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The Ginger Bistro
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 9 best restaurants in Belfast

This place is famous for seafood, but there's much more to the best restaurants in Belfast than the catch of the day

Liv Kelly
Written by
Marianne Eloise
Liv Kelly

This historic and vibrant corner of Northern Ireland is steeped in things to do and places to eat. A world-famous port city, Belfast's seafood is as good as it gets, and its creative and resourceful chefs know how to harness the abundance of fresh local ingredients. 

Belfast is the place for any fish lover, but it isn’t all about the cod, herring and other sea-dwellers. The international renaissance taking place in Belfast's kitchens has produced some seriously good spots for dining, and not just for seafood devotees — there's everything from Michelin quide worthy restaurants to tasty budget eats. So, where are the absolute best places to eat? Follow our lead, and you’re in for a treat.

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Best restaurants in Belfast

James St

1. James St

Why go? For special occasions. This simple, elegant restaurant has dedicated graduation and pre-theatre menus.

Not one for vegetarians, James St. serves fresh game, mouth-watering steaks and fish, focused on classic cooking in a contemporary dining room. Its range of steaks is the real draw, but save space for one of the dessert cocktails – a lemon meringue martini is sure to go down a treat. Mid-range.

The Muddlers Club
Elaine Hill Photography

2. The Muddlers Club

Why go? For impressive food in a secret spot.

Tucked away between Waring Street and Exchange Place in Cathedral Quarter, The Muddlers Club (named after a secret society) is easy to miss, but the hype surrounding it since it opened a few years back has given it a profile. And it lives up to that hype, serving flavoursome lamb and fish of the day as well as a five-course tasting menu with vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Mid-range.

Jordan Graham

3. Coppi

Why go? For cheap, authentic Italian small plates.

Coppi is a Venetian cicchetti and barcari restaurant serving small plates and full meals, including a range of pizzas, pasta and other Italian favourites, with a dedicated vegan menu. To try a little bit of everything, order multiple plates from the cichetti menu. Budget.

John Long's

4. John Long's

Why go? For cheap, delicious fish and chips.

John Long’s has been going strong since 1914 and is still Belfast’s favourite chippie. Whether eating in or taking away, you can enjoy fresh fish, burgers, chicken, and other traditional chip shop delights. Its booths fill up quickly, but they’re great for traditional charm. Budget.

The Ginger Bistro
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. The Ginger Bistro

Why go? To experience the sensational seafood.

Since its founding in 2000, the Ginger Bistro has been amassing local praise and awards – you can see them all on the wall. It's hardly surprising, given the quality of their haddock, sea bass, mussels, and more, and the dishes contain as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. This is a great spot to go to if you're heading to a performance at the nearby Opera House or want to follow your meal with a nightcap at one of Belfast's oldest pubs, the Crown Bar. Mid-range.

Deanes at Queens

6. Deanes at Queens

Why go? To experience Michael Deane’s lauded cooking.

Michael Deane is a culinary legend in Belfast, with six restaurants around the city. Deanes at Queens holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand and serves first-class food – try the roast chicken or lamb rump – with a great range of wines, in an airy restaurant or, for warmer evenings, on a terrace with a lit-up tree. Mid-range/high-end.

Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Zen

Why go? Taste your way around East Asia without leaving the Northern Irish capital.

Fancy sushi? You got it! Prefer some sticky sweet and sour chicken? Coming right up! Or perhaps Shanghai stir-fried beef tickles your fancy? Whatever East Asian dish you're after, Zen's got you covered. They have several veggie dishes too, and can easily cater to gluten-free diets if you let them know. Budget.

Molly's Yard

8. Molly's Yard

Why go? For perfect beer pairings with your meal.

Molly’s Yard is housed in a restored Victorian stable and courtyard near the university and is home to a fabulous microbrewery, so you can expect spot-on brews with your food. Its small menu changes regularly and is full of local produce – steak, fish, vegetables – and a dedicated vegetarian menu too. Mid-range.

Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Coco

Why go? For surprisingly reasonable classy dining on a date night.

In a luxe boutique setting right by City Hall, Coco is particularly popular with office workers. It serves traditional dishes like chicken breasts, seared scallops, tuna, and veggies and, from Monday to Thursday, runs a ‘date night’ offer for couples. There is nothing wrong with a bit of romance, right? Budget/mid-range.

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