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22 great places for brunch and daytime pub grub between Christmas and new year

From Dublin to Belfast, there are plenty of places open if you’re still in the mood for celebrating

It’s the time of year when most of the country’s restaurants shut for a well-earned break, but there are still plenty of places open if you’re heading out for a stroll or a bit of shopping followed by a casual lunch or brunch. If you’re still in the mood for celebrating or just fancy going for a long, languorous lunch, there are some top-end restaurants open too.

As One

Unit 3, 13-18 City Quay, Dublin 2; 01-5581362,

Kilner jars of ferments, pickled elderflowers, lemons and brown bread koji gleam out from the pale wooden shelves inside the door of this restaurant. It’s the perfect spot for a bite after a post-Christmas stroll along the quays. Brunch, from the sizeable open kitchen, includes a good take on the full Irish with free-range produce. Creative vegetarian options include shiitake mushrooms with Portobello pesto on toast. Open December 29th and 30th for brunch. Corinna Hardgrave


4A Monkstown Crescent, Monkstown, Co Dublin; 01-2844286,

There’s something a little bit special about the interior of Bresson: you can sit in the windows with a view into the charming little courtyard or you can sit in the rear surrounded by comfortable calm and lose track of time, not knowing if it’s day or night. And, frankly, is that not the point at this time of year? Especially when combined with classic French dishes executed with precision from chef Temple Garner. Joanne Cronin

Brother Hubbard

Arnotts (Liffey Street entrance), Dublin 1; 01-4411112,

Brother Hubbard has grown to include four locations across the city since they first opened in 2012. Their recipe for success involves tasty and fresh homemade food with a strong vegetable focus, all brightened up with a touch of the Middle East and Mediterranean. While their original cafes will be taking a break, the new location in Arnotts will be open – an ideal spot for a post-Christmas debrief with friends or a break from sale shopping while enjoying one of their daily tarts, a hearty salad or one of their tempting sweet bakes. JC


Farmer Browns

25A Bath Avenue, Dublin 4; 01-5676956,

The first Farmer Browns opened in 2012 and over the years Limerick sisters Grace and Fionnuala Caffrey have expanded from the original Bath Avenue location to Clonskeagh, Rathmines and Kiltiernan. Their popularity is fuelled by their hearty portions and famous brunch, including their take on a full Irish, the “Starvin Marvin”. And if you’re not yet tired of turkey, the Christmas turkey burger topped with Brie, stuffing and cranberry sauce is a festive treat. JC

King Sitric

5 East Pier, Howth, Dublin 13; 01-8325235,

Let’s face it, most of us will emerge from our Christmas cheese and turkey induced cocoon with the honourable intention of going for a good rousing walk in the fresh air. So why not go to Howth and climb up the Head to clear the cobwebs while enjoying a panoramic view of Dublin Bay? Then head back down to King Sitric, who serve up a range of classic seafood dishes that celebrate the bounty of our seas. JC

La Maison

15 Castle Market, Dublin 2; 01-6727258,

Last year saw a change of ownership at Dublin-favourite La Maison when founder Olivier Quenet decided to sell. The good news though is that this French-style bistro remains resolutely Gallic under the stewardship of Giorgio Urbani and Leanne Murphy. If the weather permits, grab a table on the covered terrace and tuck into classics such as Coquilles Saint-Jacques, duck confit or their legendary cote de boeuf for two. JC

Orwell Road

8 Orwell Road, Dublin 6; 01-6213524,

Chef Daniel Hannigan is widely recognised as one of the industry’s nice guys and, along with restaurateurs Conor and Marc Breen, has created a cosy new neighbourhood restaurant in Rathgar. The stuffed chicken wing and scallop dish might have generated many Instagram and TikTok reels, but there’s both depth and deftness to be found on the menu at Orwell Road, perfect for a lunch or dinner over the Christmas period. JC


5 Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 2; 01-7079786,

Many of us might be feeling a little porcine after the Christmas indulgences but that’s as far as the resemblance goes with Piglet. The brainchild of Enrico Fantasia and Thibaud Harang, Piglet is the name you will often hear mentioned by sommeliers and those in the know as a place for a great glass (or two, or more) of wine perfectly paired with a great plate of food. Lunch is a well-priced two/three courses for €29/€35, and the cacio e pepe is the thing to order. If you’re still in the mood to celebrate, they do love a good magnum. JC


5-6 Camden Market, Dublin 8;

Surely the Twixmas period is all about sprezzatura, or that effortless easiness. Sprezzatura’s two locations have been hugely popular straight from the start, offering small plates of high-quality homemade pasta mixed with excellent Irish ingredients. And for the Christmas period they are serving two special dishes: rigatoni with Rings Farm chicken, bacon and a Cais na Tire crumb, and a Benedict with carbonara Hollandaise. JC


Unit 7, The Village, Enniskerry Road, Dublin 18; 01-5581362,

The quiet little period after Christmas may actually be the perfect time to head into Woodruff, to turn your back on festive leftovers and enjoy the sort of food you are unlikely to be cooking at home. Dinner will set you back here but the lunch menu, which offers two/three courses for €35/€42, is exactly the reward you want after a stroll in the Dublin hills. The cooking here is delicious and precise, and the wine list has been compiled with an eye for young winemakers who are doing something quite special. CH

Station House Hotel

Kilmessan, Co Meath; 046-9025239,

Once a busy station on a railway junction, the Slattery family took ownership of the Station House Hotel in 1984, turning it into a small and cosy country hotel. They are proud supporters of Boyne Valley food producers, featuring many on their menus, and producing their own jams and bakes. The beautifully decorated bar and lounge area is open for lunch and dinner over the Christmas period, mixing old-school style with modern design. JC

Muse Coffee + Food

Butler Gallery, Evans’ Home, John’s Quay, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny; 056-7741169,

With five outdoor heated dining pods located in the courtyard, along with indoor seating, Muse Coffee + Food is a relaxing spot that pours some of the best coffee in town, using beans from Cloud Picker and other guest roasters. If you’re feeling virtuous, try the Muse salad bowl or avocado toast, but if you want to keep the Christmas good times rolling then the Croque Benedict might be just the ticket for you. JC


3 John’s Bridge, Gardens, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny; 086-8716987,

Sinéad Moclair worked in The Fumbally for three years and was one of the people behind the much-loved – but now closed – Báidín restaurant in Clifden. Moclair has now opened a charming new spot in Kilkenny where she serves a short but beautiful menu. Dishes such as red lentil dal with basmati rice and chutney, slow-cooked lamb shoulder in a Middle Eastern spiced tagine or a fish finger sambo of fresh Pollock in a tempura batter on Seagull sourdough will ring the changes nicely if you’ve had your fill of turkey. And all at prices well below the €20 mark. CH


19 Caroline Street, Cork, Co Cork; 01-4276376,

Once upon a time, there was a small greasy spoon cafe behind Cash department store. Fast forward many years and Cash is now Brown Thomas, while that little cafe is now Greenwich. Owner and Corkonian Dermot O’Sullivan recently took over from Richard and Mairead Jacob but has maintained all the features that make this small cafe so popular. With challah bread French toast or bacon and sausage baps on the menu, it’s perfect for a shopping stop. JC


Ardkeen Shopping Centre, Dunmore Road, Waterford, Co Waterford; 051-841040,

In my experience, shopping centres have often proven to be bare bones when it comes to eating out. However, Waterford’s Loko is a highly welcome addition to the top tier of shopping centre eateries. Spread over three floors, with an industrial-style decor, it’s a casual and affordable spot. Try their bhajis with lime-leaf mayo, 18-hour confit chicken wings or their substantial burgers – all packed with flavour. Also dog friendly. JC

Marina Market

Centre Park Road, Cork, Co Cork;

Wrap up warm and head down to Cork’s docklands with friends and family (you can even bring the four-legged family members) for tasty food and hot drinks from one of the market’s many food vendors. Sharpen your elbows and be ready to grab a prized table for when one becomes free. Located in the old Ford factory, this casual and fun spot has something for everyone, ranging from Argentinian Nua Asador grilled steak to Dinky Donuts, from Cork-favourite Alchemy Coffee to chip-supremos Prátaí. JC

Barnacles Bar

163 Upper Salthill, Galway, Co Galway; 091-456969,

Newly opened Barnacles Bar (named after Galway-native Nora Barnacle) is another contender for the “walk and eat” category. Weather permitting, take a post-Christmas promenade walk along Salthill, perhaps even braving a chilly sea dip, and then adjourn to Barnacles for Flaggy Shore oysters, Kelly’s mussels or a classic BLT. Given that Barnacles is from the same team as the legendary Linnane’s Lobster Bar, you’re in good hands. JC

Blackrock Cottage

Salthill Promenade, Galway, Co Galway; 091-589830,

This restored famine-era cottage on the edge of the sea is yet another reason to visit Salthill. Warm cinnamon rolls are baked every morning in Martin O’Donnell’s new restaurant (the former head chef from West restaurant at The Twelve) and coffee, breakfast and lunch are on the menu. As ever, he keeps things as seasonal as possible, using local suppliers such as Gannet Fishmongers and McGeough’s Family Butchers. Unfussy, carefully prepared food that is accessibly priced. CH


Druid Lane, Galway, Co Galway; 091-374154,

Changes have been afoot in Éan who recently said a fond farewell to head chef Christine Walsh but welcomed members from the kitchen at Michelin-starred Loam, who took the brave decision to close for the winter months. The solid stone walls make a welcome retreat from the bustle of post-Christmas shopping and the excellent wine list invites you to try a glass or two with food in the company of friends and family. JC

The Universal

9 William Street West, Co Galway; 091-728271,

Small plates and larger dishes all come with a spark of originality at this casual hang-out where natural wine is as important as the cocktails and craft beer. It could be cauliflower soup with roasted foie gras or cod with scallops and olive tapenade; regardless, they will all be dishes based on produce from their neighbours, such as Ernie’s fruit and vegetables and Herterich’s Pork Butchers. CH

Ósta Cafe

Garavogue Weir View, Stephen St, Sligo, Co Sligo; 071-9144639,

Located right in Sligo town with a view over the Garavogue river, Ósta is a strong supporter of local organic food and small producers. Breakfasts and weekend brunches are extremely popular, with delicious home bakes coming straight from owner Brid Torrades’s bakery in Ballinafad. Drop in for a peppermint hot chocolate, mulled wine or one of their famous brunch dishes – and relax. JC

The Pocket

68 Upper Church Lane, Belfast;

Light floods in through the large windows of this pocket of loveliness in Belfast – considered by many to be the best place to head for brunch. Topping the favourites here are the perfectly cooked scotch egg on a giant rosemary crouton with black pudding crumb, pickled mushrooms and Buckfast onion chutney; and kinako French toast with coconut dulce de leche and whipped mascarpone that is topped with braised apple. Open from 27th December. CH

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column