2022 has been an exceptionally challenging year for hospitality to say the very least.
Rising energy bills and the bite of the cost of living crisis has unfortunately meant that many incredible businesses have had to close their doors this year. As the year draws to a close, we've taken some time to highlight some of our favourite dishes from this turbulent year:
40. Loaded Fries from Cluck Chicken
Emily Mullen [EM]:
Set in an incredible DIY-food complex, just off one of the 245 roads that branch away from Walkinstown roundabout, Cluck Chicken is arguably the only reason you would attempt to traverse the country's scariest roundabout. Once you've got there with your neck twingeing from repeatedly checking the wing mirrors, a hangover food haven awaits you.
With a menu that is as healing to a hangover as abstinence, there are dense burgers, drenched tenders, meaty wings and of course the loaded fries. A thick layer of fries, cheese sauce, and chunks of deboned chicken wings topped with thinly sliced shallots make this a box of food that really should share.
You can find Cluck Chicken on 22 Greenhills Road, Walkinstown, for more info visit the Instagram.
39. Jiaozi from BIGFAN
Triona Collins [TC]:
You can rarely go wrong with Dim Sum, but the handmade Chinese dumplings from Michelin recommended BigFan are another level. We loved their roast duck jiaozi as well as their vegan Beyond Meat jiaozi, both of which were juicy, packed full of flavour and complemented beautifully by crispy chilli oil for dipping. Getting dump’d never looked so good.
You can find BIGFAN on Aungier Street. Keep up with them via Instagram
38. BBQ Octopus from Allta
Fiona Frawley [FF]:
It wasn't easy to narrow it down to one dish from Allta's famed tasting menu. Between the cooked-to-perfection steak and melt-in-your-mouth ricotta and ox heart tomato tartlets I put myself through the convivial dining ringer, but I've made my decision.
This BBQ octopus with sea lettuce and foam destined to be dipped up with slowly fermented sourdough bread from Reggies pizza and a selection of toppings from McNally's Family Farm tweezed on with care takes the crown. Their Trinity Street carpark restaurant will close for good after this Christmas, but no doubt they'll be back with a new inspired dining experience in due course.
You can keep up with Allta via their Instagram.
37. Arty Baker Chocolate and Almond Croissant
Katy Thornton [KT]:
I don't think I've ever mentioned my love of almond croissants before you know (big lol). While the Cosy Bean's almond croissant will forever be my fave (and appeared on last year's list) I tried out a fair few in 2022, and Arty Baker in Dalkey did not disappoint with this chocolate and almond offering.
Arty Baker has two locations, one in Dalkey, and a newly opened one in Kimmage. Check out their Instagram HERE.
36. Grano's Tiramisu
A visit to Grano had been high up on my makeshift notes app list of restaurants that I wanted to try, for quite a while, and earlier this year I secured a table at the intimate and homely Stoneybatter spot. The seasonally-driven menu changes each day, with the pasta handmade by the pasta maestro that you can see overseeing the kitchen, all the while folding, fashioning and dusting the homemade pasta. Naturally, the pasta was superb, delicate and bouncy paired with one of the nicest reds I've had in a very long time (a bio corvina).
After going through two pasta-based courses, I found myself at a juncture, to call it a day and get the bill or to keep going to dessert. Now I had heard that the tiramisu was excellent and I'm delighted that I pushed through and got it. The crunch of the dark chocolate on top worked amazingly well with the light and frothy textures, and the sweet and bitter taste from the sweetened mascarpone and coffee-soaked sponge. It's a dessert that you know and love, just changed in a few slight ways to make it all the better.
You can find Grano on Unit 5 on Stoneybatter's Manor Street, you can find them on Instagram.
35. Shouk Mezze Platter
Shouk is an authentic Middle Eastern restaurant in the heart of Drumcondra that do a mezze platter like nowhere else. Their hummus and babaganush are the best I’ve had in Dublin, and the samples of their different salads are the perfect accompaniments to the soft, warm pittas and crunchy falafels.
The variety makes it perfect for parties and get togethers, giving everyone a chance to sample the mouthwatering flavours. The dishes are also light enough to leave you feeling full but energised and ready for the night ahead.
You can find Shouk in Drumcondra. Keep up with them via Instagram
34. Hotcakes from Two Boys Brew
When I think of the Johnny Cakes Vito risked his life for in Sopranos, Season 6, this is what I imagine. I'm unapologetically sweet-toothed when it comes to brunch dishes and it doesn't get much better than this bad boy from Two Boys Brew, North Circular Road.
This blueberry baked hotcake with fresh berries, vanilla mouse and a white chocolate crumb is just one of the many reasons to pay this brunch spot a visit. They also opened their new café venture Milo's this year, for all your coffee-and-a-treat needs.
You can find Two Boys Brew on the North Circular Road in Phibsboro. Keep up with them via Instagram.
33. Tasting Menu at Luna
Luna reopened after a two year closure at the end of 2021 under new ownership and with Chef Ben Dineen at the helm. I was lucky enough to try their 11 course tasting menu and it was hands down one of the best meals I've had in Dublin, not just in 2022, but ever.
Our dietary requirements were catered for in a way that was unmatched, and the food was as creative as it was delicious. Pictured below is just one of the many incredible dishes we received, John Dory with vongole, pea, artichoke, elderflower.
Luna is based on Drury Street; you can book a table HERE.
32. Gambas from Fallon & Byrne - Wine Cellar
Walking around the food hall of Fallon & Byrne has to be one of my all-time favourite things to do in town. Admiring the seasonally-themed displays, aimlessly picking up ingredients that could only be required in an Ottolenghi recipe and spending way too long pretending to buy something at the cheese counter. But not everyone knows that below there's a restaurant downstairs in the converted wine cellar.
There, friendly and charismatic waiters serve you a rustic enough spread, and it was there that I had one of the best starters of the year- and unfortunately one of the most disappointing mains (pasta ragu that hadn't seen a lick of seasoning). Sweet Dublin bay prawns, cooked with chunks of rendered chorizo and served with puffy sourdough. A fairly run-of-the-mill menu option, that used the best of ingredients to create a dish you'd be using every particle of bread available to you to mop up.
You can find the Fallon & Byrne - Wine Cellar on 11-17 Exchequer Street, for more info visit the Instagram.
31. Crumb Cruach's Crumb Burger
30. Hot Pep from Bambino
Bambino have caused quite a stir since opening on Stephen's Street back in May of this year. In terms of pizza by the slice, we'll always welcome a new addition in Dublin - Of course, our beloved DiFontaines have been flying the flag for NY-style slices for 20 years now and we'll never get enough of them, but there's room in our hearts for both.
You've probably seen this spicy slice with picked jalapeños and hot honey all over your Insta feed, and with good reason. Grab a slice and dunk her into their creamy garlic dip - you won't look back.
Find Bambino on Stephen Street Lower, and keep up with them via their Instagram.
29. Seasonal Danish from Scéal Bakery
I'm sure this won't be the only mention of Scéal on this list; here at Lovin we're more than a little obsessed with the bakery. Over the last few months I've tried many of their season danishes, but my personal favourite was the Strawberry and Elderflower variation, pictured below.
Scéal Bakery has no fixed schedule; you can keep up with them on Instagram HERE.
28. Green Beans from M&L Szechuan Chinese
Only M&L could transform a side dish into a true destination meal. Plain ol' French green beans are stir-fried and absolutely spiked with the mouth-tingly Szechuan chilli, which will blow your head off if you let it. Personally, this is the star of the menu for me, but you could while away many an afternoon sampling the delights of the long and winding menu.
You can find M&L Szechuan Chinese on 13/14 Cathedral Street for more info visit the Instagram.
27. Balfe's Vegan Breakfast
26. Mackerel Benny from Good Day Deli, Cork
Some of my top dishes of the year were enjoyed outside of Dublin's Fair City, I'm gonna go ahead and assume that's okay - there are eateries all over the country more than worthy of the list. We all love a good ole fashioned Eggs Benedict but this mackerel offering from Good Day Deli in Cork City takes things to the next level.
Hederman's Irish smoked mackerel is paired with perfectly poached eggs and creamy hollandaise to create this tasty dish - I'd happily convert fully to fishy bennies after trying it. The top-notch speciality coffee and unique setting inside a convent, surrounded by lush greenery also have me fantasising fondly of a return to this brunch spot.
Find Good Day Deli on Douglas Street in Cork City, and keep up with them via Instagram.
25. Beef tacos from El Milagro
This might be a huge statement but I think I'm going to make it. El Milagro does the best tacos that I have so far tried in Dublin. We visited them at Pups in the Park, sharing the beef tacos and the chicken tacos. Freddie (the dog) also got a nibble on some of the meat and he was crying for more long after it was gone.
The dip, which was a pineapple spicy sauce, was also chef's kiss.
You can keep up with El Milagro's coming and goings HERE.
24. Aobaba's Banh Mi
Aobaba is one of those spots that you try once and then find yourself being pulled back to, with the steer of a homing pigeon. Located on the famously pedestrianised and now-gracing the Time Out's coolest streets in the world listicle, this Vietnamese spot would be thriving wherever it was.
The first time I went there (and every time since) I've opted for the pork banh mi, with super fresh crusty roll that's packed full of fresh herbs and vegetables, it's as close as you are going to get to the real deal.
You can find Aobaba on Capel Street.
23. Kimchi Mussels from Soup 2
22. Dulce de Leche pancakes from Alma
The rich, creamy dulce de leche sauce you'll find atop these pancakes from Alma is homemade and cooked over six hours, and it shows. If you live for a sweet breakfast dish, this bestseller should be top of your list to try heading into the new year.
The sweet dulce and mascarpone paired with the tartness of the orange zest and fresh fruit create a truly magical bite, and chased down with a speciality brew from Two Fifty Square you simply can't go wrong.
Find Alma on South Circular Road, Portobello and keep up with them via Instagram.
21. Two Pups Coffee Halloumi Bap
I truly have to stop myself from running to Two Pups Coffee every time I'm in the office. The staff there are so friendly, and this halloumi bap, which sounds like a simple enough recipe, was incredibly delicious, served with a side of potatoes and greens.
Definitely one of my fave dishes of 2022, and I find myself recommending Two Pups to everyone now when they're looking for a spot for some lunch.
Two Pups Coffee is based on Francis Street.
20. Cabbage from Library Street
Pre-teen me would be in a state of shock that I'd be actively choosing cabbage on a menu, having been scarred by my family's proclivity for cooking cabbage in the murky waters of hairy bacon. But the relatively new treatment of charring cabbage has me converted to the wonders of this once-dreaded vegetable.
Just a simple side dish at Library Street, the cabbage is charred on an open-fire drizzled with kimchi sheep yoghurt and sprinkled with spiced dukkah. It's tough to narrow down the menu at Library Street, but this cabbage is not to be left off the list.
You can find Library Street on 101 Setanta Place for more information visit the Instagram.
19. Tacos from La Cocina Cuevas
18. Mussels and Chips from Joe Wattys, Inis Mór
Another out-of-Dublin experience, which I hope you won't begrudge me. If you close your eyes and imagine the perfect traditional, small-town Irish pub, Joe Watty's is pretty much the embodiment of that. These mussels were as fresh as the day is long, accompanied by one of the best pints of plain you could hope to find. A thing of beauty. A thing of perfection.
Find Joe Watty's pub in Kilronan, Inis Mór
17. Rita's Pizza
I hadn't been back to Rita's post pandemic, so I'd forgotten just how nice it is. I find it hard enough not to find pizza spots in Dublin, but to find spots that are nice to sit down for a proper meal in. Most of my fave pizza spots are for takeaway, and while these certainly have their place, I'm glad to have rediscovered Rita's as a top notch sit-in pizza place.
The below pizza typically comes on a white base, which is just not my journey, so I was delighted to be able to swap to a classic red base to fully enjoy it. The Hot Chick comes with roast chicken, pine nuts, sun-dried tomato pesto, red onions, and some lovely basil for garnish.
Rita's is based in Ranelagh; you can book a table HERE.
16. Pear and Bacon Sambo from The Pepper Pot
I was ashamedly late to the party in terms of visiting The Pepper Pot, and such was my dedication to go I ended up going on my first midweek day off in Dublin in years, my birthday. As Birthday breakfasts go it's hard to look much further than the Pear and Bacon, salty bacon, sweet slices of pears, tangy cheddar and a light smear of mayo all on signature soft thick-cut white bread. It's genuinely one of the most perfect flavour combinations to come between two slices of bread.
You can find The Pepper Pot in the Powerscourt Centre, for more info visit the Instagram.
15. Sandwiches from The Donkey Shed
14. Chef's Breakfast from Dockyard No.8
Last non-Dublin offering I'll bring you, but this one's only a hop, skip and jump over the border to Bray Harbour. The Chef's Breakfast is the coming together of so many tasty bits - crispy parma ham, crumbled feta, breaded asparagus, spicy hollandaise and of course, the glue that holds us all together, the perfectly soft poached eggs. Get you a brunch dish that does it all. Get you to Dockyard for the Chef's Breakfast.
Find Dockyard No.8 at Bray Harbour, and keep up with them via Instagram.
13. Hor Mok Talay from Nightmarket
One of the best Thai restaurants in Dublin is Nightmarket. It's a great spot for a special occasion atmosphere wise and their food is all stunning too. Pictured below is the Hor Mok Talay, which is a seafood red curry served in a coconut (yes, it being in a coconut did add to the experience).
Nightmarket is based in Ranelagh, you can check out their menu HERE.
12. OG Nomo Ramen from Nomo Ramen
We've all been put through the wringer with terrible ramen at some point, bowls filled with tasteless broth, soupy noodles and toppings that do all the heavy lifting. But the newly opened Nomo Ramen is truly operating in a league of its own at the moment, with an impeccable creamy chicken broth (that's been simmered for 8 hours), thinly sliced slow-cooked and blow-torched chashu pork, unctuous boiled eggs and freshly wilted leeks and spinach, it's ramen that's as tasty from the first slurp to the last.
They are also available for takeaway- a godsend for all the hungover rovers out there.
You can find Nomo Ramen on 4 Charlotte Way, for more info visit the Instagram.
11. Fish Kyiv from Salty Buoy
10. Baja Prawn Tacos from Los Chicanos
Los Chicanos have upped the Mexican street food game in Dublin significantly since opening last year, and while it's hard to settle on just one of their tacos I've opted for this Baja Prawn offering with sweet mango salsa, red cabbage and the obligatory drizzling of hot sauce. Perfection.
They're usually set up outside the Cash & Carry off Wexford Street but are taking a Christmas break at the moment - keep an eye on where they pop up next via their Instagram.
9. Smash burger from DASH
I was introduced to the glorious smash burger by the champions of it, DASH burger. As someone often disappointed by burgers (mostly if they lack juiciness) I was thoroughly impressed by the double smash cheese burger from DASH. Myself and a colleague split some fries (they're huge so I was glad of this) and enjoyed one secret sauce (it was amazing but couldn't tell you what was in it). And one garlic dip, because it's an essential. I will be making it a priority to return to DASH very soon.
8. The flan from Uno Mas
Bear with me here, because I'm aware of the jokey connotations behind a flan. It's associated with being a basic and run-of-the-mill dessert beloved by Mams with limited time and tastebuds. But I had heard rumblings that the Spanish-style flan from the Aungier Street restaurant was good but nothing prepared me for how good it was- so good in fact my boyfriend ignored his own dessert and ate half of mine (rude).
Impeccably paired back, the flan de queso consistency is perfectly smooth, rich and the creamy cheesecake-like baked custard dessert which isn't too sweet- comes swimming in a burnt caramel sauce. Visually it's one of the most simplistic and striking dishes I've ever been served. For only €8, it has to be one of the best Dublin food experiences under a tenner.
You can find Uno Mas at 6 Aungier Street, for more info visit the Instagram.
7. Halibut with Pumpkin Seed Crust from Pichet
6. Chicken Fillet Roll from Ger's Deli
You may or may not have been following my quest to find the best chicken fillet roll in Dublin over on our Instagram this year. As it stands, I never want to eat a chicken fillet roll again but there is one that stands out for me, one that still takes my breath away even just remembering it.
The chicken fillet roll from Ger's Deli, Ballyfermot is a mammoth offering of food. Served on a generous portion of bread roll chopped off from a larger baguette, with perfectly spiced chicken, thinly grated cheddar (perfect for melting) and extra mayo for all those who seek it, the power of this deli order was undeniable. A hugely popular spot for a reason, and one I can't wait to go back to.
Find Ger's Deli on Ballyfermot Road, Dublin 10
5. Duck Mac N Cheese from 31 Lennox
Naturally my curiosity got the better of me and I had to order it. As a lover of duck, mostly with Chinese dishes and in plum sauce, and a fan of Mac N Cheese, because, duh, cheese and pasta, I needed to know how the two paired together. I was prepared to be disappointed, but in fact, the flavours worked surprisingly well.
The sweetness of the duck offset the savoury saltiness of the cheese, and now I don't know how I'll enjoy mac n cheese without duck. Plus the addition of the buttery kale was just chef's kiss - it helped balance out the rich flavours at hand.
31 Lennox is based in Portobello.
4. Salmon from Saltwater Grocery
My number-one dish from the past year and a strong contender for my all-time favourite ever dish comes from the grocery turned restaurant Saltwater Grocery. Coming as part of a seafood-centric tasting menu, this dish burns bright in the mind. A thick slice of dry-aged Clare Island salmon topped with a wobbly layer of soy sauce jelly and a crispy yuzu koshu.
The texture makeup of the dish is interesting, with the firmness of the salmon, the gelatinous soy and the crispy crunch of the yuzu. There is a beautiful salty-sweet aspect to it, with the soy bringing out the sweetness in the fish and the yuzu adding just the right amount of citrus. Chefs Niall Sabongi and Karl Whelan are behind the Terenure spot, with the very best of produce coming from Sabongi's own Sustainable Seafood Ireland.
You can find Saltwater Grocery on 97 Terenure Road East, for more information visit their Instagram.
3. Bubbleclaws from The Marker
2. Sesame Prawn Toast from Mak at D6
An often-overlooked addition to a Chinese feast, but you'd be ill-advised to pay a visit to Mak in Ranelagh with out adding this crispy prawn toast to your order. The perfectly toasted sesame seeds paired with the minced prawn and chives, all brought together with a spicy sriracha mayo - what can we say? She's an icon, she's a legend and she is the moment.
Find Mak at D6 in Ranelagh Village and keep up with them via Instagram.
1. All In at the Lucky Tortoise
Every dish that came out was amazing. To start we had banchan, a range of small dishes which included kimchi, sesame beansprouts, soy cucumber, pickled mooli, peanut rayu, and ssamjang. We then ordered the Veggie All In, which swiftly came out plate by plate until our table was full of food (the kind of sight I love to see). Even when I wasn't fully aware of what I was eating, it was delicious, full of flavour, and fresh. That I also managed to eat the meal with just chopsticks (a little dodgily, but still) provided more satisfaction than I can truly express.
Our All In came with jasmine rice, miso soup which we sipped as opposed to spooned, silken tofu which really did live up to its name, chive and scallion pajeon, okonomiyaki, sweet potato dumplings, and aubergine dumplings. We also ordered the mushroom char siu buns and by the end of the meal we were stuffed.
Lucky Tortoise has two locations, one in Temple Bar, and one on Aungier Street.