Belfast, Northern Ireland: 11 best places to eat and drink

Head to Northern Ireland’s foodie capital for gingerbread waffles, sharp cocktails and local venison with salt-baked beets and bitter cherry


Caffeine hit

The coffee at industrial-chic Established is reliably well made but so, too, are the brunches. Try a gingerbread waffle with candied lime cream, bourbon-poached nectarine and pistachio crumb.


To market

Saturday is the day to visit St George’s Market if you’re in search of the best food stalls. Pick up some Belfast Brew (Irish breakfast tea) from Suki Tea, Barnhill apple juice from Armagh and Young Buck cheese from Tom & Ollie’s.


 Rustic Italian

A neighbourhood Italian restaurant that uses stand-out local produce, Il Pirata gets it right whether you’re after lunch or a romantic dinner. Order a few dishes to share and get stuck in.

established coffee


Chocolate fix

The first branded version of milk chocolate is said to take its name from a Northern Irishman, Hans Sloane. There’s no better place to continue his tradition today than tasting some of the creations produced by local chocolatiers Co Couture. Try the Irish truffles, made using Bushmills’ Black Bush whiskey.


Stock up

A local institution, Arcadia deli first opened in 1933 and has been going strong ever since. It’s supportive of local producers so new produce hits its shelves first. Look out for Broighter Gold rapeseed oils, Abernethy butter (try the dulse and sea salt), Passion Preserved pickles (including spiced apple jelly and kasundi chutney), Corndale chorizo and Ispini charcuterie.



Skill share

Set above a seafood restaurant and shop (they’re connected) Belfast Cookery School is an unsurprisingly good spot to sharpen up your seafood cooking skills. Sign up for its fish masterclass and learn how to prepare Strangford mussels in a light fennel cream.


Ale & hearty

A traditional Victorian boozer with wood-panelled walls and open fires, The Garrick has been one of Belfast’s best bars since 1870. You’ll find great session music, and the city’s best champ, plus a range of local ales (try a Hilden’s Belfast Blonde or a MacIvors cider).

main course


Muddling through

Deep within the Cathedral Quarter The Muddlers Club bar and restaurant takes its name from a secret society that used to meet on the site 200 years ago. There’s nothing hush-hush about its operation now, though; sharp, modern food (think venison with parsley root, salt-baked beets and bitter cherry) served from an open kitchen.


Sip and savour

The luxurious Merchant Hotel, in the vibrant Cathedral Quarter, makes a glamorous, Grade A-listed backdrop for a cocktail or two. Try a Finn McCool, made with Finlandia vodka, Amer Picon, house-made passion fruit cordial and lemon juice.


Decadent dining

It may have a Michelin star, but dining at Ox is a relaxed experience overlooking the River Lagan. Classic dishes include hay-baked celeriac with black garlic, chanterelles, lardo and truffle. Or head straight to Ox Cave, next door, for excellent wines and Irish gins with plates of meat and cheese.

Other restaurants to try in Belfast


Located in St Anne’s Square in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, Coppi takes its inspiration from all regions of Italy, but when it comes to ingredients the kitchen looks to producers in Northern Ireland. “We work closely with local suppliers including award-winning farmer Peter Hannan – two of our signature dishes are Peter’s Tuscan spiced pork and fennel sausage cichetti and a steak florentine of salt-aged beef,” says Coppi’s Tony O’Neill.

“The pasta we serve is freshly made daily in our production kitchen and the duckraguporcini mushroom ravioli and truffle has been on the menu from day one, along with our cichetti of feta fritters with truffled honey. I think there could be a riot if we tried to take them off the menu.”

Coppi, Belfast


Return flights from a range of UK airports to Belfast cost from around £50 return:

Double rooms at the Bullitt Hotel cost from £100, b&b

More info:

Words by Caroline Wilson, founder of the Belfast Food Tour and Director of Taste and Tour NI ( and Mark Taylor


Photographs by Leonid Andronov/Getty, David Cornder/Alamy stock photo and Elaine Hill Photography