It's surprising to think that after 25+ times visiting Ireland, I still don't know my way around Dublin. Ever since I was a fetus, the usual procedure was to hop on a plane at San Diego International Airport, land in Dublin, jump in a rental car with the parental unit and brother duo, drive 30 minutes to our family home in Naas, and run around the gardens/play with cows for 30 days straight (with an occasional jump in the river or drink from St. Patrick's well). But I was never old enough to go to Dublin on my own, and for the most part, the month in Ireland had to be reserved for visiting family and listening to stories from Granddad and Granny.
Due to natural familial changes and the invention of IsaTales (we can thank Tristan mostly for the latter), I finally put my foot down and said, "I'm spending time in Dublin this trip no matter what any of you fools say," verbatim. Maybe. Maybe not. I might have asked kindly with a bow and a peace offering. But you'll never know my secrets.
I coordinated my arrival with my sister and her boyfriend who were backpacking around Europe. I find it much more invigorating to take non-vegans around a new city with me while I discover places to eat so that it's less torturous and we get to order more food. Is there any benefit for them? Not usually, but I like to argue that it unintentionally gets more vegetables into their mouths. So technically I'm just looking out for their best interest.
I got in a few hours earlier than my companions, and because Aer Lingus tried to serve me white bread with cucumbers on it as their version of a "vegan" meal, I was famished. So I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan Dublin airport and bussed to Trinity College, dropped my bags off at the AirBnb and strolled around until I found Sprout & Co. Unfortunately, it was closed. So that's the end of this blog!
Just kidding. I went on to Tang by Yogism, which was absolutely freaking amazing. Seriously. The price is similar to what you would pay for a vegan meal in Los Angeles, but you get twice the amount of food. I wanted to eat it all in one sitting because it was so good, but I got a box for later knowing that I'd be hungry. I'm all about a 2 for 1 deal, ya know?
I asked the barista at Tang where I should eat tomorrow before I head to the west. I also clarified that it had to be g o o d because it would be my second and last vegan meal in Dublin for who knows how long. She mentioned Sprout & Co, so I put it on my list for tomorrow.
After my sister and her boyfriend got in, we decided to head to a pub down the street called The Ginger Man. I should note that almost every pub was poppin' off on this Thursday evening, but this pub in particular was poppin' off. The crowd lined the building and on to the street with nearly a Guinness in every hand. I'm not a big alcohol drinker, but the occasional red wine will do. Although I sometimes opt for a Bulmers cider while in Ireland so that I can feel ~cultured~ and because it tastes darn good, if we're being honest.
My sister went to boarding school in Ireland (luckily I went to college before my parents decided that would be a good idea) so she knew a few secret spots to hit. The following morning, we went to this hipster industrial style cafe called The Fumbally, which offers a variety of options for herbivores and omnivores. Most importantly, everything on the menu is seasonal, pasture-raised, organic and local.
I got the coconut yogurt with peaches, pomegranates, and "free from everything" granola. The coconut yogurt was subpar; a little watery if you ask me. But honestly, I was just happy to have coconut yogurt as an option. My sister and her boyfriend both got different versions of avo/egg toasts, which they raved about all day. Literally, as we were eating, they were already talking about the next "vegan" place we would eat at. While they ate their egg toasts. Smh.
After a nice 3-mile self-guided walking tour of the city, we made a pit stop for vegan donuts at The Rolling Donut. Honestly, I debated not adding this one in here because the donuts were not very good at all. Then again, I'm from the land of vegan donuts (Los Angeles) so maybe my standards are off. Although, we three communally agreed the donuts were not the best and would likely not go back again. Think, "a toasted Wonder Bread roll with vegan frosting on top." Definitely the opposite of what I'm into. BUT if you are in to that, here's a photo:
So after a quick pregame at the donut shop, we finally made it to Sprout & Co. for our last meal in Dublin. I expected a mini superfood market with a small cafe menu, but it turned out to be more of a build-your-own salad or bowl type of place. Still fantastic, and again, I wanted to eat the whole thing in one sitting but the portion was so large that I ended up saving half for later. Go me.
I built my own salad bowl with spinach and light kale, purple cabbage, quinoa, beetroot pesto, mixed seeds, dairy free pesto, and "free from everything" falafels. So here are my major take-aways from eating healthy in Dublin:
1. They use this label called "free from everything" often, which basically means free from gluten, soy, dairy, sugar and tree nuts.
2. There is this SPICY PEANUT BUTTER phenomenon happening and it is wild. Who invented this? What was the inspiration behind it? What do you put it on? I just have so many questions.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent amount of delicious, clean eats in Dublin; and in addition, the air is clean and there are parks and Bikram Yoga studios nearly every block. Bikram yoga, my people! I could definitely live here.
One last final note— I spent a month living in Dublin a few summers ago for an internship in college. During this time, I frequented Dublin City Bikram Yoga. It was an extremely challenging class, but always so rewarding and a great way to de-stress and meet like minded people.
Hopefully this helps! If you do visit Dublin and hit any of these places, let me know your thoughts. Especially if you find any other places that I should hit on my next trip!
**EDITOR (me) NOTE**
After Sprout & Co., we headed down to the southwest to visit my father's home. While I thought we wouldn't spend anymore time in Dublin, I was wrong! Tristan, Tessa and I ended up heading to Dublin for one last day before we flew out of Ireland, and I have to say this was a close tie to Tang as my favorite meal in Dublin. Tessa and I went wandering to find food in this random area of town that looked like the business district (not my favorite part of Dublin), but we found an AMAZING little restaurant called Nutbutter. Again, it was kind of another build-your-own-bowl place but the scenery was v. v. chic and the food was amazing, plus it caters to vegans and non-vegans alike. Tessels and I both got the Mexican bowl (hers with chicken, mine just as is) and split a chocolate avocado mouse truffle, which I highly recommend.