Cheeseburger at Bunsen
In Ireland, the beef is grass-fed, the cheese is creamy, and the bread is exceptional. Given this, the cheeseburger should be the perfect trifecta of Irish ingredients, but for years, it’s been a dry, dull, hockey puck served in pubs. Until Bunsen. With a hat-tip to In ‘n Out and Umami, Bunsen is nevertheless an Irish treat. Bunsen’s fluffy buns are half artisanal and half fast food — slightly rich and not too sweet. The cheese, too, is the epitome of cheese made from a secret house blend. The there’s the burger the best that Irish cattle can muster, cooked medium and bursting with juice. Get the cheeseburger with pickles, double if you are hungry, and select from either the skinny fries or the chunky chips.
Bunsen: 22 Essex St. East, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 – 01 559 9532, 36 Wexford St, Dublin 2 – (01) 552 5408, 3 South Anne Street, Dublin 2 – 01 652 1022, 97 Ranelagh, Dublin 2 – 01 4440071
Smoked Haddock and Cheddar Mash at Winding Stair
The haddock and cheddar mash – reminiscent of so many other dishes, was conceived in the early days of the Winding Stair and it hasn’t left the menu since. Spud, sea, and a touch of cheese – this dish is the soul of Ireland on the plate. It is like fish pie, reminiscent of seafood chowder but better than both. The potatoes are like silk, the fish tastes of a cozy wood fire, and sweet rings of onions cut through the richness of it all. Slip into its warm, smoky embrace while you watch the Liffey sparkle from below.
The Winding Stair: 40 Ormond Quay Lower, North City, Dublin 1 – (01) 872 7320
Scotch Eggs at L. Mulligan Grocer
Scotch eggs are eggs rolled in sausage meat and deep fried. They may be an old-timer pub classic found throughout this part of the world, but it takes a true artist to get them right. Trust the best Scotch egg to be found in Dublin, where the Irish eggs and the Irish sausage excel. Find the most perfect Scotch egg in the world at the pub L. Mulligans. The sausage is pungent with thyme, the breading is flaky, and when you break into the egg, the orange yolk oozes because it has been cooked just right.
Mulligan Grocer: 18 Stoneybatter, Arran Quay, Dublin 7 – (01) 670 9889
Pork Sandwich with Crackling at the Poulet Bonne Femme @ Avoca
All the roast meats at Poulet Bonne Femme are exceptionally tasty, many Dublin sandwiches are terrific, but the pork sandwich is the best. It’s on a soft, squishy bread they call “sourdough” (it’s not but it is the perfect consistency for this sandwich). Ask for everything – the butter, the mayonnaise, the biting arugula, and the grind of pepper, but above all, ask for extra, crisp crackling to go with the melting, herbal meat. Take it across the street and eat it at the feet of the statue of Molly Malone.
Poulet Bonne Femme: 11-13 Suffolk St, Dublin 2 – (01) 677 4215
Fish Finger Sandwich at Super Miss Sue
Fish finger sandwiches are a staple of the Irish childhood teas; they are what Irish mums will pull out when their children come home after a grueling day of homework, sports, and exams. The chipper at SMS Miss Sue (which, in turn, is the little sister restaurant to the swank Luna next door) takes the fish finger sandwich to a new level without ruining the comfort of the original. Piping hot battered wedges of fresh fish are clamped together with house-made tartar sauce between perfect, soft, not-to-sweet white bread. It is the perfect antidote to a rough day at school, a late night bout of drinking, and everything in between.
SMS Super Miss Sue: 2-3 Drury Street – (01) 679 9009
Eggs Benedict at the Larder
The great thing about the Larder is that it’s off the well-heeled Sunday brunch radar and so you can usually get a seat. The best thing about Larder is its Eggs benedict, which are Dublin in its style. Instead of Canadian bacon, the meat is a pulled, braised ham hock, smoky, sweet, and silky. The hollandaise is the very best, laden as it is with Irish butter and Irish egg yolks, and instead of English muffins, it is served on a crusty, chewy bread.
The Larder: 8 Parliament St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 – (01) 633 3581
Golgappa at Pickle
Sunil Ghai’s take on a popular snack that was part of his childhood, the Golgappa is a one-inch pillow of wheat stuffed with chickpeas, potatoes, chili, and mango powder. You pour a tamarind, mint, and chili water over to soften it, and you pop the whole thing in your mouth. Golgappa isn’t on the regular Pickle menu, but it’s often available if you ask ahead of time or ask nicely. This may be the most perfect bite of food in the city.
Pickle: 43 Camden Street Lower, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 2 – (01) 555 7755