Dublin was a surprisingly easy place to accommodate food intoleraces and allergies. We found the food there to be fresh, healthy, and enlightened, as in menus marked with gluten information or restaurants having Paleo picks (not that we eat Paleo but it is generally gluten-free) and one even celebrating a month of the Paleo diet by offering an entire menu devoted to it. This restaurant, Saba, was right around the corner from our hotel and I could have ordered many things off their menu without having to worry about gluten. When we ate there we ordered rice with our pick which is decidedly un-caveman-ish, so we weren’t beholden to the Paleo diet thankfully, and got an excellent meal out of it.
Another place right around the corner from our hotel was our favorite restaurant of all, a healthy little breakfast, lunch, brunch place called Cocu. There are three locations and it looks like they are even open for dinner at one of two of those places so there are plenty of options for checking it out. Their menus are simple although a little hard to describe so I encourage you to look at them yourself and be inspired. Maybe so inspired that you open up your own version of their tagline “A Healthy Obsession”, and if so, please let it be within 15 minutes of Redmond, Washington because we truly were obsessed and it’s one of the first things I missed when we got back home. Basically, the main lunch items are these bowls where you choose your meat or vegetarian main which is cooked with certain spices/sauces/veggies to complement it, then add two sides such as mixed greens or rice or sweet potatoes or something else, then add a topping such as seeds, nuts, or herbs. It’s all in a big bowl together and works every time, no matter the combination. They also have soups, wraps (not gluten-free), and hot pots which is something like red lentil curry over rice and you add tofu or chicken which was my favorite dish there. Anyway, I could go on because I haven’t even started on the coffee bar area, breakfast items, or side pastries which included many gluten-free items, but unless you are in Dublin right now and can check it out yourself, there’s no point in sharing any more of the obsession.
It’d be a shame to go to Ireland and not get fish n’ chips, and luckily Beshoff Brothers has us gluten-free gourmands covered. This is not a fancy place, just as a proper fish n’ chips place should not be, but it was clean and bright and their gluten-free menu had onion rings on it which I can’t recall seeing anywhere ever before this place. This wasn’t our healthiest meal but it actually wasn’t overly greasy and we both were quite satisfied with our meals, (not gf for my husband, gf for me).
You can even have your sandwich cravings easily satisfied at O’Briens Sandwich cafes. They can make you a sandwich on gluten-free bread which also happens to be egg free, dairy free, and soy free. (Yay!) They use a brand called BFree which isn’t carried in my neck of the woods (yet) but I hope it’s coming soon because they have pita bread which is so hard to find. Do be aware that if you want your sandwich toasted though, it is toasted in the same oven as the traditional breads. I did have mine toasted and felt perfectly fine for the record, but you have to judge for yourself your own level of sensitivity. There are plenty of O’Briens around Ireland so you aren’t ever too far from a sandwich which is a nice change of pace.
Another restaurant that my husband and I found ourselves returning to the very next day after a fantastic dinner and ordering the exact same meals as the night before is Balfes. They have plenty of gluten-free options and the food is fresh and delicious. I had a salad with chicken on it that used guacamole instead of dressing and oh my gosh, why haven’t I done that before?! It was brilliantly executed and my husband loved his meal also. We even thought about going there for a third night in a row but ended up just being too lazy.
Marks & Spencer (M&S) has plenty of gluten free options in their ‘food hall’. They do have a section of gluten-free items such as pastas, cakes, breads, granola, etc, but I only bought the granola because their baked goods all have egg in them. They have a lot more to offer though in their prepared foods sections which seemed to make up about the entire store. I’ve never seen so many individually wrapped meals in my life~ Trader Joe’s has been way outdone. My husband and I got breakfast from there several times and take-away dinner at least once. He was especially fond of the place and kept saying things like, “Look at that lettuce! It’s practically standing up it’s so fresh! It’s like it’s trying to get our attention by waving it’s arms and saying ‘pick me!'”. The fresh produce there did seem exceptionally vibrant considering it was January and I wasn’t aware that Ireland had a robust winter farming industry. I still don’t know what the deal is with their produce~ if it’s grown in greenhouses or imported from somewhere else on some wicked fast plane or what, but they have a good thing going though however they are managing it. Also, I should say that before going I had the impression M&S would be extremely expensive but we found their prices to be quite affordable which was a definite plus.
There are health food stores called Nourish around Dublin that have gluten-free options such as crackers, cookies, etc. The one I went into on Grafton Street didn’t have a huge selection but I did buy some crackers and chocolates from there which were tasty. But here’s a warning to take to heart~ if you rely on melatonin to help reset your body clock and beat jet lag, bring your own because we were told at Nourish that it is illegal to sell it in all of Ireland. Fortunately I did bring some along but we were hoping to get more there and were sorely out of luck. What does Ireland have against melatonin? Another mystery to solve I guess.
Before going to Dublin I found a lovely listing of restaurants that are gluten-free friendly. I was so thrilled with finding it but in all honesty I didn’t have to go back to it often because it seemed everywhere I checked out had gf options. I made it a habit to look at every menu that I passed just to see how gf friendly it was and I found Dublin as a whole to be extremely aware and accommodating on that front as well as on all fronts really. It was a friendly, polite, energetic, and open place that I hope to return to soon and maybe get a chance to see the countryside a bit. If you are wondering where to take your next big vacation and gluten matters feel like a confinement, rest assured that Dublin will embrace you and your gluten issues with open arms and fantastic food.
One last thing to mention, before going I made sure to request gluten-free foods for our Delta airlines flights. They actually did a great job with the meals and I always got mine before they delivered the other passengers’ meals so I never had to wonder if they’d remember or not. I actually couldn’t even eat all the food they brought me which always included fresh fruit and/or salad which is so nice to have on a long flight. I was impressed.
To see more pics, check out my instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/dragonlilyherbs/ and please comment below on any experiences you have had in traveling through Ireland~ I’d love to hear it!