Today we have a list of recommendations from The Daily Spud, one of our favourite food blogs and possibly the best potato-fancier blog of all time.
Daily Spud’s Favourite Cheap Eats
The Daily Spud lives, works, eats, cooks and blogs in Dublin.
1. Govinda’s (Vegetarian) – Aungier St., Middle Abbey St. and Merrion Row
Don’t come here if you’re looking for anything fancy by way of look or presentation. On the other hand, if it’s a fully belly you’re after, then you’re in luck. Eating at Govindas is cafeteria-style – choose from either a small or large plate, upon which is heaped a selection from their daily hot dishes, plus rice, dal and salad. The hot dishes vary but (thankfully) always seem to include their paneer in a tomato sauce. Small plates cost around €7, large plates just over €10. However, even though the “plate” part of the small plate is, indeed, small (think side-plate), don’t be deceived – they always seem to pile a dinner’s worth on there, so it can be particularly good value. They usually also have a selection of homemade drinks to have with your plate of nosh, of which fresh lemonade is a favourite.
This is what I wish there was more of in Dublin and elsewhere. As well as a selection of hot (or, rather, re-heatable) food items and serious sandwiches, there are interesting salads (involving things like artichoke hearts and CheapEats favourite puy lentils). Not only that, but the salads are sold by weight, which means that you can come away with a nice salad plate for around a fiver (or a couple of euro more if you throw in a side of potato gratin or baby sauteed potatoes, cos ya gotta have a few spuds in there!). Not only that, but if you’re feeling like a cheeky Monday night bottle of wine, you can grab your deli plate up in the food hall and head downstairs to Fallon & Byrne’s Wine Cellar. On Monday nights, you can have any bottle of wine off their shelves for the shelf price plus €1 corkage instead of the usual €10. Hangover at no extra charge.
3. Cornucopia (Vegetarian)
This is a long time favourite. Hearty and wholesome veggie meals, with options for those wanting to avoid gluten and yeast. They have a great range of salads to have on their own or with the mains, and their soup is always a great option. There are generally 2 soups on offer on any given day and a large bowl of soupy loveliness, along with a slice of one of their homemade breads, is tasty, filling and will cost you just over a fiver. What’s not to like about that?
4. Itsa Bagel (various locations)
Great bagel sandwiches, and they’ll make them gluten and wheat-free if you want. Favourites around where I work are the Gourmet Veggie and the Chili Chicken Dream. The bagels are usually around €6 a pop, but I see that they have a special running until Feb 13th, where €6 nets you one of their signature bagels plus your choice of tea/americano/latte/cappuccino.
5. Green 19
I’ve only been here the once thus far but with a good buzz and mains for €10, I think I’ll be back. It’s all bangers-and-mash-and-fish-and-chips-and-corned-beef-and-cabbage type stuff, those homely dishes that seem to be making a recession comeback. Next time could they serve some yoghurt with that chickpea-and-winter-vegetable stew? Thanks.
6. Kinara (318 Clontarf Rd.)
Ok, this doesn’t come under the cheap eats heading, but here’s what I think is a good value story. If you don’t know Kinara in Clontarf, it’s one of the finest places in Dublin to sample Pakistani and Indian cuisine. Really. Three of us went there before Christmas. We shared 2 veggie mains and 2 veggie side orders, 2 orders of pilau rice and naan, a bottle of vino, a couple of desserts and teas to finish off. We couldn’t finish all of the food (though we tried). It worked out at around €30 a head, which, given the standard of food in Kinara, is pretty good value in my book. You could easily spend more if you go the starters route and are having meaty mains, but we were certainly well sated with what we had. Another value option is the early bird special of starter, main and dessert for around the €20 mark. I’d be there more often if I lived nearer Clontarf!
Daily Spud’s Wishlist
1. A bit more imagination on the sandwich front. So many sandwich places just provide the usual chicken/ham/cheese/coleslaw/sweetcorn standard fillings. There are exceptions (like Itsa Bagel and the Pig and Heifer), but, for every one of those, there are several others serving up the usuals. Ingredients don’t need to be expensive, just fresh and with a little imagination applied.
2. More of the New York style deli, where you can get a good selection of both hot and cold food by weight.
3. Tapas-style food at tapas style prices. Perhaps there should be an EU regulation governing the size (and price) of tapas, because the portion sizes for tapas here can vary widely, and places that serve up individual tapas at €10 to €12 a shot should either call them something other than tapas or reduce their prices. The lovely Port House on South William St. at least has the right idea.
4. This last one is more treat than cheap. I’d love to see a really good Café Paradiso style vegetarian restaurant in Dublin. In fact, if Denis Cotter would care to open a branch of Paradiso in Dublin then I’d be all for it. Don’t get me wrong, Cornucopia is great, but Café Paradiso is in a different league. I’d save up and go on special occasions.