If like me, food and drink are important to you when you travel, Northern Ireland is a fabulous destination, thanks to its rich agricultural heritage and the passion of its producers, chefs, and restauranteurs. Since I first visited in 2016, I’ve returned every year, and I’ve discovered no end of excellent places to eat and drink. This year my hubby is back working in Belfast, so I’ll be spending more time there, eating my way around the city and adding more exceptional dining experiences to this list as I discover them. Here’s my guide to the best restaurants in Belfast. You’ll find them all marked on a map at the end of this post.
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Best restaurants in Belfast
Food and drink were the reasons I first visited Belfast for the New Year Banquet that launched the Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink in 2016. It was a huge success, and the food scene has continued to flourish. And there is no place better to discover it than Northern Ireland’s capital city.
So which are the best restaurants, cafes and coffee shops in Belfast?
Good to know: You’ll need to book up to a couple of weeks in advance on a Friday or Saturday night for the most popular restaurants. Many restaurants close Sunday evenings and all day Mondays.
Affordable Michelin Star dining | 1 Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3LA | 028 9031 4121
When OX opened on Oxford Street in Belfast in 2012, it soon became the most talked about restaurant in town. In 2015 it was presented an eagerly anticipated Michelin Star to add to its ever-growing collection of awards. Head to OX for great food, a casual atmosphere and affordable prices. Check out my review in full on Boutique Travel Blog, OX of Belfast – surprisingly affordable Michelin star dining.
Steakhouse | Saint Anne’s Square, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast BT1 2LS | 028 9033 3311
Top Blade in Saint Anne’s Square is a relative newcomer to the Belfast food scene having opened last October. If you love steak I couldn’t recommend it more highly. I had a fabulous 8oz flat iron steak which was superb for just £10. You order fries or mash plus vegetables and sauce separately. We found sharing one portion of fries and two vegetable dishes was plenty. We could have easily have shared the sauce too. This was the best steak I have had in ages, and I’m eager to go back again for more. A vegan Seitan Steak was also available, but all the other mains were steak, steak or steak. In my experience offering less on the menu and doing it well pays off. It certainly does at Top Blade.
Modern Irish cuisine |1 College Green Mews, Botanic Avenue, Belfast, BT7 1LW | 028 9032 2600
In the heart of the University Quarter, this great little restaurant from the Hilden Brewing Company is tucked away in a converted Victorian stable and courtyard. The food at Molly’s Yard is superb, the service great and the beers are as excellent as you’d expect. It’s relatively small, so I’d recommend booking whatever day you are planning to go.
Bar and Grill |1 College Gardens, Belfast BT9 6BQ | 028 9038 2111
One of a series of restaurants in Belfast by Michelin star chef Michael Deane. I had a fabulous meal at Dean’s of Queens that I couldn’t fault. Don’t miss their risotto!
Contemporary Italian | Saint Anne’s Square, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast BT1 2LR | 028 9031 1959
Coppi, in Saint Anne’s Square, serves ‘Contemporary Italian cooking showcasing the best local produce’. It’s a large restaurant with an open kitchen, and the decor is a mix of rustic and industrial stripped-back chic, the atmosphere laid-back and friendly. This was the last (but in no way least) stop on a fabulous Belfast food tour.
Lunch and dinner with Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free as well as Skinny menus available | 22 Wellington Place, Belfast, BT1 6GE | 028 9023 4946
Having started life as a pop-up restaurant, Home was immediately a huge hit with its seasonal menu making the most of local produce. It is now to be found in a permanent location near City Hall. There’s no doubt that the Irish have a rich agricultural heritage that brings many meat dishes to the menu and Home is no exception to this. However, they also offer excellent vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menus, as well as a skinny menu. I try not to eat meat too often for both health and environmental reasons, and I was delighted when I discovered Home as their veggie offerings are so tempting. They’re also one of the few restaurants in this area open on a Sunday evening.
You might also enjoy: Chocolates, gin and seaweed on a fabulous Belfast Food Tour
Best cafes and coffee shops in Belfast
Donuts & Coffee | 55 Upper Arthur Street
Simply the best donuts in town! Oh Donuts & Coffee.
Deli and cafe | 5-6 Fountain Centre, College Street, Belfast BT1 6ES | 028 9032 2021
Established in 1897, Sawers is Ireland oldest deli and a veritable treasure trove of edible delights. It’s the perfect place to pick up foodie souvenirs or picnic supplies. They also have a small cafe serving great breakfasts and lunches at very reasonable prices.
Great coffee, breakfast and lunches | Wheelchair accessible | 54 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LB
While the menu at Established Coffee is limited, the food is excellent and the coffee superb with regularly changing featured coffees from around the world. This is a place to take your time and savour your coffee. There’s a friendly, casual atmosphere, with minimal decor and polished concrete floors. Seating is around a central communal table, or on bar stools at the windows plus a few individual tables and chairs in a style reminiscent of school days. There’s plenty of room around the tables for pushchairs and wheelchairs. By the way, there’s no sign, but you’ll find the loos behind the white door to the right of the bar.
Order your food and drinks at the bar, and they’ll bring them over when ready. There’s free WiFi and power points at the communal table.
St George’s Market
A round-up of great places to eat in Belfast would not be complete without mentioning the multi-award-winning St George’s Market, the last surviving Victorian covered market in Belfast. You’ll find fabulous food here from Ireland and beyond every Friday, Saturday and Sunday but the best time to visit for food lovers is on a Saturday when the market is home to the City Food and Craft Market (open from 9 am to 3 pm). You’ll find tables and chairs in the centre of the market surrounded by numerous tempting food and coffee stalls, and from 11 am you can munch on your bacon butty to the sound of a live jazz band. There’s a great atmosphere!
Burger Bar | 346 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3EX | 028 9065 6701
During my first visit to Belfast, I stumbled across a fabulous food truck that had just opened, located by The Big Fish. All their ingredients are sourced from Northern Ireland’s best local suppliers. Their signature burgers looked impressive, but I opted for sweet potato fries and delicious Portavogie prawns and salmon fish cakes (pictured below). I knew Wolf and Devour was going to be a big hit. They have since opened a burger bar on Upper Newtownards Road which is quite a trek from the city centre. I’ve not made it there yet but feel confident to recommend it.
If you have a favourite restaurant in Belfast, please do tell me about it in the comments. Where and what should I try next?
Where to stay in Belfast?
I’ve stayed at the hotel Europa a couple of times and found it very comfortable, with excellent service and great food. It is also centrally located, and right opposite two of my favourite pubs, the lovely Crown Liquor Saloon and Fibber Magees. I felt very safe walking back to the hotel alone in the evenings and would recommend it for solo female travellers, couples, business travellers or groups of friends. The bus station is right behind the hotel so it’s super easy to catch a bus to the airport too from here.
I’ve also stayed at the Ramada in the Cathedral Quarter and found it perfectly located for enjoying a great range of fabulous bars and restaurants right on your doorstep. It’s an easy walk from there into the town centre as well as the Titanic Quarter too. The nearby Dream Apartments are lovely too and would be a great choice if you want self-catering. The Cathedral Quarter would always be my first choice when it comes to location.
Looking for a hotel in Belfast?
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