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Go outside Five of the best al fresco dining areas to help kick that cooped-up lockdown feeling

Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations

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Canteen, Marlin Hotel, D2.

Canteen, Marlin Hotel, D2.

Canteen, Marlin Hotel, D2.

So far, if my attempts to secure a reservation were anything to go by, at least in the capital, every day in June was a successful partial reopening. Anticipation was sky-high.

We were so appreciative of the country's experimental period of outdoor dining, we didn't mind restaurants revamping car parks, loading areas, or any bit of open space they could throw a tarpaulin over. The very thought of food being cooked by professionals, while we sipped a glass of wine, totally cranked up that Saturday-night-on-the-razz feeling.

It looks like we made it - al fresco is go. And from what I hear, restaurant owners will continue pulling out all the stops when it comes to our comfort. After all those dreadful, cooped-up lockdown days, our June break-out sure did the business. So, where's a good place to try in July? The five restaurants I've chosen were already fantastic pre-pandemic eateries, so I have no hesitation in recommending their al fresco ventures.

1. Canteen

Marlin Hotel, D2

This is the latest incarnation from those culinary wizards James Sheridan and wife Soizic Humbert. Based on my previous happy dining experiences in Blackrock and Celbridge, eating at the Canteen is the closest I've come to Michelin-star cooking without the Michelin star. No doubt this will be just another refresher course on how to do it right. The Marlin Hotel looks gorgeous and their new outdoor dining space looks equally stunning. I can hardly wait.

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777, South Great George’s Street, D2

777, South Great George’s Street, D2

777, South Great George’s Street, D2

2. 777

South Great George's Street, D2

The best Mexican grub in Ireland (and the loudest music system) is how I would describe my 777 experience. All too often, so-called Mexican restaurants fall down where it matters: in authentic taste. Here the real Mexican deal will hit your taste buds with a wallop - their fish tacos alone are unforgettable. Now they've gone and added an extra cool dash of flair and colour with their al fresco station. If you can grab a booking, go for it.

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Piglet, Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, D8.

Piglet, Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, D8.

Piglet, Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, D8.

3. Piglet

Cow's Lane, Temple Bar, D8

There are so many fantastic wine bar/restaurants in Dublin, but one of my all-time favourites has to be Piglet in Temple Bar, where they serve the best Mediterranean food and seafood, with their pasta always a special treat. Luckily, Piglet already had excellent outdoor seating with the best possible people-watching views. Now (with a little facelift), diners can relax in safety and comfort as they remind themselves how lucky they are to have it. It's the perfect place for unhurried, delicious meals with an outstanding wine range.

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The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry, Co Cork.

The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry, Co Cork.

The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry, Co Cork.

4. The Lifeboat Inn

Courtmacsherry, Co Cork

The food at The Lifeboat Inn was always as exquisite as the views. And so, if your aim is to enjoy outdoor dining at its very best, schedule a table and enjoy. Panoramic views are in abundance. With the ultimate dining backdrop, The Lifeboat has that perfect balance of wonderful food and top-notch service. Warm and magical, even on the coldest summer evenings.

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Mikey Ryan’s al fresco garden is out of this world.

Mikey Ryan’s al fresco garden is out of this world.

Mikey Ryan’s al fresco garden is out of this world.

5. Mikey Ryan's

Cashel, Co Tipperary

Be wary, pub-grub aficionados who also happen to love the best of Irish food and ingredients: if you land a table in Ryan's very impressive al fresco garden, you might never want to leave.

Surrounded by good friends, a drink in hand, it doesn't get much better. Outdoor dining was already an established set-up here, so expect nothing but a great night accompanied by a superb new menu that will keep the party going.

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