It's the same every year.
You've barely had a hot minute to process the end of Christmas, break your New Year's resolutions and temporarily savour your long, long awaited January payslip when suddenly the shops are filled with long-stem roses and Valentine's cards, reminding you that the universal day of lurve is imminent.
Frantic, you rush to the website of your favourite restaurant, for a brief moment hopeful that you'll manage to nab a booking. But you haven't a hope, babes - all the lover boys in fresh, new relationships have the popular spots booked up well in advance, hoping it'll help them to secure their V-Day bit.
But fear not, brave last minute soldier. We've got you covered with this round up of great Dublin restaurants offering walk-in, all of which are still sure to impress the one you love.
Frank's was a trailblazer in terms of the recent wine bar trend in Dublin, setting up camp inside a former butcher on Camden Street. Beneath the original butcher's awning, you'll find an extensive wine offering with bottles from all regions to take home or enjoy around their long, communal table, with an ever-changing à la carte menu to accompany. Owners David Bradshaw and Katie Seward bring their combined experience of working in bars and restaurants across Dublin, France and London to this intimate spot, with good vibes and elite wine pairings for every dish guaranteed. Frank's operates on a walk-in basis only and with its thoughtful small plates and carefully selected wine offerings, it's the perfect place for date night.
Camden Street & Drury Street
The tacos at Masa come in portions of two so you can share them with the one you love, or keep to yourself once you get past the politeness stage of the relationship. Inside you'll find a wide range of fillings, from fried chicken thigh, peanut, and salsa to soyrizo and cauliflower for our vegan brethren. Masa's margaritas are loved by all, and with their second location now open on Camden Street you've got double the chances of nabbing a walk-in spot on Valentine's Day. While you may have to queue, Masa is a consistent crowd pleaser and usually well worth the wait.
A swish younger sibling to the revered Fish Shop of Benburb Street, Bar Pez opened quietly over the summer and is essentially Dublin's answer to that gem of a local bar you come across on the first day of your holidays in Spain and instantly fall in love with, feeling compelled to return to every day until your Ryanair flight home beckons. The wine list is extensive and cleverly grouped based on the wines' terroir - meaning you can choose a glass from 'oceans', 'rivers', 'mountains' or 'Hills & Plains', while Burgundy deservingly receives its very own section. To accompany, there's an unfussy, seafood-heavy menu written up on a chalkboard, with dishes that could nearly act as an emblem of Spain.
A third of the tables at Bar Pez are reserved for walk-ins so there's plenty of space for you and your lover to sneak in - this spot is intimate, unique and definitely romantic, encouraging you to sip away and get lost in each others eyes all evening.
Whisper sweet nothings into your loved ones ear over a bowl of creamy, specially blended broth, at a walk-in spot guaranteed to transport you to a higher plane every visit.
Nomo is a testament to the magic a long-standing love of soupy noodles can yield. Head Chef Kevin Hughes began to obsess over ramen from a young age, which only intensified as he ate the dish in cities all over the world, eventually falling in love with the style offered in New York and LA. His goal for Nomo was to serve up the most authentic ramen in Dublin - mission accomplished, by all accounts.
Nomo's noodles are specially made by Sun Noodles, a company based near New York - the main provider to ramen restaurants across the U.S. and beyond. Nomo offers a range of different ramen, with the star of the show being their Tori Paitan (chicken broth) blended with whole chicken and vegetables and simmered for seven hours to reach a specific consistency.
Walk-in restaurants in Dublin. Image by the Lovin team.
Dubliners know the suss at this stage - 777 is a vibe-y, consistently busy Mexican restaurant on George’s Street, known for its margarita-fuelled brunches and tasty Taco Tuesdays. Once something of a secret with its blink-and-you-miss-it signage and elusive aura, 777 is now a go-to for Mexican food in Dublin and, best of all is walk-in only for bookings under six people. That means you can stretch as far as a triple date (or double throuple date) for Valentine's without having to book in advance.
Nothing says romance like a counter of pungent cheeses, ready and waiting to be transformed to melty toasties and delicate blush or skin contact wine to accompany. A seat at Loose Canon is something that should be cherished and held tight with both hands - this bar is cosy and cool, honing in on wine and cheese and doing both extremely well. Sample a glass, share a bottle, bundle up warm and perch on the curb til a table frees up - they call that bella notte.
Lee's Charming Noodles
If your cheddar-coded chat up lines can't charm your beloved, Lee's noodles certainly will - they're hand pulled and lovingly presented in a wide array of traditional dishes from Cantonese to Chow Mein. This Parnell Street spot is beloved by many for its warming broths and relatively affordable menu. You might have to wait a little while for a table but that first spoonful of Lee's famous braised beef soup makes it all worth it.
Continuing along the Parnell mile you've got Kimchi Hophouse, with a dual menu of great Korean and Japanese cuisine and tangy fermented in-house veggies that cut through every dish with artful flourish. Standing tall as Dublin's oldest Korean restaurant, Kimchi Hophouse serves up Bibimbap and Bulgogi in an Irish pub setting providing a truly unique experience.
Walk-in restaurants in Dublin. Image via Instagram/Kimchi Hophouse.
Capel Street is something of a haven for walk-in spots and one of our favourites is Arisu, a Korean gem inviting you to fry up your own traditional BBQ or chow down on some of the city's best dumplings. The meat, fish and veggies you grill yourself are served with salads and complimentary sides like kimchi, miso soup and seaweed. It's the type of place you and your love will leave feeling happy, satisfied and filled up with warming broth.
The Seafood Bar
One of my favourite openers in Dublin last year, The Seafood Bar brings Barcelona to Blessington Street with a simple menu of deliciously prepared fish, shellfish chilling on the bar and crisp Picpoul de Pinet flowing. A small but mighty space, The Seafood Bar comprises of just five tables inside and more dotted out the front. Natural light bounces off the vigorously polished tiles, and the interior is nautical in theme without verging into hack/gimmick territory.
If your beloved is a seafood fan this is the perfect place to bring them. Chow down on freshly caught lobster with garlic butter, Valencian monkfish paella or sizzling gambas - that's Valentine's done right, in my humble opinion.
Did we miss out any of your favourite walk-in restaurants in Dublin? Let us know.
Header images via Instagram/franksdublin & leescharmingnoodles_dublin.