Best picks for picnics

Picnic food from Avoca, County Wicklow
Picnic food from Avoca, County Wicklow

Belfast or Dublin – these city centre hotspots are primed for perfect picnic packing…

1. Dublin day out: Okay, you’ve decided to do some high-octane stuff, like kayaking down the River Liffey, taking a sail around Dalkey Island or even man-handling a hurling and sliotar for a real Gaelic Games Experience… so, you’ll need some energy to pack yourself off…

The perfect food: Bring your adrenaline pumped bodies to Brother Hubbard where you can pick up ‘The Best Sandwich in Dublin’ – slow-roasted pulled pork, with warm spices & fennel seed, served with a mustardy celeriac remoulade & beetroot & fresh baby spinach on griddled sourdough bread. Wash it down with some refreshing raspberry, apple and rose juice… delish!

2. Belfast day out: You heard it here first: Belfast rocks… even musical bigwig MTV has rolled into this small city with the huge heart! If you’re taking a musical tour (think Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Ash and The Undertones), or heading to one of the city’s thumping venues, like Spring and Airbrake or the Oh Yeah Music Centre, you’re going to want to make sure to chow down well beforehand. 

The perfect food: Lisburn Road’s Rocket & Relish was inspired by its chef-owner who started out selling gourmet burgers at, you guessed it, festivals! A runner-up in the acclaimed Street Food Awards, your burgers have the edge over all the rest. Try the Bacon & Blue– chargrilled beef with maple cured bacon, Cashel blue cheese dressing, fried onion, tomato, aioli and rocket. And vegetarians can tuck into chargrilled aubergine, goats’ cheese, sun-blushed tomato, fried onion, aioli and rocket… all wrapped up in simple paper to take away.

3. Dublin day out: Just because you’re in the city, doesn’t mean that the green, green countryside is too far away. Take yourself off to Glendalough, County Wicklow, where saintly minds convened, a round tower rose and two glassy lakes lie at the foot of hills just made for conquering.

The perfect food: You’re heading to a saintly kind of place, but you’ll still need the right food to steer you on your way… Avoca will raise your taste buds’ expectations to the skies… Castletownbere crab salad with apple, fennel, pickled cucumber & Avoca multiseed – all heavenly stuff!

4. Belfast day out: You know a place has reached epic status when its rugged landscapes and crumbling castles double as the Seven Kingdoms on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. If you’re taking a tour around the Iron Islands, learning archery at Winterfell or claiming your place on the Iron Throne, you’ll need to fill up on some hunger-banishing grub.

The perfect food: Head down to St George’s Market and feast your rumbling bellies on a spread of foods fit for a king. Follow your nose around the weekend stalls serving succulent wild boar, braised venison shanks, roast north coast salmon and Atlantic shark. They don’t call it the ‘UK’s Best Large Indoor Market’ for nothing.

5. Dublin day out: So, you’ve rented a bike and meandered through some seriously impressive sights around Dublin – the Guinness Storehouse, grazing Fallow Deer in Phoenix Park and the cobbled streets around Temple Bar – it’s about time you stopped off to refuel!

The perfect food: With cycling on the brain, what could be a more appropriate than the award-winning Blazing Salads? Try the spinach & goats’ cheese pies with fresh dill or the butterbean & vegetable hotpot with mashed potato & kale to get you back on your bike in no time at all.

6. Belfast day out: You’re the kind of person who likes looking at things from a different perspective, so a sea view of this buzzing city makes sense. Climb aboard the Belfast Sea Safari and track the route the Titanic took when it left Belfast for the last time. But what makes a good lunch at sea?

The perfect food: Dip into traditional fish and chips shop, John Dory’s, and tuck into just-off-the-boat fish. Lightly battered Portavogie scampi, melt-in-mouth haddock with chunky chips and homemade fish cakes top the menu at this celebrated ‘chippy’.

Feeling a bit peckish? Us, too! Find out more about traditional food in Ireland, our modern tastes and the best places to dine.