A food lover’s guide to Belfast

Belfast Food Guide - Pikalily Food Blog

When you think of some of the gourmet capitals of the world, you might think of, perhaps, Paris, Barcelona, London or New York but Belfast?  Yes, the capital city of Northern Ireland is starting to make inroads in the culinary scene and we’ve been fortunate enough to visit many of the city’s popular eateries.  We’ve still plenty to tick off our list but if you’re travelling to Belfast any time soon, here’s a few local hotspots you may want to check out.

University Area

Having went to University in Belfast, most of our memories of the University area consist of eating in Helen’s Bakery on the Ormeau Road or ordering a £3.50 special from The Emerald Chinese Takeaway.  How times have changed with the University Area and particular Botanic Avenue and Stranmillis home to some wonderful restaurants sharing cuisines from all over the world.  One of the highlights of this area is Molly’s Yard which even stocks some local craft beers from the Hilden Brewery.  In terms of the menu here, think ‘inventive comfort food’ with dishes such as slow-roast Belfast Hills leg of kid goat with basil mash, roast celeriac and Belfast Blonde jus being a highlight.

Barbecue Burger Bun Gorilla Manchester - Pikalily Blog

Best place for breakfast in Belfast

Even before developing its title as an emerging centre of gastronomy, Belfast was known for the fine breakfasts served up everywhere from guest houses through to five-star hotels.  At the centre of this was the famous Ulster Fry – grease on a plate, but boy does it taste good!  The big question though is where in Belfast serves the best breakfast?

Well, no doubt that is a bone of contention, but you would be hard pressed to beat Maggie May’s on Botanic Avenue. Their Ulster fry is guaranteed to send any hangover running for cover, and even better, it comes with a vegetarian option, so your veggie friends don’t have to be content with an omelette.  If you’re looking something that screams a true Belfast breakfast then look no further than the aforementioned Helens Bakery on Ormeau Road.  Dating back to my uni days I’m not sure I’ve had a breakfast that can top it.

Budget Dining in Belfast

Often, when you think of budget dining, it is a fast-food restaurant that comes to mind, but there are some great alternatives in Belfast for those of you dining on a budget.  The John Hewitt pub, serving lunch every day from 12-3 and owned by the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre is a case in point. Great food, wonderful setting and prices that will keep you coming back again and again.  Another great place for the budget concious diners among you is Love and Death Inc and not just because it’s run by my big mate Suzie’s brother.  £5.00 meal deals all week and some of the finest cocktails in Belfast see this place kept busy throughout the year.

St Anne’s Square and the Cathedral Quarter

If there’s one place that screams New Belfast in terms of the culinary world then it’s the Cathedral Quarter.  This is where it’s happening and central to this is the popular St Anne’s Square area which boasts many fantastic restaurants, most of which we’ve dined in ourselves including Coppi. The 4th Wall, Potted Hen and House of Zen.  Once you finish your meal here you can head to the nearby Mac to catch a show or take a walk down one of the nearby side streets to enjoy a pint on one of the many buzzing bars in the Cathedral Quarter.

Pork 4th Wall Belfast - Pikalily Food Blog

Most stylish restaurant in Belfast

Stylish restaurants are becoming ever more popular in Belfast and while none of the restaurants in the city were rewarded with a Michelin star in 2014, surely it won’t be too long until Belfast is home to a Michelin restaurant – it’s been too long. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience to remember in Belfast then the likes of Deane’s (former Michelin restaurant), OX, James Street South and the Ivory Restaurant at Victoria Square which overlooks the city are well worth trying out.

Best vegetarian restaurant in Belfast

Regulars to our blog will know that we do enjoy our meat and two veg but we have been out on many occasions with vegetarian friends and Coppi in St Anne’s Square is certainly a restaurant with a good range of vegetarian dishes.  Another good option is the restaurant ‘Home‘ in Wellington Place, which truly does offer something for everyone and in terms of vegetarian dishes is hard to beat.

Coppi Menu Belfast - Pikalily Food Blog

Don’t forget St Georges Market

Last but by no means least, no trip to Belfast would be complete without a visit to the famous St Georges Market in the city centre.  The market is open all weekend but to get the real foodie experience try to get along on a Saturday morning and do go on an empty stomach; you won’t regret it.  You can read more about St Georges Market in our recent post.

Trip to St Georges Market Belfast - Pikalily Food Blog

This post was written in partnership with Phipps PR to highlight the growing Belfast food market. Phipps PR are specialists in PR for food and drinks brands, and certified foodies of course!  You can visit their website and learn more about them here.


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Main image courtesy NITB


Welcome to Pikalily, an award-winning food, travel and lifestyle blog. We are Nial and Helen, a happily married couple from Northern Ireland, who share a passion for food and travel among many things. We became parents to our beautiful boy Lewis in 2017. Follow our adventures through the blog.

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