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12 Best Belfast Restaurants, Cafes And Pubs

The Belfast food scene is alive and well. Find out our favorite Belfast restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and market in Northern Ireland’s capital city.

Daryl at St. George's Market. Belfast Food Guide. Where to Eat in Belfast

Prior to our visit to Belfast, we didn’t know much about Northern Island beyond what we had seen in movies like In Name of the Father and The Boxer, but we got a crash course on the local politics upon our arrival in Belfast.

During our stay, we were so fascinated that we could have chatted with the locals for hours upon hours about the city’s history and the current political situation. In fact, we did. But this didn’t stop us from exploring Belfast enough to fall in love with the city’s charm, history, architecture and food.

Comber Potato Festival in Belfast Northern Ireland
We tasted loads of potatoes at the Comber Potato Festival just a short bus ride from Belfast. This festival is just one of many events related to the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.

Good food abounds in Belfast. This is a city that fully embraces the locavore movement and takes pride in its culinary bounty, especially some of the freshest seafood we’ve ever eaten. Seriously, the seafood is extraordinary, but then again so is the butter.

Local restaurants buzz with people eating out in Belfast on every night of the week. This is a part of the world where every year should be a year of food and drink!

Belfast Food Guide | Where to Eat in Belfast

We dove into the Belfast food scene and ate it all from hearty Irish& breakfasts to an elegant Michelin starred meal with plenty of coffee to keep us going. Here are our suggestions for the best places to eat in Belfast – the spots you cannot miss when you’re deciding where to eat in Belfast.

Belfast Restaurants

Despite Belfast’s relatively small size for a capital city, it has more than its fair share of good restaurants. While eating in Belfast, we spent a good bit of time focusing on seafood since we don’t usually have access to such wonderful fruits de mer.

But don’t think that Belfast’s restaurant selection is a one trick pony. The Belfast food options are varied with prices ranging from cheap to high-end.

Mourne Seafood Bar

Mussels at Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast Northern Ireland
The korma sauce adds a fresh, olive flavored kick to the red sauce mussel preparation at Mourne Seafood Bar.

Did we like Mourne Seafood Bar? Let’s just say that we liked this restaurant so much that we ate there twice in one week. And who can blame us for returning for a second installment of ultra-fresh seafood at affordable prices?

The freshness of the Oysters au Naturel figuratively transported us to a nearby Carlingford oyster farm, but it was the Mussels steamed with a Mediterranean korma sauce that we will long remember as the best mussels we’ve ever eaten. The simple yet monumental seafood stew as well the fish and chips are also menu standouts.

Prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is casual. Our only regret is not returning for a third meal.

Mourne Seafood Bar is located at 34-36 Bank Street, Belfast BT1 1HL, United Kingdom.


Dessert at Ox in Belfast Northern Ireland
We weren’t hungry after three courses at Ox, but we somehow found room for the mignardises featuring Elderflower Macarons, Rosemary Chocolate and Passionfruit Gelees.

After a highly disappointing meal at a Michelin starred restaurant in Galway, we wondered if we were going to enjoy our Belfast lunch at Ox, a similarly starred restaurant in Belfast. Upon arriving at the industrial building on storied Oxford Street, we were quickly greeted by a friendly hostess and seated at a well-appointed table in the restaurant’s cozy, sunlit dining room.

Then, the show that was the three-course lunch menu began.

Our charming Swedish server rolled out a parade of dishes, each creatively prepared by acclaimed Chef Stephen Toman with locally sourced ingredients. We scraped each dish clean, not wanting to waste a pea pod or asparagus spear.

We needed a meal like this to restore our faith in the Michelin system and also to welcome us to fine dining in Belfast. Mission accomplished.

Ox is located at 1 Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3LA, United Kingdom.

James Street South Restaurant

King Scallops at James Street South Restaurant in Belfast Northern Ireland
This starter with King Scallops, Parmesan and Connemara Ham was delightfully paired with a glass of 2014 Albariño from The Hare and The Tortoise from Galicia, Spain.

Niall McKenna is a busy chef and entrepreneur with four of the top restaurants in Belfast plus a cooking school all on his plate, yet he still can be found cooking at his flagship location which is where we found him on a busy Tuesday night. Though every table was filled, the restaurant’s staff kept the courses coming with steady pacing and good humor.

To get a good sampling of McKenna’s work, we indulged in the night’s tasting menu, a bargain for three courses and a thoughtful wine pairing. Top dishes included the scallop dish pictured above as well as grilled cod and County Antrim fillet of beef.

Ending our meal with smoked chocolate, lime sorbet with toasted meringue was sweet indeed. We left the restaurant glad for a walk that allowed us to burn some calories and reminisce about a special meal at one of the best restaurants in Belfast.

James Street South Restaurant is located at 21 James Street S, Belfast BT2 7GA, United Kingdom.

Love Fish

Smoked Salmon at Love Fish in Belfast Northern Ireland
This snack with Smoked Salmon, Wheaten and Horseradish Cream is featured on the Love Fish Late Menu for £7.50.

Sometimes we want a big meal, and sometimes we just want to end the night with a light snack. That’s where Love Fish comes into play.

Straying from its full-service lunch and dinner menus, Love Fish offers a late-night menu that includes tasty snacks for prices ranging from £3 to £8. During our visit, we shared Fish Scratchings, Smoked Mackerel Pâté on Toast and Smoked Salmon (pictured here) with Wheaten (a type of soda bread) and Horseradish Cream.

Love Fish is located at 36-40 Howard Street, Belfast BT1 6PF, United Kingdom.

Belfast Baking Company

Large Ulster Fry Belfast Baking Company in Belfast Northern Ireland
At Belfast Baking Company, the Large Ulster Fry is more than big enough to share.

**Important Update – This restaurant has permanently closed.**

We wanted a quick breakfast before immersing ourselves into the epic Titanic Belfast museum, and nearby Belfast Baking Company fit the bill. This casual café serves a wide selection of pastries as well as breakfast and lunch fare.

We indulged in a Large Ulster Fry for a reasonable £6.95. This plate came loaded with sausage, potato bread, bacon, tomato, baked beans, mushroom, a fried egg and black pudding. After sharing this hearty breakfast, we were fully energized to explore the museum with gusto.

Belfast Baking Company was located at Queens Road, Titanic Quarter, Arc Retail, Unit 7, Block C, Belfast BT3 9DT, United Kingdom. This restaurant has permanently closed.

Cheap Chinese Food

Chinese Food in Belfast Northern Ireland
We don’t usually take photos of our cheap Chinese meals, but this one was too pretty to resist.

We often like to eat ethnic food when we travel, and Belfast is no exception to this rule. During our visit, we found plenty of little Chinese eateries near the University on Ormeau Road.

Eating cheap Chinese food is an excellent way to experience a city while saving money for the more special restaurants like the ones detailed above. Thanks to the power of globalization, we found some pretty good Chinese food in Belfast like the chili pepper dotted salt and pepper chicken pictured above.

Cheap Chinese food is located at numerous Belfast Chinese restaurants. Just keep your eyes open to find them.

St. George’s Market

A great city needs a great market. We have our favorite markets in cities like Barcelona, London and even our hometown of Philadelphia. Now we can add Belfast to this list with the St. George’s Market.

Saturday Scenes at the St. George's Market in Belfast Northern Ireland
Saturday Scenes at the St. George’s Market in Belfast

Located in a late 19th-century building, St. George’s is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Though open for just three days each week. the market packs a punch in its variety of fresh, local Belfast food staples like seafood and produce as well as a cornucopia of ready-to-eat foods representing local cuisine and ethnicities around the world.

St. George’s market is a great spot to shop for Northern Ireland food or eat an affordable lunch in Belfast or both. If you’re wondering what to eat in Belfast, you will surely something tasty at this market.

When planning a visit, note the following schedule:

  • Fridays – Variety Market with a mix of products plus fresh fruit and fish.
  • Saturdays – City Food, Craft and Garden Market with the best selection of food in the market and/or to take away.
  • Sundays – Food, Craft and Antique Market with a mix of products and vendors from the previous two days.

St. George’s Market is located at St George’s Market, Donegall Quay, Belfast BT1 3LA, United Kingdom.

Belfast Coffee Shops

As world travelers and coffee lovers, we prioritize finding a good coffee shop as soon as we arrive in a new city. We did this in Belfast and came up with a good selection of specialty coffee shops to keep us happily caffeinated.

As usual, once we found our favorites, we returned to these Belfast cafes as temporary regulars. These are our favorites Belfast cafes:

General Merchants

Cappuccino at General Merchandise in Belfast Northern Ireland
The cappuccinos at General Merchandise are expertly crafted and a great start to a busy day of touring.

We spent half of our time in Belfast at an apartment just off of Ormeau Road, less than a block from a General Merchants location. The convenience was enough to get us in the door for a laid back Belfast dinner.

But it was the coffee and breakfast scones that kept us coming back again and again. We dug the cool vibe and daytime coffee culture, not to mention the solid cappuccinos.

General Merchants has multiple Belfast cafes. We frequented the location at 361 Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 3GL, United Kingdom.

Established Coffee

Established Coffee in Belfast Northern Ireland
Established serves classically made pourovers made with Dublin’s 3fe coffee beans. As a bonus, the friendly baristas steam the milk upon request.

Spending half of our time in central Belfast at the Hotel Europa, we found Established on our first morning in town and immediately felt at home amongst the hipster crowd drinking pourovers and working on their Apple computers. We skew a bit old to be called hipsters, but these are two areas where we would easily qualify for the dubious label.

We were immediately reminded of the great coffee shops that we enjoyed in Dublin, which is not surprising since Established proudly serves Dublin’s excellent 3fe coffee.

Established Coffee is located at 54 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LB, United Kingdom.

Kaffe O

Pastries at Kaffe O in Belfast Northern Ireland
We went to Kaffe O for the coffee, but we stayed for the pastries.

We liked Kaffe O as a switch from the normal third wave coffee scene and a bit of a foreshadow to our trip to Sweden. Ormeau Street’s Kaffe O is unabashedly Scandinavian with its sleek design and Nordic menu.

The coffee shop sources its beans from Denmark, and the resulting coffee is smooth and creamy. We particularly enjoyed the sweet treats for sale at the bar.

Kaffe O has multiple locations. We drank our coffee at the location at 411 Ormeau Rd, Belfast BT7 3GP, United Kingdom.

Belfast Pubs

We checked out some of the best bars in Belfast, and we were not disappointed. Our only dilemma was choosing from the many beer, cider and whiskey options.

The Dirty Onion

Beer Garden at The Dirty Onion in Belfast Northern Ireland
Our happy hour blogger crowd had to photograph the drinks before drinking them in The Dirty Onion’s outside beer garden. Don’t worry, we drank them while they were still cold.

Located in a building dating back to 1780, The Dirty Onion is a thoroughly modern pub in the heart of the city’s Cathedral Quarter. The inside of the building is impressive both for its decor featuring wooden beams and exposed brick decor as well as for its extensive bar menu of beers and ciders.

The outside beer garden, filled with picnic tables and avant-garde sculptures, is relatively mellow in the early evening until the crowds arrive and the place truly comes alive.

Barbecue Ribs at The Dirty Onion in Belfast Northern Ireland
Barbecue Ribs at The Dirty Onion

Feeling hungry? No worries – Yardbird is right upstairs and offers an affordable menu with savory treats like barbecue chicken and ribs. Add in the nightly Irish music, and there really is no reason to bar hop in Belfast.

The Dirty Onion is located at 3 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LA, United Kingdom. Yardbird is just one flight upstairs at the same address.

Crown Liquor Saloon

Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast Northern Ireland
A visit to Belfast’s Crown Liquor Saloon is a tippler’s trip back in time. The historic building is located downtown directly across from the Europa Hotel.

Located in a building built in the mid 19th century and renovated by the National Trust in 1978, the Crown Liquor Saloon building is a true gem of a pub right in the heart of the Belfast city center. The architecture would be enough to warrant a visit with its vintage booths, gargoyles and stained glass windows.

But it’s the classic pub experience that’s the true draw. Let’s face it, it’s not every day that you can order a shamrock-topped Guinness after summoning a server by ringing a bell – not unless you are lucky enough to live in Belfast.

The Crown Liquor Saloon is located at 46 Great Victoria St, Belfast BT2 7BA, United Kingdom.

Belfast Restaurant FAQs

Are Belfast restaurants expensive?

Belfast restaurants range from cheap eats to fine dining. While the best Belfast restaurants may skew expensive, the city has numerous inexpensive pubs that serve good food.

Is tipping necessary in Belfast?

No. Tipping is optional in Northern Ireland.

Where did Anthony Bourdain eat in Belfast?

Anthony Bourdain visited Cayenne (pemanently closed), The Crown Liquor Saloon and The Rock Bar while filming the third season of No Reservations.

What time do people eat dinner in Belfast?

People typically eat dinner between 7pm and 9pm in Belfast.

Are restaurant reservations necessary in Belfast?

Yes. Reservations are necessary at restaurants in Belfast. However, you should be able to walk into some pubs without reservations.

How many Belfast restaurants have Michelin stars?

Belfast currently has three one-starred Michelin starred restaurants: Eipic, The Muddlers Club and Ox.

Things To Do in Belfast

Titanic Belfast
A visit to Belfast’s Titanic museum is a must during a trip to Belfast.

Belfast is a fascinating city. If you’re wondering what to do during your visit, check out our top sightseeing suggestions. Then look into the following Belfast activities:

Belfast Planning Checklist

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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.

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Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Our dinner at James Street South Restaurant was hosted. We paid for all other food and drinks featured in this article.

We thank Tourism Ireland and Visit Belfast for their assistance with our visit. We also thank the Europa Hotel and James Street South Restaurant for their generous hospitality.

Original Publication Date: August 9, 2016


Monday 6th of June 2022

You would have loved the old Felon's club, Rocket Bar and Kelly's Cellar way back when.. been ages since I been back home.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 6th of June 2022

Ironically, we watched the movie Belfast yesterday and have been feeling sentimental toward the city ourselves. We hope you get back soon and can enjoy the pubs and other special places that are still there.


Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

Which Michelin star restaurant did you not like in Galway?

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 25th of November 2019


Carolyn Rothschild

Thursday 8th of August 2019

Great information. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!


Sunday 4th of September 2016

We were in Belfast this summer and also had some great food. I'm surprised The Barking Dog and Harlem weren't mentioned.


Tuesday 30th of August 2016

Yowsa, I gotta get my foodie on! Made me hungry :-) I love that you showed the plate full of potatoes hehe.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 30th of August 2016

The minute we heard that they name their mashed potatoes "champ", we had to try them.