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Our favourite restaurants: 14 great places to go for lunch

Part of the Irish Times guide to 100 great-value restaurants, cafes and places to eat in Ireland 2022

3 Leaves

Unit 30, Blackrock Market, 19a Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin; 087-7691361,

When 3 Leaves first opened in Blackrock Market, it was a breath of fresh air. With their food that was primarily vegetarian and beautifully decorated with pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs, owners Santosh Thomas and Milie Mathew introduced Dublin diners to a new palate of Indian street food and heartwarming dishes. Try the samosa chaat, dal paklwan (lentils), their legendary chicken biryani or a lunchtime thali taster platter. Due to the size of the space, tables are limited and in high demand. Dogs welcome outside. Joanne Cronin

Assassination Custard

19a Kevin Street Lower, Dublin 8; 087-9971513,

You could spend your time worrying about how exactly Gwen McGrath and Ken Doherty make money in their tiny, walk-in only, 10-seater, or you could get there before midday to ensure that you bag a seat at one of the two sharing tables. Produce from McNally’s organic farm is the starting point for the Italian-influenced dishes here. Everything is quietly stripped back so that sheer talent is laid bare. Crushed fava beans with chicory; labneh with pickled tomatoes and bottarga; and chickpeas with confit pork cheeks are just some of the amazing small plates that feature. Corinna Hardgrave

Beach House

Turkey Road, Tramore, Co Waterford; 051-338270,

If you want to eat in Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola’s smart 18-seater fish restaurant, a bit of planning is required. It is now lunch only, and their season is shorter, closing from January to mid-March. But it is certainly worth a special journey. Akintola’s cooking is restrained and skilful, with classic dishes such as lobster mayonnaise, grilled Dublin Bay prawns, and sole with brown butter tasting exquisitely of themselves. The impressive wine list is made for Burgundy lovers. CH


The Arches, 5 Gas House Lane, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny; 056-7772858,

Having held a Michelin star since 2014, Campagne is well-known for Garrett Byrne’s classic French cooking, delivered by Bríd Hannon with warmth and hospitality. Their lunch and early bird menus remain keenly priced at €45 for three courses, covering dishes such as warm haddock mousse, roast rabbit leg and braised beef cheek. There’s a small selection of wines by the glass, and with 70 seats it’s always busy with locals and tourists alike. JC


Chapter One

18-19 Parnell Square North, Dublin 1; 01-8732266,

If you find yourself in the enviable position of having snagged a table at Mickael Viljanen’s Michelin two-star restaurant, then congratulate yourself. The set lunch menu costs €75 per head and combines the best of Irish and international produce, such as Castletownbere cod and Anjou pigeon, all cooked with Viljanen’s laser-like precision and served with uniquely Irish warmth. Finish with an Irish coffee from the trolley for a touch of theatre. JC


208 Harold’s Cross Road, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W; 01-4978632,

Every neighbourhood should have an eatery that adds to the community. Philip Yeung’s Craft restaurant fills that space in Dublin’s Harold’s Cross. A purveyor of what he describes as modern Irish cuisine, Yeung honed his craft at Town Bar & Grill and Bang before opening Craft. Enjoy a three-course weekend lunch for €40 covering classics such as free-range chicken and spiced apricot terrine, or a twist of Andarl Farm pork char siu style. The wine list is mainly French and Italian, and dogs are welcome outside. JC


23 Pembroke Street Upper, Dublin 2; 01-6761494,

There are people, lucky people, who dine in Dax every week; that’s how good lunch is here. While a weekly habit may be out of reach for most, two courses for €36, and three for €48, makes the occasional treat possible. Graham Neville’s cooking is classic; nothing is overwrought, and this is one of the few fine dining restaurants where you can get a vegan menu. CH


22 High street, Waterford, Co Waterford; 051-325174,

A former Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year winner and Chapter One alumnus, Peter Everett returned to his home city to open his modern Irish restaurant. Located in a historic part of Waterford city, the restaurant lies in the 15th-century John Collyn House, which includes a vaulted wine cellar. The star attraction is the excellent value set menus with a three-course lunch/pre-theatre costing €33, or dinner for €47. JC


4 Middle Street Mews, Galway, Co Galway; 091-865930,

The small and cosy Kappa-ya from owner and chef Junichi Yoshiyagawa has built up a dedicated following in Galway. Part of the charm is Yoshiyagawa’s eccentric style, often posting comments like “Lazy Junichi decided not to open the restaurant tonight” and apologising to disappointed diners. When you can grab a seat, expect the freshest sashimi, katsu-don bowls, tamagoyaki and specials like eel skewers, all washed down with a specialist sake list. JC


Slatefort House, Bullaun, Loughrea, Co Galway; 087-3300559,

Since this is the restaurant rated as the most likely to land a Michelin star next time around, I would suggest booking Sunday lunch here pronto, particularly if you’ve never been. It’s a steal at €55 (the evening tasting menu is €120). As well as drawing on local produce, there’s plenty to remind you that Danny Africano is half Italian and is on the receiving end of weekly deliveries from his father in Naples. There’s a very distinct feel to the food here, where everything is cooked with precision on Argentinian grills. The mackerel and Connemara lamb are outstanding. CH


Harbour House, Harbour Road, Howth, Dublin 13; 01-8397096,

Earlier this year, Mamó, from Jess D’Arcy and chef Killian Durkin, underwent renovations that saw downstairs revamped into a bar counter, and a bigger extended diningroom opening upstairs. Despite the changes, the quality and local focus remains in this cosy spot. Start with the signature cod chip snack, followed by gnocchi with Cáis Na Tíre, girolles and roast onion or lamb belly, shoulder and rump with couscous and Chantennay carrots, all accompanied by an excellently chosen wine list. JC


1 Oxford Street, Belfast; 44-28-90314121,

Ox is always a treat, not just because the three-course lunch at this one-Michelin-star restaurant is £40, but because of the skill level brought to the kitchen by Stephen Toman, who spent many years in Alain Passard’s three-Michelin-star L’Arpège in Paris. Vegetables are a strong point, with foraging, smoking, fermenting and classic French technique all playing a part in dishes that will surprise and make you smile. A separate vegetarian tasting menu is available. CH


7 Church Street, Townparks, Skerries, Co Dublin; 01-8029486,

There are too few places for Sunday lunch, especially if it’s a special occasion. But Cathal Leonard’s €55 lunch menu fits the bill exactly. Locally-landed fish and seasonal produce are a reminder that everything he does is driven by what is available within a short radius of this north Co Dublin seaside town. The room is smart, with white linen-clad tables; the food has the precision of a chef who spent many years in Chapter One. The wine list, from sommelier Maire McHugh, is impressive. CH

The East Room

Plassey House, University of Limerick, Co Limerick; 061-202186,

The grounds of University of Limerick is where you’ll find the cooking of Derek Fitzpatrick tucked away in Palladian-style Plassey House, also home to the University president and their staff. Making extensive use of foraged, wild and local ingredients, the food is modern and deftly presented. Think wild venison with barbecued celeriac, or home-made puff pastry with roast figs. A three-course lunch will cost you €39. JC

Follow a link below to read the other sections of this guide

Corinna Hardgrave’s introduction
Twenty-three new places to eat
Fifteen places to go for a quick bite
Eleven places to go for small plates
Thirteen places to go for dinner
Eight places to go for seafood
Seven places to go for takeaway
Nine places to eat sustainably