Where are the best value lunch spots in Ireland?

Try these 16 places for great food that won't cost you a fortune

Lunch is sorted. Photograph: iStock

Lunch is sorted. Photograph: iStock

 

Only Oriental Bakery & Tea
66 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, facebook.com/onlybakeryandtea
Only Oriental only does a few things – Taiwanese chicken, home-made egg tarts and bubble tea – but it does them very well. The Chinese-American food writer Mei Chin said earlier this year that it’s the only place in Ireland making Taiwanese chicken properly, and the plates of butter-soft chicken, in their light batter sprinkled with chilli, has Asian students lining up throughout the day. Lisa Cope

Bun Cha
11 Moore Street, Dublin 1, buncha.ie
If you’re planning a trip to the capital any time soon, make the most of its flying food scene by eating something you can’t find anywhere else. There are, to the best of my knowledge, only three Vietnamese-owned and -run restaurants in Ireland – all in Dublin – and Bun Cha seems to be the current favourite. You’ll still be thinking of the bun cha with smoky barbecued pork, rice noodles and handfuls of fresh herbs long after you’ve eaten it, and its blisteringly crispy spring rolls put most Chinese takeaways to shame. LC

Eoin Cluskey of Bread 41 on Pearse Street in Dublin 2, which opens on Friday. Photographs: Marie-Claire Digby
Eoin Cluskey of Bread 41 on Pearse Street in Dublin 2. Photograph: Marie-Claire Digby

Bread 41
41 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, breadnation.ie/eatery
The cafe attached to Eoin Cluskey’s Bread Nation bakery is understandably built on bread, with sandwiches, toasties and salads all served with its organic sourdoughs, oat porridge and malt loaves. Earlier this year they added sourdough pizzas to the mix. They believe food should be simple, made with as few ingredients as possible (such as the three in their bread, compared with 37 in the average industrial loaf), and there’s a no-wifi, no-outlets rule, so leave the technology at the door and focus on the food. LC

Chimac
76 Aungier Street, Dublin 2, chimac.ie
Its Korean fried free-range chicken caused something of a stampede after Chimac opened, last May, but thankfully things have calmed down, leaving a steady flow of Korean barbecue burgers, sriracha caramel nugs and KimCheese fries making their way out of the kitchen seven days a week. Fifteen euro will get you an excellent burger, the crispiest fries and a soft drink, but if it has been a tough week, a mug of frosé (frozen rose) is recommended. LC

Cloud Picker
Cloud Picker: a temple to grains and vegetables

Cloud Picker
42 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, cloudpickercoffee.ie
Cloud Picker Coffee owners (and partners) Frank Kavanagh and Peter Sztal moved their cafe from Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery, directly across the street, into their own space earlier this year, and with it unleashed a new level of culinary creativity. The salad counter is a temple to grains and vegetables, and Sztal, who’s Polish, has even brought in some family recipes, with his mum’s goulash, sauerkraut and blueberry yeast buns appearing on the menu. And the Coffee is excellent, obviously. LC

The Market Kitchen
Temple Bar Food Market, Meeting House Square, Dublin 2, themarketkitchen.org
Started by McNally Family Farm progeny Sarah (daughter of Jenny and Patrick) and friend Liadain Kaminska, the Market Kitchen uses produce from the surrounding Temple Bar Food Market to serve up flavour-bursting combinations each Saturday. Their understanding of flavour is nothing short of remarkable, and every weekend they manage to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary, with dishes such as fried egg on sourdough toast with beans, beet hummus, dukkah, zhoug, pink pickles, rhubarb ketchup, pea shoots and leaves. LC

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Tiller + Grain
23 Frederick Street South, Dublin 2, tillerandgrain.ie
The former Ottolenghi chef Clair Dowling moved home to Dublin earlier this year to open Tiller + Grain, and the books lining the walls (including those of her mentors) give some idea of where she gets her stunning flavour inspiration from. Meat and fish are cooked on an indoor barbecue, bread comes from Bread 41 (see previous entry), vegetables are predominantly from Dublin, and it’s the type of place that will redefine what you think of “salad”. LC

Fish Shop
Fish Shop: few better places in Dublin for fresh seafood

Fish Shop
76 Benburb Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7, fish-shop.ie
Casual fish-and-chip shop turned natural-wine bar, Fish Shop is open for lunch six days a week, and it’s just the place to slip away to when you want an impressive lunch outside of the (occasional) chaos of the city centre. There are few better places in Dublin for fresh seafood, and apart from the always-on beer-battered catch of the day, you’ll find dishes such as Russian salad and anchovy on toast, Lambay Island crab croquettes and palourde clams with Dublin chard – all of which pair perfectly with its extensive sherry list. LC

The Happy Pear
15 Tower Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, thehappypear.ie
No, not the Bray to Greystones walk (although feel free to make a day of that) but a pedal with the family along the canal path from Inchicore to Clondalkin will bring you to the west Dublin outlet of the brothers’ empire where you can enjoy a healthy lunch. It’s set in the beautiful Round Tower Centre and garden, which explains the history of this old Dublin area – which has gone from monks to Vikings to vegans over the centuries. Catherine Cleary

Double 8
5 Village Gate Arcade, Bray, Co Wicklow, double8.online
Hidden away just off Bray’s main street, down a quiet alley optimistically named Village Gate Arcade, Double 8 is where Emma Luk makes her dumplings by hand each day, filling them with local meats and vegetables. Double 8’s short menu consists of four dumplings, available in portions of six or 12, as well as weekly specials, and adding copious amounts of Chinese black vinegar takes them to the next level. Don’t miss the banoffee dessert dumplings, filled with warm banana and caramel and topped with crispy flakes of sea salt. The ideal reward after a Greystones-to-Bray cliff walk. LC

Fisherman’s Catch
Unit 4, Port Oriel, Clogherhead Harbour, Co Louth, fishermanscatch.ie
Not many fish-and-chip vans catch their own fish, but that’s what you get at the Fisherman’s Catch. The fish shop the van is attached to opened in 2009, but it was only last summer that the Kirwan family decided to expand into hot food, and whatever has been caught that day is what’s on the menu. Go for a walk on Clogherhead beach, or over the headland, and reward yourself with some crispy hake, sea-salted chips and freshly shucked local oysters. LC

Arán Bakery
8 the Arches, Barrack Street, Kilkenny, arankilkenny.ie
Nicole Server and Bart Pawlukojc met while interning at Noma, in Copenhagen, and, after a few more years working their way around some of Denmark’s most highly regarded restaurants, made the decision to move to Ireland and settle in Kilkenny, where Pawlukojc had lived as a teenager. They bake through the night to have fresh sourdough, baguettes and country loaves each morning, and the cafe never seems to have a lull – it’s hard to imagine where all of their customers went before they opened. The all-day menu uses the best of local produce, such as Goatsbridge trout, Dizzy Farm wild pig sausage, and wild Kilkenny mushrooms. LC

Miyazaki, in Cork: this tiny Japanese takeaway and restaurant serves some of the most astonishingly good food in Ireland
Miyazaki, in Cork: tiny Japanese takeaway and restaurant run by Michelin star chef Takashi Miyazaki

Miyazaki
1a Evergreen Street, Ballyphehane, Cork, facebook.com/miyazakicork
Looking for directions in Cork recently, a woman told me to take a left “at the Chinese place on the corner”. Miyazaki is Japanese, rather than Chinese, and this small corner place was for a while the only Cork location where you could taste the exquisite cooking of Takashi Miyazaki. He has moved on to create the fine-dining restaurant Ichigo Ichie, but Miyazaki continues to put more craft into takeaway or eat-in-perched-on-a-stool food than many people do in spendier, more sit-down kinds of places. CC

Bia Rebel
409 Ormeau Road, Belfast, biarebel.com
You can eat it quickly, but Brian Donnelly puts lots of slow work into his Belfast ramen. There’s 40 hours' cooking in a bowl. His partner, Jenny Holland, has been determined to make sure every ingredient in there is exquisite since they first opened their doors, generating a whole new audience for the loveliness that is beautifully made ramen. CC

Flipside
Unit 2, Embankment, Rockwood Parade, Sligo, flipside.ie
Flipside is a burger place where the veggie options (halloumi poppers are still talked about in our house) are as good as if not better than the foods with a face. The condiments, such as house pickles and slices of beefy tomato, are as carefully curated as the main events. CC

Batch
Main Street, Falcarragh, Co Donegal, batch.ie
In the Gaeltacht village of Falcarragh, Batch is the perfect  place for a postbeach snack. Whether you have been swimming, surfing or just simply walking, treat yourself to a hearty soup and sandwich made with excellent local ingredients. CC

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