Dublin Zoo is Ireland’s most popular visitor attraction (almost 1 million visitors last year in a country with a population of only 4.5 million) and we take the kids once or twice a year. I like the zoo as much as the next person, but my favourite part isn’t the tigers or the elephants or feeding time for the sealions — it’s treating ourselves to lunch at The Phoenix Park Tea Rooms located just outside the zoo entrance.
The Phoenix Park, established in 1662, covers 1,752 acres at the western end of Dublin’s city centre and is one of the largest parks in a European capital city. The Tea Rooms is located within the park in a tiny Victorian-style building dating from the late 1800s. Nestled in amongst huge old trees that tower over it and around it, the charming, picturesque Tea Rooms are like something out of a fairytale that you half expect to be made out of gingerbread.
They have a small but good selection on their menu, including soup, toasted sandwiches and paninis, and they even use a lot of organic ingredients. But the real highlight is their desserts. On the day we were there, they had bread and butter pudding, apple crisp, Banoffee pie, caramel slice, brownies, carrot cake, chocolate biscuit cake and banana, cinnamon and walnut cake. They also serve organic coffee and Fairtrade tea. On weekends you’ll see people sitting at the picnic tables outside with the newspaper, coffee and a scone after a walk through the park, maybe with their dog tied up to the fence beside them. It’s a little piece of heaven in the middle of the city.
Some words of warning though — the building is so small that strollers aren’t allowed inside if you’re planning on going with young children, but we only ever go when it’s a nice day anyway when we can sit outside. And even more importantly, the Tea Rooms only take cash, so be sure to have enough for lunch or a few treats in your wallet before you head to the park (there are no ATMs nearby) so you can enjoy this little gem of a place.
The Phoenix Park Tea Rooms
+353 (0)1 671 4431