Fast-paced, innovative and adventurous, Belfast’s food scene is buzzing. From the well-curated menus of stylish upscale eateries like Ox, Eipic and James Street South, to the down-home vibes of traditional fish and chips shops, the city is a whirlwind of great places to eat. So where’s the best place to start?
Top row from left: Sweet Alton; Coppi; Ox. Bottom row from left: Town Square, Molly’s Yard, The Muddler’s Club
Belfast is a bastion of culinary cool, with forward-thinking chefs paying homage to the island’s food traditions and great local produce. You’ll find a new generation of dynamic restaurants as well as old-school favorites clustered around the streets radiating off Donegall Square, as well as around the university district of Queen’s.
It doesn't stop there, though. Tucked away in the busy social district of the Cathedral Quarter, The Muddler’s Club was once the location of a 200-year-old secret society and it still has a feeling of being under-the-radar. Expect simple but creative dishes with a strong local theme such as such as scallop, chorizo, celeriac and golden raisin.
Stix & Stones amps up the atmosphere at the weekend with local steak and seafood dishes in hip, design-conscious surrounds, while you can mix cocktails or craft beers with gastro favorites in buzzy bars and pubs. Try an Irish take on Bell Époque glamour at Saphyre, taste one of the artisan gins at Sweet Afton, or keep it traditional at the super-charming Duke of York, with antique mirrors, picture-lined walls and old wooden flooring.
From left: Established Coffee, General Merchants, Ulster Fry
Coffee, breakfasts and brunch
As a city born and bred on one of the best breakfasts in the world, it’s no surprise that brunch in Belfast is a big deal. Start your day off with a seriously flavorful Ulster Fry, packed with bacon, tomato, sausages, potato bread and you won’t look back – it’s rustic, filling and totally authentic. A great place to try it is at George’s of the Market, but if you’re looking for other brunch options, head to Established Coffee, General Merchants or Town Square where you can mix perfectly executed brunch classics with high-grade coffee.
The 19th century St George’s Market is the go-to for a whirlwind tour of Northern Ireland’s best food produce from cheese to chocolate, but it’s also a great spot for well-priced on-the-go breakfast and lunch options. Try a tasty bacon sandwich from the Belfast Bap Company, get a locally roasted coffee at the eco-friendly Upperlands Coffee Company, or feast on an Irish-style doughnut at Doughzy.
From left: Made in Belfast, St George's Market, Mourne Seafood Bar
Belfast is proud of its food traditions, and it shows. As well as the Ulster Fry with its soda farl, seafood is savored here with rustic simplicity at great little spots such as the Mourne Seafood Bar, Deanes Loves Fish and John Long’s – reputed to serve the best fish and chips in the city. Keep your eye out on menus for local favorites including black pudding, boxty (potato pancakes), Irish stew, Armagh apples, and great craft beers and ciders including Hilden, Belfast Bay Brewery, and the Armagh Cider Company.