Where to Eat Breakfast in Belfast – From Belfast Baps to an Authentic Ulster Fry
“Northern Ireland has had so little to be proud of that we cling to our food,” our tour guide describes Belfast’s food scene.
Dotted throughout Belfast are reminders of the nation’s violent past – peace murals that are anything but peaceful, schools still divided by religious and political beliefs, and neighborhoods decorated with either Union Jack or Irish flags. As the dust settles on the Good Friday Peace Agreement, the world is re-discovering the beauty of this storied nation.
Amongst those discoveries are the nation’s rich culinary heritage. It’s a food scene that’s not emerging, but has always been there – where farm-to-fork isn’t a buzz word, but a way of life. From world class dining at the prestigious Lough Erne Resort to plucked from the ocean fresh seafood at Mourne Seafood Bar to beef aged in Himalayan salt chambers served at Meat Locker Brasserie, Northern Ireland truly has a gastronomic culture to be proud of. Even many of the ingredients are rightly heralded by locals like Abernethy Butter and O’Doherty’s Black Bacon.
As much as I’d love to write a food guide for Belfast, I couldn’t touch the eloquence in which my friends Daryl and Mindi of 2 Food Trippers have already done so in their Belfast Food Guide. Instead, I’d like to narrow my focus to breakfast with a guide of where to eat breakfast in Belfast.
Belfast Bap at Sandra’s Grill in St George’s Market
I was more than a little hungover as our tour arrived at St. George’s Market for the Saturday food market. While the rest of my group scattered with their cameras in hand to snap photos of the food and craft booths, I made a bee-line to the vendors cooking up prepared foods in search of breakfast and coffee so that I could hopefully match their enthusiasm.
(MORE: Read about how I came to be hungover in 72 Hours in Belfast: Beer, Food, Politics, and Beauty)
Drawn to the sizzle of sausage and bacon coming from the flat tops at Sandra’s Grill, I joined the queue to try my first Belfast Bap. The Belfast Bap, I was told, was the local hangover cure. It’s a behemoth sandwich of Irish bacon, Irish sausage, fried egg, melted cheese, and grilled mushrooms and onions all served on a boulder sized roll. It’s the kind of meal that should fill you up for the rest of the day and promise to clog at least an artery or two.
Yes, this beast of a breakfast sandwich is the perfect hangover cure, albeit slightly messy – especially for us bearded folk. It’s also perfect walking food for exploring the market, as long as someone else is holding your coffee.
Sandra’s Grill is located inside St. George’s Market at St George’s Market, Donegall Quay, Belfast. There are also other vendors in the St George’s Market that sell Belfast Baps that I’m sure are equally as good.
Ulster Fry from Becky’s Café
If I was Anthony Bourdian, there’s no way I’d include the Ulster Fry from Becky’s Café on this list as I’d ruin the place with a flood of tourists. Thankfully, I’m not…
An Ulster Fry is the other ubiquitous breakfast food in Belfast. It’s another stick to your bones meal. The typical Ulster Fry plate comes heaping with potato bread, soda bread, pork sausage, Irish bacon, a fried egg, grilled tomatoes, and grilled mushrooms. Sometimes, white pudding and black pudding are included for those extra needed calories.
You can find Ulster Fries in almost any breakfast restaurant in Belfast from the fanciest hotels down to hole in the wall cafes. I sampled them everywhere and recommend you do the same. However, the best came from Becky’s Café in East Belfast, a local joint a friend took me too after a hard night of Guinness and live Irish pub music. There’s something about the extra flavoring that comes from a well-seasoned flattop.
(MORE: Read about where to get a hangover in my Belfast Craft Beer Guide)
Don’t overlook the higher end Ulster Fries though as they often come with O’Doherty’s Black Bacon which is a must try food in Belfast.
Becky’s Café is located at 70 Connsbrook Ave, Belfast. While I recommend Becky’s Café, it is slightly out of the way. If you can’t make it to East Belfast, look for another local breakfast joint. You know, the kind of place where you won’t hear any funny American accents…
Brunch at Bert’s Jazz Bar
Bert’s Jazz Bar is how you picture Belfast when the city was at the peak of its heyday, when it was one of the wealthiest towns in the world – flush with the riches from textiles and ship building. The restaurant and bar oozes swank from the rich velvet draped over wood paneled walls to the high-backed velvet chairs to the jazz music floating through the air. You can almost picture men standing at the bar in their zoot suits smoking cigarettes.
(MORE: For Northern Ireland food exploration, read Lough Erne Food Tour Review)
Admittedly, the food is upscale to match the décor but the price I felt was quite reasonable. For £16.50, you can choose from one of five entrees; a Bloody Mary or Buck’s Fizz; and a coffee or tea. I went with the Minute Steak served with Café de Paris butter, salad, and frites. It was almost as good as the steak I had the night before at Meat Locker Brasserie. The sweet Balsamic drizzle tied the many textures and flavors of the dish together.
Bert’s Jazz Bar is located inside the Merchant Hotel Belfast at 16 Skipper Street, Belfast.
What else would you add to this guide of where to eat breakfast in Belfast? Leave a comment below!
Want to go on a similar trip?
I stayed at Malmaison in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh. Check out the latest Belfast hotel reviews on TripAdvisor. Belfast in 3 Days will help you find all the best spots in Belfast and beyond.
Thank you to the Discover Northern Ireland for hosting me on this press trip. As always, my opinions remain my own.