Best places to eat in Belfast

Visit Northern Ireland's capital for excellent restaurants and an exciting, burgeoning street food scene.

The best places to eat in Belfast

Belfast has so much to offer the insatiable foodie. From epic Eipic to the unmissable Mourne Seafood Bar, we've scoured the streets for the ultimate eateries. Take a look at our selection below.

Eipic
Best for: Special occasions

Eipic

Under the stewardship of award-winning chef Danni Barry, Eipic was recently awarded a Michelin star – remarkable for a restaurant barely two years old. Danni's attention to detail does not get in the way of the deep, rustic flavours of her food. Among the marvels are Mourne Mountain lamb with black garlic, and halibut with buttermilk and sea herbs. Tasting menus at £45 and £70.

Ox
Best for: Special occasions

Ox


Michelin-starred brilliance from chef Stephen Toman, aided by the warmth and hospitality of manager and partner Alain Kerloc'h. Everything is seasonal with a focus on fresh vegetables, fish and the finer cuts of venison and beef. The big attraction is Stephen's lightness of touch. Leave the wine to the sommelier. Five-course tasting menu, £55 (plus £30 for wine). 

Graze
Best for: Casual dining

This modest-looking bolthole is in the eastern township of Ballyhackamore, which is known for its growing portfolio of small and brilliant independent restaurants. Graze is a powerhouse of local produce. Portavogie prawns, Fivemiletown cheese fritters, Silverhill duck – all are expertly dealt with. If it’s on the menu, don’t pass up the hake with laksa chickpeas, spinach, and basil & citrus preserve. Mains from £12. 

Howard St.
Best for: Casual dining, child-friendly, cheap eats

Howard Street


Youthful and occasionally loud, this ramshackle, bare-brick temple is very Belfast. Marty Murphy is in the kitchen at Howard Street, and if you visit the city and miss out on his monkfish and prawn coconut curry with peanut and Thai basil pesto, you’ll regret it. There’s a separate vegetarian menu, which includes a spiced white cabbage spring roll with chilli mayo and pickles. Mains from £12. 

James St. South
Best for: Special occasions


Here the absolute best of Irish produce is transformed into heavenly dishes in a refined, relaxed atmosphere. Small producers vie to see their stuff in the hands of head chef David Gillmore. In particular, the cod, halibut and other fish are always glisteningly fresh. Four-course Taste of Ulster menu, £50. 

John Long’s Fish & Chips
Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining, child- friendly

John Long's Fish & Chips


Going strong since 1914, John Long’s is as much a Belfast institution as the Ulster Hall and the Linen Hall Library. Its most recent refurbishment was in the 1970s – now a protected species, the restaurant’s Formica booths are in big demand every lunchtime, but get there before 12.30pm and you’ll have no problem. The traditional battered fish is among the best in the city. Fish from £4.50. 

Hadskis
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Hadsikis


A top restaurant in a casual outfit. The proper charcoal grill means beautifully charred meats and fish. Chef-patron Niall McKenna (also of James St. South) oversees this great operation in the Cathedral Quarter. If alone, eat at the counter and enjoy the craic with the chefs. Go for the Irish cod, Portavogie crab or one of the excellent pasta dishes, and enjoy it with a local brew, such as the cold, crisp Yardsman lager. Mains from £12.50. 

Balloo House
Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining, child-friendly

Balloo House


This fabulous old roadhouse offers posh dining upstairs, with more relaxed pub grub and rural Ulster charm downstairs. Both are brilliant thanks to chef Danny Millar, whose pedigree stretches back to his teen years at Michelin-starred Shanks, Bangor. Danny is obsessive about local produce, game, fish, meat and foraged goods. Look out for the Saturday night specials upstairs. Mains from £13, kids’ mains £5. 

Yardbird
Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining


Yardbird is above the Dirty Onion, a former whiskey warehouse in the heart of the old city. The restaurant serves up buttermilk-marinated chicken whole (£16), or in halves (£9) or quarters (£4.75), but the highlight for those in the know is the avocado salad: all crunchy, messy, lush and spiced up with a chilli vinaigrette. Equally good is the deep apple pie for dessert. Every town should have a Yardbird. 

The Muddlers Club
Best for: Special occasions

The Muddler's Club


This little restaurant, on a city centre street nobody knew existed, has caused a sensation since it opened in 2015. Blackened Mourne Mountain lamb, Fermanagh chicken, monkfish and perfect pastry sound classic enough – it’s what head chef Gareth McCaughey does with them that stands out. Mains from £16. 

Mourne Seafood Bar
Best for: Casual dining


This is the restaurant Belfast always deserved but no one dared establish. We may be on an island, but our relationship with the sea is full of suspicion and misgiving. Andy Rea, a former wingman for Paul Rankin, thought otherwise and opened the Mourne Seafood Bar in 2008 to huge acclaim. There was one non-seafood option (Dexter steak) but very unexpectedly, everyone went for the oysters, lobster, crab and fish on the bone. Foreign holidays and tourists had taught the locals a thing or two about the quality langoustines and other delights on our shores. Oysters from £9.50 for 6, main courses from £12.50.

Established Coffee
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats


This place takes minimalism to a new plane. It's so stripped out that when there's nobody there (which is never) it looks like the bailiffs have come and gone. But don't be dissuaded by this hyper-functionality – the coffee is arguably the best in Belfast and the dishes, traybakes and health-conscious lunches are wholesome and inexpensive. The location is perfect for those strolling around Belfast's Cathedral Quarter looking for the new generation's call signs and cool rituals. Mains around £7.50.

Tony & Jen's 
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats


It looks like it's made from leftover scraps of timber scavenged from nearby building sites and joiners' merchants, but Tony & Jen's is a quality nouveau bistro. It serves stews, soups and vegetarian hotpots which are deeply rich in flavour and wholesomeness, and is home to the Panacea range of locally made lemonades, one of which is the UK-storming Projito. Tony and Jen are probably Belfast's most beautiful couple and we all want to look like them. The place to start this transformation is in their bistro, right next to Kwik Fit. Dishes from £3.95.

Noble
Best for: Special occasions, casual dining


Only five miles outside Belfast in sleepy Holywood is Noble, the tiny restaurant owned by chef Pearson Morris and manager Saul McConnell. Don’t be fooled by the country charm and rustic seating – Noble is breaking new ground with its take on local produce. Gone is the homey, reassuring tenderness of sauces and volumes of potatoes. Instead, Morris is putting out the best possible produce with the minimum of fuss in a brilliant exercise in editing. You will recognise the beef, salmon and pork on the menu but you won’t have eaten it the way Noble does it. And there is a chocolate dessert which anywhere else would be an arrestable offence. It’s that good. Small plates from £6, large plates from £14.50.

 

Five places to shop & eat

1. Sawers

Sawers is a chapel of food love, packed with exotic tinned foods, teas and spices – plus a well-stocked fish counter.

2. Arcadia Deli

Arcadia

A local store famous for its bread. Don’t miss the Abernethy churned butter or Hannan’s guanciale (cured pork).

3. Kurrito

Pakistani-Mexican fusion? Why not! Burritos feature lamb and succulent spiced chicken. The place has a modest appearance but the ingredients are top-notch. 

4. Slums

Terrible name but outstanding street food modelled on what you might find a Mexican selling in Mumbai. Yes it's odd, but it's convincing.

5. City Picnic

It looks like a collision between a pre-school playground and a post office, but the whole family will like it. Everything on the menu can be made gluten-free.

Check out our other city guides for more restaurant inspiration. 

Is there somewhere we've missed? Let us know in the comments below...

All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of 11th June 2018 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com.

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