LIVING in Dublin, there’s a wide and varied standard when it comes to Chinese, Indian, Mexican and South American cuisines – it’s easy to find quality, authentic dishes at an affordable price. However, one cuisine that the capital seems to be lacking in is Arabic food. As an Irish-Arabian, it can be very difficult to find food that parallels what is found in the Middle East. As such, whenever a new eatery opens up that claims to serve authentic Arabic cuisine, I am the first one in line to check it out.
Don’t get me wrong, there are places in Dublin where you can go – restaurants like Keshk and Jerusalem have been household names in the Arabic community for as long as I’ve been living here. However, most places that are well-established are better suited for working professionals as opposed to students. Eating there can be a long, fancy and expensive affair.
When I first discovered Umi Falafel I wasn’t optimistic – I expected yet another slow, costly, good-but-not-great experience. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The draws to Umi Falafel are endless – the food is gorgeous, it’s accessible to everyone and the prices are more than reasonable.
Having visited Umi around twenty times in the last six months, I have sampled a wide variety of what they have to offer. While the word ‘falafel’ is in their name, the star of the menu is undoubtedly their grilled halloumi sandwich. Coming in at €6, it can seem a little expensive for what is just a sandwich – until you take that first bite. It is delightfully simple: just cheese, tomato and basil wrapped in homemade pitta bread. Though I’d be willing to wager it’s the best thing you’ll eat all week.
Of course, there’s more than just the halloumi sandwich. The falafel is incredible (get the Lebanese) and their selection of mezze and salads is unrivalled by any other Arabic restaurant I’ve found in the city. As an added bonus Umi’s menu is 100% vegetarian and nearly-100% vegan, so it’s accessible for everyone.
Most sandwiches are €6, and they run a number of lunch deals including one where you can throw in a side and a drink for €7.50, which is brilliant value. The only negative thing to say is that, due to their massive popularity, they can sometimes get a little bit busy. Prepare to stand in line for about ten minutes at lunchtime.
Overall, Umi Falafel has hit the nail on the head when it comes to fast, tasty authentic Arabic cuisine. The prices are fair, the service is great and, most importantly, the food is exquisite. For a college student who wants to try something a little different for lunch, Umi is a must.
Visit Umi falafel on Dame Street in the city centre or on the Rathmines Road.