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

Dublin’s metamorphosis over the past two decades is nothing short of astounding. From the influx of industrious Polish immigrants to the vibrant Brazilians, each group has left its mark. But perhaps the most remarkable transformation came from within—enter the hipsters.

Dublin is my hometown. And I’ve spent enough time away in the past 20 years to witness drastic differences in the capital city. It’s a different Dublin now, and you can see this in skinny jean-wearing beardies and vintage clothes-loving ladies. In just a few years, Men’s grooming establishments, specializing in beard care became wildly successful, and sales of beanies and caps skyrocketed.

Fair warning: this post will unapologetically embrace stereotypes and clichés. If that offends you, too bad.

Bill receipt for Hipster wannabe dublin pub
Trying to be a hipster can come with a hefty price tag.

Hipsterism, born in the 1940s, experienced a resurgence in Brooklyn before infecting middle-class youth globally. Now, cardigans, beards, and button-up shirts are woven into Dublin’s fabric. Picture this: 20 to 40-year-old men with impeccable hair, serving specialty coffee. These days, if a barista lacks a sculpted beard and tweed jacket, I question the brew’s quality.

What are the most hipster parts of Dublin?

To have the best chance of bumping into hip types in Dublin city, explore the following locations:

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 hub 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 is a good spot to hang out with the cool cats of Dublin. Start here you’re on the hipster trail – tag along with 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 vegetable markets and horses. The smell of horseshit has been replaced by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, imported ales, and pulled pork. Smithfield isn’t the nicest-looking part of Dublin. In fact, the regeneration of the area went wonky somewhere along the way and it looks like an experiment gone wrong. But the hipster crowd overflows from Stoneybatter and some funky cafes and edgy bars set the scene.

Rising suburb Phibsborough made Time Out Magazine’s top 50 coolest neighborhoods worldwide. This formerly unassuming suburb, has shockingly found its way onto a leaderboard for coolness. Who knew? What was once a drab, unremarkable spot now flaunts an array of chic pubs, cozy cafés, and enlightening yoga studios. Dubliners have long been familiar with place, but pre-2015 guidebooks didn’t even bother to throw it a glance.

These days, the Northside underdog is gaining ground. As a native who grew up near “Phibsboro” (Phibsborough’s less pretentious moniker), I can candidly say that it wasn’t exactly a go-to destination for socializing. Yet here we are, watching this phoenix rise from the ashes, ready to swagger on the world stage. That’s what happens when an area gets hipsterfied (the precursor to gentrification).

I enjoy the Two Boys Brew Cafe on the North Circular Road. They serve excellent specialty (always specialty) coffee and it’s popular with the Macbook brigade. Many clients choose the edgy combo of buzzed side-shaved locks and the ever-fashionable waistcoat aesthetic. Across the road, you’ll find YogaHub, where trendy people limber up. Drinking establishments, 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. In Hipsterland, only top shelf, finely roasted Colombian gold is worthy of a brew. Bonus points for fair-trade and organic. Dubliners are obsessed with coffee.

Tip: Win hipster points by drinking cold brew coffee. It tastes like drain water, but this artisanal sludge is the beverage du jour.

3FE is considered a flagship coffee shop in Dublin city. It’s the holy grail of Dublin coffee shops. Located in the tech hub of Dublin’s docklands, this caffeinated oasis attracts a loyal clientele of young techies, international expats, local artists, and plenty of bearded types. The owner, Conor Harmon, is one of the top baristas in the country so you can expect the quality bar to be high.

Daring to defy convention, Barista Bike pioneers the intersection of ecologically responsible java and hipster panache. You might see this eco friendly coffee pop up wheeling around Dublin, peddling exquisite brews atop a fleet of trusty fixie bikes – essentially, the embodiment of hipster perfection, no cords attached.

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 the reception was frosty when I visited for cup of coffee. 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 like culinary Schrödinger’s cats: they’re either devout vegans or unapologetic meat fiends.

You’ll find them flocking to the many vegan and veggie-friendly eateries in the city, but they are just as partial to a plate heaped with flesh. 

Here are a few hotspots where kale connoisseurs, avocado toast afficionados, and carnivores coexist:

  • 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 spawn the area’s cool kid invasion.
  • 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. Slapped together with effortless cool. 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 moving 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

Make haste to these gleaming oases of throwback apparel in Dublin.

No self-respecting hipster would leave the house without some form of throwback waistcoat, tank top, shirt, or flannel pants. Reto threads are part of the uniform. Stores selling vintage clothes around the city are minted thanks to the rush to buy clothes that nobody wanted a few years ago.

Where to get your stylish sartorial relics 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: Only drink craft beer or obscure 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 haven 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. And they know their audience. And of course, you can order avocado toast, vegan sausages, and gluten-free grub.

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. 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 Bourdain’s visit, 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

In the world of Dublin hipsterdom, it’s essential to cultivate the perfect juxtaposition of wild lumberjack beard and meticulously coiffed hair. Short at the sides with longer, perfectly placed strands of sweepback mane on the top – an international phenomenon with a hint of ginger (usually found lurking in the beard)

If you’re looking to tame your facial follicles or unruly locks, hit up one of these fine establishments to trim your madcap mustache and mane.

  • The Butcher Barber – where whiskers and wayward hair are transformed into dapper masterpieces.
  • Cut & Sew – no mane walks away untamed.
  • Bedford Stuy Barbers – Impress your friends as you pronounce the name after a few craft bevvies.
  • Sugar Daddy – sweet cuts and suave styles. Not just a moniker for wealthy benefactors.

6. Bike Shops

While Irish people are used to the rain, they’re not enthusiastic about bicycles. In the misty drizzle of the Emerald Isle, hipsters go by bike because, well, cars pollute the environment, and are products of capitalist monopolies. A trusty eco-steed is everything.

Choose your bike wisely. Racing bikes and hardcore mountain bikes make you look like a fanatic. Don’t go there! No -shock frames with straight handlebars and old-school pastel colours are the order of the day. Single-speed and fixie bikes are where it’s at, my friends.

Dublin’s finest purveyors of two-wheeled chariots, crafted for the hipster elite, can be found here:

  • 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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