Belfast’s food scene has been booming in recent years which is no wonder given the amazing local produce which is at its doorstep. So much so that two of its restaurants, OX and Deanes Eipic were awarded the coveted Michelin Star status in 2016. However, you don’t need to flash the cash in order to have a tasty meal in Belfast – far from it! Some of the city’s local favourites range from budget pub grub to hipster cheap eats. In no particular order, here is our top 10 selection…
1. Maggie Mays
A firm favourite of many who hunt the student area around Queen’s University, Maggie Mays has two cafes, one by Stranmillis and one in Botanic. The cute little cafe offers a large menu with staple home-cooked favourites that any Belfast mum would have served up for her kids – Cowboy Suppers (sausage, beans and chip), beef stew, fry-ups, and so forth. The menu has an extensive all-day breakfast option, burgers and mains, and not to forget amazing desserts and legendary milkshakes. What’s even more awesome about this place is that the most expensive item on the menu is a Sirloin Steak for £13.99!
2. The Morning Star
Famed for its in-house butcher and emphasis on using local produce, The Morning Star which was established in 1810, is a cosy Victorian pub that is hidden down Pottingers Entry in the centre of the city. The upstairs à la carte restaurant serves some prime steak dishes along with decently priced mains menu serving pub-grub favourites such as Smoked Haddock, Slow Roasted Pork Belly and Stuffed Roast Beef Brisket. However, it is the downstairs lunch buffet that makes this place a hidden gem as a cheap eat. Between 11:30-5pm you can take a plate for just £5.95 per person and fill it up with the roast meat, veg and salad selection. The catch is that this buffet is not an all-you-can-eat as you’re only allowed to fill-up once; however, for the price and quality of the food, you can’t really complain!
No Belfast cheap eat list would be complete without Boojum. A Mexican Burrito Bar that was first established 2007 and has grown to have multiple locations around the city, and is also a firm favourite among locals. The concept is that you choose what you would like (burrito/tacos/fajita/salad), choose a filling (vegetarian or meat options) and add some salsa, cream cheese, and so forth. Whatever you choose, it won’t cost you more than £8 to have a taste of real Mexican street food in Belfast.
The Yardbird is a rotisserie chicken restaurant above the Dirty Onion Pub in the trendy Cathedral Quarter. The restaurant is both an affordable lunch and dinner spot with a major focus on chicken and rib options. For a bargain lunch (12-5pm), we would suggest the 1/4 of chicken and side meal deal for just £5. For an evening meal for 2, the Beer ‘N’ Bird deal offers a whole roast chicken with two sides and two Yardbird Pale Ales to share for just £22, while the Hatch 22 deal includes the same but replaces the beer with a carafe of wine. Whilst munching on your tasty chicken legs in the rustic ambience of the Yardbird, you can discuss with your significant other one of life’s most puzzling questions – what came first, the chicken or the egg?
One of the most popular places to eat in Victoria Square, COSMOS is an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant that includes a fusion of world flavours. You can sample everything here from continental European cuisine, Asian delicacies and curries, as well as carvery roasts. In addition to the buffet of delicious dishes, you have a varied and colourful selection of desserts to choose from. There are also individually themed kitchens where chefs can whip you something up fresh. Prices vary according to the day and time, weekday lunch (Monday-Wednesday 12-3pm, Thursday-Friday 12-4pm) costs £7.99 per person, whilst on Saturday it is £9.99 and Sunday £14.99 per person. Dinner setting (5-11pm) costs between £13.99-£15-99 per person. Our tip would be to go with the soft drinks option as you can get unlimited refills.