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15th Dec 2023

24 of the best Dublin food and drink openers of 2023

Emily Mullen

Some more spots to add to your ever-growing notes app list in 2024

It’s been a funny aul year for hospitality in the city, with closure numbers of established and beloved businesses growing at an uncomfortable rate. These closures are not to be swept to the side, these are livelihoods, futures and legacies that have been cut short through a variety of unfortunate reasons, VAT rates, overheads, rent hikes, staffing pressures and a multitude more reasons. That’s why opening a business in this challenging environment is to be admired and commended. This has been a hard one to whittle down, but we’ve managed to restrict it to our top 24 openers across a variety of hospitality businesses, from bakeries to bars, delis to winebars, here’s our favourites:

24. Kicky’s

George’s Street, more info here

An opener from the fair hands of modern-day food legends Richie Barrett and Eric Matthews was honour bound to pique the interest of the great and the good of the Dublin food scene. Indeed the space has a (rubs hands together and says ‘touch of class’) luxuriant quality you might come to expect from such big names, it’s a relaxed and comfy space that resembles your rich child-free aunt’s sitting room rather than a restaurant, all bespoke art and investment furniture. While some dishes have copped a bit of flack for lacking balance and verging on being too fat-forward, the price has also been a point of contention for some (including us). The bones are there and these things can be easily amended with the appearance of a menu-sized paper shredder, hence its inclusion in the list.

Go for? The big anniversary dinner

23. Sydney

Dundrum shopping centre, more info here

Shopping centres are rarely known for their culinary prowess, making the brand-spanking new opener Syndey all the more intriguing. Proud owners of our favourite tagline ever “Sydney a nice place to eat!” you can’t help but be pulled in by such endearment. Word on the street is that Joe Macken (formerly of Jo Burger/skinflint/Crackbird/Bear and more) has had his hand in it, previously dubbed the ‘King of Casual Dining in Ireland’ you can see his involvement in the clean, distinct design and bold menu choices. Serving up dishes that are predominantly rooted in the sea and varied menu options, this spot will have you undergoing the gauntlet of Dundrum’s underground carpark, elbowing D4 teenagers and risking your toes around  yummy mummys’ prams to get to.

Go for? A nice place to eat

22. Pawn Shop

Dame Street, more info here

The worry was when the stomping institution of Berlin closed (in a pretty dramatic way), that the incredible dual-street-aspect space would go the same way as a lot of other closures in the D2 area, shutters close, dust gathered and disrepairs setting in. Luckily Pawn Shop inhabited the space and revived it into a warm vibrant red-hued bar and music venue, which has given the stage to loads of local musicians and up-and-coming DJs. It’s also let the incredible Órale street food, which are serving up some of the best Mexican fare in the city right now. It’s the kind of place that you could pop into for some lunch and then exit bleary-eyed after Irish dancing with an American family till the wee hours (genuinely a lived experience).

Go for? Class Mexican grub with the potential for escalation

Orale street food

21. Amuri by day

Chatham Street, more info here 

Whether it’s financial constraints, or just a lack of Annual Leave, flying off to Sicily every month (or every year even) is likely not on your typical agenda. Luckily we have an authentic Sicilian restaurant right in Dublin city centre for when you’re craving the food, and just last month they announced a new daytime venture. Amuri By Day is a new authentic Sicilian deli and is the little sister restaurant to Amuri, which opened on Chatham Street in May 2022. The D2 restaurant celebrates the experience of eating well, which is fitting as Amuri is the Sicilian word for love. Up until now, they have kept those celebrations for evening diners, but now they are expanding to let the hungry lunch seekers in on the love. Known for their stonking great sandwiches which are packed to the rafters with premium Italian flavours,

Go for? The post-lunchtime snooze inducer

20. Bless up

Belgard Square, Tallaght, more info here

Recently done up, this boujee spot on Belgard Square is looking gorgeous, the modern-Nigerian restaurant isn’t just a pretty face, it serves some incredible food, wine and is great craic. Big portions, with super fresh ingredients and a definite spice kick, from their prawns to plantains the team here absolutely nails it. Whether you’re a fan of Caribbean cuisine or simply looking to explore new flavours, Bless Up restaurant is sure to leave you satisfied and wanting to return for more.

Go for? The party in your mouth

19. Cellar 22

Stephen’s Green, more info here 

If 2023 has taught us anything, much like that random girl on your Instagram, Dublin is now entering her wine era. Unlike that wine mom, Cellar 22 actually does know what they are doing, with a team led by sommelier Victor Nedelea and chef Chris Maguire, the spot is an intimate, downstairs space with an eclectic and wide-ranging wine list, and an interesting, contemporary, all-day dining menu. With a feature wine bar, and an open kitchen showcasing handmade charcuterie, breads and great cheese from around the country and further afield, Cellar 22 celebrates excellent ingredients in the room, in the glass and on the plate. A real treat yo’ self spot, the perfect spot for meeting up with your old pal for a long overdue catchup over terrines and differing terroirs.

Go for? The wine and dine



18.  Deli 613

Rathmines Road Upper, more info here 

Over the past few years, Rathmines has been no stranger to great food openers, but there’s been a heightened sense of excitement surrounding the latest addition to the suburb.⁠ Standing proud as Dublin’s first completely kosher deli in over 50 years, Deli 613 combines tradition with delicious, viral-worthy dishes (expect to see a lot of the XXL NY-size salt beef sandwich on your Instagram feed next year), and the passion that goes into every last pickle slice is clear.⁠

The deli was opened by Rabbi Zalman and Rifky Lent, with an aim to provide familiar kosher food to Dublin’s Jewish community and introduce the dishes to Dubliners en masse. Heading up the kitchen is chef Robbie Burns, who brings his own extensive knowledge of the Irish food scene to the business. Kosher cooking is a new venture for the chef, but he’s risen to the challenge and was well up for a chat about the intricacies of the cuisine when we popped in a few months back.⁠

Go for? The lunchtime chowdown

17. Fairmental

Grand Canal Street Upper more info here 

A great alternative to your bog-standard avocado toast with poached eggs, this is an interesting café focused on good tum food that’s been fermented and pickled. The team are also spreading the joy of fermentation and are running workshops and classes from the space. The friendly and knowledgeable team create comforting, dynamic and moreish dishes from their small but perfectly formed menu. Everything here is made with their heart and you can taste it. Their homemade hot sauces can be eaten by the glug-load, there’s not a whiff of vinegar to ’em.

Go for? The experimental lunch

16. Mi Casa

Smithfield’s Queen Street, more info here 

This small but perfectly formed restaurant is an incredible addition to the Smithfield area, the perfect place to stop by for some dins before a trip to the Lighthouse cinema or some scoops in Frank Ryan’s. Set where Vegan Sandwich Co used to be, the space is warm and cosy, perfect for the darker evenings in which it first opened up last month. They have a varied tapas menu with some real sparklers like the bloody mary oyster, pulled pork croquettes and the carne de res. The service there is genuinely second to none, and you could easily while away an afternoon grabbing wine by the glass and picking at small plates. The desserts are undoubtedly where they shine with their burnt basque cheesecake served on a base of salted caramel with some whipped mascarpone on the side.

Go for? A tiny table filled with delicious plates

mi casa

15. Russell Street Bakery

Dublin 1’s Russell Street, more info here

Inhabiting the space where the elusive The Lady From Shanghai Bakery used to be, Russell Street was opened back in February by the same people behind Tartine Organic Bakery. Though they stock nearly every cafe and restaurant in the city with their incredible organic loaves, this is incredibly their first retail outlet. The micro-bakery serves up all the hits, alongside some incredible bits like their lemon curd, New York rolls and Pan Swiss.

Go for? The sweet tooth suppressor

14. Mani Pizza

Drury Street more info here

Slipping into 2023 by the skin of their frittis, the team behind Mani have undoubtedly put the work in, doing the food truck circuit for the last few years. It’s great to see these guys in some prime real estate on Drury Street (where Blazing Salads used to be). Mani’s bubbly, 72-hour-fermented base has amassed a loyal following of fans who dream about those Romanesque, cloud-like bases on the regular. These are tipped to have some of the best slices in the whole of Dublin right now.

Go for? The carbonara slice stay for the fritti

13. Legal Eagle

Inns Quay, more info here 

Yes, The Legal Eagle isn’t exactly a new opener but rather a recent re-opener. I would have known the spot on Inns Quay from whiling away evenings drinking pints and getting through yassified versions of what your granny would serve for tea, traditional Irish cold cuts, pickled veg, pies and game. The gorgeous space has since reopened this year and is serving up a rather different menu, of warming Mediterranean delights and what is said to be one of the best Sunday roasts around.

Go for? The Sunday roast of course

12. La Gordita

Location: Montague Street

Coming 10 years after the only iconic Tapas de Lola opened on Wexford Street, La Gordita is a Spanish bodega-style restaurant that has small plates with big flavours. Described as the mature Tapas de Lola, La Gordita translates to the Spanish term of endearment “little fat one”. While dishes may vary at La Gordita, they have all your classic categories such as carne, pescados, pica pica and curados y conservas. With huge cuts of meat designed for sharing, eating with your hands is not only more efficient but encouraged, with no disapproving looks of judgment. Dishes vary considerably in cost; some plates may only cost you €12.50 but the likes of the lobster is going to set you back €37, with a caviar and potato crisps dish costing €65, meaning this 2023 opener will likely be saved by most for a special occasion. The wine list is ever-evolving, made up of French and naturally Spanish vinos to help wash down your sharing plates. La Gordita’s more mature flavours have lived up to the hype set for them by their sister restaurant, expertly settling into the Dublin hospitality landscape, like they have always been there.

Go for? An intimate occasion dinner among friends

11. The Storyteller

9 Grand Canal Street Lower, more info here

Jack Brennan and Jacob Long started the year as they meant to go on, by opening The Storyteller in January, the lads have had an incredible 2023, overseeing the continued expansion of their bright yella grilled sandwich empire Griolladh. The lads took over the old Becky Morgans and opened up a welcoming and casual bar, that would look more familiar in London than on the outskirts of Dublin’s silicon docks. It’s a great quality spot if you ever find yourself around Grand Canal and have a hankering for some creamy screamers or wines on tap with grub in a cosy pub. They’ve also got plenty of space upstairs to fulfil all your functioning dreams.

Go for? The burger and a few scoops

10. Lottie’s

Location: Rathmines, Dublin 6

Remember all the earlier talk of getting hurt – well some, particularly D6 locals, may be wary given the loss of Lenehan’s just three years into trading. Lottie’s, from Domini Kemp and Brian Montague, is a bistro with middle-of-the-road prices and a short but carefully put-together menu.

Tudorel Ostache is in the kitchen, bringing his extensive experience in restaurants such as Mister S, and Pichet, as well as a short stint in Chapter One to his curated dishes. The bistro only has five mains, but they are varied, with jerk chicken thigh for BBQ lovers, and sea bass with smoked mussels for seafood aficionados. A fried aubergine flatbread is on offer for vegetarians, and you can get in touch with dietary requirements ahead of time.

Where Lottie’s really shines is with their extensive drinks menu; where they’re light on food, they’re heavy on cocktails and mocktails. While they have all the classics (Cosmo, Pornstar, Old Fashioned) Lottie’s shakes up their own signature bevs, including a salted caramel espresso martini that would work perfectly as a nightcap.

Go for? A bite to eat with your evening tipple

9. Ian’s Kitchen

Kimmage Road West, more info here

Hatched by the mothercluckers who brought the wonderful Cluck Chicken into the world (the eponymous) Ian and Elaine, have done a bang-up job creating a true neighbourhood gem. It’s hard to believe it only opened in March 2023, with its firm standing on everyone’s ‘to visit’ list, the couple have absolutely put Kimmage on the foodie map. Known for their viral-y dishes of frothy pancakes and ornate hot chocolate, the team also have fresh takes on classic dishes, such as monkfish tacos, banana bread french toast, and poached salmon potato cakes, all of which make this place well worth a visit. It’s a great little spot if you ever find yourself around the confluence between Dublin 6W and Dublin 12 and have a hankering for some refreshing lunch options and opulent beveraginos. It’s currently walk-ins only so arrive early to avoid disappointment!

Go for? The viral brunch

8. Kari

Location: Inchicore, Dublin 8

Opened a couple of months back this great little neighbourhood Indian restaurant, run by Bala Nayak and Nidhi Joshi the husband and wife team who opened Konkan on Clanbrassil Street in 2004, and then a second branch in Dundrum in 2011. Mostly serving up Southern Indian dishes where Nayak is from, there’s also some Northern influences and some classic Indian street food for good measure. Far from your run-of-the-mill Indian food, Kari has a refreshing menu that truly embraces Irish ingredients and Indian dishes (kale and samphire pakoras, hello). With a menu that will make you chop and change until the exact moment of ordering, and food that hits you over the head with quality and flair.

The spot is named after the Tamil word for sauce and that is what they truly bring to the table, well-thought-out dishes delicately made, far removed from the rote-takeaway curries that many of us are familiar with. Head for some dishes you aren’t likely to find on any other menu, and stay for the warm and relaxed atmosphere.

Go for? A truly refreshing Indian-fusion menu

7. Hawksmoor

Location: College Green

Perhaps the most hyped opener of 2023 was the world-renowned and heavily awarded steakhouse Hawksmoor and we can’t help but agree with the hysteria around it. The old Abercrombie & Fitch store has been given the mother of all facelifts, transforming it into a luxuriant space that Dublin didn’t even realise how much it needed. Naturally, the emphasis here is on steak and any meat enthusiast knows that ordering a sirloin off a general dinner menu simply doesn’t hold a candle to an authentic steakhouse – the top-tier sides, the expert knowledge and advice from the servers when it comes to prime rib vs porterhouse, the ornate, mid-century modern interiors all come together to create a distinctly unique foodie experience.

The steaks do indeed take centre stage with prime cuts coming from the likes of grass-obsessed farmer Ronan in County Meath, and Bronagh and Cathal whose Angus and Herefords roam the wilds of the Burren eating a diverse range of grasses and herbs. Impressive Chateaubriands and Porterhouses are priced per 100g and served up cast iron platters to share, with smaller cuts of sirloin, rib-eye and rump available too. If seafood is more your ting, Hawksmoor definitely makes the most of what’s available on Irish shores with Kelly Gigas and Flaggy Shore oysters, Duncannon smoked salmon and native lobster baked with Micil Inverin whiskey. Everything on the menu has a story, and the servers are well-versed and ready to chat through the detailed background of each dish.

Go for? That special menu

6. Matsukawa

Smithfield’s Queen Street more info here

This spot on the corner of a busy Smithfield street has caused quite the stir since it opened in August. The small space which used to house Woke Up cafe is offering something completely unique in the city, Omakase. Roughly translated as “I’ll leave it up to you” Omakase is a traditional way of serving sushi, which sees patrons sit at the bar while the chef serves them directly.⁠ The snug space has been completely transformed; high-ceilinged and compact, the space is dominated by a high table facing the all-important preparation area which fronts onto the communal bench where diners sit for their 18-course tasting menu.

Chef Takuma Tamaoki (formerly of Galway’s Wa Sushi) is behind the counter delicately forming rice and slicing aged and preserved tidy sections of fish. A lot of thought has been placed into every shelf, countertop and table, everything is precise and well-considered. The tasting menu is made up of two starters, two types of sashimi, a warm dish, 12 courses of nigiri, followed by soup and then dessert. At €90pp it’s probably an experience you’ll be saving for a special occasion, but one we envisage Dublin foodies queueing up for nonetheless.⁠

Go for? A sushi experience like no other in Dublin

Matsuwaka

5. The Seafood Bar

Location: Blessington Street, Dublin 7

The most recent opener on this list, The Seafood Bar has already made a splash with Dubliners. Occupying the space formerly belonging to Veginity, this corner of the city centre is no stranger to hospitality, and neither is the new owner. Local restauranteur Joe Oualadi also owns Wood Fire café on the same street, which specialises in pizza.

No matter the seafood you’re into, you can bet this spot has it. There’s Valencian paella with monkfish, my all-time favourite dish which is a seafood linguine packed with all the shellfish you could hope for, not to mention a whole Irish lobster drizzled in lush garlic butter – to quote Ken from the Barbie movie, “Sublime!”. This is a small space with very limited seating, and no reservations system, so a visit to The Seafood Bar might involve a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it for seafood of this calibre. In the sunshine, propped up on the barrel seats, a glass of wine in hand, and a paella to dig into, sure there’d be no need to hop on a Ryanair flight to Spain.

This small little corner spot is perfect for a selfish drop-in meal for one, the kinda place you walk past, whisper to yourself “feck it” turn heel and head into. Serving up quality affordable seafood served with some serious passion, you won’t be disappointed.

Go for? Sensationally priced seafood

Seafood Bar

4. Row Wines

Coppinger Row, more info here

This swanky new spot on Coppinger Row is a lot more than its extensive wine list.⁠ If you spent your early to mid-twenties in Dublin, you’re probably well familiar with this part of town due to the unrivalled allure of Pygmalion’s 2-for-1 pygtails, twinkling alongside their trademark purple fairy lights.

However, if your tastes have changed over the years and you now yearn for biodynamic wines and the comforting crackle of a vinyl record, we recommend a jaunt over the road to the newly opened Row Wines. The small plates are truly vibrant and exciting and will have you genuinely ordering every single thing on the menu (just to try it). Launched by Dublin-based brothers Marc and Conor Bereen, Row Wines is a natural wine bar, small plates and vinyl listening experience in one of the most vibe-y parts of town.⁠

Go for? Wine, small plates with a chance of boogie

row wine

3. Bar Pez

Kevin Street, more info here 

It’s a sister spot to the ever-exquisite Fish Shop in Smithfield, and shares the same ethos that simplicity is key – flavours are long considered, with many dishes paired back to fewer than four ingredients. ⁠A simple menu that is chalked up every day on the blackboard, contains a line-up of dishes straight out of a Barcelonian bar, washed down with a very exciting wine list.

While Bar Pez is more bar than restaurant, this dreamy new wine spot does carry a vibrant menu of small plates with a seafood bent, which sees lobster toast rubbing shoulders with Santoña Anchovies. Dublin seems to be ever leaning into the small plate trend, and Bar Pez encapsulate this new kind of venue with focus and intention. The current kitchen menu is made up of the best of Irish seafood and produce; diners can expect the likes of whole roasted fish (the John Dory is calling our name), Kelly’s oysters, red mullet, and mackerel and seasonal grilled veggies.

The team have put together an expansive traditional-leaning wine list, cleverly grouped based on the wines’ terroir, by ‘oceans’ ‘rivers’ ‘Mountains’ and ‘Hills & Plains’. You won’t find any Pinot G or Cab Sav on the wine list, but you will find knowledgeable staff readily suggesting their favourites and politely enquiring about yours. ⁠A little slice of Spain to meet up with pals or partners after work, grab a wine by the glass and drip-feed yourself some small plates.

Go for? Decompressing with friends over a glass of vino

Bar Pez

2. Fidelity

Smithfield’s Queen Street, for more info click here

I’ll admit I was pretty sad to see Dice Bar go (in a blaze of covid conspiracy theories) it was something of a dying breed in the city, a proper dive bar that could withstand even the messiest of nights. But when the owners of Big Romance (from over the way) and Whiplash Brewery announced that they would be collaborating on a new bar, I knew that the excellently placed spot on the corner of Queen Street would be in good hands. And indeed it is a dive bar no more, it has been absolutely revitalised, repainted and even the scaldy bathroom gutted. Fitted with mid-cench furniture, prints, the signature Big Romance-y surround sound speakers and a vinyl DJ booth, this spot is a mullet-wearers dream come true. The place is absolutely packed to the rafters on the weekends and by 7pm on the weekdays, but it really comes into its own for a great day beer (from one of the many rotating taps).

Go for? A crafty day beer

1. Space Jaru 

My favourite opener of 2023 has to be Space Jaru on Meath Street, it’s an incredible success story of endurance and a visual representation of hard work paying off. After tremendous success as Dublin’s favourite kimchi purveyor, a venture onto the street vendor scene, and a thriving lockdown meal-kit delivery service, Gunmoo Kim’s Jaru has finally found a permanent home in January. It’s an incredible space, which pulls you right in and makes you wanna get steaming bowlfuls of Korean home cooking. From its signature kimchi, Korean fried chicken, and flavourful rice bowls with delicate meats and tingly seasonings and sauces are all on the menu, in addition to an impressive wine list and refreshing Korean fruit juices, but our personal fave has to be the beef bulgogi is sticky and lightly sweet, and will absolutely fill you up to the rafters if you can get through it all.

Go for? Gold

space jaru

Have we missed any of your favourites? Let us know on [email protected]

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