In 2008, Dubliner Colin Harmon took a huge gamble. At the peak of Dublin’s financial crisis, he made the decision to quit his safe office job, sell his car and follow his dream of opening his own coffee shop. Since then, he has gone on to launch his own 3FE café, win the Irish Barista Championships four times and produce his own blend of coffee, which can now be found in some of Dublin’s coolest coffee shops. Some might say he’s making Dublin a little better one coffee cup at a time.
So what are his top tips for exploring Dublin these days? Let’s find out…
“When someone comes to explore Dublin, the first place I take them to is a decent coffee shop because it gives them a nice start to their trip and a feel for the buzz of the city’s people. I’ve always said that you’re a decent coffee and a good meal away from loving or hating a city, so I want to make sure Dublin gets a head start. I suggest avoiding obvious tourist attractions such as Temple Bar and heading instead to L. Mulligan Grocer, one of the best pubs in Dublin that focuses on local brewed and distilled drinks as well as an excellent food menu.
Spring is the ideal time to explore Dublin – there’s a freshness in the air and the place is really coming out of its winter slumber. The restaurants and bars are thriving and events like the Six Nations, Offset and the St Patrick’s Festival really bring the city to life. Walking is the best way to get around Dublin because you get a real feel for the place and can take advantage of all the rat runs and alleyways.
Brother Hubbard is the best place for breakfast in Dublin because they’ve got both great coffee and great food, a vital mix! You can’t beat Juniors for lunch in Dublin. I always order the ‘hero’ but get there before 12 if you want a seat and make sure you’re hungry! Don’t leave Dublin without trying everything at Etto. A group of four people can just about work through all the plates to share. If I could only choose one place to have dinner in Dublin it would be Forest Avenue because they’ve managed to make fine dining approachable and cosy. Ely is a good place to have a drink in the evening because of their excellent wine list and great service. Try what the staff recommend, they really know their stuff. The best place to enjoy a coffee is 3fe on Grand Canal Street, but I would say that!
Read anything by Roddy Doyle before exploring Dublin because it will give you a head start on the humour of the Dubs that sometimes bypasses newcomers. The best thing to do for free in Dublin is the Hugh Lane Gallery, although donations are always welcome and definitely deserved.
When it’s sunny in Dublin there’s no place like Seapoint for a dip. The water is freezing but there’s nothing that makes you feel more alive. Meanwhile, you get the best view of Dublin from Ticknock. You can see everything from Blanchardstown to Bray. There’s lots of great running and biking trails up around there too – it’s great to get up and lose yourself for a few hours.
If I want to get out of Dublin, I go to Galway and I eat and drink at Morans on the Weir, Kai, Loam, Sheridans, Urban Grind, Ard Bia and any of the places J.P. McMahon presides over.”
- Fiona Hilliard