Outdoor restaurant tables are at a premium nowadays, and not just when the sun is shining. Covid-19 considerations have made many diners cautious about eating out. Being able to do so in the open air is an attractive option, and lots of new initiatives are increasing the number of outdoor dining tables available.
Here are some new and improved options across the country, plus a reminder of a few well-established venues that offer the chance to eat lunch or dinner outside.
The Secret Garden at Saba on Baggot Street in Dublin 4.
Newly created in this Baggot Street offshoot of the Thai and Vietnamese Saba restaurants group, the secret garden is a funky, colourful space that seats 40 guests. Lighting and graffiti artwork by Subset sets the mood. An overhead canopy has been ordered to make the area more weather-proof.
What to eat and drink? Sip on one of Sabas cocktail favourites, such as Lifes a Beach, with vodka, fresh fruits in season, ginger liqueur, lime juice, guava syrup topped with aloe vera (10.95) while eating sundried pork, marinated with palm sugar, soy sauce and white sesame seeds on a spicy papaya salad (12.95).Saba Secret Garden, 22 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4, 01-5631999, sabadublin.com. Open Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays), from noon for lunch, serving food all day until late.
Baste BBQ on Clanbrassil Street in Dublin. Photograph: Laura Hutton
With pitmaster Andy Noonan at the fire and the smokers, Baste brings barbecue to a new level in Ireland. Wooden pallet seating, big umbrellas to shelter under if it rains, and a festival vibe with tunes to match.Watch out for additional themed evenings and guest collaborations. Reservations, online, can only be made for tables of four.
What to eat and drink? Copious starters and salads, along with a veritable feast of free-range or rare breed beef, chicken and pork. It costs 40 a head and its BYOB.Baste BBQ, 39 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Dublin 8; bastebbq.com. Open Thursday to Sunday, from 5pm
Harrys, on the beach at Portstewart strand.
A series of outdoors eating areas, some under dramatic canvas roofs think smart safari tent has sprung up on Portstewart Strand this summer. They are open seven days a week, operating on a first-come, first-served basis, with no reservations, and offering a family-friendly menu. The original, permanent, shack has had its capacity considerably reduced and reservations are required for the adult-only three-course menu, available Wednesday to Saturday.
What to eat and drink? Seafood and local beers a speciality.Harrys, 116 Strand Road, Portstewart BT55 7PG, Co Derry, 0044-28-7083-1783. Open seven days a week on the beach
A gastrobar with an emphasis on local Tipperary produce that has outdoor seating in a garden setting, as well as Mikeys on the Plaza, a collection of smart blue tables and umbrellas in front of the premises. The Rock of Cashel may dominate the local landscape, but youre also in the heart of horse racing country here and the equestrian theme runs from the delicate etching of a horse on the wine glasses to the horse box bar in the garden.
What to eat and drink? Something to suit all tastes, with an all-day menu running from brunch into lunch, with wood-fired pizzas from 3pm-6pm, and then a full dinner menu.Mikey Ryans, 76 Main Street, Cashel, Co Tipperary, mikeyryans.ie, 062-62007. Open seven days a week for brunch, lunch and dinner
The covered, heated terrace at Sage in Midleton.
Sage proprietors Kevin and Réidín Ahern had planned to close their fine dining restaurant on April 4th and reopen just six days later, with a more casual all-day dining concept, Sage 2.0. But circumstances overtook them and in an admirable swift turnaround, they changed their business model to a gourmet foodstore and takeaway meals outlet, with evening dining outdoors on an attractive vine-strewn heated terrace. They are currently taking a break until July 30th, but will be back for the rest of the summer and beyond.
What to eat and drink? Modern, world cuisine dishes made with carefully sourced ingredients.Sage, Main Street, Midleton, Co Cork, sagerestaurant.ie, 021-4639682. Sage 2gO Foodstore open Wednesday to Saturday, 9am-8pm and Sunday, noon-7pm. Evening dining, Wednesday to Saturday, 4-8pm; Sunday 2-8pm
Terrace dining at the InterContinental hotel in Dublin 4.
The somewhat secluded garden terrace at the back of this Ballsbridge landmark hotel underwent remedial drainage work while the business was in lockdown, making it now completely accessible for outdoor dining. Perfect for a civilised wind down, or smart start to the weekend.
What to eat and drink? You can order afternoon tea, or dishes from the lobby lounge menu, such as salads, sandwiches and a small selection of more substantial main courses. And cocktails, of course.InterContinental, Simmonscourt Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. intercontinentaldublin.ie, 01-6654000 (front desk). Terrace open from 9am daily
Fire Steakhouse & Bar on Dawson Street in Dublin 2.
A stylish dining terrace at this city centre location, with sturdy wooden tables and cheery red parasols to offer shade from the sun. It is surrounded by lush planting that gives a definite oasis in the city feel. Social distancing protocols apply, but youll still be eating en plein air with views of Dawson Street.
What to eat and drink? Fish and shellfish is a strong component of an extensive menu, and there is also a dedicated steak menu. Wine list is extensive and has a range of vegan, vegetarian and biodynamic options.Fire Steakhouse & Bar, Dawson Street, Dublin 2, firesteakhouse.ie, 01-6767200. Open from 5pm (Monday to Friday); Saturday from 3pm and Sunday from 1pm
The Marker rooftop terrace and bar in Dublin 2.
Order food and drinks while enjoying the thrill of a massive Dublin sky on the sea side of the city. There is a change in the opening hours for this well-known vantage point: from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Sunday, it is for hotel guests only. Wednesday to Sunday, 5-11pm, it is open to residents and non-residents.
What to eat and drink? A concise menu of snacks and light meals available from 5pm to 9pm, or you could let the dizzying height go to your head and order the summer special. BubbleClaws is a feast of grilled blue lobster, tomato salad, truffle fries, with a bottle of Ayala Champagne, for 120 for two.The Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2, themarkerhoteldublin.com, 01-6875100. Open every day
OGradys on the Pier in Barna, Galway.
A perennial favourite. Theres a small terrace to one side of OGradys pub and very lucky people get to sit and watch the sun go down over Galway Bay, looking out to the Burren one of the loveliest views in the country.
What to eat and drink? Killary Mussels or butter-fried plaice with floury spuds, washed down with a pint of Guinness.OGradys on the Pier, Seapoint, Barna, Co Galway, ogradysonthepier.ie, 091-592223. Open seven days, 12.30-3pm and 6-10pm
The outdoor room at Suesey Street restaurant.
Entirely hidden from the street, the courtyard behind the basement restaurant Suesey Street is a secret place for a proper outdoor lunch. It has had a revamp and is even smarter and more comfortable than it was. Plus … John Healy, the slickest, suavest maitre d in the business.
What to eat and drink? Lots of salads and fish and a very tasty burrata and heirloom tomato salad with basil and artichoke. Healy recommends the Tanqueray gin with passion fruit, orange bitters and dehydrated orange.Suesey Street, 26 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, sueseystreet.ie, 01-6694600. Open for lunch Wednesday to Friday, noon-2.30pm; dinner Wednesday to Saturday, 6-9.30pm
Watch the sun go down over cocktails and seafood at Bar restaurant at the Cliff House in Ardmore.
The views of Ardmore Bay from this expansive terrace just off the hotels casual restaurant and bar, not so imaginatively named The Bar, are stunning. A sunset meal there, on a good day, is the stuff memories are made of. There are two new chefs strutting their stuff in the hotel, Ian Doyle and Adam Kavanagh, and the food offering has had a revamp.
What to eat and drink? The priority remains championing local, seasonal ingredients, which the hotel has access to in spades. The Bar restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Menu highlights include a roast chicken for two to share (36), and a seafood platter (29), with chowder, coddle and dish and chips also featuring. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially on a sunny day.Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford, cliffhousehotel.ie, 024-87800. The Bar is open every day, for lunch and dinner
The Terrace is a well-kept secret at the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin 2.
The Terrace is a hidden secret in the city, an outdoor drinking and light-dining space, adjacent to the 1824 Bar, at the top of the hotels central staircase, leading off the entrance foyer. Comfortable and with lots of shade, it is a big draw on a sunny day.
What to eat and drink: Salads, mixed platters (that can be plated individually), of mixed seafood, cheese and charcuterie, or crudites. There is a full bar menu here, including cocktails.The Shelbourne Hotel, 27 St Stephens Green, Dublin 2, theshelbourne.com, 01-6634500. Terrace open 4-10pm, Sunday to Thursday and 2-10pm on Friday and Saturday
We asked readers to suggest their own favourite outdoor drinking and dining spots. Here are a selection of the responses (Covid-19 may have restricted some openings).
- Fisk Seafood Bar, Downings, Co Donegal
- The Harbour Bar, Bray, Co Wicklow
- The Moorings, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
- Bresson, Monkstown, Co Dublin
- Stoop Your Head, Harbour Rd, Skerries, Co Dublin
- The Garden House, Malahide, Co Dublin
- The Glyde Inn, Dunleer, Co Louth
- Jack Fenn Cafe, Belleek Castle, Ballina, Co Mayo
- Whelehans Wines, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin
- Waterfront House & Restaurant, Enniscrone, Co Sligo
- The Donkey Shed, Newbarn Farm, Ashbourne, Co Meath
- Riverside Terrace, Il Vicolo, Galway
- Gregorys Garden, Castlegregory, Co Kerry
- Blossom Grover Terrace at The River Club, Cork
- allynahinch Castle, Connemara, Co Galway
- Clontarf Castle, Dublin
- Skinnys, Ballycotton, Co Cork
- The Bailey, Sth Anne St, Dublin
- Canal terrace at Angelinas, Percy Place, Dublin
- Terrace at The Europe hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry
- The Strand, Cahore, Ballygarrett, Co. Wexford
- The Bulman, Kinsale, Co Cork
- Murrays bar, Inishbofin
- The Grayson, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
- Blackrock Castle, Cork
- Greenes, MacCurtain St, Cork
- ONeills Railway Tavern, Camp, Kerry
- The Duck, Dalkey, Co Dublin
- Bunnyconellan, Myrtleville, Cork
- McDonaghs Seafood, Quay St, Galway
- The Tap Room, Rathmullan House, Donegal
- Olivetos, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
- Walled garden, The Pantry, Portlaoise
- One Society, Lwr Gardiner St, Dublin
- Curragower Bar, Clancy’s Strand, Limerick
- Cornstore, Thomas St, Limerick
- Walled garden at Burtown House, Co Kildare
- Vaughans, Liscannor, Co Clare;
- Terrace at Radisson hotel, St Helens, Co Dublin
- St Kierans Country House, Ballaghanea, Virginia, Co Cavan
- Mary Barrys Bar, Kilmore, Co Wexford
- Terrace at Park Hotel, Kenmare, Co Kerry
- The Salmon Inn, Mullinasole Pier, Donegal town
- Cornstore, Cornmarket St, Cork
- Gourmet Food Parlour, Santry, Dublin
- The Wilds, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.