Revealed: The best things to eat at Taste of Dublin 2021

The food festival has returned to take over Iveagh Gardens, but with a reduced capacity

Demand for tickets to the Taste of Dublin food festival, now in its 18th year, has been strong, with the Saturday-evening session already sold out. On the opening day, food and drink venders, participating chefs and ticket holders all seemed to be delighted with the return of the event, which was last held in June 2019.

As it is operating at reduced capacity, to comply with Covid guidelines, the food festival is running for an extra 48 hours this time around, taking over Iveagh Gardens for five days rather than three. It got under way in the city centre on Wednesday afternoon.

Tickets are being sold for groups of either four or six; guests will be assigned a table, or "pod", for the session when they arrive. There are three main seating areas, kitted out with picnic tables, including some with parasols. Ticket holders will have to be able to present an EU digital Covid certificate and bring photo ID with them. Once checked in, guests can move freely around the venue, with masks required when not eating or drinking or seated at tables.

There are eight food-vending areas this year, along with several drink outlets, a chefs’ demonstration theatre, entertainment zones and a new cultural stage. The food is being prepared by two restaurants, five street-food or mobile units, and one ice-cream shop; individual dishes cost €6-€12. In addition there are several bars and cocktail venders, including Craft Cocktails, which has a stand selling its full range, at €10 each.


Food is being offered by the Port House tapas bar, which also has a really nicely fitted out sit-down restaurant space that can be booked on arrival via a QR code at the entrance to its space, and the King Sitric restaurant, which has set up an oyster bar.

Street food is available from Los Chicanos Taqueria, the Salty Buoy seafood truck, Bites by Kwanghi, Bahay Filipino Flavours and Naughty Neighbour, a new concept from Dan Hannigan and Luke Murphy, whose Airstream trailer was formerly set up in Goatstown but will have a new location soon. Dessert can be ordered from the Three Twenty ice-cream shop on Drury Street.

The popular Indian and Chinese restaurants Pickleand Hang Dai were also expected to attend the festival, but staffing issues forced them to pull out, according to the festival's director, Roger Duggan.

According to Duggan, the emphasis on street food is to reflect its growing popularity. “We were always going to give a nod to the development of the street-food culture in Ireland. We felt it was important to appreciate that, and we will continue to do that.”

The venue at full capacity, with Covid restrictions, is 1,500 people, compared with 4,500 in previous years. But long queues for food are not anticipated, according to Duggan, whose Equinox Events acquired Taste of Dublin in May last year. “We would traditionally have had 16-20 [vendors] for 4,500 people. The sessions are quite long; people go have a look around, get their food. With 1,500 it is a small number: it’s a very manageable scale.”

The chefs’ demo area, or Taste Theatre, jointly hosted by Ali Dunworth and Dee Laffan, has a stellar line-up of culinary names appearing throughout the five days, including Kevin Thornton, Rachel Allen, Shane Smith, Jess Murphy, Gareth Mullins, Eric Matthews, Kevin Dundon, Aoife Noonan and JP McMahon.

So you’ve bought your ticket – costing from €20 to €75 for access to the VIP area, with champagne and whiskey cocktails – shown your Covid passport and photo ID, and located your pod. Now to eat. Here are the dishes most likely to draw the crowds.

Taste of Dublin 2021’s top dishes

Naughty Neighbour
Dan Hannigan and Luke Murphy have beef-and-Guinness doughnuts with Parmesan mayonnaise (€6) on their menu that will excite those who previously tried their duck-and-rhubarb doughnuts. They're also serving "a more contemporary take" on cauliflower cheese, and steak glazed with black garlic.

Bites by Kwanghi
If you haven't yet had a chance to try Kwanghi Chan's pork-and-chive dumpling kits, you can order them here (€6). There's a vegetarian-dumpling option, too, and chicken rice pot with honey, ginger, soy, shiitake, mushroom and pickled greens (€10).

The Port House
The sit-down restaurant is going to be a big draw here, but if you don't manage to snag a table you can order its menu to go. Empanadillas come with a choice of four fillings (€6 for two), but the star dish may be the grilled lamb chops with spicy hummus and tomato salad (€12).

The Salty Buoy
There will be Klaw lobster rolls (€12) and tuna poke tacos (€6) on offer, but you'd be mad not to try the hake Kiev (€6) from Niall Sabongi's truck.

Los Chicanos Taqueria
Expect hungry crowds lining up here, too, for Scott Holder's excellent tacos. Salsa macha cauliflower (€6), Mexican street corn (€6) and Achill Island lamb barbacoa (€9) are the options, and he will have his sweetcorn soft-serve ice cream (€6) on sale too.

Bahay Filipino Flavours
Chicken adobo will be popular here, the chicken legs braised in soy, vinegar, garlic, black pepper and bay leaves and served with steamed rice and pickled chillies (€10).

King Sitric
The Howth restaurant has set up an oyster bar offering rock oysters from Kelly's, in Co Galway, served as they come, with lemon and Tabasco, or with red-wine vinegar and shallots (€6 for three).

Three Twenty Ice Cream
The Dawson street shop has strawberry ice cream (€6) and warm cookie crumble and vanilla ice cream (€9) on offer, as well as salted-caramel brownies (€6).