Coffee with culture: Dublin’s best museum and gallery cafés

Hungry for history? Craving some culture?

Starbucks, Costa, Café Nero – all safe choices, but what about something different for your next coffee break? Trinity’s location is advantageous when it comes to options for coffee and chats, but we often ignore the hidden treasures of our inner-city neighbourhood, some of which house artefacts and art installations, whilst also providing us with some great café moments.

The National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland is well known for its impressive collection of artwork and range of exhibits, but the Gallery also has a large café in its Millenium Wing with breakfast and lunch options, as well as reasonably priced coffee from just €2.70. The café is conveniently located on Clare Street, just down from South Leinster Street, right outside of campus. Why not pop in for a quick bite and explore the gallery for free?

The Chester Beatty Library

Walking through the gardens preceding the Chester Beatty Library, adjacent to Dublin Castle at the bottom of Dame Street, you’d never suspect the culture and tastes that are waiting behind the door of the Silk Road Café. The café, located in the Library, offers a variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Afternoon tea here is a must do with Halal, vegetarian and coeliac options available. Prices start from €23, however online discount websites sometimes offer reduced prices. The Silk Road Café is a great place to grab a coffee and cake, or a nice lunch, only ten minutes away from college.

“The café has also recently decided to ditch selling plastic bottles.”

The Science Gallery 

For something convenient that is definitely open to more than just those who spend their time at the Hamilton end of campus, the Science Gallery on Pearse Street offers affordable brunch options such as avocado and poached egg toast for €6.50, and a soup of the day for under a fiver. Entrance to the Science Gallery is free, and its newly launched “PLASTIC” exhibition is sure to be worth checking out. The café has also recently decided to ditch selling plastic bottles. Whether it’s for an after-lecture or post-gym snack, having a peruse around the exhibits at the Science Gallery is a nice way to spend some time.

The Museum of Literature Ireland 

The Commons Café, in the newly opened Museum of Literature Ireland on St. Stephen’s Green, presents an excellent opportunity to grab a bite to eat in a different setting to your average coffee shop. Coffee here starts from €3.20, and Irish produce from companies such as Whole Hoggs, Sheridans Cheesemongers, and Glenilen Farm feature on the café’s breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea menus. The Commons’ lunch menu hosts vegan and vegetarian options such as roast cauliflower, baba ganoush, flat-leaf and radish salad, as well as roast heritage and Iona carrots, organic buttermilk, dill, and hazelnut dukkah. The Commons definitely seems to be one of the trendiest new cafés that has opened up in recent months, complementing the intrigue surrounding the museum itself. This is one café which is definitely worth having a look into.

“Wednesday nights at the RHA are a must do as the gallery extends its opening hours until 8pm which includes the Coppa Café.”

The Royal Hibernian Academy

A gallery not often remembered is hidden between Merrion Square and St Stephen’s Green. Located at 15 Ely Place lies the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), which hosts exhibitions of Irish and International modern art. The gallery’s café, Coppa, with its Italian and Meditarreanen influence, offers items such as ratatouille and puttanesca on the menu. It is an intimate and relaxed space which provides an escape from the bustle of the city centre. The exhibits in the RHA are vibrant, diverse and free of charge. Wednesday nights at the RHA are a must do as the gallery extends its opening hours until 8pm, which includes the Coppa Café.

The Hugh Lane Gallery

A final place worth an honorary mention is the Hugh Lane Gallery. Although this is a bit further away from campus at Parnell Square, their café Hatch and Sons, which also can be found at St. Stephen’s Green under the Little Museum of Dublin, is worth the trip down and will make the coffee break experience all the more cultural. With Francis Bacon’s studio, and an impressionist collection which includes works by Monet, the Hugh Lane Gallery is a great place to take a break and surround yourself with important artwork for free. Hatch and Sons, hidden away in the basement of the gallery, has an all-day breakfast starting from €7.20 and some cheese and fish boards for those of us who like to be a bit more bougie when we take a break.

Suzanne Flynn

Suzanne Flynn is the current Deputy Life Editor for Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister Law and German student.