There is correlation, but not necessarily causation, between the price of a meal out and its quality. A restaurant that charges a significant chunk for a meal will quite often prove you right in paying that price for a really good meal, and the same is the case with a famous bottle of wine, but it doesn't necessarily follow that this is the only route to quality food.
On the other hand, some restaurants believe that prices should be affordable, that the cooking comes first and the joy of serving a good meal is the first and foremost most important thing about owning a restaurant. We find these restaurants tend to offer welcoming and relaxing environments, and the lack of a blow to the budget the bill offers only makes the food taste sweeter.
We aren’t knocking your high-end restaurants, there is always, always, always a place in the world for Michelin-starred restaurants, for chefs whose commitment to first class ingredients and unimaginably high level of expertise calls for that little bit extra being paid. But there isn’t always a place in the calendar or bank balance for these restaurants. We reckon that it isn’t only feasible, but familiar, that a bill from a high-end restaurant has amounted to two, maybe even three, times as much money as one bill from a favourite cheap eat.
These hidden gems tend to become favourites of those who enjoy their food or their time, simply because it just feels like cheating. When you’ve enjoyed a tasty meal out, with friendly service staff, chefs that put passion into their food, and walk away knowing you’ve only spent a little bit of cash, it feels like you’ve broken the system, turned it on its head and come out on top. The wonderful thing about it is these restaurants are just as happy to be serving you their food for this price.
Best Cheap Eats Dublin
What: A name that is as much a verb as a noun, you’re really encouraged to ‘Wing It’ both in how you behave in choosing your food, and in what you eat: wings (duh). There are wings of all sorts here, perfect for groups or those who don’t know just what they want. Burgers are an option too, it specialises in chicken burgers, which makes sense.
Where: Unit 136, the Square Shopping Centre, Tallaght
What: An all-Irish experience, Bobo's Burgers ensures only Irish meat is used in these burgers, all food is as honest as a nun in how it’s prepared. The burgers here come tall, filled with high-quality, well butchered meat, usually beef, but chicken, lamb, pork, and vegetarian options are available too. All burgers here are under €15 if you refrain from drinking (or keep it light) this is a cheap night indeed.
Where: 22 Wexford Street
What: The food here at Wishbone is simple, it does chicken and does it well. Buffalo or sticky wings. Buffalo or southern fried tenders. Pair this with dips and sides and that’s your lot, but this is a good thing, trust us. Practice makes perfect and making this many wings can only mean a hell of a lot of practice. Oh, also, don’t miss out on the cheesecake, that’s definitely something you’ll want to take a look at.
Where: 16 Montague Street, D02 KW59
What: Tacos, torta, burrito, burrito bowls, gringa, all made authentically in the Mexican way at El Grito. Perfect for a chilled night, where you just want something satisfying and spicy. Where you’re done with one taco and you just go straight into the next one and don’t start talking until they’re all finished, look up, smile, wipe the food off your face. Prices are through the floor for what you’re getting at El Grito.
Where: 20 Mountjoy Square East, D01 K3T1
What: Classic American style burgers, but in Dublin. Bunsen is an Irish chain restaurant that has worked, experimented with, and tweaked ingredients in order to create a burger that it’s prepared to sell and be proud of. Good work too, as it doesn’t tweak much at all, just a standard hamburger or a cheeseburger is on offer, but it’s juicy and lavish, double up if you want more (you will want more).
Where: 22 Essex Street, East, Temple Bar, D02 NA09
The Pieman Cafe
What: Who ate all the pies? You’ll wish it was you after sampling just one, at the Pieman Cafe. There are six in all to choose from, your classic steak and stout, chicken and sausage stuffing, feta and sweet potato, chicken and mushroom, chicken, leek and cheddar, and chilli, beef and chorizo. They’re honestly made pies, and they deserve to be eaten honestly, with no worries about how you’re going to pay, just enjoy.
Where: 2, 14 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, D02 RX36
What: Everyone should be able to have grass fed Irish steak, Featherblade believes. The restaurant takes care to ensure high quality handling of the meat occurs before it is even butchered. So, it works with farmers to ensure this is the case. The philosophy is we should be eating less meat, but more quality meat, so the cost is reduced without the quality being reduced too.
Where: 51B, Dawson Street, D02 DH63
What: These bao buns are filled to the brim with meats (or vegan/vegetarian alternatives), salad, sesame seeds, and nuts. Ordering a bao bun on its own means you’ll receive a large bun that will satisfy your needs for a lunch. For dinner, a deal for four smaller bao buns and a drink is available. Rice bowls and noodle soups are options too. Bao House promises to bring people together over fresh, warm bao buns.
Where: 34 Aungier Street, D02 HK75
Cheap Korean Restaurants Dublin
What: Loosely translating from Korean into English as chicken and beer, Chimac prides itself on the crispiness of its free-range Irish chicken paired well with sauce, and, of course, beer. Expect crispy chicken in burgers, experimentation with fusion flavours – with a strong Korean influence, but elements of worldwide cuisines too. ‘Korean Fried Chicken’ and poutine are favourites too, this restaurant is fanatic about chicken.
Where: 76 Aungier Street D02 YH58
What: A celebration of Korea and its food, HaiLan serves a large menu filled with Korean (and other East Asian) cuisine(s). Expect lots of noodles, in soups, cold, or in stir fries. Expect lots of gochujang, kimchi, and umami flavours. Sushi and sashimi are prepared fresh to order. The food here has a heat that fills up your senses, its fresh, and it leaves an impression.
Where: 65 Dame Street, D02 H022
What: Arisu serves a variety of Korean food, but it specialises in Korean BBQ. For those that don’t know, this means you are seated with a barbeque sunk into the middle of your table, where you will cook the prepared meat to your liking so when it is done, it is as fresh as it possibly can be. For those who would rather not do this, sushi is prepared freshly made here, or fried rice and noodles is an appetizing alternative.
Where: 120 Chapel Street, D01 KC63
Cheap Italian Restaurants Dublin
What: Sourdough pizza base is the traditional Neapolitan base of choice, which is famously where Pizzas were conceived, so let’s trust them on this. Sano Pizza also take the view that this is also the ideal way to make a pizza and decided to bring this practice to Dublin. A long list of traditional, classic pizza styles is available, alongside several, more modern, specials.
Where: 2 Exchange Street Upper, Temple Bar
What: This restaurant promises freshness and high nutritional value, oh and pasta, of course. The recipes and equipment that it uses is authentically Italian, so you’re getting an experience as close to the real deal as you could rightly expect. You choose what pasta you want (which is all homemade), choose what sauce you want, then decide on which topping suits your fancy most. A high-quality selection to be made at Dall'Italia Pasta Bar.
Where: 1 Grantham Street, D08 A49Y
What: A traditional, family run Italian restaurant, Da Mimmo is a labour of love and nostalgia, offering to share these feelings in the form of food. The selling point is the pizza, which comes wood fired at high heats, homemade, and familiar (with some unfamiliar experimentations). Keep an eye out for the specials, and don’t fear sampling antipasti or any of the primi piatti.
Where: 148 North Strand Road, D03 FK52
Cheap Japanese Restaurants Dublin
The Ramen Bar
What: The proud owners of what it claims to be ‘Irelands only authentic noodle making machine’, which was imported all the way from Kagawa, Japan, The Ramen Bar puts this machine to good use making fresh ramen. This is the raison d’etre of the restaurant, of course, and it makes quite a few different types of ramen. However, bao buns are also offered as well as other starters and sides. Definitely the place to go if you love ramen, probably not if you don’t.
Where: 51 William Street, D02 DW44
What: This sushi restaurant, Zakura, is a real must-visit if you’re hoping for a comprehensive introduction to sushi and want to try a variety of the food. It offers traditional and more modern sushi, with offers on combinations too. If you just fancy some Japanese food in general, curries, ramen, and rice bowls are also an option, as well as classic teriyaki.
Where: 13 Wexford Street, D02 EW95
For a good night out in Dublin, perhaps after visiting one of these restaurants, check out our list on the best pubs in Dublin.