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20 Irish restaurants that have nailed outdoor eating – whatever the weather

Restaurant critic Corinna Hardgrave shares her favourite food outlets to keep you covered

Great outdoor dining: Roots at Slane Castle has plenty of covered seating in a very fine marquee

There are so many great places to eat outdoors this summer, but some restaurants have absolutely nailed the experience when it comes to all-round comfort, no matter what the weather. These are my top picks to keep you covered.


Unit 7 Castle House, South Great George's Street, Dublin 2,
Inventive, with the party vibe you expect from 777, the new Afuera dining space – afuera means outside in Spanish – is an impressive example of how to transform a car park. Dramatic cantilevered awnings add plenty of cover, an Airstream slings out the margaritas, and the menu includes taquitos, tostadas and plenty from the wood-fired grill.

1 Haddington Road, Dublin 4,
With a retractable roof (a high-end awning system from Italy), glazed panels that slide up and down to allow for a clear airflow, tables clad in white linen, and spring-loaded upholstered banquettes, you're talking a full-on restaurant experience here, where the speciality is meat, fish and vegetables cooked over fire.

Baste Food Market, 39 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Dublin 8,
Tucking into steak frites and moules frites in Andy Noonan's Portobello food yard is an all-weather reality since he installed a number of very cosy huts – which, I can tell you from experience, are watertight even in the worst of downpours. A good selection of natural wines with €10 corkage adds to the appeal of this casual spot.


Charlotte Quay
Charlotte Quay Dock, Dublin 4,
Anyone familiar with Grand Canal Dock will know that the place to be is on one of Charlotte Quay's two terraces, where you'll catch the last rays of the sun. Both are fully covered and heated all year round, so it's the perfect waterside setting whatever the weather. Comfortable and buzzy, with plenty of cocktail options and Mediterranean food.

Fade Street Social
6 Fade Street, Dublin 2,
The winter garden at Dylan McGrath's Fade Street Social, with outdoor heating and an electric awning, was designed for all-weather use, and now, with black leather chairs and copper tables from the bar downstairs, it feels plusher than ever. Cocktails, a menu from the wood-burning oven, and a good range of vegetarian and vegan options mean there's plenty of Instagram love.

InterContinental Dublin Garden Terrace
Simmonscourt Road, Ballsbridge Dublin 4,
The Garden Terrace & Veranda here hums with luxury, and if the rain is doing its thing there are few places more beautiful for alfresco dining than the new veranda. With blue, nearly Moroccan-style tiles on the ceiling, ceiling heaters to keep you cosy, and floral walls and trellises, all you have to do is sink into the comfortable chairs and order from a menu that includes a seafood-platter tower – yes, there's lobster on it.

Peggy Kelly's
163 Harold's Cross Road, Dublin 6W,
A seriously good set-up means that dining outdoors in Peggy Kelly's is blissfully cosy when the weather doesn't play ball. With totally cool vibes from graffiti artist Aches' One Love piece, the cabins here look set to be a permanent feature, and if the sun shines there are plenty of great tables to make the most of that too. Cocktails and pints are on tap from the bar, and the short food menu includes burgers with a vegan option.

Roe & Co
92 James's Street, Dublin 8,
All the seating is covered in the Cocktail Village in the courtyard of the Roe & Co distillery, with cute huts offering welcome refuge when the weather gets a bit too temperamental. The D-8TE pop-up dining experience has featured a rotating menu of world flavours, with residencies by Bahay, Nightmarket and, most recently, Matsu Ramen, to be followed by Lil Portie.

Baggot Street, Dublin 4,
"Saba" means happy meeting place, which is appropriate for this funky garden on Baggot Street. With Italian trattoria chairs, festoon lighting and graffiti artwork by Subset, it's great for all weathers, with an electric canopy and heaters to crank up if there's a chill. Thai food and cocktails make this a great night out.

Shelbourne Terrace
27 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2,
It feels like a secret, and you don't need to be a resident to book a table on this hidden terrace at the Shelbourne Hotel. It has all the luxury you'd expect – the Tuci umbrellas have yacht technology, with lighting and heaters built into them; Marley chairs and Gaze Burvill sofas mean you'll be in no hurry to leave; and the unfussy menu ranges from fish and chips to oysters and champagne.

Suesey Street
Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2,
John Healy of The Restaurant adds to the glamour quotient at what has to be one of the best outdoor dining spaces in Dublin. Partially enclosed with glass walls and plenty of greenery, it also has a retractable roof with heaters underneath, and Avoca blankets in case you feel a chill. A new secret garden has been installed at the back, where long-lunchers can continue to investigate the wine list.

Urban Brewing
CHQ, Custom House Quay, Dublin 1,
The Hop Garden Terrace at Urban Brewing has always been a coveted spot, well before we were all clamouring for alfresco cover. When the sun shines it's the place to be, and when it doesn't you're well-protected, with overhead heaters to see off any chill. This is a buzzy space where small plates are on the menu and there's a rotating selection of craft beer, some of which are made in its on-site microbrewery.


Clashganny House
Clashganny, Borris, Co Carlow,
In the middle of the countryside, the atmosphere in the garden dining area of this country house is charming. Everyone seems to know each other – friends, family and couples out for a treat – and there's quite a bit of chat about horses. With tables on the lawn, in a large marquee, and in a covered wooden terrace, it is ideal for Sunday lunch.


Great outdoor dining: Dede, in Co Cork

Custom House, Baltimore, Co Cork,
The outdoor space at this one-Michelin-star restaurant is cosy and atmospheric, with a wood-burning stove, Athena pyramid flame heaters, sheepskin rugs and blankets. A large Perspex roof covers half of the area. With no time restrictions for dining, Ahmet Dede now offers an eight-course menu for €89, much of it cooked over flame and in the outdoor wood-burning oven.


Harry's Shack
16 Strand Road, Portstewart, Co Derry,
Geared up for outdoor dining before any of us knew how much alfresco-ing we'd be doing, this weathered wooden shack, on one of Northern Ireland's finest beaches, combines stunning outdoor tables with those that are well sheltered under a sturdy stretch tent. It's all about the fish here, so go for the crab claws, prawn tails and whatever fish they're cooking on the bone.


Rathmullan House
Rathmullan, Co Donegal, 074-9158155,
The garden here is stunning, running right down to Lough Swilly, and the recently added traditional canvas kingpole tent, close to the house, is a great dining spot when the rain is belting down. Stone-baked pizza and ice cream are on the menu, but booking is essential: this is one of the most popular outdoor options in Rathmullan.


Clifden Boat Club, Clifden, Co Galway, @baidinclifden
The view from the terrace of Clifden Boat Club – just opened at the beginning of July – is matched by equally good food. It feels more casual summer holidays than elitist yachty. Seating is at wooden benches, both outdoors and under a marquee, wild flowers are on each table, festival lights are strung overhead, and there's the hum of happy chat.

Nóin at the Twelve Hotel
The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway,
A well-sheltered, heated courtyard with vintage Dutch chandeliers, bright pink wisteria, tiki-thatched beach parasols, rattan French bistro chairs and marble-topped tables have transformed a previously unused space outside the Twelve Hotel. All-day food ranges from poached eggs to pancakes for brunch, and classic burgers, fish and chips, and pizza. Be sure to check out the cocktails.


Roots at Slane Castle
Slane Castle Demesne, Slane, Co Meath,
Allta Summer House may be the summer's hottest booking, but there is now a second wonderful outdoor-dining experience in the courtyard of Slane Castle. Keith Coleman and Aisling McHugh are behind the food at the taqueria here – you'll want to eat everything – and the cocktails are top-notch. Outdoor tables overlook the River Boyne, there is plenty of indoor seating in a very fine marquee, and, although it's relaxed and casual, you're talking serious quality here.


Grangecon Kitchen
Grangecon, Co Wicklow,
You'll feel like an insider here. Food is ordered at the hatch of the small, pretty restaurant, and the outdoor dining area is through a gateway into a garden. Wooden benches sit on gravel, some on the grass and others under a large stretch tent, so you're covered if the weather doesn't play ball. Brunch, coffees and cakes are the big thing here, but there's also pizza on Friday and Saturday.