The culinary landscape of Dublin is filled with surprises. For example, you may not know that fish and chips, one of the dishes most popular in both England and Ireland is Jewish in origin. That revelation alone should clue you in that the Emerald Isle has some surprises in store when it comes to Jewish cuisine; in fact, Dublin’s Portobello neighborhood was at one time nicknamed “Little Jerusalem” due to its once sizeable Jewish community. Today, although the majority of Ireland’s people identify as Christian (Catholic and Protestant), pockets of Jews continue to thrive — and cook — all over the island. The Jewish culinary landscape of Dublin continues to evolve; here are some of its most delicious landmarks. While restaurants exclusively serving Jewish-Irish food in Dublin are few and far between, there are a growing handful of vibrant spots that cater to a small, fierce, and hungry contingent of Jews as well as Israeli expats. Thus, the Jewish culinary landscape of Dublin and its environs continues to expand and evolve; here are some of its most delicious landmarks.
For more than 150 years Bretzel Bakery has been churning out muffins, pastries and loaves of bread specifically tailored to kosher dietary restrictions. Located just over a mile from downtown Dublin, Bretzel’s crimson storefront belies a cozy, inviting interior that brims with locals looking to score some carbohydrates to pair with their coffee.
Promising its patrons “lovin’ from the oven,” Camerino Bakery feeds Dubliners through its cafe and bakery, the latter of which is perhaps best known for its bespoke cakes. However, although the eyes may be first drawn to their stunning iced confections, the stomach will long remember fondly Camarino’s stellar challah, whose rich, yolky dough interior is encased by a crispy exterior crust liberally speckled with sesame seeds. Those looking to DIY (sort of) can also purchase baking kits to try their hand at reproducing Camarino’s signature sweets.
Another top-notch bakery with Jewish inflections is Yasmin Bakery, your one-stop shop for sourcing picnic supplies while in Dublin. In addition to vending decadent chocolate babka and rugelach, the bakery also incorporates said treats into “grazing boxes,” loading with charcuterie, cheese, crackers, and other dainties perfect for al fresco dining.
Middle Eastern Restaurants
Homesick for hummus? You can easily satisfy your cravings in Ireland’s capital, for Dublin boasts numerous outstanding Middle Eastern dining establishments.
Jerusalem Restaurant has become a favorite among Israeli expats in Dublin due to its colorful, cost-effective platters of otherwise hard-to-find dishes such as makloubeh, mansaf, and bamya. The indecisive will appreciate Jerusalem’s diverse and comprehensive menu of combination mezze entrees. Vegetarians will enjoy the spinach pie and falafel, while meat lovers will adore the mixed grill with (lamb) kofta, chicken wings and breast with hummus and salad. And on sultry summer days in Dublin, reinvigorate yourself for sight-seeing with a refreshing glass of Jerusalem’s Moroccan- or Lebanese-style chilled mint tea.
And we were serious about the hummus, specifically with regards to Shouk, whose menu contains entire section devoted to variations on this spread, including but not limited to hummus with mushrooms caramelized onions, hummus loaded with grilled shawarma, and hummus with tahini and beef and lamb kabobs. If you can resist filling up on these savory starters, be sure to try the batata, a whole baked sweet potato stuffed with sumac labneh sauce and minced beef and lamb or the baked cauliflower tossed with dates, cashews, pomegranate seeds, and scallions.
At Bethlehem Restaurant, Middle Eastern staples such as falafel, kibbeh and mezze platter are well-executed, but it really lives up to its claim to be the “best Palestinian restaurant in town” by serving hungry Dubliners sambosa (deep-fried puff pastry filled with your choice of beef, lamb, or cheese), musakhan (chicken filet with roasted onion and sumac), and shish taouk. Bethlehem also boasts a full bar and even offers two signature drink, the namesake “Bethlehem,” a potent collaboration of (vodka, Malibu rum, midori, guava and peach juices) and the fruity and fun “Sweet Memory’s” (sic) cocktail with vodka and peach liquor with mint, lime, passion fruit, strawberry, and orange juices.
It can be challenging for tourists looking to stock up on the staples while in Dublin to find kosher versions of their favorite foods. An Siopa Kosher is the most comprehensive brick-and-mortar kosher supermarket. Their online store also vends cards, candles, and whimsical Judaica-UK inspired kitchen clothing (see “Keep Calm and Bake Challah” aprons). Those touring in other parts of Ireland can also find a limited selection of kosher foods in mainstream supermarkets such as Dunnes and Tesco; furthermore, and many health food speciality stores carry kosher soy meat and dairy substitutes.
Outside of Dublin
Outside of Dublin, Jewish and/or kosher food options are still very limited but you don’t have to give up your dreams of feasting on falafel against a backdrop of gorgeous verdant countryside.
When in the isle’s (other) capital city, Belfast, check out Pita & Co, a no-frills but solid joint that serves, as its name suggests, Middle Eastern dough pockets stuffed with all manners of meat and vegetables. The sabich with fried eggplant, eggs, hummus, salad, and everything but the kosher kitchen sink is particularly satisfying.
The origin story of Mezze in Waterford is compelling enough to warrant a visit: Irish girl (Nicola) meets Israeli guy (Dvir) ON A GLACIER in New Zealand. Girl moves to Israel, falls in love with pita–er, we mean, Guy, then both move back to Waterford, where they realize their dreams of opening a food business. With its first manifestation as a pop-up tent in Waterford’s Harvest festival, Mezze has grown into a full-service cafe, catering business, and even cooking school, with classes held on the fundamentals of Israeli cuisine.