Why go? For special occasions – this simple, elegant bar and grill 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why go? For authentic, quality east-Asian food.
Belfast has a number of Asian restaurants, but Zen’s authentic surroundings, convenient location in St Anne’s Square, and huge menu make it stand out. Offering dishes like maki rolls, Japanese curry, and teppanyaki alongside delicious cocktails, Zen also has a number of options for vegetarian and gluten-free customers. Budget.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why go? For award-winning dishes and fresh fish.
The Ginger Bistro has been a hit with locals ever since it opened in 2000. Expect to eat fish dishes including mussels, made-to-order haddock risotto, sea bass, and seafood linguini. As well as the range of fish and meats, it also offers a vegetarian menu. Mid-range.
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.
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.