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12 of the best restaurants for lunch in Ireland

Looking for hot lunch tips? Try these fabulous daytime dining spots

Assassination Custard

19A Kevin Street Lower, Dublin 8; 087-9971513,

There is only one way to land a spot at Gwen McGrath and Ken Doherty’s 10-seater restaurant – get there before noon and maybe avoid Fridays. The menu is driven by what is available from McNally’s organic farm and dishes are composed intuitively in a simple yet exquisitely delicious way. CH


The Arches, 5 Gas House Lane, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny; 056-7772858,

If you’re looking for a top-end bargain, the lunch and early-bird menu at Garrett Byrne and Bríd Hannon’s one-Michelin-star restaurant clocks in at a keenly priced €45 for three courses. With classic cooking, you’ll get dishes such as pig’s trotter with morteau sausage and blanquette of veal with girolles. CH

Chapter One

18-19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1; 01-8732266,

A Michelin two-star restaurant should be an experience that you will remember. And Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen certainly delivers. The elegant and calm diningrooms are a background for Viljanen’s form of exciting luxe cooking and plate-licking sauces. At €80 the three-course lunch menu represents superb value at this level and lists roast Anjou pigeon with winter flavours of juniper and celeriac. JC

Fish Shop

76 Benburb Street, Dublin 7; 01-5571473,

With just a handful of seats, getting a spot at Fish Shop is guaranteed to cause feelings of smugness. An eternal favourite with industry folk and wine lovers, this is a place everyone should try once. Get stuck into cockles cooked with chorizo and sherry, snack on toast topped with Russian salad and anchovies or go traditional with their excellent crispy fish and chips. With more than 200 bottles on the wine list, this is one to savour. JC



22 Sea Road, Galway; 091-526003,

Kai is the only restaurant in Ireland with a Michelin green star and Jess and Dave Murphy are continuously looking for even more ways to connect with suppliers and build on their circular and sustainable approach. Casual by day, there is a more serious restaurant vibe in the evening, with dishes such as strip loin with cafe de Kai butter and boozy onions, and scallops with burnt butter cauliflower and aioli. An upstairs diningroom that seats 12-14 can be reserved for private dinners. CH


Harbour House, Harbour Road, Howth, Dublin 13; 01-8397096,

Killian Durkin cooks with sharing and deliciousness in mind at Mamó, which is set just a little back from the water at Howth harbour. Along with partner Jess D’Arcy, they’ve rejigged the interior to give customers a better experience. The weekday set lunch menu is the smart money, while a la carte reigns in the evening. The strong wine list has a good mid-price selection and they’re open on Mondays. JC

Mister S

32 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-6835555,

The smell of smoke and open-fire cooking permeates the dining space at Mister S, inducing immediate happiness. Personally, I’m still waiting for a fashion designer to cop on to the potential of Eau de Barbecue but in the meantime Mister S will do. In addition to the main menu, it has become popular for Friday lunch, when a dry-aged picanha with smoked Béarnaise or grilled sea bass with tartare sauce, plus side dish, is exceptionally well-priced at €21. JC


1 Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3LA; 0044 28-90314121,

On a recent visit to Ox, it felt like the food had moved up yet another notch, while the prices remain at a civilised level for a one-Michelin-star restaurant. The lunch menu with two/three courses for £40/£45 (€46/€52) is a treat but if you’re tempted you can scale up to the £85 tasting menu at lunchtime too. Gougères, made from their own beer, with melted cheese, hand-chopped venison tartare comes with earthy beetroot, ox tongue with spelt and black trompette mushrooms is restrained and a delicately cooked John Dory is exquisite. Stephen Toman’s tasting menus are perfectly constructed, which is a skill that is all too rare. CH


7 Church Street, Skerries, Co Dublin; 01-8029486,

The €58 Sunday lunch tasting menu at Cathal Leonard and Sarah Ryan’s smart restaurant is well worth the trip to Skerries, where innovative touches are skilfully applied to classic dishes. Salt baked beetroot could come with beetroot sorbet and smoked Velvet Cloud yoghurt, torched mackerel gets a kick of acidity from greengage and buttermilk, and cod is served with sweetcorn, girolles and basil. A private room is available, seating a maximum of 12. CH


1-2 Dock Road, Galway; 091-563830,

Lunch and dinner are equally wonderful in Alice Jary and Richard Kennan’s handsome restaurant, which looks out on to the port in Galway. Local ingredients underpin the menu which joyously reflects the couple’s global travels, so cheddar croquettes get a zing of sauerkraut and roast halibut comes with almond ajo blanco. Pro tip: if you don’t have a booking, you will generally get a seat at the bar downstairs where they serve great cocktails and snacks. CH


Bridge Street, Athlone; 090-6478850,

When Mickael Viljanen rates a restaurant, you’d be absolutely bonkers not to pay attention. An industry stalwart, John Coffey’s food in this historic part of Athlone continues to go from strength to strength, beautifully plated and drawing upon ingredients from numerous local suppliers. It’s a family business, with Tara warmly leading front of house. Put it in your diary now for your next trip to or through Athlone. JC


Hard Rock Hotel, 16-18 Lord Edward Street, Dublin 2; 01-4825017,

Nikkei cuisine is the style at Zampas, a form of Japanese-Peruvisan fusion cuisine, dating from the end of the 19th century. Enjoy ceviche flavoured with ponzu leche de tigre, corn tostadas or share the belly-busting Butcher’s Block, available for groups and featuring a whole asador-roasted Peruvian chicken, sirloin steak, tonkatsu pork ribs and smoked lamb tomahawks plus sides and sauces. At night, there’s live music in the bar. JC