Where and What to Eat and Drink in Belfast Like a Local in 2020: 22 Places to Try
Are you planning a trip to Northern Ireland and looking for the best restaurants in Belfast City Centre? Keep reading because, in this guide, we recommend the restaurants where you can stop for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Of course, there is no lack of pubs and bars, where you can stop for a beer or sample some Northern Irish specialties.
Belfast has been experiencing a real renaissance from a food perspective.
What was previously considered a dull and uninviting city for those who love food, is now one of the most exciting destinations if you travel to discover the flavors of the places you visit.
Attention to local products, sustainability, respect for traditions, but also innovation is the cornerstones of Belfast’s culinary revival, which today boasts a good number of restaurants and places to eat acclaimed both inside the Island and outside.
- Eating in Belfast: an experience with no equal
- 16 Best Restaurants in Belfast
- Unmissable pubs and bars in Belfast
- What to Eat in Belfast
- Visit Belfast: Tips and Advice
- 3 Best Hotels in Belfast
- Best Things to Do and See in Belfast
- Visit Belfast: additional information
Eating in Belfast: an experience with no equal
Belfast and the whole of Northern Ireland are today major players in Ireland’s food and wine renaissance, and the many food-related events that take place all year round are the full demonstrations of this.
Belfast has a lot to offer to us who pay attention to what we eat and drink when we are around.
Discover with us also three everyday things to taste. And if you’re looking for information to plan your trip to Northern Ireland, have a look at our dedicated section here, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and if you need more help, get in touch for customized advice.
Let’s jump into the selection of the best restaurants to eat in Belfast: we have tried all the places we decided to recommend.
We’ve visited some of them even several times, and it is for this reason that we feel to recommend them with closed eyes to all those who are in the city and who want to eat well. There is plenty of choices. Have a blast!
16 Best Restaurants in Belfast
1. The Muddlers Club Restaurant
Awarded best restaurant in Ulster during the very last Irish Restaurant Awards, The Muddlers Club is truly an experience you can’t miss if you’re in Belfast.
Chef-owner Gareth McCaughey picks the best of local products available daily to guarantee the quality of each dish served.
For this reason, the menu changes very often, and it is also for this reason that we recommend following the instructions of the staff to taste the best of what is available on the same day. The open kitchen is one of the many elements that make The Muddlers Club genuinely unique. Reservations required for lunch and dinner.
Address: 1 Warehouse Lane
Website: The Muddlers Club Restaurant
OX is one of the two Michelin-starred restaurants in Northern Ireland; it is located in a very central area, a few steps from the Lagan river and the market. Despite being star-studded, OX has always been known for its relaxed atmosphere and its locally sourced dishes with great attention to the raw material. Despite the focus on both meat and fish, from OX the idea of vegetables as a side dish is overturned: plants are, in fact, always treated in the same way as main dishes, and this is why this restaurant is also very popular with vegetarians. Reservations required for lunch and dinner.
Address: 1 Oxford St
Website: OX Belfast
3. Cave by OX
Next to the famous OX is Cave, a wine bar where you can enjoy appetizers accompanied by excellent wines. It was voted the best wine shop in Northern Ireland and also offers an exciting selection of Irish gin. The drinks are mainly paired with Irish meats and cheeses of the highest quality. If you’re in the mood for a drink when you’re in Belfast, this is the perfect place.Booking not necessary. Curiosities: Valyria’s steel knives from Game of Thrones are displayed all along the walls of Cave.
Address: 3 Oxford St
Website: Cave by OX
4. Established Coffee
A name, a guarantee: Established Coffee is famous both among locals and tourists for its coffee (which comes from Dublin and precisely from 3FE, one of the best coffee shops in the city), and its simple and genuine dishes. It is open every day from 7 to 18, and it is not necessary to book: it is always full, but you can also find seats.
Address: 54 Hill St
Website: Established Coffee
From the day of its opening, Hadskis continues to win prizes, including one for the best brunch in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Hadskis proposes a mixed cuisine that winks at the Mediterranean but does not miss traditional dishes forgotten elsewhere: impossible not to love the Bacon, Egg & Chips, a classic recipe of Irish and English home cooking that is offered in giant portions. Reservations required for dinner, especially on weekends.
Address: Commercial St
6. The Dirty Onion & Yardbird
The Dirty Onion is one of Belfast’s many institutions in the Cathedral Quarter: a pub on two levels, hosting Yardbird upstairs, a restaurant where you will be served with locally sourced and free-range chicken and ribs. Downstairs during beautiful days and evenings, you can sit outside for a drink. Open every day. It can be difficult to find a seat during the weekend.
Address: 3 Hill St
Website: The Dirty Onion
7. Made in BelfastAnother name, another guarantee: Made in Belfast was one of the first restaurants to offer cuisine that is attentive to local ingredients but at the same time innovative and open to external influences. The particular furnishing and the room that resembles a speakeasy makes of Made in Belfast an unmissable place, where the food is simple but well cooked. Try the sticky toffee pudding. Booking not necessary.
Address: 4 Wellington St
Website: Made in Belfast
Eipic is the Gaelic version of the word Epic, which well describes this Belfast restaurant with a Michelin star. You can choose among three different menus, and all of them have a primary focus on local and seasonal products; the vegetarian list is impressive, offering imaginative and excellent combinations. Keep in mind that the menu changes according to the season and the availability of products. Open from Wednesday to Saturday, reservation required; it’s required to dress formally.
Address: 28-40 Howard St
9. St George’s Market
St George’s Market in Belfast is a must-see if you are in the city. It is open only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and for this reason, it is even more unmissable. It is here that we find some of the best local producers who offer visitors and locals the best fresh local products available at the moment. Fish lovers can’t miss a taste of Irish oysters and the famous potato pancakes.
Address: 12-20 East Bridge St
10. The Merchant Hotel
The fabulous Merchant Hotel has different solutions for those who want to eat well. Still, here we point out its fabulous Afternoon Tea, which consists of savory and sweet dishes to accompany tea, coffee or champagne. An unmissable experience in one of the most beautiful luxury hotels in Belfast, where despite the opulence, the atmosphere is always relaxed and relaxing.
Address: 16 Skipper St
Website: The Merchant Hotel
11. The Morning Star
One of Belfast’s oldest pubs, housed in a historic building, The Morning Star offers a classic pub menu, cooked and served traditionally. Lamb is the main dish since the owners of the pub themselves breed local meat, but you cannot miss the meals containing Armagh county apples and cheeses made exclusively in Northern Ireland either. Always open, reservations are not required.
Address: 17-19 Pottingers Entry
Website: The Morning Star Bar
12. Fish City
Lovers of the traditional fish and chips, this is the place for you: only local fish, carefully selected and in season, which is battered and fried in the most traditional way possible and served as in the old days. Fish City’s tartar sauce is excellent, hard to love others after trying this one. Booking not necessary.
Address: 33 Ann St
Website: Fish City
If you love Asian cuisine as we do, you cannot miss Zen in Belfast. We are not talking about traditional Asian cuisine but fusion cuisine inspired above all by Japan and “mixed” with the more western cuisine. Booking recommended, especially on weekends.
Address: Adelaide St
14. Mourne Seafood Bar
If you love fish, pay a visit to Morne Seafood Bar. It is attached to the famous Kelly’s Cellars and serves mussels of local origin, oysters, scampi, and other types of fish all from the nearby ports of Annalong and Kilkeel. It is possible to order cooked and raw dishes, to accompany the wine. Booking not necessary but recommended.
Address: 34-36 Bank St
Website: Mourne Seafood Bar
15. Granny Annies
Granny Annies is one of Belfast’s most famous places to listen to live music seven days a week. Granny Annies is also renowned for its classic, local and seasonal food and a large selection of local gins and beers. Don’t miss the Beast, considered one of Belfast’s most incredible burgers, if not the most incredible. Booking not necessary but recommended during the weekend.
Address: 81 Chichester St
Website: Granny Annies
16. The Ginger Bistro
If you are looking for a relaxed atmosphere, good Irish food without great pretensions, but of the highest quality, we can only recommend The Ginger Bistro. The environment is extravagantly decorated and does not recall an Irish restaurant at all, but the cuisine is local and classic. The Ginger Bistro has been voted the best restaurant in Northern Ireland. Reservations recommended for dinner.
Address: 68-72 Great Victoria St
Website: The Ginger Bistro
Unmissable pubs and bars in Belfast
Aside from the Restaurants, here’s a few places in Belfast where having a drink (and eventually eat a bite as well) is highly recommended!
1. Duke of York
It is impossible not to stop for a pint, or two, at the Duke of York, one of the most famous pubs in all of Belfast. Located within a narrow alley in the historic Half Bap area, the Duke of York is a classic pub with beer and an incredible selection of Irish whiskeys. Live music from Thursday to Sunday. Always full, but not to be missed.
Address: 7-11 Commercial Ct
Website: Duke of York
2. Kelly’s Cellars
One of Belfast’s oldest traditional Irish pubs, Kelly’s Cellars offers live traditional music and is famous for Guinness served with an excellent meat stew. Built in 1720, Kelly’s Cellars has changed very little over the years and, much of its charm lies in this. Traditional music played almost every day of the week.
Address: 30-32 Bank St
3. Crown Liquor Saloon
Still an example of classic Victorian architecture, the Crown Liquor Salon was once called The Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street; this place dates back to 1826, and the National Trust now owns it. The Crown is a true architectural masterpiece both inside and outside, with the facade consisting of thousands of polychrome tiles that recall the interior. You can surely eat pub food, but we recommend it especially for the atmosphere and for drinking a pint, especially in the afternoon.
Address: 46 Great Victoria St
Food, drinks and a club: Margot is a collection of three different rooms in one and is open from lunch till late at night, to offer everyone something. Famous for cocktails and specifically for the Irish Coffee. We recommend it for a drink before dinner while we do not recommend it, unless you are very young, after dinner, when confusion reigns supreme.
Address: 18 Donegall Square E
Rita’s is housed in the Linenhouse Complex, which also houses the twin bars The Perch Rooftop Bar, Sweet Afton, and Tutti Frutti. Everything, from the environment to the cocktails, recalls the 40s. The peculiarity of this bar is the selection of gin and cocktails that change according to the season. Booking not necessary but recommended for tables of 5 or more people.
Address: 44 Franklin St
6. Babel Rooftop Bar and Garden
One of our favorite places in Belfast, the Babel Rooftop Bar and Garden is the Bullitt Hotel’s rooftop bar. We eat and drink from Babel, and we recommend it for this second reason: the peculiarity of the place are the walls, where the owners of this bar grow the plants used for cocktails. A truly unique place, not to be missed and with a spectacular view of the city. Booking not necessary.
Address: 70-74 Ann St
What to Eat in Belfast
After this general overview of the restaurants, here are three tips on what to eat in the city to prepare for a truly typical gastronomic experience.
If you order a tea, you can’t miss a serving of Fifteens: a tray containing five dry biscuits, fifteen marshmallows, and fifteen glazed cherries, plus condensed milk and coconut. A decadent dessert but still very popular today.
2. Ulster Fry
You haven’t been to Northern Ireland and Belfast if you haven’t tasted the Ulster Fry. It is the classic English and Irish breakfast with the addition of soda bread. For a virtual taste of Ulster Fry, read here.
3. The Belfast Bap
The bap is nothing more than a sandwich, and the classic Belfast Bap is a very soft and very floury white bread born to feed children during the famine that struck Ireland between 1845 and 1849. Today the bap is filled with salad and ham but also with a mini breakfast consisting of sausages, bacon, and eggs. You find it everywhere but make sure it is fresh; otherwise, it becomes so rubbery that it is inedible.
Visit Belfast: Tips and Advice
Did we make you hungry and curious? Then start planning your next trip to Northern Ireland and Belfast with our tips below.
3 Best Hotels in Belfast
This a selection of hotels in Belfast tried and tested by us over the years. We haven’t selected cheap or affordable hotels, just the ones that offer the best service and quality. So, despite the price being possibly a bit higher, you’ll be sure to get the best service you can.
1. Malmaison Belfast
Located in the heart of Belfast, the Malmaison Belfast is a 4-star hotel located inside a converted Victorian warehouse. The rooms are all finely decorated and mix period features with a modern boutique style. The bar is perfect to wind up after a long day of visiting.
2. The Merchant Hotel
The Merchant is a 5 AA Red Star Hotel in the Cathedral Quarter and it offers elegant rooms, all decorated with original artwork. The Merchant is a Grade I Listed building dating back to 1860. Do not miss the afternoon tea, possibly one of the best ever.
3. Bullitt Hotel
One of the latest adds to the city, the Bullit Hotel has a cool vibe, with funny rooms that are essentials but with plenty of space. The property’s restaurant and the 3 bars and cafes are highly recommended, and the terrace is just amazing at sunset.
Best Things to Do and See in Belfast
If you are looking for the best things to do in Belfast, here we have a selected a few tours that are worth every penny.
Visit Belfast: additional information
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, can be visited all year round. Direct flights depart from different airports Worldwide (with the UK being the central hub for connecting flights to Belfast). Still, it is also possible to reach the city from Dublin if you want to see the two towns and maybe compare them: you can choose the train that takes 2 hours or the bus that takes about 3. The coach also passes at the airport in Dublin so you can choose a cheaper flight that arrives in Dublin and leave from Dublin to Belfast by bus.
Did we make you hungry and curious? Then start planning your next trip to Northern Ireland and Belfast!
Read these comprehensive Belfast City Guide with information on things to do, see, and where to sleep in Belfast.