Best for traditional Irish fare
Holohan's at the Barge
Thishospitable restaurant focuses on classic Irish recipes using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, usually with a serving of the humble spud. Traditional boxty (an Irish potato pancake) and cráibechán (a type of savoury porridge) can be found on the modern, innovative menu alongside the finest seafood, shellfish and meat. And this will be good news for some diners — the majority of dishes are gluten-free.
Address: 43 University Road, Belfast BT7 1ND
For sample menu and reservations: www.holohanspantry.co.uk/
Best for Italian on a budget
It’s cheap, it’s cheerful and it’s contemporary Italian food at its best. Coppi, located in Belfast’s vibrant Cathedral Quarter, serves up authentic savoury snacks typically eaten in traditional bacari bars in Venice, as well as tasty bruschetta and thin-based six-inch pizzettas. You’ll find plenty of pasta and risotto too, and a choice of mains. However if dining with three or four others, a budget-friendly option is to order several dishes and share.
Address: Saint Anne’s Square, Belfast BT1 2LR
For sample menu and reservations: www.coppi.co.uk
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Best for a fish supper
John Long’s Fish and Chips
Word has got out about where to find the best fish and chips in Belfast. Although often described as the city’s best kept secret, John Long’s is no longer a hidden gem. It’s simply the place to go for good food, good value and a good craic. The restaurant’s Formica booths fill up quickly — and no wonder when you can tuck into fresh battered fish for £4.50 and a chip butty for £2.50. Meals are cheap, and delicious.
Address: 39 Athol Street, Belfast BT12 4GX
For sample menu and reservations: www.johnlongs.com
Best for theatregoers
The Ginger Bistro
With Belfast’s Grand Opera House a three-minute walk away, if you’re on a cultural trip to the city, make sure you dine at Ginger Bistro. Much loved by locals as well as visitors, the menu caters for all tastes, with non-meat eaters highly rating the vegetarian set meal. A Pre-Theatre menu, available on weekdays until 6.45pm (4pm weekends) is also worth checking out, as is Belfast’s historic and beautiful Crown Bar, just around the corner.
Address: 68-72 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7AF
For sample menu and reservations: www.gingerbistro.com
Best for seafood
Deanes Love Fish
Don’t be put off thinking you’ll need to blow the budget at Deanes Love Fish, one of seven restaurants in Belfast owned by Michelin-star chef Michael Deane. The seafood eatery is surprisingly affordable, especially if you choose to dine at lunchtime when mains are all £6.50.
Address: 28-40 Howard Street, Belfast BT1 6PF
For sample menu and reservations: www.michaeldeane.co.uk/love-fish
Best for the Botanic Gardens
A good choice after visiting Belfast’s Botanic Gardens, Molly’s Yard is a popular restaurant housed in converted Victorian stables near the city’s university. With a menu full of local produce, for example Lough Neagh mallard duck or Belfast Hills kid goat shoulder, hearty dishes are the order of the day, though dedicated vegetarian and vegan menus are available too. The on-site microbrewery will also appeal to beer lovers.
Address: 1 College Green Mews, Belfast BT7 1LW
For sample menu and reservations: www.mollysyard.co.uk
Best for sharing platters
At this family-run Asian restaurant, a short walk from Belfast’s Ulster Hall, friends are encouraged to share dishes with their fellow dining companions, allowing everyone to experience a wealth of sensational tastes. Zen is eager that their innovative cuisine gives customers a feeling of enlightenment, and the flavoursome sashimi, soup and teppanyaki on the menu is certainly inspiring. If you want to learn more about Japanese cooking, join a sushi masterclass.
Address: 55-59 Adelaide Street, Belfast BT2 8FE
For sample menu and reservations: www.zenbelfast.co.uk
Best for steak lovers
Stix & Stones
If you like full-flavoured steaks, a ribeye, sirloin or tomahawk, for example, then make your way to Stix & Stones, where the finest speciality steaks will be cooked to your liking on the restaurant’s signature hot stone. Diners come here for the whole eating experience, learning more information about cattle breeds and their distinctive flavours. Book ahead to taste a rare world-renowned steak, noting prices are per kilogram.
Address: 44-46 Upper Queen Street, Belfast BT1 6FD
For sample menu and reservations: www.stixandstonesbelfast.co.uk
Best for a memorable date
Want to impress a special someone? Then treat them to the Date Night menu at CoCo. Three courses and a bottle of wine costs just £60 per couple, and you’ll get to enjoy a romantic evening in a chic city centre restaurant. The two-course Lazy Sunday menu, featuring roast chicken, lamb, beef and cod, is also good value at under £18, as is the Express Lunch. Go on, let CoCo be the food of love.
Address: 7-11 Linenhall Street, Belfast BT2 8AA
For sample menu and reservations: cocobelfast.com
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