Mermaid Café, Dublin
Suffused with an understated attitude of perennial hipness, the Mermaid has been an oasis of cool since it opened in 1996. The space is bright, clean, and contemporary, and Gavin Pedersen’s menu—which falls somewhere along the culinary spectrum between Ireland and New England—follows suit. Simply prepared, ultra-fresh seafood is the highlight here; dishes range from the delicate (airy monkfish tempura, seared scallops with shaved fennel) to filling (a thick chowder made with smoked fish, mussels, and clams). The servers here are slick-looking but easygoing, and cool jazz plays on the stereo. If time or funds are short, visit sister restaurant Gruel next door—a hip canteen that’s also open for breakfast.