City Center Specialty
Butlers Chocolate Café
4 Liffey St., Lower, City Center
As Irish as soda bread, Butlers is an institution—every Irish person's first port of call when they hit departures at Dublin airport or find themselves at the tail end of a rough day (or long night) in town. The hot chocolate is sublime—actual molten Irish chocolate whipped into the creamiest, frothiest, steamed milk and always served with a chocolate of your choice (go for the butter praline). The special white hot chocolate, even sweeter than the traditional version, is positively artery-clogging in its delicious richness. The coffee is also very good, and thankfully you’ll find Butlers cafés dotted throughout the city, although the most charming—and quick—iteration is the hole-in-the-wall across the road from Trinity College.
Fallon & Byrne
11-17 Exchequer St., City Center
The middle floor of this three-story gastronomy center is the marketplace and café every home cook wishes they had at their disposal, effectively Dublin’s answer to Dean & Deluca. The space is reason enough to visit, a vast, cavernous industrial-style room with warm redbrick walls and ornate parquet floors that, thanks to the shopping crowds, feels very urban. Fallon & Byrne offers a proper taste of Ireland with fish, meat, and cheese counters brimming with the finest product, much of it from smaller, artisanal producers around the country. The takeout counter is a great spot for a quick but proper lunch of curries, lasagna, roasted vegetables, salads, and coffee to go (or to enjoy at the few tall tables scattered amongst the boxes of mangoes and Wexford strawberries).
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 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.
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