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Budget Dublin - Dining on a Budget

Have you ever been hungry in a city? Have you ever been immersed in culture and history but your stomach just won’t quit rumbling?

Let’s take a for instance – you’re in Dublin, slowly creeping around the inner sanctum of Christ Church Cathedral, the smell of incense lingers in the quiet air, and the only sounds are respectful feet shuffling on the tiles and little gasps when a new arrival sets eyes on the stained glass windows. Amid all of this awed silence, this reverential calm, your stomach makes the kind of rumble that could well be mistaken for the beginning of a very serious thunderstorm. You’re hungry – it’s time to eat and it’s time to eat cheap.

Pub Grub

As if Dublin pubs weren’t inviting enough, their owners have gone and thrown delicious food into the mix. Gastro pubs are popping up over the city like mushrooms in a field and as well as being tasty, they’re cheap. Premier among these little taste-bud-tempters is The Exchequer , a laid-back, moodily-lit gastro pub just off the shopaholic nirvana of Grafton Street. Pangs of hunger will be banished with a super serving of bacon and cabbage – all just over €10. Another bar/café/restaurant serving cracking eats at almost unbelievable prices is the very trendy Green 19. All mains here are €10 on the nose and count among them Pot Roast Chicken, Corned Beef and Mash and possibly the best cup of coffee in the city.

Picnic Picks

Thanks to some very smart town planner and some green fingered influences, Dublin’s city centre is jammed with pretty parks. And as we all know, parks are to picnics what Prince William is to Kate – perfect partners. Now, to make your blanket chow-fest into one that will make your friends jealous you’ll need to source a quality delicatessen. Thankfully, Dublin is home to the dual deli delights of the quirky cool of Liston’s Deli and the fine food emporium,  Fallon and Byrne. Pop in to F&B for fabulously flaky sausage rolls and pastries that are almost too pretty to eat (we said almost…) or rock up to the uber friendly staff at Liston’s and choose from a majestic array of salads including an amazingly fresh coleslaw with apple or risotto with cashew nuts. With picnic basket packed you’re ready to indulge your inner Yogi Bear at either the Iveagh Gardens, Merrion Square or St Stephen’s Green.

Cheap Treats

The mere mention of a meal at a five-star restaurant is enough to make our wallet tremble and induce flashbacks of waiters handing us bills that bear more relation to our phone number than an amount of money. Should you be stalked by such experiences than let us introduce you to the Cellar Restaurant at the five star Merrion Hotel. Not only does The Cellar boast a sumptuous interior with vaulted ceilings, crisp white tablecloths and fine furniture, but it also happens to provide a stunning three-course lunch menu with tea or coffee for an astounding €23! Could we perhaps interest you in Confit of Galway Salmon, Slow Cooked Pork with mustard onion and roast potato followed by a Guinness Toffee Pudding and all washed down by a pot of tea or Merrion blend coffee? We could? Oh, that’s good.

What’s not to like about food markets, eh? Pottering in and out of stalls laden with fresh bread and farmers brandishing huge chunks of cheese, asking if you fancy a taste, is one of life’s little pleasures.  The Temple Bar Food Market  is a rollicking riot of shellfish, flowers, cheeses and coffee – and that’s just the very start! This is the kind of place where you gather the ingredients for a massive meal with mates and proudly proclaim to all of them – ‘By the way, I got all the food at this cool food market in Temple Bar…’ and proceed to tell them about all the folks you met, the grub you sampled and how it was all splendidly affordable. Everyone likes a story with a happy ending.

Cafe Cool

Cute cafés abound in Dublin and the Pepper Pot Café (below) is so cute it’s all you’ll be able to do from squeezing its cheeks. Housed in the stunning Powerscourt Townhouse Shopping Centre, the Pepper Pot serves up incredible baked treats without the incredible price tag (Fresh baked scone with jam and cream for €2.50). Also registering high on the cuteness scale is the Alice in Wonderland style  Cake Café, hidden behind an environmentally friendly paper shop on Dublin’s Camden Street. Pop in and chow down on a mammoth serving of beans on toast for around €6 and wash it down with a cup of tea served in cool/kitsch china cups. Delightful isn’t the word.

About the author

Raised in the Wicklow countryside, David is country through and through. He loves reading, especially Sebastian Barry and Roddy Doyle, and cooking (burning?) up a storm in the kitchen. You might find him bouncing around a tennis court on weekends before retiring to a quiet pub with friends for a long lazy afternoon. David writes about sport, food and nature and is fascinated by the Titanic. Favourite Walk:The Lambe Hill (for thinking) and Beal Ban beach in Ballyferriter (for romancing).