Want to get off the beaten path in Dublin? Of course, you do. Outside of the city center, you’ll find welcoming local neighborhoods that feel like different villages and are packed with local spots, but even in the most famous parts of the city there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered - you just need to know where to look! So whether you need to want to sneak away from the crowds in Temple Bar or head out to a local enclave to try great food and find even better company, check out these 5 hidden gems in Dublin and get a taste of life like a local.
The worst kept secret in Rathmines has got to be brunch at Farmer Browns, but their weekend breakfast staples like huevos rancheros and eggs benedict are so good it’s no surprise word got out - we promise the queue is worth it! Rathmines is a diverse local enclave that feels like a village in itself, and locals from all over the city head here to eat at Farmer Browns. As well as serving up some of the best brunches in the city, their menu is packed full of delicious dishes that are all made with totally organic produce grown and farmed exclusively in Ireland, and even grow as much of their own veggies as they can in the little garden that’s in front of the restaurant. As well as all-day brunching at weekends (already enough reason to love them), the two sisters who own and run this spot also serve some of the best steaks and burgers in town, showcasing Irish beef.
Any music lover in Dublin knows about the Ruby Sessions upstairs at Doyle’s pub, but if you’re just passing through chances are you might miss this local gem that’s been going strong every Tuesday night for the last sixteen years. And with that amazing record, they’re certainly doing something right! This local gem is one of (if not the) best acoustic nights in Dublin, where you can hear up and coming musicians or even catch well-known artists (Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran, and Hozier have played before) if you’re in the right place at the right time. It’s an intimate setting, and every week is totally unique. We all know that Dublin’s pubs are packed with talented musicians every night of the week, but for something really special, make sure you’re in town on a Tuesday and head up the stairs in Doyle’s for an evening to remember.
The Red Bank 1736
Red Bank literally is a hidden gem. In the basement of Duke Street Gallery (worth a look if you’re interested in the work of contemporary Irish artists) you’ll find this cozy wine bar - just look for the tiny sign on the railings and disappear down the stairs into this intimate local spot. Despite being in touristy Temple Bar you’d walk straight past it if you didn’t know it was there, which is just the way we hope it stays. The bar is tucked away below street level in an original building dating back to 1736, and the interior has been lovingly restored to look just like it would back then: exposed brick walls, a fireplace to cozy up to, and plush leather. Technically speaking there’s no menu, just a wine list chalked up on the board, but the staff are happy to help you out and make recommendations if you’re not sure what to go for. If you don't mind waiting, the food is good too!
In Portobello, a vibrant local neighborhood on the north side of the south canal (make sense?) is one of our favorite pubs: The Barge. This part of Dublin is a popular residential neighborhood since it’s close enough to the city center that no one feels like they’re missing out on any of the action, but far enough away from it that you can make the most of the peace and quiet by the canal. Until the sun comes out, that is, when half of Dublin’s locals seem to head to this pub on the water’s edge, grab a pint (or two, or three), sit on the walls of the canal, and make the most of the good weather. But even when the weather’s not quite so great, the super friendly staff more than makeup for it and their hearty gastropub-style menu is the perfect anecdote to some of the overpriced pub food you’ll find in Temple Bar.
Ranelagh is one of our favorite local neighborhoods in Dublin, and La Bodega is our favorite tapas restaurant in Ranelagh, so our maths makes that the best tapas spot in Dublin. They serve all the classics like a tortilla, prawns fried in heaps of garlic, Machengo cheese with honey and pan-fried chorizo as well as a regional specialty stews from northern Spain like their intense crab based fish stew - the perfect match for the Irish weather and enjoying a rainy evening (sadly it’s not always as sunny here as it is in Rioja). With only Irish beef, jamón ibérico sourced directly from Spain, and chorizo hand-made by the chefs, you know that all of their ingredients are carefully sourced and they’ll only serve produce that’s the very best quality! Great food, great wines, so all you need to bring is the great company.
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