Dublin has some truly extortionate prices — from food, to rent, to cocktails, to using a public bathroom (a cool €3.50), it can be hard to decide if any restaurant in Dublin is good value anymore. I’ve taken on the task of exploring the “Instagram vs. Reality” of the Big Smoke’s most popular restaurants.
Starting this series is Token, an arcade-themed bar and restaurant situated in Smithfield, Dublin 7. A stone’s throw from Smithfield’s LUAS stop, Token’s exterior is unassuming and dark — you almost have to look twice to make sure you’re in the right place. Once inside, however, you are transported back into the arcade halls of your childhood. Dark and full of retro furniture and noise, Token is totally committed to bringing you back in time.
Token has truly made a name for itself with its extensive vegan menu, meaning it was almost too hard to decide what we wanted to order for the table. We eventually settled on a “Bi-Chick” chicken burger (€11), the “Katsu Love” vegan nuggets (€11), with mozzarella sticks (€7) and charred broccoli (€6) for sides. I almost had to call a server over to ask if there had been a mistake with the vegan nuggets — they literally tasted just like chicken.
We then indulged in a “Kinder ClusterF*ck Cheesecake” (€7.50) and several cocktails: “The Ricky”, “Tropicana” and “My Pride” (all €12). Both the dessert and cocktails were lovely, but we wished there had been a 2 for 1 deal on drinks once we saw our bill.
I personally found it annoying that the burgers did not come with any sides — and that you had to pay for condiments — but in fairness the portions are gigantic. I wouldn’t recommend Token for a full sit-down meal but rather a “cocktails and light food” night out. The portions are big, but unfortunately slightly too greasy to eat more than one dish.
The presentation is currently okay — the burgers seem to be stuffed to the point where you can’t actually take a bite, which leads you to wonder if they care more about Instagram stories than flavour, but every ingredient is fresh and cooked to perfection. The food service is also lightning fast. Our food was actually served before our first round of cocktails.
Token isn’t aiming to be a Michelin star experience, but the sense of community and good service truly made up for the price of the cocktails and lack of meal deals. With compostable cutlery and paper plates, the restaurant isn’t surface level when it comes to its eco-policies.
But you don’t come to Token just for the food, you come for the joy of playing arcade games with your friends. You can purchase tokens as you go, either from your server or from a dispenser. We settled for a €5 bag (10 tokens), and it lasted us the whole evening. The small details in Token go a long way, from their selfie-worthy bathrooms to the retro décor.
Token also has three bar areas for you to explore, along with plenty of new arcade machines; no two visits are ever the same. From a friend date to a first date, Token is worth every penny you spend there.
My top tips for this restaurant are definitely:
1) Have one cocktail and then stick to their craft beer selection for the rest of the night
2) Book a late night slot, it’s quieter so you’ll get more chances at games
3) Get a combination of side dishes or their nuggets instead of the burgers — you’ll get more for your money that way.