2021 has been a year for hospitality to say the very least. We have taken some time to highlight some of our favourite meals that have gone down the red lane in this turbulent year.
It hasn't all been bad, this funny little year we call 2021. Where food is concerned, it's actually been pretty great. While we take you through some of our favourite meals, why not think about some of the epic dishes you tried this year. There's bound to be one or two if you take a good scroll through your Instagram stories.
30. Coke Lane Pizza's Frankie
EM: My love for Coke Lane Pizza runs deep, anyone who knows me knows I'm practically evangelical about them (and extremely annoying and insistent). When they started doing takeaways in the Summer, I made a beeline for it, grabbed the Frankie from Lucky's on Meath Street, and walked down to a sunny Patrick's Park to scoff (with my own portion of lemon aioli obvo). The pizza was as good as it always was, but it felt like a slice of normality at a time when it was badly needed.
You can find Coke Lane Pizza in Lucky's and The Circular, for more information visit their Instagram.
29. Opium's Beef Rendang
FF: I took my extremely sceptical Dad out for a meal in Opium’s dreamy botanic garden over the summer, and even he couldn’t find anything bad to say about it. The Beef Rendang is the perfect combination of creamy yet still with a bit of a spicy kick, and definitely one to try for anyone who likes a subtle touch of sweetness to their curries.
You can find Opium on Wexford Street, for more information visit their Instagram.
28. Sprezzatura's Sage Infused Gnocchi
KT: This was my first experience with gnocchi (yes, I know, I KNOW, I've been under a rock) and I was not disappointed. Sprezzatura are known for their simple but delicious pasta dishes, and I fell head over heels in love with the sage and garlic gnocchi dish (amongst many other things on the menu). There is a reason that Sprezzatura is constantly booked out, and I implore anyone who hasn't been (how's that rock feel on top of your head??) to make it their 2022 mission to visit.
You can find Sprezzatura in Rathmines and on Camden Street, and visit their website HERE.
27. Variety Jones's Savoury Crème Brûlée Waffles
EM: Managing to secure a booking for Variety Jones is enough to make any meal in the small Dublin 8 quarters special. One of the great things about a dinner at Variety Jones is that it's a non-negotiable set menu, so you are trying things that you normally wouldn't necessarily order. Now pâté wouldn't be rolling off my tongue when I'm requesting my food orders, but it was great to try Variety Jones's treatment of it, which was to throw a bit of flame on top of it and serve it with potato-based waffles that came smoking hot from the griddle. Also, who doesn't love a Michelin starred spot serving their food up under a doily?
You can find Variety Jones in The Liberties' 78 Thomas Street, for more info visit their website.
26. Dockyard's Dock N’ Roll
FF: Anyone living close to the Dublin/Wicklow county bounds knows that Bray is something of a foodie haven these days, and Dockyard consistently delivers when it comes to brunch and cosy dinners. I will pre-empt by saying this breakfast sambo was only a special, but if you ever see it advertised on their social media again, make it your business to get out there and try one. The ultimate hangover soaker upper, or hearty feed for pretty much any scenario. When I watch the episode of Friends where Joey tries to save his sandwich from a car backfire, this is what I imagine he’s saving.
You can find Dockyard at Bray Harbour, for more information visit their Instagram.
25. RóCo's S'more Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate and Muffin
KT: Yes, I am that basic. Autumn approaches, and I immediately begin to crave anything and everything with pumpkin spice. While this may not be a dish per say, it more resembled eating a meal as opposed to sipping a drink. It came topped with marshmallows, cream, pretzel sticks, and it was hands down the most divine pumpkin spice invention I had over the course of the season. Plus they had matching muffins - so I was all pumpkin-ed out.
You can find RóCo's Café on Edward Street, and check out more of their delicious inventions on their Instagram.
24. Dash Burger's Double Smash Burger
EM: Discovering Dash Burger has been a bit of a curse and a blessing for me, mainly because I can't seem to be able to turn to any other food in a hungover state. But I remember the first time I peeled open the wrapper and saw a Dash burger while I was dying a death immovable from the grips of my hangover. The bun felt springy to the touch, the patties were charred to within an inch of their lives, the cheese perfectly plastic-y + American, and the sauce plentiful and mysterious. Getting my paws around a Dash burger, may or may not have cured one of my worst hangovers of the year and for that I'm grateful.
You can find Dash Burger on Kevin street and Capel street for more information visit the Instagram.
23. Chimac's Good Good Burger
FF: I doubt I have to convince anyone on the life changing powers of Korean fried chicken. It’s a spiritual experience. Chimac’s Good Good Burger consists of Ssamjang & cheddar cheese sauce, honey & jalepeno relish, habanero mayo (again, that sweet and spicy combo that I’m forever obsessed with) and as far as fried chicken goes, was my highlight of the year. This is not an award I hand out lightly.
You can find Chimac on Aungier Street, for more information visit their Instagram.
22. Featherblade steak with prawns
KT: I'm a BIG fan of steak. I was reared on fillet steaks thanks to my incredibly generous grandmother who wouldn't allow her grandchildren to eat anything less than the best. As a result, I am incredibly picky when it comes to steak, and am often disappointed or left wanting. Featherblade did leave me wanting, but only because the steak was so damn good. I chose the classic Featherblade, and went all out by adding grilled prawns on top. Now I'll never able to have steak without them. The beef dripping chips, sweet potato wedges, and broccoli salad are all well worth it too.
Featherblade is located on Dawson Street, check out their menu on their website HERE.
21. The Patriot's Inn Burger
EM: Passersby might think that The Patriot's Inn only has Italian on the menu, so one of the greatest pleasures of the last year has been discovering that the bar itself has unbelievable food. The burger has to be up there with one of the best in the city, perfectly seasoned smashed burger, pickled onion, lashings of sauce and cheese, the chips are also first-class. The only problem with the burger is that it makes ordering other meals from the menu a little challenging.
You can find The Patriot's Inn on Kilmainham's 760 South Circular Road, for more information visit the Instagram.
20. Ukiyo’s Cauiliflower Katsu
FF: Everything from Ukiyo from the crab and crayfish rolls to the crafty cocktails is next level in terms of flavour and quality, but special shout out to the cauliflower katsu. It’s a win with literally everyone who tries it, from the die-hard carnivores to the plant based queens. It feels like a sin to go there and not order it.
You can find Ukiyo on Exchequer Street, for more information visit their Instagram.
19. Mexican Bowl from Nutbutter
KT: I'm someone that generally speaking tries to eat pretty healthy. Getting tasty and healthy meals can be a struggle at the best of times, and if you're looking for some of the same, you must try Nutbutter. I only discovered this Grand Canal spot in June, and have been countless times ever since, mostly to order their Mexican Bowl. It's full of sweet potato, a meat of your choice (I always go for brisket), rice, avocado, black beluga lentils, coconut and peanut sauce, pico de gallo, and pickled onions. The tastiest health conscious food I've had in Dublin!
Nutbutter is located on Grand Canal Dock and you can out more from their amazing menu HERE.
18. Salty Buoy Food Truck's Oysters
EM: During a time in early Summer, when all we had was takeaways and food trucks, the food felt pretty special. After spending a large portion of lockdown in a landlocked county it was extremely sweet to finally have access to some fresh seafood. Of course, Salty Buoy can produce a lot of incredible things from their little truck, but the day that I grabbed half a dozen oysters to slurp down in the sun was particularly sweet.
You can find Salty Buoy all over Dublin at the minute, to check where they are visit their Instagram.
17. Benedicts Egg Shop’s Breakfast Sambos
FF: Dublin was crying out for soft eggy sambos like the ones Benedicts specialised in, and I was devo to see them finishing up in October. Hopefully they’ll be back in some sort of incarnation in the not too distant future, but until then they’ll live forever in my memory as one of the best breakfast options in the city.
16. ALMA's Poached Eggs
KT: I am an egg fiend. It's my favourite breakfast/brunch meal, and I make it my business to try lots of places to find the very best dish. ALMA took the top spot for me this year with their take on poached eggs. The dish comes with two free range poached eggs, smashed avocado, garlic portobello mushrooms, feta cheese, and salsa criolla on organic Tartine sourdough. And they do not cheap out on the feta. You get a huge portion, and it is by far the tastiest egg dish I have had this year.
ALMA is based in Portobello on South Circular Road, you can look at their menu HERE.
15. BRÚ House Kilmainham's Chicken Kiev
EM: Myself and BRÚ House have been on a bit of a rocky journey together, but they have fully redeemed themselves when they put a chicken kiev on the specials board. Forget Botox, antioxidants, and regression therapy, this chicken kiev is capable of reliving your childhood. Smooth mash, stir-fried green veg the names of which I forget because they were just the green accompaniment to the glistening kiev that was perfectly garlicky, buttery, and deep-fried.
You can find BRÚ House Kilmainham on 740 South Circular Road where you may or may not find it on the menu, for more information visit the Instagram.
14. Toonsbridge Toasties
FF: From Milleens to Coolea, everyone knows West Cork doesn’t mess around when it comes to cheese and Toonsbridge are no exception. Their Georges Street Store has proven to be an iconic addition to Dublin’s foodie landscape and their toasties never disappoint. My ride or die is good ole fashioned jamon and mozzarella – you can’t go wrong.
You can find Toonsbridge Dairy on Georges Street, for more information visit their Instagram.
13. Póg Pancakes
KT: This really should come as no surprise, but Póg simply does the best pancakes around. I have been twice now and been blown away both times by how satisfying their stacks are. Like steak, pancakes when dining out can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. Well not at Póg, where you choose everything, from the toppings, to the sauces, to the type of pancakes you want. I chose protein pancakes with an extra stack (because I'm greedy) with banana, strawbs, chocolate drops, peanut butter, and Greek yoghurt.
Póg has several locations, in Malahide, Bachelors Walk, Tara Street, and Howth. Head to their Instagram for some major food porn.
12. Los Chicanos Taqueria's Street Corn
EM: The arrival of this blue truck had come with much fanfare, reviews, and high-pitched screams, so when I spotted it at Taste of Dublin in 2021 let's just say my standards were high. Obviously, I opted for several tacos but on a whim, I got the Mexican street corn. Let's face is corn isn't one of those sexy vegetables, chefs ordinarily have their work cut out with corn that's why they normally bathe it in butter or parmesan. But this corn blew my mind, it was partially creamed so it became its own sauce, it was garnished with loads of fresh coriander and doused with citrus, before being topped with chorizo (which I don't even think it needs) it's just perfect on its own.
You can find Los Chicanos Taqueria all over Dublin check out their Instagram to keep up with them.
11. DPC from Dublin Pizza Company
FF: You don’t have to travel far to see Toonsbridge mozzarella being put to excellent use. Dublin Pizza Company’s staple pizza with Dingle Whiskey cured salami and all the West Cork cheeses is one of my favourite in the city – with smoked chive and buttermilk garlic dip on the side, obviously.
You can find Dublin Pizza Company on Aungier Street, for more information visit their Instagram.
10. Almond Croissant from The Cosy Bean
KT: So it's clear I take steak, pasta, and eggs seriously. Another thing I can't get enough of are almond croissants. And not just any almond croissants, because many of them are dry, and dusty, and are filled with almond paste so sickly sweet you can't possibly enjoy it. Well, The Cosy Bean in Churchtown do not mess around when it comes to almond croissants, and as someone who considers themselves an expert, I can tell you these are the best in Dublin. Quite the claim, I know. You'll just have to check them out for yourself.
The Cosy Bean opened in 2020 and is a Churchtown fave for coffee and croissant lovers. Check out more on their Instagram.
9. Chez Max's Moules-frites
EM: During a year with limited foreign travel, it was great to visit Chez Max for the first time. Few Dublin experiences are as sweet as sitting with your back against the walls of Dublin Castle, watching passersby mill by and enjoy a ginormous portion of moules-frites. The combo of pinky-plonky music and the tongue of the waiters makes it feel as if you are en France even if just for an hour.
You can find Chez Max on Dublin 2's 1 Palace Street, for more info visit the Instagram.
8. Tapas at The Porthouse
FF: If you're just obsessed with tapas, may we recommend The Porthouse. Not only do they do killer white wine sangria (divine) but they also have a wide menu of different tapas that fit even the pickiest eaters requirements. Some of their best tapas plates include veggie paella, patatas bravas (obvy), salmon toast, gambas pil pil, croquettes... the list goes on! This is a restaurant that is fairly affordable as well - so if you're feeling the pinch over January, check them out for yourself!
There are several Porthouse locations, two in town and one in Dundrum. Check out their website HERE.
7. Meltdown Spicy Cajun Chicken Toastie
KT: Meltdown toasties are practically a different species of sandwich. They're thicc (those cs are intentional) and absolutely oozing with cheese, that is both in the process of melting, and already melted. My personal fave is the Spicy Cajun, that comes with chicken, Cajun sauce, red cheddar, jalapenos, and buttermilk ranch sauce. One of the best parts about Meltdown is they cater for vegans and vegetarians as well, so no one is excluded from enjoying a juicy toastie.
Meltdown has two locations, one on Leeson Street and one on Montague Street.
6. Dosa Dosa's Masala Dosa
EM: One fateful day in the mid-Summer I tried a dosa for the first time and everything changed. Hot from the Dosa Dosa truck which is truly the only way to have it, the masala was one of the nicest food experiences of the year (if not the decade). Crispy batter that's squidgy on the inside, lightly curried masala paired with not one, not two sauces (and a soup that doubles as a sauce). It's also an extremely healthy food which tastes anything but.
You can find Dosa Dosa on Dublin 2's Grand Canal Street Lower, for more information visit the Instagram.
5. Vegan Bao Buns from Lucky Tortoise
FF: Dining at Lucky Tortoise can be a bit of an experience - my first time I shared plates with friends, and what I can tell you is that it all tasted delicious. Their vegan bao buns were something else - definitely just as tasty as their meat version! If you've never tried a bao bun, or Lucky Tortoise, I implore you to make it your mission in 2022.
Lucky Tortoise is a modern dim sum restaurant on Aungier Street - check out their website HERE.
4. Forge Drain Pipe Pizza
KT: I'm a little bit basic when it comes to pizzas. Ever since I gave up eating pork (which only really hurts my soul when it comes to pizza) I've found myself wanting very simple pizzas. Not every pizzeria can accommodate this, but I have to say one of my faves from Forge is the Drain Pipe. It comes with crushed tomato, basil, Toons Bridge mozzarella, and parmigiano reggiano - simple but effective. Forge was one of my favourite finds of 2021.
Forge has several locations in Ireland, but they are based in Windy Arbour in Dublin - check out their menu HERE.
3. Michael's Surf and Turf
EM: One of those questions that always swirls around my mind, and a gem that I generally use as an ice-breaker for perfect strangers is "what would your last supper meal be?". It's one that I've thought an awful lot about and always changed my mind on until I had Michael's Surf and Turf. It's the perfect last supper dinner because it's basically several dinners in one. A prime T-bone, lobster, and whatever incredibly fresh seafood chef Gaz Smith can lay his hands on that day. It's incredibly satisfying, luxurious, and absolutely too much food, which is what makes it so good.
You can find Michael's in Mount Merrion's 57 Deerpark Road for more information visit the Instagram.
2. Griolladh Potato-o Toastie
FF: Griolladh took 2021 by storm this year, popping up all over the place. My first experience (but certainly not my last) was at their stall in Bray, where I first tried their Beef-o toastie, adding pickles (you can't go wrong with pickles) and their unreal pink garlic dip! Since then I've moved onto the Potato-o toastie, because how could I not try a potato sambo? It comes with hashed and spiced potato, wilted spinach, and their signature cheese blend.
Griolladh can be found in Dundrum, Malahide, Grand Canal Street, and is coming soon to Thomas Street.
1. Shaka Poké Bowls
KT: This 100% deserves the top spot. Shaka Poké in Blackrock does the most exquisite poké bowls, in a city where they're not too easy to find. I don't know what it is about them that makes them taste so damn good; the salmon, the wakame, the Shaka sauce (which I highly recommend) but if you are a fish or a sushi lover, you must make it a priority to visit Shaka Poké at your earliest convenience. Regular lunchtime meals just won't cut it for you after.
Shake Poké is open at the Blackrock Market; check out their Instagram for more info.
So there you have it. The Lovin team's favourite dishes of 2021. If this hasn't made you hungry, well, I don't know what would. Make sure you check out some of these dishes in the near future, and maybe they'll become some of your favourites for 2022.