Last June, Dan (@guywithamap) and I spent a week in Ireland to celebrate my college graduation. We booked our trip through Great Value Vacations, which we had read very mixed (okay, mainly negative reviews) reviews of. We still decided to book through them, mainly because of the price, but also because my dad had used them the year before and had no complaints. You pay a flat fee for the trip, which includes your flights (ours were direct from Logan Airport in Boston to Dublin), a rental car, and accommodations for each night. The accommodations were mainly through a B&B network, except for Dublin, which was a fairly central hotel called the North Star Hotel. We were in Ireland for 8 nights, and our itinerary was as follows:
Days 1 and 2: Dublin, Ireland (with day trip to the Wicklow Mountains)
Days 3 and 4: Galway, Ireland (with day trip to the Cliffs of Moher)
Days 5 and 6: Dingle Peninsula
Days 6 and 7: Adare, Ireland
Over the next week, I will be posting gluten free getaway guides each day for the locations we visited on our trip, as well as a bonus guide for Kilkenny, Ireland, which I visited with my parents while I was studying abroad in London. I’ll also include some tips and tricks for booking through Great Value Vacations (which, in the end, I do consider to be a good deal!). Okay - here's the Dublin guide!
Getting to Dublin: Gluten Free Airline Food
Our Great Value Vacation package included flights on Aer Lingus, and since it was an international flight, there was dinner served. We contacted the airline before departure (about a month before), and alerted them that we were both Celiac and needed gluten free meals. They were able to provide gluten free meals on both of our flights, with a hot entree and a tasty dinner roll! Bonus: anyone with dietary restrictions gets served their meal first.
Dublin Gluten Free Accommodations
The North Star Hotel: This is the hotel that came as part of our Great Value Vacation package. While the location was central enough (about a ten minute walk to O’Connell Street) and the rooms were nice, I would not recommend this hotel to gluten free travelers. We emailed the North Star prior to arrival to see if they had any gluten free breakfast options (since breakfast was included in our reservation), and they assured us that they did. They told us that all of the meats and eggs were gluten free and celiac safe. When we arrived in the restaurant, we asked the hostess again about gluten free options – she repeated the same thing about the meat and eggs. However, when we went up to serve ourselves, we noticed that the trays of eggs and meat were lined with bread. I don’t know why they did this (to soak up grease?), but it obviously was NOT celiac safe. They were able to provide us with gluten free toast (supposedly toasted separately), but I do not think the hotel is aware of celiac and cross contamination issues. We had protein bars and yogurt for breakfast.
The Harding Hotel: I stayed in this hotel a few years ago when visiting Dublin with my parents, and I would recommend this hotel for gluten free travelers. The rooms were not as nice as the North Star Hotel, but the location was amazing (right across from Christchurch Cathedral!). The hotel had a restaurant attached, Copper Alley Bistro, which served a yummy gluten free breakfast (toast, eggs, bacon, and cheese). I had no reaction to this breakfast, and the bistro also served a delicious gluten free dinner (see below). This hotel is a great option if you’re looking for something reasonably priced with decent gluten free options.
Gluten Free Restaurants
Queen of Tarts:
An adorable café in the Temple Bar area – we stopped in here quickly before our flight, and they had a number of gluten free baked goods. I had a chocolate cheesecake and a cappuccino – they also had macarons, cake, and some type of cookie. While there were definitely items in the café that contained gluten, I did not have any reaction to my treat – and everything was delicious!
Lemon Crepe and Coffee Co:
One of my favorite Dublin finds. When you tell the front counter staff that you are celiac, they can make gluten free crepes (and attempt to prevent any cross contamination). Dan had a breakfast crepe, and I had a truffle cheese crepe – it was AMAZING. We also split a Nutella crepe with ice cream for dessert (also amazing, of course).
Dan will tell you this is his favorite restaurant in Dublin. Their food is just good, in that locally-sourced, organic type of way. We both had steak sandwiches with arugula and some delicious sauce, served on gluten free bread with roasted potato wedges. It was absolutely delicious – the steak was out of this world. They had a number of gluten free options on the menu, and they are supposed to do a great dinner as well (we came at lunch time). They have two locations – we went to the one on Upper Leeson street (we walked there after visiting Trinity College), but the other one is a bit more central (right across from Lemon Crepe Co, actually!).
Celiac safe fish and chips! Need I say more!? Just tell the front counter that you have celiac, and they use separate fryers for the fried fish and the chips. The meal was delicious, and they have a nice upstairs area that overlooks O’Connell Street. Can’t beat gluten free fish and chips for a cheap and tasty meal!
Red Torch Ginger:
Did you come all the way to Ireland for Thai food? If you’re me, the answer is yes 😉 I love Thai food anywhere I am! Coming here was actually a coincidence – we walked around the city for a while trying to find somewhere that looked like it would have good gluten free options, and when we came across this menu marked with “C” (Celiac!), I was sold. The atmosphere is really modern, it’s in a great location, and nothing makes me feel more confident than somewhere that actively distinguishes between “gluten free” and “celiac”. I had pad thai and chicken satay – both were great!
Copper Alley Bistro/Darkey Kelly’s:
As mentioned above, this is the restaurant that is attached to the Harding Hotel. It’s right by Christchurch Cathedral, so if you’re in the area, I’d recommend stopping by even if you’re not staying at the Harding. At dinner time, we actually ate inside Darkey Kelly’s (the adjoining pub), but it was Copper Alley delivering the food. Darkey Kelly’s was great – we got to listen to live Irish music and enjoy some cider while waiting for our meals! The menu was labeled with a couple of gluten free options, and I had a tasty chicken dish with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and a gravy-like sauce. It was super yummy, and I had no reaction. It was fun to get to eat in a pub atmosphere, since pubs normally don’t carry much (if anything) that is safe for me to eat.
A search for the best Gluten Free Restaurants in Dublin brings up a number of other places too, like the Boxty House and Bunsen, neither of which I’ve had the chance to try yet. Luckily for you (and me!), we are going back to Dublin in November. We’ll update this post with all the new places we try – stay tuned!
Lucky for us gluten free travelers, coffee and cider are both naturally gluten free! Bulmer's Cider is on tap at almost every pub in Dublin, and the coffee here is pretty decent too. Grab a cider at the oldest pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head, or cappuccinos at J.J. Grainger's across from the North Star Hotel.
Bonus Tip for Day Trips:
Going on a day trip from Dublin? Consider heading out to Malahide Castle, which is easily accessible on the train. If you're out there, check out Seomra Tae, a cafe and tea room that offers a full range of gluten free goods!
Up next… Galway!
Check out all of the Celiac Wanderlust Gluten Free Ireland Guides!
Gluten Free Galway, Ireland
Gluten Free Dingle, Ireland
Gluten Free Adare, Ireland
Gluten Free Kilkenny, Ireland