The 2016 Guardian Guide to Belfast

Belfast: a world of homely delights

Hot on the heels of Belfast’s Simply Crispy, the crisp sandwich cafe which opened last year, here are five trendy things to do that no discerning resident of the city can miss:

The Pokey

Not a small eatery, but an ice-cream van. Staffed by a foul-mouthed, overweight confectioner, the van is hand-painted with creepy approximations of Disney characters and Tom and Jerry. Peruse their selection of ‘Mineral’s, Ice’s and Lolly’s’ before deciding not to buy anything.

Location: Union Street, BT1

Ulsterbus School Tours

You and up to ten mates can choose a bespoke route to recreate your own journey to school. The tour company provides the following:

  • a 1988 Ulsterbus that smells of burning dust
  • someone with ginger hair for you to laugh at
  • an attractive girl for your mates to tell your most embarrassing secrets
  • some spides to sit at the back
  • a plastic bottle that someone can urinate into and then throw at another passenger
  • a driver guaranteed to slam on the brakes and threaten to ‘make yis all walk’

Price: £15.95 per person. Other stereotypical passengers, such as the kid that’s sick on the floor and the weird guy who talks to himself, charged at extra rate.

Location: Europa Buscentre, Gt. Victoria Street, BT1

Packing a Lunch

This new venture promises to recreate those authentic, miserable school lunch experiences with a range of sandwiches, crisps and yoghurts you didn’t want in 1991 and don’t want now.

The meal is served in a slightly whiffy lunchbox, with designs on offer ranging from Thundercats and He-Man to Care Bears and My Little Pony. Food options are as follows:

Sandwiches: tuna, egg & onion, Marmite

Crisps: Yellow pack ready salted, Yellow pack cheese and onion

Yoghurts: Munch Bunch Sally Strawberry, Munch Bunch Rozzy Raspberry or Spelga low-fat hazelnut (lid pre-burst in order to leak all over everything else)

Fruit (compulsory): Mandarin orange

Drink: Flask containing Robinson’s cordial or Crusha milkshake, Five Alive or Um Bongo (straw missing)

At the end of their meal, customers are obliged to close up their lunchbox and return it, stuffed inside a rucksack with a malodorous PE kit. Bringing back uneaten items will result in a slap round the back of the head from the maitre d’ and a lecture about either the value of money or starving Ethiopians.

Location: Lower Garfield Street, BT1

Dad’s Making Tea

From the people who brought you Packing a Lunch, this restaurant aims to recreate the food your father would serve in a panic when your mother was out for the evening. Delicacies include:

  • Fish fingers and waffles
  • Campbell’s Meat Balls (in either gravy or tomato sauce)
  • Heinz spaghetti hoops on toast with cheese
  • Bird’s Eye burgers and oven chips
  • Chicksticks and Super Noodles

Diners get one complimentary Ribena when they arrive, but thereafter will be handed a glass and told “There’s plenty of water in the tap.”

Location: North Street, BT1

Barry’s of Belfast

The much-loved attraction brings a bit of the glamour of Portrush to Belfast.  Feel mildly uncomfortable on the world’s smallest, slowest rollercoaster and laugh at all the broken stuff inside the Ghost Train. Visit attractions such as the Canteen, the Toilets, and the Smoking Area. Gorge yourself sick on Astro belts and candy floss, lose all your money in the 10p machines, and go home feeling sick and annoyed. A great day out.

Location: car park beside the Hudson Bar, Gresham Street, BT1