There was a time when Dublin’s lunch spots would leave most Shoreditch hipsters pulling their beards out in frustration and disappointment, but, oh, how things have changed! From The Fumbally in Dublin 8 to Brother Hubbard on the north side, there is an endless supply of sourdough bread, fair trade flat whites, vintage décor, and pop-up art exhibitions. The good news is that whatever you think of hipsters, they don’t settle for anything but the best food and coffee, which is why you know these lunch spots are the best of the best.
As you walk into the warehouse-style café that is The Fumbally, you could be stepping back in time to a slightly smaller, quieter version of Woodstock. The chilled-out staff, who smile as you walk up to the till, certainly don’t do anything to convince you otherwise. You choose the pulled pork bap because you’ve heard so much about it. The aroma of coffee fills the air as you sit down in an old armchair underneath the framed pictures and posters hanging on the wall. Your food arrives, and you take your first bite. Now you know this isn’t Woodstock because there’s no way you’d have found pulled pork with caper mayo and rocket leaves in a crispy, fluffy bun at an outdoor music festival in 1969. The mix of textures and flavours is second to none, and the pork is so tender you’re already wishing for seconds. It hits you that you are surrounded by an unusual amount of people who are actually talking to each other, making proper conversation, and you decide this is one of those places where you could happily spend an afternoon making friends. You order a flat white since it’s not time to leave just yet.
Pygmalion, or Pyg, is as much a nightclub as it is a café, but it’s a place to be seen and attracts a cooler crowd than the average Dublin lunch spot. You order an IPA and the nachos, then head straight for the award-winning terrace on Coppinger Row, noting the perfect view across to the equally cool Grogan’s pub. You’re in luck, there’s one table left so you take a seat. You don’t have to wait long before your mountain of chilli beef nachos arrive and you’re impressed. It’s true what they: “Pyg goes all in.” The corn tortillas are fresh and dripping with melted cheese. You taste lime and coriander in the guacamole as you crunch your way through this incredible dish. You came for lunch, but you can see yourself staying a little longer, as you take a look at the “Pygtails” menu.
The tip jars, or the tip wars, are to Brother Hubbard what the pulled pork baps are to The Fumbally. Here, you get to vote in funny combinations by tipping. Some pit celebrities against each other, and others pose contentious quandaries like: north side or south side? They ask the questions that matter, and don’t be surprised if you get carried away. You further contemplate your choice as you peruse the menu. When your salad arrives, you tuck into the beetroot and cabbage slaw, and savour the citrus zing. You detect the delicate taste of fresh apple, celery, and mint all working in perfect harmony. The food is expertly prepared here, and no detail is left to chance. Not only do these guys know which ocean their salt comes from, they can also tell you the exact location! You’ve heard enough: You’re never leaving.