In every city, there is at least one street which is known for its quality coffee shops and restaurants. One of these streets in Dublin is Capel Street.
Capel Street is one of Dublin’s oldest streets and has many intriguing stories to tell. Perhaps the most entertaining of these is how, in the 1680s, recently abdicated king James II, who was a bit short of cash at the time, had a mint in Capel Street number 27. The cash flow didn’t ease up by forging more coinage because, besides money, James II soon lacked material as well. The former king decided to melt a couple of brass canons from the nearby Dublin Castle to forge more coins, but for no end: James II had to flee from Ireland soon afterwards when the victorious William III arrived in Dublin after the Battle of Boyne. One of the new king’s first declarations was to invalidate the value of James’s coins.
Capel Street runs towards north from the Liffey, and you reach Temple Bar on the southern bank of the river by crossing Grattan Bridge. Capel Street is a narrow, long street bordered with a strange mismatch of restaurants, pubs, second hand shops, ethnic shops, adult shops, tool shops, and basically any kinds of shops you can think of. Temple Bar is only a short walk away, as is also St. Mary’s Abbey, one of Dublin’s hidden treasures. The vista to south runs all the way to Dame Street’s City Hall and its turquoise dome.
Capel Street is one of my favourite streets in Dublin because, on top of Brother Hubbard, there is also few other soul warming restaurants that made me feel welcome when I moved into the city almost a year ago.
One of these homey and cosy places on Capel Street is Ristorante Romano with its steaming pasta dishes. Decoration or updating the menu don’t seem to be on this restaurant’s agenda as the menu consists only the most basic pasta, soup and salad dishes, and the most striking colours used in decoration are pink and minty green, seemingly from the good old 1980s. But the atmosphere is really warm and friendly and the owner, I imagine, is a busy gentleman greeting incomers with a smile and taking them to available seats. Lunch menu mains cost 8€ and 10€ for two courses, both include coffee. Even though Romano is very busy during the lunch rush, there’s always tables available, and the food arrives promptly. Romano’s smallish but delicious take away pizza is a good option to be enjoyed by the Liffey – if the sun happens to shine.
Musashi’s sleek interior is a welcoming contrast to Capel Street’s subtle dereliction. During the lunch rush, you may need to wait for a free table a little while but usually there is plenty of room. The smiling staff swoop back and forth the long and narrow room serving bento boxes and elegantly plated sushi on wooden boards. Musashi is chosen time after another as one of the best places for sushi in Dublin, and its menu is full of options from sushi and noodles to smoothies. Musashi is especially favoured by the area’s white collar working class and you can try and eavesdrop top secret conversations while the chopsticks whizz in the air.
I know, I know… Brother Hubbard, Brother Hubbard, Brother Hubbard… always Brother Hubbard. But if you wish to forget all the ‘top 3 tips’ from travel magazines about places that ‘the locals favour’, but never really do, head to Brother Hubbard, enjoy a leisurely brunch, sip on the flavoursome coffee, and I guarantee you’ll pass as a Dubliner yourself! The cute coffee shop was opened only few years back but has already made an enormous impact on Dublin’s coffee scene. Brother Hubbard’s barista is recognised in Ireland’s coffee competitions, and you can also buy coffee and other coffee related products from its shop. I also have to mention Brother Hubbard’s interesting tea menu with, for example, cactus flower tea and some more traditional teas. The menu (for food) leans towards Middle Eastern and Northern African flavours, and as every product from granola to the feta in the omelettes seems to be so carefully chosen, finishing my plate makes me already plan the next occasion I can visit the restaurant.
I recommend Brother Hubbard and Capel Street to all who wish to attain Dublin’s inner being, or simply to all who wish to enjoy a good meal every now and then.