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The 13 best restaurants in Belfast

Discover Belfast's best grub with our guide to the Northern Irish capital's top restaurants

By Marianne Eloise

Take a wander around Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city, and you’ll find yourself in a hub of first-class food. The bustling port is famous for its seafood, so you can expect to find plenty of fresh fish, but the daily catch isn’t all that’s on the menu. Belfast has enjoyed a cultural and culinary renaissance in recent years and now you can find affordable meals, chilled-out dining spots and world cuisine in the centre. Whether you love meat, fancy dining, local ingredients, vegetarian food or trendy hangouts, you’ll be well catered for here.

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Best restaurants in Belfast

Bar + Grill at James St South restaurant, Belfast

1. James St

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

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

Molly's Yard restaurant, Belfast

2. 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 Belfast’s only 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 there’s a dedicated vegetarian menu, too. Mid-range.

Made in Belfast

3. Made in Belfast

Why go? For local food and amazing cocktails.

With branches in the Cathedral Quarter and City Hall, Made in Belfast serves a mixed menu in a comfortable, kitschy restaurant full of colourful art and mismatched chairs. The menu offers generous portions of favourites such as curry, vegan pizza and risotto. Budget/mid-range.

John Long's fish and chips, Belfast

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.

Hadskis restaurant, Belfast

5. Hadskis

Why go? For affordable all-day eats in a chic setting.

From the man behind Bar + Grill, chef-patron Niall McKenna, Hadskis sits in the food-centric Cathedral Quarter serving fresh, local meat and fish all day along with Belfast beers and wine by the magnum followed by desserts like rhubarb and pistachio pavlova. Budget/mid-range.

Photograph: Shutterstock

6. 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 a number of veggie dishes too and can easily cater for gluten-free diets if you let them know. Budget.

The Barking Dog
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. The Barking Dog

Why go? For cosy, chilled-out dining in the sun.

The real draw of The Barking Dog is its astroturf terrace, but on cooler days, you can sit cosily inside surrounded by exposed brick walls. Like many Belfast restaurants, it offers meat and vegetables with homely dishes like ham hock terrine and smoked haddock, plus pasta and veggie choices. Mid-range.

Muddlers Club restaurant, Belfast
Elaine Hill Photography

8. 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 in 2015 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.

Coppi restaurant, Belfast
Jordan Graham

9. 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, pastas and other Italian favourites, with a dedicated vegan menu. To try a little bit of everything, order multiple plates from the cichetti menu. Budget.

Photograph: Shutterstock

10. 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: £60 for three courses and wine. Budget/mid-range.

The Ginger Bistro
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. The Ginger Bistro

Why go? To experience the sensational seafood.

Since its founding in 2000, the Ginger Pig 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, et al, all the dishes of which 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 restaurant, Belfast

12. 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, a terrace with a lit-up tree. Mid-range/high-end.

Holohans at the Barge restaurant, Belfast

13. Holohans at the Barge

Why go? For delicious food overlooking the water.

The menu at Holohans changes seasonally, ensuring the freshest, most authentic Irish cuisine. Notably it’s gluten-free-friendly as its focus is mostly on meat, fish and its famous traditional ‘boxty’, an Irish potato pancake filled with food. The menu can be enjoyed on a moored barge on the waterfront. Mid-range.

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