There are SO many amazingly cool places to eat in Belfast City Centre. From fancy tasting menus to incredible takeaway burritos, there’s something for every palate and budget.
I made a huuuge list of restaurants for our trip, but five days was barely enough to scratch the surface of it. We didn’t have a single bad meal, but here are the five restaurants that really stood out for me.
The first three are restaurants that are perfect for a romantic date or fun dinner with friends. All of them are pretty moderate price-wise, with really cool interiors and delicious food.
I’ve also shared two fab little fast food places in the city centre, including the best burger I’ve EVER eaten in my life. Great if you just want to grab a quick bite.
TRAVEL TIP: Lots of the restaurants in Belfast have really great value lunch menus. So if you’re extra strapped for cash, have your big meal of the day at lunch instead of dinner and you can save a fortune.
Of all the places we ate in the city, Made in Belfast was definitely one of the coolest.
The walls are decorated with local art, including an impressive mural made from just plain white tiles and a sharpie pen. Mustard velvet booths and mismatched palm-print and leather chairs add a touch of color, and they’ve injected a ton of quirky personality with teapot lamps, block colour animal busts, and plenty of fairy lights. It’s bright, cosy and just a really really nice place to walk into.
The food’s great too! I started with a delicious whipped goat’s cheese, served with local beetroot, pecan praline, and a rich slice of homemade Guinness bread. The cheese was light and creamy, and paired beautifully with the earthy beetroot and crunchy pecans.
Then, for mains, I ordered the Irish steak and Guinness pie, purely because it came with a side of champ! Champ is a northern Irish specialty of mashed potato made with butter, milk and spring onions. This one was lovely and fluffy, very buttery, and perfect alongside the rich beef stew of the pie. The pastry topping was crunchy and golden, and unless you’re a pie purist who needs two crusts to call it a pie: this one was the best I tried on our short trip.
TRAVEL TIP: Made in Belfast is definitely one worth hunting down before 6pm, as their pre-theatre menu is super great value. Two courses for £16.50!
Holohan’s at the Barge is a restaurant on the water. Literally. It’s on an actual boat.
It’s rated the #2 restaurant in Belfast on Tripadvisor, and for bloody good reason. We skipped the starters, even though I’ve heard amazing things about their seafood chowder. Instead, we went straight to their specialty: the potato boxty.
If you’ve not heard of a boxty before (I hadn’t!), it’s basically an Irish potato pancake made with mashed and grated potatoes, milk, egg and flour. Gary ordered Holohan’s boxty of the day, which involved one of these pancakes wrapped around a delicious filling of fish and prawns in a creamy sauce, with spring greens on the side.
I went for the Fermanagh Boxty, a variation which looks a little bit like gnocchi. It arrived on a bed of creamy mushroom sauce, asparagus, peas and goat’s cheese.
At £10 a boxty, this was one of our cheapest meals, and it was also easily our favourite of the whole trip. Gary loved it so much that he took his work colleagues for dinner there the next day and ordered the same thing again!
TRAVEL TIP: The #1 Belfast restaurant on Tripadvisor is actually their sister site: Holohan’s Pantry. It’s a more casual restaurant, just down the road from the University. Head there on a Thursday evening for live music and a great £10 beer-and-a-boxty deal.
We popped into Coppi for a quick lunch on our last day. It’s a cute little Italian restaurant just round the corner from the cathedral, with a stylish interior and a very beautiful bar. Tucked away in a beautiful courtyard, it also has a couple of large outdoor tables that are perfect in sunny weather.
We settled into a couple of seats at the window so we could watch the world go by, and ordered two courses each from the special 4-8-4 lunch menu.
Home-made tomato soup for Gary. Creamy and thick, with a proper tomato-flavour and a nice chunk of toasted bread to dip into it, he definitely won that round of Who Ordered The Best Dish. My crispy haddock fritters were also good, but I only got 3 tiny pieces, which seems a massive rip-off considering they cost £4!
My main dish made up for it though: a huge portion of gnocchi with broccoli, tomatoes, almonds and caper butter. It was sharp and salty, and something I’m desperately trying to recreate at home as it was so simple but so good.
Gary had a delicious chicken Caesar salad for his main, which was OK but a bit average. The lettuce was crispy and fresh, but the chicken slightly dry. We did like that it wasn’t absolutely swimming in dressing though, and the crunchy bacon bits were definitely appreciated!
Boojum’s is a burrito restaurant chain in Ireland. If you’re looking for a quick bite on the go, this is definitely one to keep an eye out for!
The menu offers a choice of classic burrito, burrito bowl, tacos, fajitas and salad bowls. You choose your filling: chicken, shredded pork, shredded beef, chorizo, chilli con carne, or vegetarian, and finish off with a selection of free and paid-for toppings. They also serve a selection of sides and cold drinks, including nachos and beer.
I kept it simple and ordereded the classic burrito: a soft flour tortilla filled with Mexican rice (they have a choice of two flavours), deliciously tender marinated pork, sweetcorn salsa, sour cream, cheese, and then I paid extra for fried peppers/onions and guacamole. (Because is it even a burrito without guacamole?)
The whole thing was HUGE and really really good. Juicy, messy, and full of yummy herby pork. Boojum’s definitely hit the spot!
Four branches in Belfast:
Pablos is a tiny little burger shop near the Cathedral Quarter, with a pub called Muriel’s Cafe attached to it next door. You can order your food to take away if you like (I did), but the pub is actually awesome. If nothing else, it’s worth peeking inside just to have a look at the fifty colorful bras hanging from the ceiling like bunting!
I had the El Patron burger, which included crispy bacon, melty cheese, and secret burger sauce. The squishy bun was soft and fresh, and the patties (incredible salt-aged Glenarm Shorthorn beef) were seasoned well and perfectly cooked to pink, medium-well perfection.
It’s quite honestly the best burger I’ve ever eaten, even overtaking my beloved Bleecker Street in London. (And they’ve been my favourite for YEARS).
I also ordered a portion of the Freedom Fries: a giant box of thin crispy fries tossed in a spiced salt.
And for the final touch: Guinness mayo. Pablos have a huge selection of novelty sauces to try, the more bizarre of which includes Mexican tequila, chimichurri mayo, and Pad Thai mayo!
TRAVEL TIP: This place was suggested to me by the award-winning Taste and Tour NI, who run food, gin and brewery tours across the city. There weren’t any tours running during our stay, but about 9 different people recommended their food tour to me so I wanted to share it with you.