well-known and placing them on their one-pager menu. Locks features in our Ultimate Dublin Food Guide to Fine Dining, garnering praise from the likes of Paul McVeigh. The co-owner of Piglet Enrico Fantasia put Locks’s name forward for this category he told us, “I don’t know if we can consider Locks a hidden gem, but for sure it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Perfect spot for a lazy Sunday lunch!”

Location:

Dublin 8’s 1 Windsor Terrace

Opening times:

Wednesday-Thursday 17.00 – 21.00
Friday 12.30 – 15.00; 17.00 – 21.00
Saturday 12.30 – 15.00; 17.00 – 21.00
Sunday 12.00 – 16.00

For more information visit the website.

8. Clarke’s

The Neighbourhood Gem

Known for its infamous breakfast roll, Clarke’s have been serving customers from their spot in the heart of Cabra for the past 19 years. The bakery was top of influencer and cookery book co-author James Kavanagh’s list he told us, “the coffee slices from Clarke’s in Cabra. And their white bloomers & floury baps. And homemade coleslaw. Not quite a hidden gem as there does be a queue around the block.”

Location:

Cabra’s 52/54 New Cabra Road

Opening times:

Monday-Saturday 8.30-18.00

For more information visit the Facebook page.

Image courtesy of @arealtreat.

7. Oh! My Street Food

The Takeaway Gem

Brave is the company to have such a long and exclaiming name as Oh! My Street Food. The format of the business is also pretty brave, the spot in Temple Bar runs as a restaurant and takeaway/delivery service, servicing a large swathe of the city with everything from Xi’an Burgers, Hong Kong Bubble Waffles, Taiwan Bubble Teas, Tianjin Jianbings and Sichuan Spicy Sour noodles. Oh! My Street Food topped Holly Dalton’s hidden gem list, she told us that it was her “mission in life” to get more people talking about the spot, “their roujiamo and jian bing are next level and need to be recognised as some of the best Chinese food in Dublin. Give this Westmoreland Street restaurant a visit as soon as you can.”

Location:
4 Westmoreland Street

Opening times:

Monday-Sunday 11.30-21.00

For more information visit the website.

6. Neigh- bourhood Wine

Destination Wine

Only in operation for a little over a year Neighbourhood Wine have harnessed the wine craze that has gripped Dublin over the last while. Providing keen customers with an exciting range of low impact fine wines, curated by team members and owners all-round wine freaks Shane Murphy and Mick O’Connell. Embodying the name, the team are extremely proactive in organising tastings, collabs and grape specific festivals for locals. Neighbourhood Wine topped food fan and FM104 presenter Crossy’s list, he told us “I don’t know how long they’ll have chairs outdoors for you to sit down and have a wine but oh my days it’s brilliant. I’ve driven past it loads but 2 weeks ago on the way home from town I had a goo inside to see their off licence. If you’re a wine lover it’ll be for you. We bought a bottle of white and sat outside watching the world go by. Now if they did a cheese board it would be game over!!”

Locations;

Dublin 4’s 148 Leeson Street Upper

Dún Laoghaire’s 72 York Road

Bray’s 99 Main Street

Opening times:

Leeson Street

Tuesday-Wednesday 12.00-19.00
Thursday 12.00-20.00
Friday-Saturday 10.30-20.00
Sunday 12.30-16.30

Dún Laoghaire

Wednesday 12.00-19.00
Thursday-Friday 12.00-20.00
Saturday 10.30-20.00
Sunday 12.30-16.30


Bray

Wednesday 12.00-19.00
Thursday-Friday 12.00-20.00
Saturday 10.30-20.00

For more information visit the website.

5. Overends Kitchen

The Experience Gem

Set out in the midst of Airfield Estate farm, Overends Kitchen is a pretty special place. Using as many ingredients as possible from the working farm in their kitchens, the spot in the suburbs of Dublin is a true gem of the city. Paul McVeigh gave Overends a shoutout in his Off the Beaten Track Spots, complementing “all the food offerings restaurant, cafes & weekend market there”. Niall Sabongi also chose the Dublin 14 spot in his top list of gems.

Location:

Dublin 14’s Overend Avenue

Opening times:

Wednesday-Thursday 10.30-17.30
Friday-Saturday 10.00-18.00
Sunday 10.00-17.30

For more information visit the website.

4. The Pepper Pot Cafe

Hiding in Plain Sight Gem

It’s hard to believe that a cafe in one of the city centre’s most beloved shopping destinations would be on this list, but not that many people know about The Pepper Pot, or some just simply forget that it’s there (maybe because it’s not visible on the street). Either way, The Pepper Pot is a pretty special cafe, with great coffee, breakfast and unbelievable pastries (so much so they’ve opened a second spot in the George’s Street Arcade to sell them). The Pepper Pot was Paul McVeigh’s top hidden gem, it also got a mention from James Kavanagh in the brunch option and Holly Dalton for the breakfast list.

Locations;

The Pepper Pot Cafe Powerscourt Centre

Opening times;

The Pepper Pot Cafe Thursday-Saturday 10.00-16.00


For more information visit the Pepper Pot website.

3. M&L Chinese

The Legendary Gem

Few restaurants in Dublin have taken on the legendary status that M&L Chinese has. The spot is ever-referenced, ever-referred to as having some of the best Chinese that the city has to offer. M&L Chinese have been featured in all the food guides on the go. M&L was chef Riggz Castillo’s top pick, he told us “the Sichuan restaurant just off O’Connell street, the menu can be quite intimidating as it is quite big, you gotta know what to order. I’d recommend the whole fried sea bass in garlic and chili”

Location:

North City’s 13-14 Cathedral Street

Opening times:

Monday-Saturday 12.00-21.00
Sunday 11.30-21.30

For more information visit the website.

2. Aobaba

The Capel Street Gem

Known for its outrageously good Pho, Aobaba is one of our more unassuming hidden gem spots (read: it doesn’t even have an Instagram). Set on Capel Street, the Vietnamese restaurant serves meat and vegan soup options alongside Banh Mis and bubble tea. Riggz Castillo voted for Aobaba alongside Baste founder Andy Noonan who told us, “one of the places I missed the most during this lockdown mess. The Pho is amazing, and my go-to, but there are loads of other interesting bits on the menu like the Banh Cuon. Order it, you won’t regret it. Love the hustle and bustle of this place. Such a gem.” The spot also topped Holly Dalton’s list for a guilty pleasure meal, the chef described them as “the Pho and Banh Mi rulers of Dublin.”

Location:

Dublin 1’s 46A Capel Street

Opening times:

Monday-Sunday 12.00-22.00

1. Assassination Custard

The Most Hidden of Gems

For some unknown reason, Assassination Custard exists under the radar, regardless of how many mentions it gets in listicles, lineups and interviews, the spot in Kevin Street remains (sort of) hidden. Describing itself as a “sort of Italian” that sometimes has a Middle Eastern bent, the family-run place lays claim to being the cities smallest restaurant, boasting just two tables that are only open for lunch, for a maximum of eight hours per week, so it’s exclusive as hell. Assassination Custard was included on Holly Dalton and Riggz Castillo’s list alongside Colin Harmon who told us there’s not that many hidden gems anymore but “Assassination Custard is still something of a secret in the city. Cant wait to see them reopen, it has been too long!”.

Location:

Portobello’s 19A Kevin Street Lower

Opening times:

Tuesday-Friday 12.00-14.00

For more information visit the Instagram.

Honourable mentions: PhoViet, Frank’s, El Grito, Maneki Tea Talk, Davy Byrnes and Brothers Dosirak.

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