With several of Belfast’s eateries retaining Michelin stars, dining in this city is sure to be a treat. Top-notch service, fine locally sourced ingredients, inspired tasting menus and seductive interior design ensure your gourmet experience in Northern Ireland’s capital is second to none. And many of its restaurants have a story to tell, either through the venue’s history, or the owner’s journey. Whether you’re seeking a formal atmosphere or a more relaxed vibe, here are the very best places to eat when you’re visiting this fascinating city.
Condé Nast Traveller listed OX amongst the world’s hottest restaurants. The Sunday Times counted it as one of the 100 best restaurants in the UK. The Irish Times named it Best restaurant Ireland in 2015. Chef Stephen Toman has won multiple awards and Ox has held a Michelin star since 2016. The eatery’s larder changes according to the seasons, showcasing produce from local suppliers. Six-course tasting menus (with optional wine pairing) are served by night, with two or three-course experiences by day. And for those just wanting a snack, there’s Ox Cave for sharing boards and platters. Designed by Oscar & Oscar, the 40 seat restaurant overlooks the River Lagan.
With a name inspired by the Greek philosopher Epicurus (who held that the highest good is pleasure), the title of this elegant venue creates raised expectations from the off. And it doesn’t disappoint. EIPIC has been awarded a Michelin star for six years running and has three AA Rosettes. In addition to its set menus, EIPIC offers a ‘Menu Surprise’ for those who enjoy an element of mystery. Chef Alex Greene’s Incredible Edible Book, a unique dessert celebrating 150 years of British children’s literature is also available to order as an extra course.
Vespers – Culloden Estate & Spa
If gothic grandeur is more to your taste, book a table in the Victorian oak-panelled dining room at the five-star Culloden Estate and Spa. The dining style here is described as ‘gourmet chic’, but despite its find dining credentials and formal setting, it’s an excellent choice for both families and couples. Adults can enjoy modern Irish cuisine, with their three course fine dining set menu, accompanied by views over the Belfast lough. After the meal, diners can adjourn to a cosy lounge, for coffee or cocktail beside a roaring log fire and gentle background music.
Named after the secret society that met in the same back streets of Cathedral Quarter, this restaurant is watched over by an all-seeing eye in street art form. It specialises in simple fare with punchy flavours and features a post-industrial decor theme from the same designers as Ox. An open, theatre-style kitchen allows diners to watch the culinary artists at work. Owner and Executive Chef Gareth McCaughey set up Muddlers Club after returning to his native Northern Ireland, having honed his craft in some of London’s top kitchens. Multi-award winning (for both food and service), Muddlers Club has a Michelin star. Catering particularly well to vegan and vegetarian diners, the seasonal tasting menus are sublime.
The Wolff Grill – Titanic Hotel
Overlooking the Titanic Belfast building and slipways where the Titanic was built, the Wolff Grill is part of the Titanic Hotel. If you’re in town on a Sunday, this is the place to be for a hearty roast lunch representing excellent value. In the evening, a la carte favourites include rabbit, monkfish and tender rump of lamb. While there is always at least one vegetarian option, it tends to lend itself better to carnivorous diners. The team of award-winning chefs is led by Nigel Mannion – together they create a sophisticated and often unusual combination of flavours (look out for the likes of parsnip custard and sea bream with Earl Grey and lemon).
The Great Room Restaurant – Merchant Hotel
The glass cupola at the centre of the stunning Victorian building and Ireland’s largest chandelier are sights to behold in what is undoubtedly a grand dining room. Awarded 2 AA Rosettes, it’s a particularly good choice for those following a plant-based diet – exotic a la carte, tasting and afternoon tea menus have all been created for vegan diners (and those simply preferring to cut down on meat and dairy). Gluten and nut-free options are readily available too, as well as plenty of meaty options, making this restaurant a very inclusive choice for your party. An express lunch menu is popular with business people and tourists wanting to make the most of their day.