The Hipster Guide to Dublin: Avocados, Beards, & Coffee

Dublin is my hometown. And I’ve spent enough time away (12-15 years) in the last 20 years to witness drastic differences in the capital city of Ireland. Back in 2007 Dublin was invaded by the Polish. Our hard-working, new EU members came in their droves. Then came the Brazilians, who gave a rhythm and colour to Dublin’s city centre.

But then came the hipsters. It was less of an invasion and more of a transformation. Ordinary men turned into skinny jean-wearing beardies. Women went crazy for vintage clothing The most profitable business to have in the last 10 years would have to be a men’s hair and beard barber/salon (or whatever they’re now called). Businesses selling beanies and caps also make a killing.

Note: This post will use all kinds of stereotypes and clichés to describe the subject matter. If you’re offended, well, that’s just unfortunate.

Not everyone loves a hipster or tolerates the folks trying too hard to be one.

Bill receipt for Hipster wannabe dublin pub

In case you didn’t know, Hipsterism originated way back in the 40s when it was truly cool. But lab experiments in Williamsburg, Brooklyn succeeded in recreating the virus which quickly spread to the middle class 20 to 30-year-olds (and even older) individuals worldwide.  In the last 5 to 6 years, cardigans, beards, button-up shirts, and skinny jeans have become part of Dublin’s fabric. It seems to me that men are the most enthusiastic hipsters. I always associate hipsterism with dudes. 20 to 40-year-old guys with perfect hair that work in specialty coffee shops. In fact, when a barista doesn’t display perfectly sculpted hair and beard plus a tweed jacket, I doubt the quality of the coffee.

What are the most hipster parts of Dublin?

To have the best chance of bumping into Hipsters in Dublin city go to these places:

Stoneybatter, Portobello, Rathmines, Smithfield, Phibsorough. These areas have the greatest concentration of barber shops, cafes, vegan restaurants, trendy bars, and vintage clothing shops in the city.

Stoneybatter is probably the fastest growing area for bohemians, beatniks, and smart-dressed hip young people in the country. Never has an area turned so quickly from residential obscurity into a centre for coffee shops, barbers, and gastro-pubs. Houses in this part of town used to go for a song, but look inside the tiny terraced houses and you’ll see modern interior decoration fit for the upwardly mobile hipster in town.

In the city centre, the area around South William St & Drury St, you’ll bump into the cool people of Dublin. This is a good place to start if you’re on the hipster trail. Just follow some of these people to their next specialty coffee shop, bar, vintage store, or hat store.

My grandmother lived a block from Smithfield. Back in the day, the only things you’d see around here were food markets and horses. The smell of horseshit has been replaced by the smell of freshly brewed coffee, imported ales, and pulled pork. Smithfield isn’t one of the nicest-looking areas of Dublin. The regeneration of the area went wonky somewhere along the way and it looks like an experiment gone wrong. But the hipster crowd spilled over from Stoneybatter and some funky cafes and bars are setting the scene.

And a rising star is the suburb of Phibsborough. Dubliners know where it is, but you generally won’t find it in the guidebooks published before 2015 at least. These days, the Northside suburb is getting traction. Time Out Magazine recently put the sleepy suburb in the top 50 coolest neighborhoods in the world. Yep, in the world. Hard to believe. I grew up near Phibsboro (Phibsborough’s pseudonym) and to be frank, it wasn’t the kind of place I’d be interested in hanging out in. But that’s what happens when an area gets hipsterfied (the precursor to gentrification). There are cool pubs, cool cafes, and trendy yoga studios in the area. I love the Two Boys Brew Cafe on the North Circular Road. Excellent coffee and popular with the Macbook brigade and clients sporting the regulation side-shaved head and waistcoat. Across the road, you’ll find YogaHub, where trendy people limber up. Another good spot (I’ve been there many times) to meet the local and traveling hipsters. The Back Page pub and McGowan’s pub are Phisboro institutions at this stage. Worth a look.

1. Cafes & Coffee. Dublin’s Hipster Cafes

Instant Nescafe does not cut the mustard here. We’re talking finely roasted Colombian gold. Bonus points for fair-trade and organic. Dubliners are obsessed with coffee.

Tip: Drinking cold brew coffee will make you stand out among the crowd as hip.

3FE is considered a flagship coffee shop in Dublin city. Located in the tech hub of Dublin’s docklands, the cafe has a loyal clientele of young techies, international expats, local artists, and plenty of beards. The owner, Conor Harmon, is one of the top baristas in the country so you can expect the quality bar to be high.

Barista Bike bills itself as the first ecologically friendly coffee pop-up unit in Ireland. So there! These guys are hitting two of the categories on the list: fixie bikes and coffee. Supreme hipness exudes. Various locations around town. Because they’re mobile, in case you didn’t figure that out.

I should really add Vice Coffee to this list. It’s always cited as one of the main coffee haunts for the cool kids. But they ignored me when I went in for a cup of coffee one day. So what can I say? I’m not cool enough, obviously. If you like the aloof, we’re-so-cool attitude and you have no problem begging for service, this is the place for you. Enjoy!

The best coffee shops for Hipsters in Dublin are:

  • 3FE. Grand Canal Street
  • Kaph. 31 Drury Street
  • Love Supreme Coffee Stoneybatter. 57 Manor Street.
  • The Fumbally, 8 Fumbally Lane,
  • Legit Coffee Co. 1 Meath Mart, Meath St
  • Coffeeangel HQ, 3 Trinity St
  • Cloud Picker, 42 Pearse St

Check out this list of the best cafes in Dublin. Just don’t try them all in one day!

2. Eating

Hipsters are either vegans or rampant carnivores. It’s one or the other and that’s a fact. Vegan and vege restaurants abound in this city. The following eateries are not strictly vegetarian but they serve plenty of non-meat foods (Anything serving kale or avocado toast works).

  • The Fumbally (again) – ground zero for hipsters in Dublin
  • One Society Cafe – great food, lovely coffee, and a great spot to watch the world go by.
  • Brother Hubbard North – The original Brother Hubbard and one that helped feed the growing wave of cool people in the area.
  • Cloud Picker Cafe – Independent specialty coffee shop, roaster, and café serving amazing coffee, tasty pastries, salads, pancakes, meatballs, and cakes. A great spot slightly out of the tourist zone.

The best meat-heavy restaurants and cafes are:

  • The Butcher Grill serves meaty burgers, lardy chips, and deep-fried onion rings and marinated ribs, couscous, and craft beer. Delicious.
  • My Meat Wagon in Smithfield focuses on meat, funnily enough. This is what you call a hipster bbq. One of those places that looks like they took their time to make it looked like it was built in a hurry. But the food’s good. The perfect place to chow down on smoked ribs & chicken. This isn’t the place for a first date, but it’s a good spot to get some food before walking on to Dublin’s hippest bars.
  • Bread 41 adds pheromones to bread that are irresistible to hipsters and drives them to spend long periods of time buzzing around the front of this Dublin 2 bakery. The truth is, it’s darn good bread and probably worth breaking my ‘no queuing’ rule for.
tweet by frank mcnally about bread 41 bakery dublin

3. Vintage Clothing

No self-respecting hipster would leave the house without some form of throwback waistcoat, tank top, shirt, or flannel pants. It’s part of the uniform. Stores selling vintage clothes around the city are minted thanks to the trend towards clothes that nobody wanted a few years previous.

Where to get your vintage clothes in Dublin:

The Dublin Vintage Factory at 57 Smithfield Square is a must.

George’s Street Arcade is a mine of old stuff that people pay good new money for. Check out the Vintage Shop and The Retro Shop in George’s Street Arcade. The Retro Shop is a hidden store that everyone knows about, including famous shoppers like Blondie and Lana Del Ray. Rub shoulders with the rich and famous here.

Girls, head to Lucy’s Lounge. 1 Fownes Street Upper, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 and Om Diva, 27 Drury St, Dublin 2

4. Hipster Bars

Tip: You should only drink craft beer or exclusive whiskey if you want to blend in as a hipster.

The Workman’s Bar on the quays of the River Liffey (near Temple Bar) has become the hangout for the skinny jeans brigade. It’s an old-school pub turned hipster but there’s no gimmick here. Quality live music, a huge whiskey range, and plenty of craft beers have made this place a winner. The quirky interior also helps. Note to bar owners: make your premises Instagram friendly. The food is awesome too.

The Bernard Shaw pub has been a hipster bar since before hipster culture existed. After 13 years in Dublin 8, the landlord decided he preferred to have a vacant space and forced the bar owners to relocate to Drumcondra. Or is it Glasnevin? I don’t think they know. But in any case, they’re close to Hipster-central Phibsborough. They know how to charge: €5.50 for a bowl of creamy organic porridge. Enough said. And of course, you can order avocado toast, vegan sausages, and gluten-free stuff.

Pyg looks like a hipster convention any night of the week. Morning and afternoon on the weekends are just as busy, but with the handlebar mustachioed crowd drinking organic fair-trade coffees to nurse the craft beer hangover. But to Pyg’s credit, it’s a great place, full of cubby holes and consisting of different levels for seating, bar drinking, and schmoozing. Outside there’s a fantastic seating area for watching other hipsters preen their feathers.

The Dice Bar. Formerly a local bar for the working class to sip pints of Guinness and talk about the price of a pint, the Dice Bar is now a place for international hipsters to sip €10 bottles of craft beer and talk about the price of a trip to Lollapalooza to see Bon Iver. Update: the Dice Bar closed in 2020 but plans to reopen in a new location in 2022. Which hip suburb will they choose?

Further up the road, past Phibsborough, and right beside Dublin’s Botanical Garden is John Kavanagh’s, a.k.a. The Gravediggers, which got its nickname thanks to the former grave-digging workers that frequented the place. These days, hallowed ground hole excavators have given way to the new wave of smartly dressed Guinness aficionados. This pub lays claim to the best pint of Ireland’s most famous brew. It’s definitely up with the best. Anthony Bourdain visited Kavanagh’s on a trip to Ireland and loved it. After that, the bar lost its underground status and became mainstream. Nothing much has changed, though. Don’t expect to be bombarded with Arcade Fire as you check your beard out in the behind-the-bar mirrors. And don’t take out that phone! This is a place for serious drinking and deep conversation.

Get your fill of specially imported Argentinian wine, global draught beer, fair-trade coffee, and artisan food products at Fenian Street’s Probus Wines. They’ve gone for the part deli, part bar, part wine-tasting club, part coffee shop look. You know the one. A great little spot. But don’t tell anyone or it might cease to be hip.

5. Barbers

To be a real hipster in Dublin, you need a massive lumberjack beard but neatly sculpted hair. Short at the sides with longer, perfectly placed strands of sweepback mane on the top.  It’s an international look but add in the hint of ginger (usually just in the beard) and it’s now a very Irish take on hipster’s hair.

Go to any of these places to get your mad-looking mustache trimmed.

  • The Butcher Barber
  • Cut & Sew
  • Bedford Stuy Baber
  • Sugar Daddy

6. Bike Shops

While Irish people are used to the rain, they’re not enthusiastic about bicycles. Hipsters go by bike because, well, cars pollute the environment, and are products of capitalist monopolies.

Choose your bike wisely. Racing bikes and hardcore mountain bikes will make you look like a fanatic. Don’t go there! Shock-free frames with straight handlebars and old-school pastel colours are the order of the day. Single-speed and fixie bikes are cool.

These are the best bike stores in town to find an old-school set of wheels.

  • Funked Up Fixies – 75 Francis Street, Dublin 8, Ireland [update July 2021: currently closed but hoping to reopen in 2022]
  • Rothar – 16 Fade St, Dublin &167 Phibsboro road, D7. Lots of classic and vintage options to choose from here in the Northside hipster town of Phibsboro and the trendy city centre Fade St locations.
  • Dublin2Barista. Going for two angles on the hipster market is this bike store & coffee shop. They encourage clients to grab a barista-made coffee while browsing for a new bike. As you do.

If you’re a hipster from out of town and you’ve exhausted the list of options on this page, check out the “Not the usual list of best things to do in Dublin” guide.

The Hipster's Guide to Dublin Pinterest Pin


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3 thoughts on “The Hipster Guide to Dublin: Avocados, Beards, & Coffee”

  1. Spot on. What I want to know is, when will tripe and onions and pig’s crubeens be coming into fashion again? And should I continue to hold onto my elephant flares from 1970? They must be due for a revival any day soon. Well done great blog post.

  2. This is the best Dublin hipster guide I’ve read. Funny and erudite. As s Dubliner myself, I can confirm that your observations are accurate.

  3. Who actually admits to being a hipster?.. Don’t know how anyone can call this look cool…It’s laughable..with their avacado toast and almond coffee,and penny farthing bicycle chained up outside the organic vegan hero cafe….FFS..get a high power motorcycle and be really cool.

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