It’s nearly as easy to get some quality grub in Belfast as it is to get a pint. That’s good news for foodies and even better news for foodies, like myself, who equate a good meal with a moderate piss up.

Belfast is a city which has always been able to cook and one that has always been appreciative of food cooked to a high standard. However we’ve traditionally been modest in our celebration of quality eateries and the number of said eateries were also in the modest bracket.

Today’s Belfast food map boasts dozens of prime locations for fans of expressive cuisine. The culinary revolution hasn’t happened overnight, but it’s never been more evident. We must be doing something right because Marco Pierre White wants a piece of the action.

Marco Pierre White is to open a new restaurant at Park Avenue Hotel in East Belfast

The prevalence of celebrity chefs and the fact there’s so many cookery shows on the telly showcasing amazing dishes from all over the world, championing amateur and professional cooks and making a fuss about things like flavours, textures and aromas is but a good thing in my opinion.

Just this week we saw two Belfast chefs do the city proud. Danni Berry of Deane’s EIPIC and Ben Arnold of Home both featured in the Great British Menu.

Ben Arnold

Ben Arnold

Danni Berry

Danni Berry

It’s because of this saturation of cookery programmes that eating out has improved tenfold. We’re more knowledgeable about food to the point where we consider ourselves to be experts after watching half a series of Masterchef.

We’re not daunted by haute cuisine. We no longer doubt ourselves and presume something is meant to taste burnt.

The most encouraging observation I’ve made is that restaurants don’t seem as exclusive any more. Even the exclusive ones. High end restaurants like Deane’s, Coppi and OX don’t require you to wear a tuxedo, but do leaving you feeling like temporary bourgeoisie.

Coppi

A sharing platter at Coppi

Home, Made In Belfast, The Barking Dog, Mourne Seafood and Graze fall into the casual dining bracket which is deceptive considering their dishes are fit to grace a king’s table.

The Barking Dog

The Beef Shin Burger at The Barking Dog

We’ve got food tours, speciality brasseries and pop up restaurants to rival any major city in Europe. On top of that we’re starting to build a fine portfolio of global cuisine.

There are now very few pubs that just serve alcohol. The old drinkers’ adage that ‘eatin is cheatin’ has long been abandoned with the Bootleggers and Woodworkers leading the way.

Bootleggers

Mini pork, lamb and chicken tacos at Bootleggers

Then there’s cheeky upstarts like Hotplate Noshery and Bubbacue that can more than hold their own.

If healthy eating is your thing look no further than the success story that is Slim’s Healthy Kitchen.

And just look at the Dublin Road – there’s a restaurant or takeaway every two steps, my personal favourite being quirky BYOB Kitch.

Even the greasy spoons have upped their game. I was in one the other day that asked me how I wanted my burger cooked?

And they have to. Thanks to citizen empowerment sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews are coming in thick and fast from every angle.

Yelp

Some of the restaurants that have been hitting the right notes on Yelp Belfast

But with this boom in food culture there’s always a catch. In exploring Belfast’s best foodie locations there’s a very real danger you’ll end up, like myself, addicted to eating out and a little bit rounder into the bargain.

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