My father warned me before I went to Ireland.
“The coffee is absolutely terrible,” he said.
As I’m from the Bay Area in California, good coffee is essential to my happiness. Once, I tried to give it up, but by day 2 my best friend told me I was behaving like a monster.
Fortunately, since the time of my birth, instant coffee has begun its path to extinction in the region around the Irish sea. There’s excellent coffee in Dublin these days - you just need to know where to look.
Finding the best places to sip and enjoy Ireland’s coffee renaissance proved a challenge, at first, but my friends and I eventually found the following havens for the discerning (i.e., broke- have you seen the €-$ exchange rate?) consumer.
I’m also simultaneously a student and a foodie, which means that although I love good food, I can’t afford to eat at restaurants much. Below please find the delicious cafes and grocery stores essential to leading the gourmand’s life on the cheap in Dublin - or simply to surviving on a student budget.
Make a day of it and take advantage of some of the best off-the-beaten-path shops, as well. And don’t forget the most important part: a walk through St. Stephen’s Green, which is lovely and absolutely free.
Coffee - (for some Americans, tea just isn’t the same)
Fixx - Best mocha in Dublin, hands-down, and a good place to study. Dawson St.
Bewley’s - The touristy glow of this ancient establishment on Grafton St wears off after a while, but you’ll want to go in at first.
Cafe Sol - Of the many chain quick-service cafes around Dublin, this has the best pastries for equal prices, plus excellent espresso. Locations on Dawson St and Earlsfort Terrace, and pretty much everywhere else.
Cornucopia - Vegetarian fare, fast service and a homey environment; I recommend the vegetable ‘parcels.’ Wicklow St.
The Cake Cafe - Beautiful sandwiches, tea and coffee, and cakes, of course! Find it if you can... last I checked the entrance is in a dumpster-filled alley. 62 Pleasants Place (two side streets from Lower Camden St.)
The Twisted Pepper - Coffee and sandwiches (try the beet-and-goat-cheese!) by day, club by night. Don’t recommend the club part, but it’s quality coffee on the northside. 54 Middle Abbey St.
Groceries- (grocery stores/supermarkets are sometimes called ‘Food Halls.’ Americans, now you know.)
Fallon & Byrne - is where all my money went. It’s the Whole Foods/Dean & Deluca of Dublin.
Mussels tend to be cheap, if you want to prepare a nice meal. There’s a wine bar downstairs that makes a great place to study (if you’re not drinking - or perhaps if you are). Exchequer St.
Dunnes’- inside the St. Stephen’s Green Mall (top of Grafton St.) inside Dunne’s, in the basement, is a food hall that can be a cheaper source of still-quality items. I ate a lot of fish from Dunnes’. (Other locations, as well)
Farmer’s Market- Saturday afternoons, get fresh produce from only a few miles outside Dublin, in addition to cider, cheese, and bread. The market took place in Cow’s Lane during my visit, but according to the website, has since moved to Meeting House Square.
Prepared food stalls also set up on Saturday on Essex St. between Temple Bar and Cow’s Lane. While you’re here, check out several amazing boutiques (Industry, Find - listed under Shopping below) and the Gutter Bookshop.
Moore St (Northside)- Someone told my friend A. to go here for produce, but to beware, because “you might get stabbed.” (I never felt unsafe here.) The produce, sold from carts daily, is not as fresh/organic as at the Farmer’s Market, but if you need something you forgot on Saturday, this may be your lowest price. Also on Moore St is the excellent butcher FX Buckley - the meat is real quality. Buy from them rather than from the carts of bloody fish on ice out in the street.
Listons - the only place in Dublin I could find black beans and quinoa (#californiagirlproblems). Health food and a good (affordable) wine selection. (Camden St)
Tesco - locations everywhere, and best prices for processed foods.
You’ll have no trouble finding the staples of Topshop and H&M in the Grafton St area, as well as across the river. Here are some less mainstream places.
Avoca - All right, this isn’t really off the beaten path. This is the Irish equivalent of Anthropologie (except a bit more cutesy). Give yourself time to explore; the cafe on the top floor is also excellent. Suffolk St.
Find - This boutique compiles excellent antique small furniture, decorations, clothes, accessories, and odds and ends. Cow’s Lane.
Industry - Household items, gifts, notebooks and odds and ends, but curated with the finest design sense you only wish you had. West Essex St.
Cow’s Lane Designer Studio - Support local artisan handicrafts; selection changes. West Essex St.