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 newly paid-up members of the EU came in their droves. Then came the Brazilians, who congregated near meat-packing plants in the west of the country and displaced every single person in Dublin’s city centre.
All good. 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.
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 coffee shops. In fact, when a barista doesn’t display perfectly sculpted hair and beard plus 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 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.
— Aidan Sweeney (@sweeney_aidan) July 4, 2018
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 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 spilt over from Stoneybatter and some funky cafes and bars are setting the scene.
And a rising star is 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 neighbourhoods 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, standing desks (sort of) with the Macbook brigade and a clientele with 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 travelling hipsters. The Back Page pub and McGowan's pub are Phisboro institutions at this stage. Worth a look.
A place that's as much about the local characters as it is about its historical connections, it's great to see the world taking note of this “Dublin 7 hipster heaven”! https://t.co/Q1mUGKUgXa #dublin #phibsborough
— IMAGE Magazine (@image_magazine) September 29, 2018
1. Cafes & Coffee. Dublin's Hipster Cafes
Instant Nescafe does not cut mustard here. We’re talking finely roasted Colombian gold. Bonus points for fair-trade and organic.
Tip: Drinking cold brew coffee will make you stand out among the crowd as hip.
3FE is considered the flagship coffee shop of Dublin. Based 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: bikes and coffee. Supreme hipness. 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
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
- Brother Hubbard North – The original Brother Hubbard and one that helped feed the growing wave of cool people in the area.
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.
- Crackbird covers all the bases with locations in trendy South William Street and hip Smithfield.
- 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 hurriedly built. But the food’s good. Smoked ribs & chicken are the order of the day. This isn’t the place for a first date, but it’s a good spot to get some food before walking around the corner to one of the hippest bars in Dublin, the Dice bar.
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 Workmans bar on the quays of the River Liffey has become the hangout for the skinny jeans brigade. It’s an old-school pub turned hipster but there’s no gimmick here. Quality 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.
Dublin 8’s Bernard Shaw pub has been a hipster bar since before there were hipsters. A huge place with an open-air part and a bus you can have dinner in. It all looks grungy but they know how to charge. €4.50 for a bowl of creamy organic porridge. Enough said.
Pyg looks like a hipster convention any night of the week. Morning and afternoon on the weekends is just as busy, but with the handlebar moustachioed 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.
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 graved-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.
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 moustache trimmed.
- The Butcher Barber
- Cut & Sew
- Bedford Stuy Baber
- Sugar Daddy
6. Bike Shops
Hipsters go by bike because cars pollute the environment. 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 bikes are cool.
These are the best bike stores in town to find an old-school set of wheels.
- Funked Up – 75 Francis Street, Dublin 8, Ireland
- 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.
Blogger, lifelong learner, entrepreneur & musician from Ireland. I've been travelling and living overseas for over 20 years. My mission is to build businesses that allow me to have a simple and independent lifestyle. In the process, I hope to help myself and others with my writing.