Not all that long ago, the vegetarians and vegans of Dublin dreaded eating out; knowing they would be judged by impatient waiters and inevitably limited to some sad, wilted salad. However, after a massive shift in Ireland’s attitude towards meat consumption, those days are well and truly gone. High-quality vegan and vegetarian cuisine has hit Dublin just as hard as doughnut mania, not only filling a gap in the market, but providing genuinely delicious, environmentally friendly options to restaurant goers. As an omnivore, I find myself eating at a vegan restaurant at least once a fortnight – not only for environmental reasons, but because I have genuinely started to crave some of the best vegan and vegetarian dishes Dublin has to offer. With this in mind, I thought that the first of Trinity News’ new Food and Drink series should give Trinity students a taste of the culinary delights that some might otherwise dismiss as glorified rabbit food.
Sova Vegan Butcher
Pleasants Street, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 8
Best for: novelty
An oxymoron if I ever saw one, Sova Vegan Butcher has a huge range of vegan “meats” on offer, from the Pulled “Porc” Bap to chickpea and polenta “Meatbalss”. It’s definitely worth going all out here considering that they offer a three course meal for just €24.90. The drink is cheap, and hallelujah – it’s also BYOB. However, be careful of the unusual opening hours, as Sova is closed on Mondays and doesn’t serve dinner on Sundays.
“A well cooked carrot dog when drunk is wonderful, but a poorly cooked carrot dog when sober is deeply upsetting.”
Blessington Street, Inns Quay, Dublin 2
Best for: vegan junk food
Having only opened a year ago, Vish is certainly one of the lesser known spots on this list, but still an absolute essential when it comes to vegan junk food. Basically a vegan chipper, Vish comes from the creator of Veginity, Mark Senn, and you can find everything from Vish and Chips, to cauliflower wings on their expertly curated menu. If any of this sounds familiar, you might be getting flashbacks to Eatyard at the Bernard Shaw, where Vish often makes a guest appearance. My top recommendation here is an order of the Veginity cheeseburger, loaded Korean kimchi, and smoky tofu bacon chips (these fries will change your life). Also worth a go is the Carrot Dog, which is a creative take on a traditional hot dog. Unfortunately, however, you’ve got to be careful with this one. A well cooked Carrot Dog when drunk is wonderful, but a poorly cooked Carrot Dog when sober is deeply upsetting. Other great things about Vish include the relaxed staff and the fact that they use compostable containers.
Camden Street, Dublin 2
Best for: veggie burgers
Tucked away down an alley on Camden Street, Happy Food has the perfect menu to convince a non-believer that vegetarian food can be more than just salads. The Sloppy Joe is a black bean, sweet potato and sunflower seed burger with cheese, tofu bacon, onion and aioli, and you won’t find a better vegetarian burger in Dublin. The menu is mid-range in price with a main course, chips and a drink coming to about €13 – worth it considering the quality of Happy Food meals. In saying that, you’re certainly not paying for service. At Happy Food, you order and pay at the counter, which can be a painfully slow system when the vegans in front of you are asking about the exact nutritional information of tofu bacon and whether the sunflower seeds are organic (yes, this happened to me once and ordering took 20 minutes). Finally, it must be said that the desserts are not to be missed. The small selection varies from week to week, but never fails to impress. I recommend the vegan banoffee. It is admittedly a weird concept, but don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
Wicklow Street, Dublin 2
Best for: strong track record
The most renowned restaurant on this list, Cornucopia has been a hub for vegetarians and vegans in Dublin since 1986. The food is fresh and varied, it has an ethical ethos and the owners have had thirty years to hone their craft. The capacity has been expanded to a total of 120 seats so you’ll always find a table, but once again, it’s counter service with vegans involved so ordering can take a while. In my opinion, however, it’s worth braving the queue to sample what Cornucopia has to offer. Get the garlic potato salad or hit up the lunch special for €10.50 (small soup, small salad, bread & paté). Beware of exotic soup flavours though – a few of Cornucopia’s various soup creations have left me confused and vaguely unsatisfied. All in all, Cornucopia is a true Dublin institution and a vital addition to this list (if a little pricey).
“Their ever-changing variety of soups and salads shows a flair for creativity and attention to detail.”
Blazing Salads Food Co.
Drury Street, Dublin 2
Best for: salads good enough to replace your yearning for chicken wings
A cosy little deli on Drury Street, Blazing Salads is a multi-award winning, family-run business that serves organic vegetarian and vegan salads, meals to go, smoothies, and much more. Fairtrade and seasonal are two words heavily emphasised by Blazing Salads, marking them out as an ethical dining option in Dublin. Meanwhile, their ever-changing variety of soups and salads shows a flair for creativity and attention to detail. Tasty examples include a roasted aubergine and tomato soup, and steamed broccoli with toasted sunflower seeds and soya sauce, both of which beat a sad Buttery salad any day.