The cheap eats guide to Belfast

    Our city guide takes you round Belfast's burgeoning food scene, including cosy cafes, stunning seafood restaurants and top notch pub grub

    The cheap eats guide to Belfast

    Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice at for the country they are travelling to.

    All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of 1st 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 If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at

    Permit Room

    This is a rare Belfast brunch gem where the Middle Eastern shakshuka (baked eggs) takes on the Ulster Fry and wins. The flatbreads are sensational, particularly when served with black pudding, bacon, spinach and fried egg (£7.50). The coffee is particularly good and the times of opening especially suits visitors: breakfast from 8am, lunch from 12 through to 6pm. Permit Room has all the elegance of a small Manhattan private club with dark wood panelling and cool tan leather banquettes.

    John Long's Fish & Chips

    John Long's Fish & Chips

    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.


    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.

    Balloo House

    Ball 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 £11.95, kids' mains £4.95.


    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.

    Howard St

    Howard St

    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 and prawn red curry you'll regret it. There's a separate vegetarian menu, which includes a potato and caramelised onion gratin with purple sprouting broccoli. Mains from £11.50.

    Established Coffee 

    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 arguably 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.

    Tony & Jen's 

    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. Dishes from £3.95.

    Is there anywhere we've missed? Leave a comment below...

    All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of 1st 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

    Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to.

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