If you didn’t make Valentine’s Day plans but still fancy great food – don’t panic. These buzzy turn-up-and-eat restaurants will seat the spontaneous so you can eat well without booking in advance.
You forgot this Friday was Valentine's weekend and your S.O. is expecting an evening of romance. Or maybe that person you swiped right for finally swiped you back and tomorrow night is the only night they have free. Either way, you’re going out for dinner this weekend, and you haven’t made any plans. You want a nice restaurant with good food and tables that you won't have to wait for hours to get – but it should also be busy enough that it doesn’t feel creepily deserted. No mean feat.
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Luckily, Dublin's been taking a leaf out of New York's book and we've noticed more and more no-bookings needed restaurants springing up. Here are the best of the bunch, for your Valentine’s Day plans and beyond…
PI on George’s Street specialises in wood-fired pizzas with a little something for everyone – light or meaty, cheesy or saucy. The restaurant is led by Laois native Reggie White and his business partner John Savage. Despite its popularity, Pi is walk-ins only. However, they use a queuing app so you don't have to queue up George's street waiting for a table to become free. All you have to do is leave a name and phone number with the host at the door and they'll text you when your table is ready. The perfect excuse to go for a drink beforehand.
Located on Aungier Street, Chimac offers a Korean dining experience with a menu featuring chicken burgers, pieces and wings, as well as vegetarian options such as cauliflower wings and seitan and beer. Inspired by a trip to Seoul, Chimac is the brainchild of Sofie Rooney and Garett Fitzgerald. Similar to PI, Chimac currently doesn't take reservations so just pop in and enjoy the delicious wings.
Those of us who like to dine out for under a tenner without feeling like we’re cheap, not to mention eating something that isn't extremely bad for us, can find ourselves at a loss in this city. Sure, there are plenty of burrito places (most of them quite good) dotted around town. But what burritos don't exactly scream romantic date...Cue Neon on Camden Street. Offering up the best of Asian street food, Neon is walk-ins only. However, they too use a queuing app so you don't have to queue up Camden street waiting for a table to become free.
Everyone knows the name Wing It, whether it’s from their time in Eatyard, their hot wing challenges or from the original restaurant in The Square, Tallaght or their more recent opening on George's Street. Besides serving up some of the best wings in the country, Wing It currently doesn't take reservations but they too use a queuing app. So simply turn up and order the waffle fries – trust us, they're delicious.
Okay, so we're cheating a little here. Sprezzatura DOES take reservations and there's no doubt that this place will be packed come February 14. However, Sprezzatura not only keeps places for walk-ins but you can also add yourself to their waitlist queue here. Simply pop in your contact details and the restaurant will message you as soon as a table becomes available but know being in the queue does not guarantee you a table so we suggest having a plan b.
With places like the Devlin, Tribeca and Dillinger’s hanging about, Ranelagh is a prime Valentine's Day location. And while it's unlikely you'll nab a reservation for the aforementioned restaurants, Rita's is definitely worth a visit. The pizza is great and we love the level of leopard spots on the crust, but what's most important is that Rita's is a walk-ins only pizza restaurant.
Having catapulted to critical acclaim following a series of successful dim sum pop up ventures, Lucky Tortoise now firmly resides at 8 Aungier Street – a modern, unpretentious and compact space in the heart of Dublin 2. However, Lucky Tortoise DOES take reservations and there's no doubt that this place will be packed come February 14. However, they do keep places for walk-ins so count yourself lucky and give it a try.
A casual (yet so clever) new burger joint in Sandymount, BuJo brings the humble burger to a whole new level, with the attention to detail making this simple restaurant instantly impressive. Offering up the best burgers in Leinster, Buju is walk-ins only. Simply turn up and enjoy!
Okay, so technically Mister S does take reservations but they also keep space for walk-ins so we get by on a technicality. Open a matter of months, Mister S is already one of Dublin's most popular dining spots. Mister S has hunted down the very best producers and is deservedly gathering fans set on to sampling the fiendishly delicious-looking dishes popping up on Insta-stories of food lovers across the city. Go, wait for a table if necessary and leave no bone left unscraped.
Sano is one of the capital's best-kept secrets, offering seriously good pizza at an extremely reasonable price point. We love the variety of toppings available at Sano, plus the atmosphere is always really good at this spot, so you'll definitely enjoy your visit. What's more, Sano has 150 seats and a casual walk-in policy.
And hey, if worst comes to worst, you can always make dinner at home because nothing is more romantic than a well-cooked meal made with love. We caught up with Il Vicolo's head chef, Megan Nolan to quiz her on all there is to know on cooking the ultimate Valentine's Day Dinner. Click here to read her advice AND recipes.
Main image by @jorjasmith on Instagram