Dining in Ireland
We're going to Ireland in 2 weeks. Much of the trip will be programmed through REI: we're hiking across the island. But my wife and I will have 4 days in Dublin on our own before the trip starts, and then a couple of days in Dingle where REI isn't providing dinner. Any suggestions? Cost isn't much of an issue. And we live in L.A., so I'd prefer something I can't get at home.
If you happen to get to Malahide (a very nice small town on the coast in County Dublin), go to Kajjal:
It was by far my favorite restaurant when I spent a month working in Swords. (Note: be cautious choosing eastern/asian restaurants in Ireland. Generally, the asian food made to Irish tastes is almost as terrible as the asian food made to American tastes. Most places I tried do not serve remotely authentic cuisine).
I can also recommend going to Howth on a Sunday - the pennisula affords a pretty day hike, and you can choose from grazing at the famer's market (note: the crepes are better than the falafel), getting some fish and chips from Beshoff's and eating by the water, or eating at a pricey seafood restaurant like Aqua or King Sitric.
It may be a touristy pub, but I had decent (if overpriced) food at Johnny Fox's pub after hiking in the Wicklow mountains (which are absolutely beautiful!). About 30 min from S. Dublin.
I had some decent pub food at The Quays in Temple Bar - nice lamb shank.
I didn't spend much time in Dublin city center, so that's the best I can offer.
A few tips: Dublin city: for posh get to Chapter One, michelin-starred modern Irish/French; The Winding Stair Cafe for more relaxed modern Irish with great views of the river; for quirky try The Cake Cafe; the Avoca cafe on Suffolk St . is what I would call an Irish twist on californian healthy cafe food - great scones too. The Merrion Hotel is a particularly Irish experience, a wealthy Irishman's labour of love, his art collection on the walls of a beautiful Georgian house, (where the Duke of Wellington was born) - you could only be in Ireland in this hotel (no formulaic 'big chain' feel) - try the atmospheric Cellar Bar for a great but pricey Irish lunch. And catch old pubs like the Stag's Head, The Long Hall and Grogans for a feel of old Dublin.
I also recommend a trip to the suburbs: jump on the DART to Dun Laoghaire, go for a walk on the pier and then maybe lunch at Cavistons (10mins up the road), a south Dublin institution, fishmonger/deli/restaurant. Don't forget the ice cream cone afterwards from Teddy's! Howth as recommended by another poster is great too.
Dingle will be easy if you like fish (and it has the best), you must try Out of the Blue, which is a characterful little shack and only serves fish and seafood. Other recs are Fentons and The Half Door. If you don't like fish, don't worry, Kerry lamb is gorgeous. And get to Dick Macs on Green St for a pint, you may even see a bride after her marriage in the church across the road sneaking a guinness! Enjoy the trip and do report back!
Unicorn - Dublin City Centre- good for long lunches - buzzy - relatively expensive
The Bistro - Dublin City Centre - good for long lunches - reasonably priced
Ely Wine Bar - Dublin City Centre- casual - excellent wine list and many by the glass
Chez Max - Dublin City Centre - good French Bistro
Expensive- Thorntons, Guilbauds, Chapter One, L'Ecrivan - Michelin standard - you get what you pay for - all are doing value lunches/specials
Le Gueleton- good French Bistro - no reservations - turn up
Winding Staircase- City Centre - worth a try