Ireland is no France or Greece when it comes to culinary excellence. But it’s not all black pudding and crubeens, either. During my time abroad I searched the city for tasty treats on a limited budget. Here’s what I found:
Best traditional Irish food: The Shack Restaurant. A Dublin native introduced me to actual Irish food here. While the vegetable soup, a colorful, smooth puree rather than broth with chunks, and homemade walnut brown bread with butter were my favorites, my meat-eating friends enjoyed the lamb, carrot and potato stew. 24 Essex St. East in Temple Bar; €8.95 lunch and €14.95 three-course early bird special.
Best dessert: Queen of Tarts. While this tiny cafe offers sumptuous and hearty choices for breakfast, brunch and lunch including a decent vegetable, hummus and arugula sandwich, its true magic lies in the sweet tarts, all served with fresh cream. Choices include chocolate, pear and almond; tangy lemon meringue; rustic apple crumble; fresh warm plum and my personal favorite, decadent chocolate pecan. Cork Hill and Dame Street, across from Dublin Castle; €4.95 sweet tarts, €9.95 savory tarts with salad and bread.
Best variety: Temple Bar Food Market. Temple Bar is generally an overpriced tourist trap, but the food market attracts natives and visitors alike with its excellent spread and fair prices. Sabores de Mexico offers a great €6 veggie burrito, while Piece of Cake Bakery’s giant, two-for-€5 raspberry and yogurt scones satisfied my sweet tooth. I was too full to try anything else, but I’ve heard Ariosa Roasting Coffee Co. is also superb. Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays; prices vary by vendor.
Best ice cream: Murphy’s. With flavors ranging from the traditional chocolate chip and peppermint to the more creative sea salt and brown bread, Murphy’s offers an endless variety of delicious combinations. I wish I had sampled all their flavors, but Irish cream liqueur was too good to pass up. 27 Wicklow St.; €3.50 for a small.
Best ethnic fast food: Boojum and Pablo Picante. Both offer mouth-watering burritos with your choice of salsa as well as student discounts and loyalty cards, so it’s pretty much a toss-up between the tiny, Mexican-wrestling-themed Pablo Picante and the strangely named Boojum. For a greater variety of Mexican beer and Chipotle’s broader menu and oversized portions, Boojum. For a quick and easy take-away burrito, Pablo Picante. Boojum: Millennium Walkway. Pablo Picante: 131 Baggot St., 4 Clarendon Market. Both: €5-8 burritos.
Best hot chocolate: Butlers Chocolate Cafe. Their slogan, “Purveyors of Happiness” rings true for chocolate lovers. Offering everything from milkshakes to mochas and a huge collection of gift-worthy assorted chocolates, Butlers also serves rich hot chocolate, second only to world-famous Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Creamy and decadent, this drink is best when there’s a chill in the air and a sprinkle of snowflakes on the ground. Locations include 51a Grafton St., 31 Henry St., 18 Nassau St. and 24 Wicklow St; most drinks under €5.
Meg Morrison ‘13 spent her junior year at Trinity College Dublin through Notre Dame’s Office of International Studies Dublin program. She is the magazine’s summer and fall intern. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org