My Dublin Food by Foot Tour convinced me that I didn’t understand Irish cuisine. Potatoes and Guinness. These were the two items that I thought made up the average Irish diet.
After I booked my Dublin Foot by Foot Tour during my recent trip to Ireland, I learned the error of my ways.
Organized by Kevin Adams, the Dublin Food by Foot Tour was held on Sunday morning at 10 am. When I looked out my window and saw snowflakes dancing on my window sill, I momentarily considered a no-show. But then I pulled on my snow boots and headed down Mercer Lane. I had already taken the James Joyce Centre neighborhood walking tour and the Christmas at the Castle tour, how could I cheat myself of the Dublin food tour?
St. Catherine’s Church
My destination was St. Catherine’s Church, where our host would meet his group. Kevin explained that we would stop for “five delicious street eats along the way.” Our Dublin Foot by Foot Tour tour covered breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
I was curious how Kevin conceived of his food and drink walking tours of Dublin. “My wife Aoife and I wanted to share the history and story of Dublin through good value street food,” explained Kevin. “Our tour was supposed to be a weekend only hobby but became my main job from April this year. Dublin is such a unique city with so much history. When most people think about Dublin, they focus on our famous drinks. We wanted to tell the story of the great quality food we have. For example, we have some of the best quality beef and dairy products in the world.”
We stood on the corner outside St. Catherine’s Church as Kevin explained about Liberties neighborhood. “The people in the Liberties are often referred to as the real dubs. Every corner, every cobblestone has a story to tell from Guinness, Irish Whiskey, St. Patrick to Ireland’s oldest Fish and Chip shop. You literally cannot take a step without being steeped in history,” explained Kevin.
And, in fact, Kevin’s Food on Foot Tour would take us to several establishments where we could indulge in breakfast sandwiches, fish and chips, and cheesecake.
Value For Money
What sets Kevin’s company apart from other food tours is the cost. He charges 25 euros for the two-hour Dublin Food by Foot Tour walking tour. (A typical walking food tour can cost between 75-90 euros.) Each participant is expected to purchase his own food at each stop. Since the typical item costs between 5 and 10 euros, the cost of the tour is a bargain!
“Brilliant tours and amazing value for money. Our guide Kevin immersed us in the great story and tastes of Dublin.”James Creaney, Manchester, U.K.
Authentic Irish Food
As a former Guinness employee, Kevin is passionate about Dublin’s food and drink culture. He wants to see visitors experience authentic Irish food during their stay in Dublin. He advises visitors to “go where the locals go. To experience great quality authentic Irish food, you don’t need to focus only on five-star restaurants. The average price of food on our stops is €5 for example,” he explained.
Since his company’s Dublin Food by Foot Tour stops are not publicized on his website, you need to buy a ticket to find out his favorites. But Kevin was quite generous in sharing with me the Top 3 foods and drinks that a visitor must taste in Dublin.
“1. Fish and chips from an old chipper; 2. A Beefo in Griolladh on Thomas Streed. It’s a great way to showcase 12-hour slowly cooked Irish beef; and, 3. Baileys Cheesecake,” dictated Kevin.
(Geographical Note: Thomas Street runs from Cornmarket to Saint James’ Gate Brewery. Guinness is brewed at the Storehouse. Thomas Street connects to James’ Street.)
While I didn’t get the opportunity to take Kevin’s Drinks on Foot Tour, he did say that no visit to Dublin is complete without enjoying “1. A pint of Guinness in a traditional pub; 2. A pint of Smithwicks in the cobblestones; and, 3. A 12-year-old Redbreast whiskey on a cold winters night in front of a warm fire.”
Kevin shares his passion for the Liberties, a centuries-old neighborhood in Dublin. “The medieval Dublin had a city wall that surrounded the castle. They were allowed to live here and not pay taxes,” said Kevin.
Liberties neighborhood is famous for its traditional pubs, street eats, weekend markets, and historic venues. In fact, Dublin Castle is an easy ramble to see after the food on foot tour. Also not to be missed is Christ Church Cathedral. It has a medieval crypt.
Kevin described it as the “lawless part of Dublin” where you come to learn the “story of our whiskey and beer.” His 6,000-steps tour offers “fun, good value, connecting with the city like a local. In the Liberties, you can still spend 5 euros and get change for a pint of Guinness. It ranked as the 15th best place to live. It rates as the 1st best place to live by me,” added Kevin, joking.
Stop 1: Container Coffee
As Kevin tells us about the neighborhood, we walk toward Container Coffee. He wants us to taste a “sausage roll,” which is traditional Irish fare for breakfast on the go. We can choose between bacon with ballymaloe relish, pear and black pudding, leek and mustard, fennel and chile, and mushroom and pearl barley rolls. The staggering cheap price is 4.50 euros.
Kevin said the sausage roll is an extension of the Irish breakfast. The farmers needed a protein-heavy meal. It was all pork-based, eggs and tomatoes. “We will always have white & black pudding. You should use it as complement. Put it on bread with butter.
Street food version – pork sandwich that you can hold in your hand,” said Kevin. “Black pudding & pepper – sprinkle between pastry.
After we finish our breakfast roll and a coffee, we meander up the road to Guinness Storehouse. Kevin stops us outside the gate to take photos.
“In 1759, Arthur Guinness opened his brewery. He had access to free water from the hill. People drank ale as it was safer than water. His wife (Livia Guinness) gave birth to 21,” explained Kevin. One has to wonder whether drinking Guinness daily didn’t make her more healthy than the typical Dubliner.
Visiting the “House of Guinness” is a must see for any beer pilgrimage in Ireland. Guinness Storehouse ranks as Ireland’s No. 1 visitor attraction, according to the brewery.
“Join us at the Guinness Storehouse to experience the history, heart and soul of Ireland’s most iconic beer. Explore the story of Guinness across the seven floors of our iconic building, before taking in the 360 views of Dublin city from Gravity Bar.”Guinness Storehouse
This brewery museum is located in an old fermentation plant in the heart of St James’s Gate Brewery. The venue spans seven stories. Guinness Storehouse attracts 1.7 million visitors a year. There are 1.5 Guinness billion pints consumed each year.
“Dublin is Guinness Town. Using Nitrogen (smaller bubble) invented here. The white foam is the gas. Stout is the roasted barley. You don’t drink. You pull your lip under the white and pull through,” explained Kevin, describing how you drink a pint of Guinness.
Stop 2: Griolladh
I didn’t take a photo of our second stop although my tour mates raved about the “Beefo. This sandwich features torn brisket, cooking jus, house pastrami spice, charred peppers, and a organic sour dough break (“toastie’). It costs a whopping 9 euros but it could feed a football team.”
Dubliners (nicknamed “Dubs”) love this type of meat sandwich. According to Kevin, “all the rain makes our grass green. It is illegal to feed them hormones. We make beef, local cheeses, and homemade mayo from the residue of beef.”
Kevin uses this stop-to-eat occasion tp to talk about the Irish flag and what the three primary colors constitute. “Green – independent like France (most likely Catholic). Orange – wanted to stay with British (most likely Anglican). White – everlasting peace between the two. In 1949, we became a republic,” he said.
Stop 3: Leo Burdock
Our third stop is a historic fish and chips shop. Oddly, it wasn’t an Irish institution, but rather Italian. According to Kevin, the Italians were coming over to repair the churches in the early 20th century. “They changed from being stonemasons to making food. The Italians brought fried fish and chips to Ireland,” said Kevin.
Our destination was Leo Burdock, which bills itself as “Famous Fish & Chips Since 1913.”
He recommended a “chipper or a takeaway” as ideal street food. “Order the cod (white fish and no bones). Go with Scampi. Say no chips. It’ll cost you 6 euros,” said Keith.
After consuming a greasy bag of fish and chips, we headed toward Temple Bar. Kevin described it as “officially Dublin’s culture center. In the 1990s, it includes cinema, theater, book stores and live music.”
Stop 4: West End Temple Bar
After our fish and chips meal, it was a short walk to Temple Bar where we headed for The West End Temple Bar. This restaurant is home to crepes, waffles, dessert, breakfast, and lunch.
But we were instructed to order Bailey’s Cheesecake, a delectable combination combining cheesecake, cream, and whiskey. “We don’t bake our cheesecakes. They have delicious dessert,” claimed Kevin.
Stop 5: Murphy’s Ice Cream Store
Despite the fact that we had already consumed dessert, Kevin insisted that we next visit Murphy Ice Cream Store for our second delectable treat.
“Murphy Ice Cream Shop was founded by two Irish American brothers. The cream comes from the West Kerry cow,” said Kevin. Their slogan on their website: “Handmade in Dingle. Made in the heart of Kerry.”
The shop’s best-seller is the Irish brown bread flavor.
“Our Brown bread is supplied by McCambridge’s. Once we have our bread it goes into the oven with muscovado sugar for 8 hours to caramelise, only then is it ready for our ice cream.”Murphy’s Ice Cream Store
It is salty, crunchy, and surprisingly delicious. I know. I asked for a sample.
Dublin Food by Foot Tour
Our tour ended with a group exhausted by eating but happy. Kevin chose to station us by the Molly Mallone statue. She is perhaps Ireland’s most famous fishmonger.
This bronze statue features the buxom Molly at work. She is situated in the heart of Dublin’s Georgian quarter. As our group stood there, numerous tourists stopped to take their photos with Molly.
“In Dublin’s fair city
Where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying, ‘Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!’”
For those vegetarians or vegans who might not take this Food by Foot tour, I suggest that the experience is still worthwhile. Most of the street food outlets offered alternatives, such as the vegetarian breakfast roll. I also quizzed Kevin on options in Dublin.
“We have some excellent vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Ireland. It all comes down to our climate where we can grow lots of yummy vegetables. Take for example Cornucopia restaurant where everything is made for corn. All our stops have vegan and vegetarian options. We also make recommendations to other restaurants that specialize on visitor’s needs,” said Kevin.
Although our tour did not include St. Stephen Green, where I was residing, I can also add that Blazing Salads Cafe is a wonderful vegetarian option. The two sisters which run the café provide breakfast and lunch meals for vegetarians. I ate there every day and can recommend the quinoa black bean burgers, samosas, vegetable soup, and chocolate seed bars.
I highly recommend taking a food tour with Kevin’s company. His enthusiasm instantly drafts you as a Dubliner (see Instagram link). “It is a privilege and an honor to share the history and story of Dublin through street food. We don’t talk about lobster and champagne. Instead, we share the best street food the city has to offer. We make five stops along the way, two of which are desert stops,” said Kevin.