What’s so good about it?
Not for nothing is Portobello regarded as one of the most desirable (and priciest) city neighbourhoods in Dublin. "Hipsteria Lane" came into being in the 18th century, and in the 19th it was transformed from farmland into Victorian redbricked homes for the middle classes.
Shouldering Rathmines, the South Circular Road and the Camden Quarter, Portobello is a warren of redbrick houses and period villas, often named after British viceroys like Lennox, Harrington and Heytesbury. This tangle of cute streets are surrounded by every bougie amenity you can think of.
Think yoga centres (Little Bird and Yoga Hub), bookshops, speciality food stores, art gallery/spaces, a 24-hour gym (at the old Garda Club), a Michelin guide recommended restaurant and more brunch hangouts than you could shake a Bloody Mary at. The Bernard Shaw may be no more, but the area has plenty of hangouts in its stead. It's even possible to get a Mexican cookery class in the neighbourhood (at Picado).
A spot of calm is accessed at the grassy site of St Kevin’s Church, formerly the Portobello Gardens. Even though it’s a 10-minute stroll to St Stephen’s Green, Portobello has still managed to retain its cosy village feel. The greenery along the Grand Canal provides a tranquil walkway in and out of the area, too.
What’s not so good?
Camden Street, Harcourt Street and its surrounds get lively on the weekends thanks to young revellers, and this cacophony can often spill out onto the roads of Portobello. Come summertime, the Grand Canal becomes a popular hangout for al fresco drinkers, although this often results in litter-strewn scenes. And, as is often the case in central neighbourhoods, parking is hard to come by, even for residents.
As local resident Aisling McNamara points out: “The daily reoccurring illegal dumping of household waste is not great. The lack of options for terraced houses to compost waste is also not great.”
Where and what to buy?
68 Synge Street is one of the quaint properties that the area is known for and this one, with plenty of quirk and charm, is a 3-bed, 2-bath spread over three levels and is just off the main drag (€630,000, via Sherry Fitzgerald Rathmines). 6 Longwood Avenue is an impressive 3-bed/2-bath terraced house with 146 square metres of living space and four rec rooms, with a price to match (€1.1 million, via Sherry Fitzgerald Rathmines).
At a more accessible price point, there's 19A Long Lane, one of the skinniest houses in Dublin (essentially a former laneway). It's on a quiet stretch in between Camden Street and Clanbrassil Street (€249,000, via Castle Estate Agents) and is more spacious than you might think.
Or, if you want to get your hands on one of the Victorian villa houses that are popular in the area, 25 Curzon Street is a doer-upper looking for some TLC, but has great potential (€645,000 via Felicity Fox).
Where and what to rent?
As one of Dublin’s original “Flatland” areas, there are still plenty of small studios to rent (although they can command up to €1,300). A two-bed apartment in a development like Portobello Dock can cost around €2,200 a month, while family homes can set you back up to €4,500 a month, depending on bells and whistles. Stick to apartment hunting for better value for money.
Where to eat and drink?
Among Portobello’s landmarks is the beloved Bretzel Bakery (1A Lennox Street), which does incredible bread and sweet things. Cafes and brunch spots are in abundance: try Alma, at 12 South Circular Road, Sister Sadie (46 Harrington Street), Bibis (14A Emorville Avenue), First Draft Coffee, (34 Lennox Street), the Cake Café (8 Pleasant’s Place) or, for tea lovers, Wall & Keogh Superior Teas (45 Richmond Street South). Richmond aside, there’s One Bistro (30 Richmond Street), Delahunt (39 Camden Street Lower), Pickle (43 Camden St Lower) and, a little further afield, Bastible (Leonard’s Corner).
Put it this way, you won’t go hungry. As locals go, you could do worse than have the Headline Bar on Clanbrassil Street as your new haunt.
Who lives there?
Portobello is a lively mix of families who have settled there for years and a transient group of young renters who like to be close to the action. MyHome.ie put the age mix in the area as follows: 10 per cent are under 16, 44 per cent are aged between 16 and 34; 24 per cent are in the 35-49 category, 13 per cent fall into the 50-64 age bracket, and 9 per cent are over 65. Almost half of Portobello’s residents are lone dwellers.
Good for families?
Portobello doesn’t have as many green spaces, playgrounds or leisure facilities as many young families might like. In terms of schools, there’s the International School of Dublin, a private school on Synge Street (multidenominational, mixed), Bunscoil Sancta Maria Primary School on Synge Street (Catholic, mixed), and Synge Street’s Christian Brothers secondary school (Catholic, boys). A wider selection of schools can be accessed in nearby Rathmines, Harold’s Cross or the South Circular Road.
Getting there and getting around
It won't take long to get to Portobello from the city centre on foot, but the Charlemont and Harcourt Luas (Green line) will also get you there. Bus-wise, Portobello lies on one of the main city corridors, so jump on the 14/A, 15/A/B, 16, 140, or 142.
What do locals say?
“I live on Emorville Avenue and it’s truly the best of both worlds. The street itself is quiet, and has a lovely community feel and great neighbours, but you can pretty much get anywhere from there in no time at all.
"I've outgrown the Wexford/Camden Street scene by now (though it was handy to be there in the Noughties), but I love the multicultural restaurants like Little Jerusalem and Damascus Gate. It's really easy to get friends to come visit this way too, as there's always so much to do. Watching the world go by outside Bibi's is the best way to spend the weekend, and when the sun is shining, there's nowhere in the city like it." – Rachel Clery, graphic designer
Do you live in Rialto? If so, please tell us what it's like to live there. Do you have a favourite place or a pet peeve in the neighbourhood? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org