Phibsboro 2.0

The good residents of Phibsboro (can we call them Phibsburgers?) on Dublin’s north side recently discovered that they lived in one of the coolest neighbourhoods on the planet – 27th out of 50, to be precise – as decreed by Time Out magazine, see full list here. This puts them in good company, with Phibsboro placed a little behind Fitzroy in Melbourne (no 10) and a good bit ahead of Dubai Marina (no 50).

This didn’t really come as a surprise, as Phibsboro’s transformation has been taking place quietly in the last couple of years, against a backdrop of Ireland’s seemingly insatiable fixation with coffee and increasingly changed eating out habits, coupled with a desire by residents to socialise and shop locally.

Dublin 7 (an area stretching from Phoenix Park to Smithfield and onto Phibsboro) is actually one of the capital’s fastest growing and evolving near-city suburbs, with the  new Grangegorman college campus slowly but surely beginning to make its mark on the area and an expected influx of 10,000 additional students arriving in 2020. Intensive building of student accommodation has been underway for some time and the neighbouring communities and businesses are gearing up to prepare for the coming changes.

Phibsboro is a case in point. While Smithfield has been busily dialling up its street cred on the food front in the last few years, Phibsboro had lagged a little. No more. There is now a plentiful choice of trendy cafes and bars, many opening relatively recently. My own personal favourite is the rustic Bang Bang – named for an eccentric Dublin character who liked to stage mock shoot outs – which recently celebrated its third birthday making it one of the older hipster cafes in the area.

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I also like Legit Coffee Co. (Lejit or Leggit?) a new arrival on the coffee scene with an industrial pared back interior. Other well known coffee and quick service pit stops include the famous or infamous White Moose Café, Two Boys Brew (lengthy queues every weekend), the long established Woodstock Café and the newest (and fourth) branch of the well known Kennedys Food Store.

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Other recent additions to the Phibsboro food scene are Noms – an organic shop – and the gastro-pub Loretta’s, an ultra smart eaterie which opened in December 2018.

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It’s opposite the newly refurbished and rather sumptuous Doyle’s Corner pub (which also has an excellent meeting room for hire on the second floor with great city views).

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Lorreta’s is a first for the neighbourhood in that its focus is food first, drinks second, offering a more grown up gastronomic experience. By contrast, the immensely popular Back Page and Bald Eagle pubs cater for the more casual diner.

All of these eateries are playing into the latest food trends and meeting different but interconnecting consumer needs and wants, which include:

  • Convenience – food ‘anytime, anywhere and at arms reach’.
  • Being all things to all consumers – consumers are becoming both younger and older. Try being traditional, healthy, modern and tech friendly, all at once!
  • Experience led – meeting the need for both entertainment and something unique and different.
  • Adapting to a “grazing” culture. With three meals a day no longer the norm, snacking and alternate meal sizes will grow in importance.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of all of this (and a discussion point among locals) is, given the latent demand, why it didn’t happen sooner??

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