Best places to eat in Belfast

Visit Northern Ireland's capital for excellent restaurants and an exciting, burgeoning 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:

Eipic

Eipic

Best for: Special occasions
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 monkfish with roast bone sauce. Tasting menus at £40 and £60. 

Eipic website

Ox

Ox

Best for: Special occasions
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 Alain or Juliette, his junior sommelier. Five-course tasting menu, £50 (plus £30 for wine). 

Ox website

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 oven-baked cod with Comber potatoes, local samphire, wild garlic, spiced crab & sauvignon cream. Mains from £10. 

Graze website

Howard St.

Howard Street

Best for: Casual dining, child-friendly, cheap eats
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 smoked haddock & prawn red curry, you’ll regret it. There’s a separate vegetarian menu, which includes a potato & caramelised onion gratin with purple sprouting broccoli. Mains from £11.50. 

Howard St. website

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 stone bass, John Dory and other fish are always glisteningly fresh. Four-course Taste of Ulster menu, £40. 

James St. South website

John Long’s Fish & Chips

John Long's Fish & Chips

Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining, child- friendly
Going strong since 1914, John Long’s 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. John Long’s is as much an institution as the Ulster Hall and the Linen Hall Library. Fish from £4.50. 

John Long's Fish & Chips website

Hadskis

Hadsikis

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
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 stone bass, Kilkeel scallops 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. 

Hadskis website

Balloo House

Balloo House

Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining, child-friendly
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 £11.95, kids’ mains £4.95. 

Balloo House website

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 (£15), or in halves (£8.50) or quarters (£4.50), 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. 

Yardbird website

The Muddlers Club

The Muddler's Club

Best for: Special occasions
This little restaurant, on a city centre street nobody knew existed, has caused a sensation since it opened last year. Blackened Mourne Mountain lamb, Fermanagh chicken, smoked haddock and perfect pastry sound classic enough – it’s what head chef Gareth McCaughey does with them that stands out. Mains from £14. 

The Muddlers Club website

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 seven years ago 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 £8.50 for 6, main courses from £10.50.

Mourne Seafood Bar website

Permit Room

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
This is a rare Belfast brunch gem where the Middle Eastern shakshuka (baked eggs) take on the Ulster Fry and win. The flatbreads are sensational, particularly when served with black pudding, bacon, spinach and fried egg (£7.50). The coffee is particularly good but it's the times of opening which suit the visitor best: breakfast from 8am, lunch from 12 through to 6pm. Permit Room has all the elegance of a small Manhattan private club with dark wood paneling and cool tan leather banquettes.

Permit Room Facebook page

Established Coffee

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
This place takes minimalism to a new plain. It's so stripped out that when there's nobody there (which is never) it looks like the bailiffs have come and gone. But do not be dissuaded by this hyper functionality. The coffee is arguable the best in Belfast and the dishes, traybakes and health-conscious lunches are wholesome and inexpensive. The location of Established 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.

Established Coffee website

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. Also 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 kwikfit. Dishes from £3.95.

Tony & Jen's Facebook page

Deanes at Queens 

Best for: Special occasion, casual dining
Chris Fearon is a chef with a mission. He charmed the judges on Great British Menu with his take away curries three years ago and he has worked his way into the hearts of those who live and work in the Queen's Quarter. He does amazing things with fresh fish and seafood from nearby Strangford Lough and regularly changes the menu so you might find he's running a Cajun theme one month and a more Italianate mood the next. Whatever he does, it's always good. Excellent place for business lunches and sensitive conversations as there's so much room in the place. Service is usually among the most discreet in town. Prix fixe @20 for 3 courses. 

Deanes at Queens website

 

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.

Sawers website

2. Arcadia Deli

Arcadia

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

Arcadia Deli website

3. Kurrito

Pakistani-Mexican fusion? Why not! Burritos feature minced lamb curry or chilli beef. The place has a modest appearance but the ingredients are top-notch. 

Kurrito website

4. Bubbacue

A fast-food outlet selling slow-barbecued food, quality rolls, good sides and hand-cut chips. Eat and drink for under £10.

Bubbacue website

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.

City Picnic website

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 the 01 August 2016 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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