At the top of our list of things to do in Dublin was to go on a food tour. During our short trip to Ireland in January, my Mom and I only had a few days in Dublin and we wanted to see, drink, and taste the very best it had to offer.
In my search for a fun and informative food tour, I came across Irish Food Trail, a tour company whose goal is to show visitors the best Irish food, restaurants, and pubs in Dublin through the eyes of a local expert. Unlike other food tours I’ve been on that have stopped at multiple locations for small bites, the Irish Food Trail takes its time visiting three Irish restaurants or pubs so guests can savour an appetizer, a main course, a dessert, and a drink at each location. Think of it as a progressive meal winding through the lively streets of Dublin with new international foodie friends. The restaurants and pubs selected for each tour are slightly different each time, so you may even get to try some different places than the ones I went to.
We met our cheerful guide Justine at our meeting point outside of Dublin Castle. My Mom and I were joined on our tour by guests from Finland, Russia, Belarus, and the United States. After a warm introduction by Justine, we set off for our first taste of the tour. Along the way, we passed through the colourful, flag-filled Dame Lane, a narrow thoroughfare in the bustling Dame District.
Our first stop: Gallaher & Co Bistro & Coffee house, a contemporary European restaurant located in the historic D’Olier Chambers building dating back to 1891. The elegant yellow brick and terracotta building (which remains mostly unchanged to this day) was originally built for Gallaher’s Tobacco Company, hence the name of the restaurant.
Once inside, we were offered the option of several starter-sized dishes on the menu including the soup of the day, a honey-glazed goat cheese salad, a ham hock terrine, or fish and chips. Since I brought my appetite with me that day and was craving some seafood, I opted for the fish and chips, while my Mom chose the goat cheese salad. My hand cut chips were perfectly crispy on the outside and warm on the inside, and the fried fish was nicely complemented by the celeriac remoulade and watercress.
The bite of my Mom’s goat cheese salad I had was also perfectly dressed and flavourful. To drink, we both selected a Dowd’s Lane Big Vat cider, a delightfully refreshing cider that uses fresh juice from locally sourced apples. The cider was my favourite drink of our entire trip to Ireland (and I even poured my own pint of stout at the Guinness Storehouse!), so make sure to try it if you’re in Dublin!
With our appetites whetted, we made our way to our main course destination, Gallagher’s Boxty House in the heart of Temple Bar. Boxty House’s goal is to preserve some traditional Irish foods while giving them a modern spin. In addition to being at the forefront of modern Irish cuisine, they also have a strong commitment to using natural ingredients from local producers. So local, in fact, that they are growing some of their own potatoes on the roof of the restaurant!
The restaurant is named after its signature dish, the boxty, a distinctive kind of Irish potato pancake. Though we didn’t sample a boxty (I must go back for one next time!), we did get to feast on their stew platter, a tasting board of their three most popular stews. We indulged in their hearty Irish stew made with tender lamb, pearl barley, potatoes, carrots, and leeks, their beef stew made with Guinness-marinated Irish beef, carrots, and potatoes, and Dublin coddle, a local favourite stew made of bacon, pork sausage, and potato.
Alongside the trio of stews we were served the most mouth-watering, freshly-baked bread – a farmhouse brown bread and an Irish soda bread. The breads alone were enough of a reason to go back – I’m still thinking about them almost a month later! To wash down our stews, we sipped on the restaurant’s own house brewed craft beer – Jack Smyth.
With hearty stews in our bellies, we wandered through Temple Bar, the city’s liveliest neighbourhood chock-full of pubs and restaurants. Along the way, Justine happily gave us recommendations of her favourite spots to have a drink and the best places to listen to traditional Irish music. She also pointed out The Clarence Hotel which was bought by U2 stars Bono and The Edge and told us about the Temple Bar Food Market which takes place every Saturday.
For a sweet finish, we headed to Oscars, a funky café and bar located on the historic Fishamble Street near Christ Church Cathedral. Throughout the entire tour, we were anticipating the surprise that Justine had promised us at the start of the tour. Much to our delight, we were given a lesson on how to make our own Irish coffees! One of the bartenders at Oscars showed us the steps, from whipping the cream lightly in a chilled cocktail shaker, to pouring the shot of whiskey, to pouring the hot coffee, to stirring and dissolving in the brown sugar, and finally to topping it all off with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. When made correctly, an Irish coffee should look like a freshly poured pint of Guinness. I’d say mission accomplished!
Our final treat of the tour was a rich and decadent Bailey’s cheesecake served in a mug. Chatting and laughing with Justine and our new foodie friends over Irish coffees and dessert was such a nice way to end our tour.
Justine was a lovely guide – upbeat, approachable, and accommodating to all our dietary restrictions. Throughout our tour, she gave us several tips, answered our many questions, and made everyone in our group feel at ease. Spending three hours touring the city with Justine felt like meeting up with an old friend and catching up over yummy Irish dishes. If you are heading to Dublin and want to eat and drink at some of Dublin’s top spots, then I can recommend taking a tour with Irish Food Trail. (In addition to their Dublin Experience, the company also runs a Tapas Trail food tour if you’re looking to try something a little bit different.)
Thank you so much to Irish Food Trail for hosting me and special thanks to Justine for a fun and tasty tour!
Guess what? As a special treat, Irish Food Trail is offering Kaffee und Kuchen readers a 10% discount on one of their tours using coupon code ‘KaffeeKuchen’. This code is limited to the first 10 users.
I was a guest of Irish Food Trail on their Dublin Experience food tour, priced at 60 Euros per person. As always, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Where are your favourite places to eat in Dublin? I’d love to hear in the comments below!