Sunshine in Dublin may be a rare thing, even now in the middle of August, but if the sun decides to make an appearance before the summer comes to an end, there are plenty of places in the city centre where you can choose to dine or enjoy a cup of coffee alfresco.
One of the best outdoor dining areas is the rooftop café above the Marks and Spencer department store on Grafton Street on the south side of the city. The menu is fairly basic, but the service is attentive and it is a perfect place to take a break from shopping and catch a few rays when the sun shines.
Almost every café, pub and restaurant in the area around South William Street and Castle Market has outdoor seating, and the tables on the corner of the Parisian-inspired Metro Café at the Stephen’s Green end of the street are perfect for a spot of people-watching. Gourmet Burger Kitchen has one of the largest outdoor areas, which is covered over and heated when the sun goes in – they have a great value meal deal for €10 which includes a burger, homemade fries and a drink. Across the road, La Maison has a couple of pretty tables out front, one of the only upmarket restaurants in the city with an alfresco set up. Further down the street, Lunch (also called Calzone’s) has a few tiny tables crammed into its tiny streetside area, and serves good mini-pizzas, salads and Panini. There’s often live music here in the evenings too.
On the north side of the city, the relatively new Italian Quarter between the River Liffey and Abbey Street is a pedestrianised area (called the Millenium Walkway)lined with restaurants with outdoor seating. Despite the name, there is a variety of world cuisine to choose from – Cactus Jack’s is Mexican, with a great value early bird menu, and for a fiery Thai curry washed down with a Cosmopolitan, try Koh. Enoteca Delle Langhe serves excellent bruschetta and antipasti, the perfect accompaniment to a glass of Pinot Grigio on a sunny day.
Further east along the Liffey, the IFSC, Dublin’s financial district, has a few decent restaurants with outdoor seating situated around a pretty square. Bar Italia offers authentic and reasonably priced pastas and antipasti, and is popular with the after-work crowd from the surrounding offices. Il Fornaio across the square is more informal, with a short and simple menu of pastas and pizzas, and an excellent bakery.