Stylish Drinking Places in Belfast
Like many other cities in the world, Belfast hosts many bars that appeal to different crowds. Here’s a list of excellent bars and restaurants with a traditional mainstream appeal.
(1) The Kitchen Bar
For traditional food, music and craic, there’s nothing like The Kitchen Bar, one of Belfast’s most historic bars. Located at 36-40 Victoria Square (Tel: 9032 4901), the original Kitchen Bar opened for business in 1859 and made a mark as the watering hole of choice by the star performers of the acclaimed Empire Music Hall. The new Kitchen Bar moved to an old converted warehouse just around the corner from the original. Surprisingly, it has retained the same Old World charm and mystique of the original. Regular patrons are very familiar with the three phrases that best characterize The Kitchen Bar: Real Ale. Real Food. Real Craic. First-time visitors to Belfast should experience The Kitchen Bar for its traditional food and for the acclaimed soda bread-based “Paddy Pizza,” which is served every day.
(2) McHugh's Bar & Restaurant
Housed in the oldest building in Belfast (circa 1711), McHugh’s Bar and Restaurant provides guests with various options. Located at 29-31 Queens Square (Tel: 9050 9999), McHugh’s has a basement bar offering live entertainment and the main gallery as well as a 100-seat restaurant that provides impeccable service and fine food. It offers art, culture, entertainment, drinks and excellent food all in one spacious and impressive venue. There are live traditional music sessions on most nights in The Basement.
(3) Madison's Hotel
This sexy boutique hotel hosts a superb restaurant that serves early morning breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner as well as a bar with live music on most nights that is quite popular with both locals and tourists alike. Located at 59-63 Botanic Avenue (Tel: 9050 9800) just a short distance away from the Belfast City Centre, Queens University and Botanic Gardens, Madison’s Hotel has garnered a reputation for offering great food, fine wines, superb cocktails and fantastic entertainment all under the one roof.
(4) Ryan's Bar & Restaurant
Ryan's Bar & Restaurant is best known for good food, good value and great service. Located at 116-118 Lisburn Road (Tel: 9050 9850), the venue has 75 seats in all and offers an informal and comfortable setting where guests can enjoy the tasty offerings of the all-day snack bar. Ryan’s is also renowned for its Ryan's World Famous Chicken Wings, which has its own secret recipe and goes down well with a cold beer, as well as for its tasty “Boxty” selections, which are a kind of Irish potato pancake.
(5) The Parador
The Parador Hotel located at 116-118 Lisburn Road (Tel: 9050 9850) has been completely refurbished and has received a new lease of life. While the hotel is known for having the best budget accommodations in Belfast (starting at only £25 per night for a single room and £38 for a twin or double), it is also famous for its nightly schedule of live entertainment, especially on weekends. In addition, Tuesdays offers live traditional music, Wednesdays are Pub Quiz night while Thursdays feature live jazz. The Jazz Sessions on Thursdays are said to provide the best jazz in all of Belfast.
(6) Cafe Vaudeville
As its name might suggest, Café Vaudeville is huge and over-the-top, featuring a restaurant and bar based on Paris in the 1920s. Located at 25-39 Arthur St, Cafe Vaudeville has a second-floor section that houses the first Bollinger Bar in Northern Ireland.
(7) Europa Piano Bar
More mature drinkers thoroughly enjoy the ambience of Europa Piano Bar, with its characteristic relaxed atmosphere and a breath-taking view of the Golden Mile below. Located at Europa Hotel on Great Victoria Street (Tel: 9027 1066), this is a great place to while away a lazy afternoon.
(8) Empire Bar
Who would have thought that a former church would make such a popular drinking place? Located at 40 Botanic Avenue (Tel: 9024 9276), Empire Bar offers customers traditional Irish music in the bar downstairs and live music and comedy in the section upstairs.
(9) Errigle Inn
Located at 320 Ormeau Road (Tel: 9064 1410). Errigle Inn has retained much of its charm from the storied 1930s when it was an authentic Belfast boozer. It’s a great place to visit but may be a bit out of the way if you will only be in Belfast for a short period of time.
(10) Odyssey Complex
There are mixed feelings about the Odyssey Complex: people either love it or hate it. People may regard it as a soulless hole with too many underage youngsters or a teeming entertainment mecca where young and old converge. With three bars, six restaurants, a cinema, an IMAX theater and a bowling alley, there seems to be something for everyone. During weekends, alcohol flows freely and there's an entirely different vibe. The “beautiful people” come out in hordes and plenty of girls in short skirts and guys with boy band looks prance around.