Travel

City Center

Establishment neighborhood
Kaph
31 Drury St., City Center
On a lively stretch of Drury Street (conveniently right across from hygge shopping mecca Industry) in the heart of Dublin’s so-called Creative Quarter (although no one really calls it that), Kaph is an inclusive, happy haven for coffee lovers. Inclusive in the sense that it offers every type of alternative milk and delicious gluten-free and paleo treats to be enjoyed, ideally, sitting upstairs, gazing out the big windows onto the Georgian street below. Bring your own cup to pay less—good coffee with a conscience.
The Pepper Pot
60 William St., City Center
Most people sort of stumble upon the Pepper Pot, which is built into one of the rooms along the terrace of Powerscourt House. It's an ode to the traditional tea parlor, with the obligatory waxy floral tablecloths, pretty china, and sandwich menu. This is a casual spot that's also great for kids as there's so much to see with people shopping in the surrounding rooms and the piano usually tinkling away. A must-order is the roasted-pear-and-bacon sandwich—unexpected and so delicious.
The Cake Café
8 Pleasants Pl., City Center
Part of the Cake Café’s whimsical charm lies in the act of walking through a ribbon-and-stationery-filled printing press to get to the leafy courtyard it sits beside. The glass-walled café itself is a quaint collection of rickety tables, jugs of wildflowers, and cushion-strewn benches facing the open kitchen—stealing glances of the chefs rolling out cookie dough and carefully icing the Guinness chocolate cakes. There are few activities as comforting as tucking into a plate of the legendary tomato and beans on thick sourdough toast with a coffee (served in delicate, mismatched china cups and saucers) while the rain pelts against the windows. Pick up a box of miniature cupcakes, packaged adorably and sustainably in egg cartons, on your way out.
Vice Coffee Inc.
54 Middle Abbey St., City Center
Vice coffee describes its vibe as “brews, bants, and beats”—“bants” being an abbreviation for “banter”, an all-encompassing term for good craic and conversation. Using a mix of domestic and international roasters, the menu has all the usual suspects (capps, flat whites, Americanos), alongside espresso-tasting flights, espresso-infused cocktails, and award-winning Irish coffee (they add a little orange blossom to the cream). All of this liquid versatility is accompanied by the seemingly humble toastie—Irish slang for what Americans call a grilled cheese. Except, these, like the coffee, are no ordinary toasties—try the banana-Nutella-and-mascarpone version, a sort of souped-up tiramisu for the sweet-toothed.
Drury Buildings
55 Drury St., City Center
The Drury Buildings—located on Drury Street, on the cusp of buzzy Fade Street—are covered in a bright, can't-look-away mural painted by international urban artists Okuda and Remed. Drinks and light tapas downstairs with proper dining upstairs, this multifaceted space is one of the few places in Dublin with a winter-proof patio area—the exposed brick and tiled floor belong to actual rooms, with the roof removed. The setting is undeniably pretty and the drinks are great; settling in under the heaters for a bottle of wine and a cheeseboard is the way to go. The gin and tonics are a must-try, especially ones made with Gunpowder—Ireland’s new, deeply complex gin made in a small town in the rural west and paired deliciously with grapefruit and cinnamon.
Fallon and Byrne Cellar Bar
11-17 Exchequer St., City Center
Dublin’s coziest basement for a glass—or several—of wine and a cheeseboard. Push through the crowds at the street-level market and escape down the stairs to a dimly lit cellar filled with big barrels and communal tables. The floor-to-ceiling shelves heaving with more than 600 bottles of wine (come on Mondays and Tuesdays when the corkage fee is a mere one euro). Whether it’s three in the afternoon or approaching midnight, the cellar bar is always a good call...except in the month of December, when you can't get down the stairs, never mind find a seat, the place is so packed.
George Bernard Shaw
11-12 S. Richmond St., City Center
Dublin’s answer to a hipster dive on a grand scale, the Bernard Shaw is absolutely huge, although you would never think it walking through the old-school pub doorway. Through the narrow bar and down a few steps is a vast outdoor space filled with pool tables, rough-and-tumble seating, and best of all, the big blue bus pizza truck that serves legitimately delicious pizza into the early hours. The charm of the Bernard Shaw is that you never really know what to expect, sometimes there’s a flea market, a food festival, a gig, but irrespective of events, the bar is always open. The pub itself is 113 years old, but the hipster-hole reincarnation happened in 2006 (before anyone in Ireland even knew what the term meant), and the place has been a guaranteed good time ever since.
Grogan’s Castle Lounge
15 William St. S, City Center
You can’t miss Grogan’s. If the bloodred exterior of the pub doesn’t catch your eye, the swelling crowds sitting on the steps and spilling out into the street will; the seats outside are some of the most coveted in Dublin. Thankfully, like many Irish pubs, there is no television blaring in the corner and often no music, meaning that this is a place to be social. There’s really no other way to describe Grogan's than as a classic pub—mossy-green upholstered seats, brick floors, an aging wooden bar, and the same barman always pulling the pints—plus, a proper pot of tea for the abstemious.
Horseshoe Bar at the Shelbourne
27 St. Stephen's Green, City Center
The Horseshoe Bar is a true Dublin landmark; it’s the bar where you meet people before dinner, after dinner, to celebrate, to mourn, or just because. Named for the curved shape of the bar, booze aside, this is some of the best people watching in Dublin, seconded only by the hotel’s other bar, No. 27. The illicit-looking, red-papered room is routinely heaving with politicians, visiting luminaries, and journalists. A Guinness is a must here and, if you can be tempted, the whiskey tasting. The aforementioned No. 27 across the marble hallway is all Georgian grandeur with big windows looking onto Stephen's Green, with beautifully painted scenes of Dublin on the walls, a grand piano, and the obligatory roaring fire.
The Bar with No Name
3 Fade St., City Center
Locals call it No Name as this bar actually has no official name. Reached by climbing a rickety flight of stairs away from the din of Fade Street, No Name is impossible to dislike. A series of warm, interconnected rooms filled with a mishmash of furniture in varying states of disrepair lead to the always-full outdoor terrace, which has its own bar and is never cold thanks to the carnival-style canopy. The wine is good here, but the cocktails are better (the passionfruit caipirinha has been one goop staffer’s standing order for close to a decade). Like a proper bar, No Name doesn't serve food at night, so be sure to plan accordingly.
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