22 Best Restaurants In Belfast To Eat Like A Local In 2023
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Looking for the finest dining spots in Belfast? You’re in luck! The city’s culinary scene has undergone a significant transformation in recent years.
Once overlooked as a gastronomic destination, Belfast has become a must-visit for every food lover. It’s a city that celebrates its local produce, prioritizes sustainability, and deeply respects its traditions while embracing innovative culinary techniques.
Belfast’s food renaissance now shines with numerous acclaimed restaurants and eateries within the island and internationally recognized. Dive into our guide below to explore everything from top-notch dinner venues to irresistible brunch joints and beyond.
I’ve dined at many of these establishments more than once, and that’s why I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone in the city seeking a delightful meal. The options are abundant and this list presents you with what I think are some of the best options in the city. Enjoy every bite!
16 Of My Favourite Restaurants in Belfast
The Muddlers Club Restaurant
Honored as the best restaurant in Ulster at the most recent Irish Restaurant Awards, The Muddlers Club is a must-visit in Belfast.
Helmed by Chef-owner Gareth McCaughey, the restaurant emphasizes daily sourcing of the finest local ingredients to ensure the exceptional quality of every plate.
Given the ever-evolving menu, I suggest heeding the staff’s recommendations to savor the day’s best offerings. The Muddlers Club’s open kitchen adds to its distinct charm, setting it apart. Ensure you book ahead for both lunch and dinner.
Address: 1 Warehouse Lane
Website: The Muddlers Club Restaurant
OX, one of Northern Ireland’s two Michelin-starred restaurants, boasts a prime location near the Lagan river and the market. While its accolades are impressive, OX is cherished for its laid-back ambiance and commitment to locally sourced ingredients. Here, vegetables aren’t relegated to the sidelines. Instead, they’re celebrated with as much fervor as main courses, making OX a favorite among vegetarians. Ensure you make reservations for both lunch and dinner.
Address: 1 Oxford St
Website: OX Belfast
Cave by OX
Adjacent to the renowned OX lies Cave, a wine bar perfect for pairing delightful appetizers with top-notch wines. Crowned as Northern Ireland’s best wine shop, it also boasts an enticing range of Irish gins. Pair your drinks with some of the finest Irish meats and cheeses. For those looking to unwind with a drink in Belfast, Cave is the go-to spot. No reservations are required.
Fun fact: The walls of the Cave are adorned with Valyrian steel knives from Game of Thrones.
Address: 3 Oxford St
Website: Cave by OX
A reputation that speaks for itself: Established Coffee is renowned among both residents and visitors for its coffee, sourced from Dublin’s esteemed 3FE coffee shop, and its authentic, wholesome dishes. Open daily from 7 to 18, there’s no need for reservations. While it’s often bustling, there’s usually a spot to settle in.
Address: 54 Hill St
Website: Established Coffee
Since its opening, Hadskis has been a beacon of accolades, notably for the best brunch in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. The menu at Hadskis gracefully melds Mediterranean influences while reviving traditional dishes that have faded elsewhere. The Bacon, Egg & Chips stands out—a quintessential favorite from Irish and English home cooking, served in generous portions. It’s advisable to reserve for dinner, particularly on weekends.
Address: Commercial St
The Dirty Onion & Yardbird
The Dirty Onion stands as a hallmark in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. This two-tiered pub houses Yardbird on its upper floor, a restaurant celebrated for its locally-sourced, free-range chicken and ribs. On pleasant days and evenings, the downstairs area offers outdoor seating for drinks. Open daily, it’s worth noting that securing a seat can be challenging, especially on weekends.
Address: 3 Hill St
Website: The Dirty Onion
Made in Belfast<
Yet another mark of distinction: Made in Belfast was among the pioneers in championing locally-sourced ingredients while also embracing innovative techniques and global influences. Its unique decor and speakeasy-like ambiance render Made in Belfast an essential destination. Here, the dishes are straightforward but masterfully prepared. Don’t miss out on the sticky toffee pudding. Reservations aren’t mandatory.
Address: 4 Wellington St
Website: Made in Belfast
Eipic, the Gaelic rendition of the word ‘Epic’, fittingly characterizes this Michelin-starred Belfast establishment. Patrons have a choice of three distinct menus, each deeply rooted in local and seasonal fare. Particularly noteworthy is the vegetarian menu, showcasing inventive and delightful pairings. Do note that the offerings shift with the seasons and ingredient availability. Open from Wednesday to Saturday, reservations are a must, and guests are expected to adhere to a formal dress code.
Address: 28-40 Howard St
St George’s Market
St George’s Market is a standout attraction in Belfast. Operating exclusively on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, it’s an essential stop for any visitor. This market showcases some of the finest local producers, providing both tourists and locals with the freshest offerings available. Seafood aficionados should not pass up the chance to savor the Irish oysters, and the renowned potato pancakes are a must-try for all.
Address: 12-20 East Bridge St
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 the atmosphere is always relaxed and relaxing despite the opulence.
Address: 16 Skipper St
Website: The Merchant Hotel
The Morning Star
The illustrious Merchant Hotel offers a variety of dining experiences, but its Afternoon Tea stands out remarkably. Guests are treated to an array of both savory and sweet delights, perfectly paired with tea, coffee, or champagne. This is an experience not to be missed in one of Belfast’s most luxurious hotels. Despite its grandeur, the ambiance remains consistently tranquil and inviting.
Address: 17-19 Pottingers Entry
Website: The Morning Star Bar
For aficionados of classic fish and chips, Fish City is your haven. They pride themselves on using only locally-sourced, seasonal fish, prepared and fried in the most authentic manner and served reminiscent of yesteryears. A special mention goes to Fish City’s tartar sauce – once you’ve tasted it, others pale in comparison. Reservations aren’t required.
Address: 33 Ann St
Website: Fish City
For those with a penchant for Asian flavors, Zen in Belfast is a must-visit. This isn’t just your typical Asian eatery; Zen specializes in fusion cuisine, drawing inspiration primarily from Japanese dishes and blending them seamlessly with Western flavors. It’s advisable to book in advance, particularly on weekends.
Address: Adelaide St
Mourne Seafood Bar
For seafood enthusiasts, a visit to Morne Seafood Bar is a must. Nestled beside the renowned Kelly’s Cellars, this eatery boasts locally sourced mussels, oysters, scampi, and various fish straight from the neighboring ports of Annalong and Kilkeel. Guests can choose from both cooked and raw delicacies, perfectly complemented by wine. While reservations aren’t mandatory, they are recommended.
Address: 34-36 Bank St
Website: Mourne Seafood Bar
Granny Annies stands out as one of Belfast’s premier venues for live music every day of the week. Alongside its vibrant tunes, Granny Annies is celebrated for its classic dishes that spotlight local and seasonal ingredients, complemented by an extensive range of local gins and beers. A must-try is the Beast, often hailed as one of Belfast’s most outstanding burgers, if not the very best. While reservations aren’t mandatory, they are advised for weekend visits.
Address: 81 Chichester St
Website: Granny Annies
The Ginger Bistro
For those seeking a laid-back setting with genuine Irish food that’s unpretentious yet top-notch, The Ginger Bistro is your spot. The décor might be eclectic and not traditionally Irish, but the culinary offerings are deeply rooted in local classics. Holding the title as the best restaurant in Northern Ireland, a visit is well worth it. Booking ahead for dinner is a good idea.
Address: 68-72 Great Victoria St
Website: The Ginger Bistro
The Best pubs and bars in Belfast
In addition to its renowned restaurants, Belfast boasts several spots perfect for enjoying a drink, and perhaps even a bite to eat. Here are some highly recommended places to check out!
Duke of York
The Duke of York is an iconic stop in Belfast, where one is practically obliged to enjoy a pint or even two. Nestled in a quaint alley in the historic Half Bap district, this classic pub boasts an impressive array of beers and an extensive collection of Irish whiskeys. With live music from Thursday to Sunday, it’s invariably bustling, making it an essential experience for any visitor.
Address: 7-11 Commercial Ct
Website: Duke of York
As one of Belfast’s most ancient traditional Irish pubs, Kelly’s Cellars stands as a testament to time. With its live traditional music and fame for pairing Guinness with a delectable meat stew, it offers an authentic experience. Established in 1720, Kelly’s Cellars has retained much of its original character, and much of its allure is rooted in this enduring authenticity. Expect traditional tunes on most days of the week.
Address: 30-32 Bank St
Crown Liquor Saloon
A stunning specimen of classic Victorian architecture, the Crown Liquor Saloon, formerly known as The Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street, has roots dating back to 1826 and is now under the stewardship of the National Trust. The Crown stands out as an architectural gem, both internally and externally. Its facade is adorned with thousands of polychrome tiles, echoing the intricate interiors. While one can certainly partake in traditional pub fare here, it’s particularly recommended for soaking in the ambiance and savoring a pint, especially during the afternoon hours.
Address: 46 Great Victoria St
A trifecta of food, drinks, and clubbing, Margot masterfully combines three distinct experiences under one roof. Open from lunch through to the late hours, it promises something for everyone. It’s particularly renowned for its cocktails, with the Irish Coffee standing out as a favorite. It’s a perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink. However, if you’re not in the mood for a bustling atmosphere, you might want to steer clear post-dinner when the scene becomes more energetic and lively.
Address: 18 Donegall Square E
Rita’s, nestled within the Linenhouse Complex, shares its space with sibling bars The Perch Rooftop Bar, Sweet Afton, and Tutti Frutti. The entire ambiance, including the cocktails, is reminiscent of the 1940s. A distinctive feature of Rita’s is its seasonal gin and cocktail offerings, ensuring freshness and variety. While reservations aren’t mandatory, they are advisable for groups of 5 or more.
Address: 44 Franklin St
6. Babel Rooftop Bar and Garden
Babel Rooftop Bar and Garden perched atop the Bullitt Hotel, ranks among my top spots in Belfast. While you can both dine and sip at Babel, it’s particularly noteworthy for the latter. What sets this place apart are its walls, where the bar’s proprietors cultivate plants used in their signature cocktails. This innovative concept, combined with a breathtaking view of the city, makes Babel an unmissable gem in Belfast. Reservations aren’t required.
Address: 70-74 Ann St
What to Eat in Belfast
Having given you a broad overview of the restaurants, let’s delve into three must-try dishes in the city for an authentic culinary experience.
When you’re sipping on tea in Belfast, you must indulge in the traditional Fifteens. This treat comprises five dry biscuits, fifteen marshmallows, and fifteen glazed cherries, all bound together with condensed milk and coated in coconut. While it’s a rich dessert, its popularity remains unwavering to this day.
Your visit to Northern Ireland and Belfast isn’t complete without savoring the Ulster Fry. Building upon the classic English and Irish breakfast, it’s distinguished by the inclusion of soda bread. To get a virtual taste of the Ulster Fry, dive into the details provided here.
The Belfast Bap
The “bap” might sound simple, but it holds a significant place in Belfast’s culinary history. The classic Belfast Bap is a notably soft, flour-dusted white bread, originally introduced as a sustenance for children during the devastating Irish famine between 1845 and 1849. Today, this bap is commonly stuffed with salad and ham, but you can also find versions packed with a mini breakfast of sausages, bacon, and eggs. Available widely across the city, it’s essential to ensure its freshness; when stale, it tends to become quite rubbery and less enjoyable.
Visit Belfast: Tips and Advice
Has your appetite been whetted and your curiosity piqued? If so, embark on your next journey to Northern Ireland and Belfast, armed with the insights I’ve shared below. Safe travels!
3 Best Hotels in Belfast
Here’s a handpicked list of hotels in Belfast that we’ve personally experienced over the years. We haven’t primarily focused on budget or affordability; instead, we’ve chosen based on unparalleled service and quality. While the rates might lean towards the higher side, rest assured that you’re receiving top-notch service. I’ve had the pleasure of staying in each of these places, and I can personally attest to their excellence.
1. Malmaison Belfast
Nestled in the heart of Belfast, the Malmaison Belfast radiates elegance and luxury. Housed within a meticulously converted Victorian warehouse, this 4-star hotel masterfully intertwines its rich historical features with chic modern boutique aesthetics. Carved stone gargoyles, original iron pillars, and beams stand testament to its vintage charm, seamlessly blending with contemporary facilities, marking Malmaison as one of Belfast’s premier boutique accommodations.
Each of the sumptuously designed rooms and refined suites exudes opulence, adorned with mood lighting and plush deluxe beds. Every room is equipped with satellite TV and features a power shower to refresh and rejuvenate.
But the experience doesn’t end in the lavish rooms. Malmaison Belfast also prides itself on offering some of the finest dining experiences in the city. With a modish bar and a classic brasserie, guests can anticipate top-tier cuisine crafted from locally sourced, ethically produced ingredients. It’s not just a stay; it’s an indulgence. Check prices and pictures.
2. The Merchant Hotel
Located in the Cathedral Quarter, The Merchant stands proudly as a 5 AA Red Star Hotel, exuding timeless elegance. Housed in a Grade I Listed building from 1860, its historical charm is palpable. Every room is a statement of luxury, adorned with exquisite original artwork, outfitted with blackout blinds, a flat-screen TV, and complemented by opulent en suite marble bathrooms.
Beyond its accommodations, The Merchant’s Great Room Restaurant is a masterpiece in itself, boasting a magnificent domed ceiling. Guests can indulge in a refined à la carte menu or partake in one of the city’s finest afternoon teas. For those seeking a drink, options abound, from the exclusive Veuve Clicquot champagne lounge to Berts Jazz Bar, which offers not only a gastronomic delight but also live music every night. Experience Belfast in the lap of luxury at The Merchant. Check prices and pictures.
3. Bullitt Hotel
A fresh addition to Belfast’s hospitality scene, the Bullitt Hotel exudes contemporary charm, blending a minimalist yet spacious design with whimsical touches in its rooms. Its on-site restaurant, complemented by three bars and cafes, comes highly recommended. And there’s nothing quite like watching the sunset from its splendid terrace.
Its prime location means you’re just a short two-minute stroll away from the historic cobbled streets of the Cathedral Quarter, known for its vibrant pubs and live music. Equally close is the upscale Victoria Square shopping complex. Within a five-minute walk, you’ll find yourself in the city’s heart, and a brief further wander leads to the iconic Titanic Quarter.
The Bullitt Hotel focuses on providing essential comforts without unnecessary frills. Forget swan towels and a surplus of cushions. Instead, revel in the luxurious comfort of king-sized beds, invigorating rain showers, lightning-fast Wi-Fi, and an abundance of ports for all your devices. The smart TVs come loaded with all Sky channels for your viewing pleasure. The 74 rooms, available as doubles or twins, are offered in three spacious sizes. Each room showcases a warm, earthy palette, adorned with original photographs and unique touches such as cups and “Do Not Disturb” signs crafted by local artist, Frank Moth. It’s modern luxury with a twist.
Visit Belfast: additional information
Belfast. the capital of Northern Ireland is a destination I believe can be enjoyed year-round. There are direct flights from various global airports, with the UK primarily serving as the connecting hub to Belfast. However, if you’re keen on experiencing both Dublin and Belfast and perhaps drawing comparisons between them, you have options. You can hop on a train from Dublin, which will get you to Belfast in about 2 hours, or opt for a bus that takes roughly 3 hours. Conveniently, the bus also stops at the Dublin airport. This way, if you find a more affordable flight landing in Dublin, you can effortlessly transition to Belfast by bus.
Has my recount stirred your appetite and piqued your curiosity? If so, it’s high time you started planning your next adventure to Northern Ireland and Belfast with our extensive Belfast city guide.