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07th Sep 2023

18 Dublin restaurants you need to think about booking now for Christmas

Fiona Frawley

restaurants to book for christmas dublin

Don’t @ us.

We’re well aware of the fury the mere mention of the C word before at least November evokes, but when it comes to booking the group or couples dinners that populate Christmas week, you need to be organised well in advance.

If you’ve got your eye on certain restaurants, waiting til October is likely to land you with a 5pm or 9.45pm dining slot on a midweek December evening. Waiting til November will have you holding out hope on the lower end of a cancellations list and if you leave it til December, well, in the words of Taylor Swift, You’re on Your Own, Kid. You always have been.

There are some top-tier Dublin eateries that you just know everyone will be hoping to hit up for their Christmas dinner with The Girlos™, The Lads™ or their significant other. So if you have your heart set on a particular spot and don’t want to be disappointed, don’t leave it til the last minute. That kind of behaviour is fine when you’re trying to sort yout Christmas shopping, but when your festive feast is on the line? You need to be strategic.

With all this said, it can also be hard to think of the perfect place for dinner so far in advance, and that’s where we come in. We’ve rounded up 18 of the most sought after restaurants in Dublin, spots that are likely to fill up well in advance ahead of Christmas. They’re not necessarily festive – you probably won’t find many turkey-stuffing-ham combos on their menus but sure no one makes that better than your ma anyway. They’re just places where you’re guaranteed a tasty meal, the kind you might be waiting til the most wonderful time of the year to treat yourself to, in the company of mates you don’t get to see too often and filled with a healthy dose of Christmas cheer.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

18. Big Fan Bao

Located on Aungier Street, book now via their website

This buzzy, authentic Chinese restaurant specialises in small Asian plates and larger sharing dishes and has been featured on the Michelin Guide for the last two years running. With feather blade steak and sweet or spicy Taiwanese chicken on the menu, there’ll be something for the fussy friend in your life, while you can get experimental with their exciting array of jiaozi and great seafood dishes. Prices start at €4.50 for sides, working up to €32 for larger sharing plates.

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17. Uno Mas

Located on Aungier Street, book now via their website

Uno Mas is one of those spots that had everyone talking from the minute they opened. The stripped-back bistro holds a Bib Gourmand and specialises in quality, unfussy Spanish dishes on small plates. The menu is divided into snacks, starters, mains and desserts and everything down to the olive oil is given careful consideration. The menu changes slightly each day and prices range from €4 to €76 for the likes of their impressive, salt-aged Delmonico steak which serves two. They’ve also already got a sample Christmas menu up on their website if you fancy a peep.

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16. Las Tapas De Lola

Las Tapas De Lola is located on Wexford Street – make a booking via their website

Las Tapas De Lola is beloved by Dubliners for its welcoming, family-style dining room, its mastery of Spanish cuisine and most importantly, its croquetas, those crispy, hand-rolled babies simply can’t be bet. Lola is Spanish-Irish owned and a mainstay of the Dublin food scene at this stage, so much so that owners Anna and Vanessa expanded last year with La Gordita, a bodega-style eatery just around the corner on Montague Street. Opened at the site formerly occupied by Gerry’s, arguably Dublin 2’s most iconic café ever, La Gordita had big brogues to fill but it’s risen to the challenge with comforting dishes, a great wine selection and a warm atmosphere. Located ideally close to the buzzy pubs of Camden Street, either restaurant would be perfect for Christmas dinner.

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15. Mister S

Mister S is located on Camden Street – book in for Christmas via their website

If you are looking for a guaranteed good meal and exemplary service, Mister S is your man. The team are experts in all things smoke and fire, using the very best of Irish ingredients. Time and effort are key in this elevated kitchen, no process too long, no methods too fiddly, if the end result is worth it for these guys. They’re renowned for their meat – hello Burnt End Rendang Spring Rolls – but are becoming increasingly well known for their treatment of fish.

Michelin-listed, the team use the best of Irish ingredients giving them the love and attention they deserve to create complex and layered dishes. The Mister S trademark is their expert treatment of meat and fish, with immaculately prepared sides to accompany them. Their crispy potatoes would give your mam’s Christmas spuds a run for their money (she never needs to know) and there’s just something about juicy cuts of beef cooked over an open flame that screams festive cheer.

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14. Variety Jones

Variety Jones is located on Thomas Street – book in for a visit via their website

Anyone who’s visited VJ’s pint-sized dining room in the Liberties knows booking is highly competitive – every Dublin foodie wants to sample the famous Chef’s Choice Sharing Menu and there’s only so many spaces at the table.

The aforementioned sharing menu changes with the seasons and is all that’s available at Variety Jones, taking the decision-making off your shoulders and allowing you to sit back and relax as you’re served some of the most inspired dishes you’ll find in Dublin’s fair city. An interesting list of natural and low-intervention wines accompany, with an experienced in-house sommelier on hand to recommend the perfect glass to pair with your meal.

Fans of this unfussy, Michelin-starred spot will know they had taken over a larger space just next door from their original, but it’s been closed since July following a serious fire in the kitchen. Until 79 Thomas Street is back up and running, 78 is open for biz – bookings for their November and December sittings will go live on October 15th at 12pm and there’s no harm setting an alarm on your phone now so you’re ready.

13. Grano

Grano is located in Stoneybatter – get booking via their website

Easily one of the most frequently recommended restaurants in Dublin, the first thing people will talk about Grano is brought up is the handmade, fresher-than-fresh pasta and refined nibbles; quickly followed by a warning of the Thumbelina-sized dining room and fierce competition for bookings. This Michelin-listed, at once traditional and contemporary gem, is a go-to for a special occasion and no doubt plenty of foodies will have already been eyeing up the Stoneybatter staple for Christmas. Unfussy and self-assured, Grano offers an authentic Italian experience in the heart of D7.

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12. Luna

Luna is located on Drury Street, and you can make a booking via their website

Luna is well and truly in their stride after a rocky start, with closures and re-openings aplenty in their first few months thanks to our old friend Covid. They’ve since established themselves as a failsafe destination for date night drinks, with romantic lighting and plenty of cosy corners to hide away in and share a few small plates.

The aforementioned plates are aesthetic delights crafted with all the herb-tweezing and oil-dotting care you’d expect from a place like this, with crispy pig belly sitting alongside smoked aubergine ravioli to ensure everyone’s catered for. There’s also a great menu of cleverly mixed cocktails to accompany, so you can continue your festive feast into the wee hours.

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11. Host

Host is located in Ranelagh – make a booking right here.

Since its opening in 2017, a seat in Host’s dining room has consistently remained one of the most sought-after in town. It’s the kind of outing you look forward to for months (or more specifically, for 62 days, which is how far in advance they accept bookings), with fresh pasta made in-house and paired with a rota of regularly changing, simple ingredients, and Irish meat and seafood grilled to perfection. Anyone who’s been will tell you the vibe matches the food, with friendly staff confidently talking you through the menu, recommending the best dishes to share and of course, the best wine to accompany. In keeping with the 62-day policy, Host should be accepting bookings for Christmas towards the end of October – fastest fingers first.

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10. Spitalfields

Spitalfields is located in The Coombe, Dublin 8 – book in via their website

Fusing classic pub interiors with Michelin-mentioned food, Spitalfields stands alone as a place where fine diners sit alongside those just stopping in for a pint – it’s unpretentious, welcoming and authentic, with gourmet cuisine that far surpasses the run-of-the-mill pub grub expectations you might have for a spot like this.

Nostalgic dishes like devilled eggs and cock-a-leekie pie are given the epicurean once over, and you’re guaranteed to leave Spitalfields feeling full, happy and special, as the staff somehow manage to make every diner feel like the most important person there.

Spitalfields accepts bookings 90 days in advance, so you’ll be able to box off your Christmas booking from the end of September onwards.

9. Orwell Road

Orwell Road is located in Rathgar, and you can make a booking right here

Orwell Road is neighbourhood fine dining at its best, with a kitchen team who deeply respects every ingredient they emulsify and char and a lineup of top-quality suppliers to ensure every dish is the best it can be. The brainchild of Bereen brothers Marc and Conor, former proprietors of Coppinger Row, Orwell Road opened last year to an influx of positive reviews, with Dublin foodies raving about the restaurant’s now famous de-boned chicken wing, crunchy and filled with its own herby flesh, and its exciting array of seafood.

Marc and Conor also opened Row Wines just off South William Street earlier this year, one of the most exciting additions to Dublin’s wine bar scene thus far. Either spot would be a great shout for Christmas – Orwell Road if you’re looking for a blowout, fine dining feast and Row Wines if you’re looking for immaculately assembled small plates paired with a dreamy wine list.

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8. Bastible

Bastible is located at Leonard’s Corner, South Circular Road. Make a booking right here.

Another Michelin-starred diamond in Dublin’s crown, Bastible’s intimate neighbourhood dining space is always high on the list of many come Christmas time.

Amidst the rush of organising presents, decorating and ticking off the never-ending list of food, drink and tableware needed for Christmas Day, all most of us want from our pre-Christmas dinner is to sit back and be taken care of, and if the pressure of ordering the right thing is taken off our hands, even better.

That’s where Bastible’s modern, seasonal set menu comes in, showcasing the best Irish ingredients in innovative ways, with generous servings and every tiny detail considered. From the origin of the sourdough starter (handed down by one of the chef’s grandmothers) to the carefully pierced ox tongue, every ingredient is handled with care and given an individual chance to sing. The 9-course set menu comes in at €90 pp, and we recommend getting the Christmas bookings in asap. There’s also a vegetarian option available.

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7. Pichet

Pichet is located on Trinity Street – you can book a table via their website

If you’re looking to dine in a part of town where Christmas spirit is rife and fairy lights twinkle and shine in every corner, Pichet is handily located near Grafton Street, South William Street and many other stretches that glisten come December.

Inside, you’ll find Michelin-mentioned, French-inspired cooking, with chargrilled meats and gently roasted greens forming aesthetically delightful dishes that you’ll rave about for months to come. If you’re a meat eater, the tomahawk to share always comes highly recommended but Pichet has great veggie options too. As you’d imagine, the wine list is long and varied with plenty of French options, as well as some interesting additions from the likes of Croatia, Stellenbosch and Crete. As the dishes tend to be crowdpleasers across the board, Pichet will tick the box whether it’s a family dinner or a more intimate night with a partner or friend.

6. Forest Avenue

Forest Avenue is located on Sussex Road – book in via their website

Forest Avenue is a small, family-run Irish restaurant where the kitchen is open so you can watch your food being carefully prepared. Their seven-course tasting menu comes in at €84 per person, with the first course simply named “Surprises from our kitchen” and great Irish ingredients skilfully woven in throughout. Forest Avenue is fine dining in a family setting, everything is plated up beautifully and the accompanying wine list is small but perfectly formed, guaranteeing a great glass regardless of what you opt for. Dishes such as the shiitake mushroom ice cream for dessert have been known to raise an eyebrow or two, but it’s the kind of place where you just need to sit back and enjoy the process – you’ll rarely be disappointed.

Just off Leeson Street, Forest Avenue is a tiny bit out of town so you could almost overlook it, but it’s an excellent option for Christmas.

5. Margadh

Margadh is located inside RHA Gallery on Ely Place – you can book in via their website

Amidst the influx of small plates and tasting menus across Dublin, this modern dining room tucked inside the Royal Hibernian Gallery off St Stephen’s Green could almost be overlooked. It’d be a mistake to do so, though – on offer at Margadh you’ll find one of the most affordable tasting menus in town and a fusion of Spanish-Mod Irish cuisine that sparks enough joy to make Marie Kondo proud.

Usual suspects like burrata and beef tartare hang out on the small plates menu, with larger dishes fusing poached halibut with crispy chicken skin and salted duck egg sitting alongside buttery Irish lobster. Prices are fair and the wine list is refined, there’s always something new to try and you’ll be well looked after by Margadh’s friendly, knowledgeable servers.

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4. Charlotte Quay

Charlotte Quay is located at Grand Canal Dock and you can book by phone 01.9089490 or [email protected]

Another Bereen Bros deep cut, Charlotte Quay wins points for aesthetics with its waterfront location and swanky interiors. On the fish-forward menu, you’ll find tastefully seasoned, chargrilled gambas and white fish, as well as comforting roast dinners and warming, bean-based winter stews. Small plates and great brunch dishes also feature if you’d rather dine during the day, and Charlotte Quay is also dog-friendly if you’d like to bring your pooch along for the occasion. The atmosphere is relaxed and you’ll feel well looked after – a welcome departure from the usual Christmas rush.

3. Hang Dai

Hang Dai is located on Camden Street – book in for Christmas right here

Hang Dai burst onto the Dublin food scene back in 2016, quickly gaining a reputation as one of the *coolest* restaurants in town.

Regularly gaining viral status for dishes like its €100 spice bag and signature wood-fired duck, Hang Dai’s sound system is almost as revered as its food and the combination of both elements has made it a go-to spot for dinner that doubles as a session. DJ sets are as carefully curated as Hang Dai’s bespoke Chinese-fusion menu, and the result is a dining experience that’s had the city talking consistently for the past seven years. Proudly Irish in terms of its suppliers, Hang Dai uses the best produce found on the island to create crowd-pleaser dishes that keep people coming back time and time again. The combination of great food and vibe-y DJ sets makes Hang Dai a go-to destination for many a Christmas night out, so be sure to get those bookings in nice and early.

2. Pickle

Pickle is located on Camden Street – book in via their website

You’ll rarely hear Indian food in Dublin discussed without the mention of Pickle, a stalwart of the scene known for its impressive combining of North Indian cooking with the best Irish ingredients. Famed for dishes like its ever-popular Goat Keema Pao and coveted chef’s tasting menu, Pickle is the kind of spot you book well in advance and salivate over for months after visiting. You’ll have a lot of people recommending this bottle-green eatery to you if you’re Dublin-bound, and for good reason. If it’s a curry you crave around Christmas time, be sure to book in advance.

1. Library Street

Set in the hallowed walls of Allta’s former home, the restaurant has some echoes of the place including Kevin Burke (former Allta head chef). As with a lot of Allta-twinged spots, there is a clear concept, and the aim of the game here is sharing, to create an inclusive dining experience whereby diners can try multiple dishes at once. The menu is led by the guiding light of contemporary Irish food, with most dishes taking on a sleekness and originality that are no doubt the envy of the Dublin hospitality scene.

Did we miss out on your go-to restaurant for Christmas time? Let us know!

Header image via Instagram / Uno Mas / Grano Dublin


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