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A year of eating vegetarian food in Ireland, my favorite veg restaurants

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Bord Bia's image of the traditional
Bord Bia's image of the traditional "full Irish" breakfast. There's always a
grilled slice of tomato, which always makes me laugh.

I get asked all the time “Is it hard to be a vegetarian in Ireland?” Happily, my answer is “No, it really isn’t.” This is true for three reasons: 1) There are more vegetarian restaurants around than people assume, 2) Every restaurant and pub has a Soup of the Day every day, and it is a very unusual day when that soup is not Vegetable, and 3) chips (fries) are my favorite food.

My only negative observance when it comes to vegetarian dining in Dublin is that the fancier the place, the fewer the veggie options.

Off the top of my head, and in no particular order, here are some of my favorite places to go out to eat as a vegetarian.

With locations across central Dublin, Govindas is a great place to stop into for lunch. You walk up to the counter and ask for a regular or large plate, and the kind soul serving you proceeds to pile it high with homemade Indian-ish tasty glop. Their food isn’t as intensely flavorful as traditional Indian, but it’s so cheap and satisfying (and the soft Hare Krishna chanting playing in the background is so soothing) that I’m never disappointed.

Dedicated burger joints kind of have to have really solid veggie burgers these days, and Jo’ Burger does not disappoint. Actually, it soared far and above my expectations and was one of the best meals out I’ve had all year. Definitely the best veggie burger I’ve had in Ireland, where for some reason it’s easier to find fake sausages and chicken, and the burgers are usually soft and mushy. I got the chickpea burger with the Thai green curry dressing and toppings, and I licked my plate clean. It was one of those meals where, a quarter of the way into it, you already feel sad that it’s going to end.

The Happy Pear isn’t actually in Dublin (Greystones, Co. Wicklow), but if you’re a vegetarian, or someone who likes fresh food that tastes really good, it is so worth the trip. I wrote a longer post about my first visit there that you can check out.

I tried out DeliO’Delhi on Moore Street after being completely wooed by their website – authentic vegetarian Indian street food – and I think I maybe just had the bad luck of ordering the wrong things. I went with a friend and we ordered a big dhosa to share (which was yummy and not too salty), and two smaller plates that were both served cold. I’ve never had chilled Indian food before, and was kind of weirded out by the cold, sweet salad-y things. My own fault for not noticing the buffet when we sat down. So, the jury is still out on this place and my hopes are still high.

Maybe Dublin’s best-known vegetarian restaurant is Cornucopia, on Wicklow Street. I ate a lot of their food this year because Kev’s mom often cooks for me out of their cookbook – so I can attest that they have some truly delicious recipes – but I have to say, I very rarely go to their storefront. Why? Overpriced and poor service. Every time I’ve gone in there, the line has moved super slowly, and then when I’ve gotten to the front I’ve been made to feel like I’m annoying the people working there. I haven’t been in a really long time though, so chances are there’s been enough turnover that staff are providing a better experience. Hope so, because I’m not the only one who holds this opinion!

I wish I’d begun frequenting Blazing Salads earlier into my Dublin life! Not far from Cornucopia, getting food there couldn’t be a more different experience. You serve yourself from a buffet of all different kinds of delicious cold salads (lentil salads, chickpea salads, potato salads, all kinds of dressings, every kind of veggie) or a couple hot options. The staff is full-on peppy as they weigh your bowl and take you through the transaction. You can also choose something sumptuous and pre-made from behind the counter like a burger or a dessert. It ain’t that cheap, but the food is fantastic and the service is wonderful. They also have two kick-ass cookbooks.

Located in Rathmines’s Swan Centre, The Hopsack is a health food store that also has a juice/smoothie/coffee bar. It has breads, soups, and salads from The Happy Pear and I think Blazing Salads to take away, and every grain and creative ingredient you could desire to cook healthy vegetarian food at home. Cheaper and just as - if not more - fun to shop in are the Chinese and Indian grocery stores that are all over the place.

And finally, you can now find tofu in the bigger Tescos! 

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