When my friends and I arrived in Dublin for our study abroad last fall, there was much we didn’t know.
One night, early on, some drunk men buzzed the intercom for my friend A.’s apartment. Safely inside, we had this conversation through the intercom:
Drunk Men: “Hi, we’re here for the craic!”
A: “Um... there’s no crack here...”
Drunk Man: “We’re here for the craic! Can we come up?”
A: “No...Can you please leave?”
Drunk Man: “God, I love you.”
It took us awhile, but we eventually figured out that ‘craic’ wasn’t an illegal drug. We stopped going to Temple Bar, made Irish friends, carved Barack Obama’s face into a pumpkin for Halloween, served the most un-American Thanksgiving ever (orzo was involved), and fell in love with Ireland.
One of the largest initial hurdles was not having a quality filter for various establishments around Dublin; sure, we could find a pub, but we didn’t know where the good ones were, or where people our age hung out (see the aforementioned period of going to the Temple Bar: Not where Irish college students hang out.)
Through a lot of inquisitiveness - we actually wrote our numbers on slips of paper and forced them into our fellow students’ hands at the end of each class - and some helpful new friends, we found the following nightlife resources for the college student visiting Dublin. We lived near St. Stephen’s Green, so the list is southside (Dublin 2) oriented.
Salamanca - (St. Andrew's St) Excellent tapas for a low price (try to get there in time for the early bird prix fixe menu).
The Winding Stair - (40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1) one of the best restaurants I visited in Dublin, in both decor and creativity of menu. It’s pricey. On the northside, a few blocks from O'Connell St.
The Farm - (3 Dawson St) Organic local produce prepared for you.
The Counter- (Suffolk St) If you’re an American missing home, grab a burger at this bastion of California culture.
Pubs and Bars-
Porterhouse - (Nassau St. location) Frat night every Wednesday, but it’s up to American visitors to bring additional frat beyond the DJ playing part of “American Pie”. It's also the largest independent brewery in Ireland, if you're a fan of local brews. Another draw? They stock Rekorderlig Strawberry-Lime Cider, which will change your life. I’m desolate without it in the States. At Porterhouse it’s 6 euro, but you can find it at Cassidy’s (42 Camden St) for 2.50 if you want to drink it at home.
The Bleeding Horse - (Upper Camden St. and Charlotte) A very old pub at the end of Camden St. Not exceptional for any specific reason, but it’s ancient and beautiful, and became the regular hangout for my friends when we were there.
The Bank on College Green -(Dame St.) Drinks are pricey, but the beautiful ceiling is worth seeing. 20 College Green
The Stag’s Head- (1 Dame Court) A classic old authentic pub.
The Temple Bar- Although this falls under the category of Places Not Worth Visiting, it does so with fond memories. The Temple Bar is a district full of pubs that cater to tourists; if you're going to visit it, try the eponymous pub The Temple Bar and be prepared for crowds.
Looking for your fellow students? We got tired of being hit on by 60-year-old men in the Temple Bar district, and migrated to these places instead.
The Pav - Trinity’s campus bar (but non-Trinity students can often get in). Beer and Bulmers here is comparable to at MacTurcaills and Doyles, but you can also grab cheap cans of cider and beer- ask about their special if you're buying more than one.