Hidden Temple Bar
Temple Bar? It is hard to believe, but in this tourist mecca, there are gems lurking in plain sight. In certain ways, the Temple Bar spots are even cooler because even the locals aren’t in the know. In the mood for fine Nepalese or Indonesian? Confit duck gizzard with a side of Valpolicella and live jazz? Do you want to go where chefs hang after two AM? Or would you rather kick back with an Americano and some art-house theatre? Below are some spots to look for the next time you are among the over-priced pints and guys in leprechaun suits.
Have a Coffee Flight at First Draft
Filmbase on Curved Street has been nurturing Irish independent film makes for decades, and the loft-like, cafe space above is now one of the most sought out spaces to get a caffeine fix, and the trio of coffees made from one roast – espresso, milky coffee, and filter – is an excellent bang for one bean.
2 Curved Street, Temple Bar.
Cry Into Your Craft Beer Watching Fellini at the IFI
The Irish Film Institute (IFI) is one of Dublin’s coziest spaces. It’s also movie nerd paradise. It shows what it likes, which includes Alfred Hitchcock retrospectives, indie offerings, hard to get foreign prints, and even mainstream movies. Plus, the café/bar is one of Temple Bar’s most openly hidden secrets. The food is no-frills good (grilled tuna, steak sandwich, eggs benedict, and excellent Middle-Eastern influenced vegetarian options) the coffees are immaculately prepared, and the wine and the beer selections are carefully selected. There’s never a wait, and you can bring your drinks into the movie.
6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar.
Chew the spud at Gallagher’s Boxty House
The boxty is the Irish latke – grated potatoes mixed with mashed potatoes and pan fried until brown. Padraic Óg has devoted most of his life getting the boxty to fluffy, crusty perfection. Pair his boxty with a stew made tender after a day of gentle simmering, slightly sweet soda bread and finish with a house-brewed ale with notes of butter and marmalade.
20-21 Temple Bar, Temple Bar. (01) 677 2762
Drink Writers’ Tears at the Palace Bar
A famous haunt for writers, poets, and journalists, this 1823 pub, with its dark wood paneling and a stained glass skylight, also boasts a wide selection of whiskeys and crotchety, well-versed barmen to serve them. The caramel and grapefruit scented Green Spot was Sam Beckett’s dram of choice. The honey-colored Writers’ Tears is soft and mellow, less anguished than its name would have you believe.
21 Fleet Street, Temple Bar
Eat Momos at Monty’s of Kathmandu
The stylish Lina Gautam opened Momo in 1997, and introduced to Dublin the concept of ethnic cuisine with fine ingredients and great service. The best way to describe Nepalese is a combination of Indian, Northern Chinese, Russian, and Tibetan flavours. It is hearty and deeply flavorful, and also, as Lena realized, a great showcase for Irish produce, especially Irish goat and lamb. Their momo, which are similar to Chinese jiaozi and Russian pelmini, are exquisite– succulent chicken enclosed in a pan-fried pastry and served in a tomato and coriander sauce.
28 Eustace Street, Temple Bar. (01) 670 4911
Break Into Rijtaffel at Chameleon
Rijtaffel is the Dutch word for an Indonesian feast, usually five to seven dishes served with rice. A mixture of spices, meats, and textures, it was created by the Dutch in colonial times to showcase Indonesian food in all its glory. However, it was Kevin O’Toole, an Irish chef, who brought the Dutch-Indonesian rijatffel to Dublin. At his plush, intimate Chameleon, enjoy Javanese curry of Wicklow lamb shoulder, Castletownbere crab cakes with haddock, chili, and mango, and the Irish fish of the day steamed in banana leaves.
Chameleon, 1 Fownes Street Lower, Temple Bar. (01) 671 0362
Indulge In Crudo and Seafood at Rosa Madre
There is fish displayed on ice at Luca di Marzio’s subdued restaurant on Crow Street, glistening, bright-eyed, and fresh as the morning. Regulars know to simply “trust Luca” when it comes to ordering. There might be a silken crudo (sea bream, or when he can get it in, bluefin) to start, then scallops on the half shell, followed by langoustines with Marinda tomatoes. Then perhaps spicy crab tossed with fresh taglioni, or a whole turbot baked in salt.
7 Crow Street, Temple Bar. (01) 551-1206
Feast With the Foodies at Piglet
Bucatini with guanciale, octopus salad slightly sweet with sultanas, a sliver of pork cheek on a crostini, smoked eel and white beans. Customers drop by for an espresso and a quick gossip, or will linger for several hours, because Piglet is the family you wish you had. Try the caprese of Sicilian mozzarella that changes with the seasons (fresh peas in the springtime and pickled turnip greens in the winter) and the meltingly good confit of duck gizzard on toast.
Cow’s Lane, (01) 707-9786
Stay Cool After Two AM
Hidden Temple Bar hip is grungy. If you want to hang with the in-crowd, look for them dancing to cover Zeppelin bands in the sticky, dark environs of The Mezz (23-24 Eustace Street) having a gin and tonic and saag paneer until dawn at Aleena (3 Temple Lane South) on Temple Bar Street (which insiders call “the Indian Restaurant,”) or quaffing pint of pilsner at the Czech Inn (Essex Gate), with its Soviet-era kitsch posters and dusty billiards table.
The quality of the bread and buns at The Bakery on Essex Street is amplified by their no-nonsense staff, their low prices (everything is under five euro and it’s cash only) and the fact that this is where the cool Dubs go, avoiding the tourists who flock to the nearby Queen of Tarts. There’s no twee in the Bakery, just eight seats, excellent lattes served in paper cups, and bakers who sport goatees and tattoos. However, it is the place for a perfectly balanced sandwich, a flaky sausage roll, or a dreamy éclair. Get in early to nab the soda loaves and the yeasty turnover bread.
8 Essex Street West, Temple Bar.