While there are some brilliant spots to eat in Dublin on a budget, compared to the rest of the country prices are higher - thanks to extortionate rents and higher costs of labour, running a restaurant in the city centre can be expensive.
Where to go then the next time you want to combine a mini day trip with a bargain dinner? One of Ireland's best towns for choice of cuisine and value for money is a mere half hour or so from Dublin, and is well worth the drive.
Ashbourne has an impressive array of restaurants - from Italian to Chinese and everything in between - and is just a short hop off the M50
Meath's very own bustling metropolis (okay, not buzzing exactly but still), Ashbourne is home to some surprisingly great restaurants.
My family moved here recently and it's been a real treat just strolling into the centre of the town and picking where to eat from one of the many restaurants near the main street.
With a building boom of houses giving the town a boost, new restaurants popped up one by one...
New estates and homes are still in the works for Ashbourne, so if anything the foodie options will only get better. If you haven't yet been, old classics like The Snailbox just outside of the town will soon become a family favourite, while Cork's wine bar is a relaxing vino haven with a satisfying selection of wines by the glass.
The food in Ashbourne is well worth travelling for.
A focus on local and organic produce can be found at The Donkey Shed, while Fifty50 does the best value early bird in the north-east
The Donkey Shed is a charming cafe-restaurant located on a working farm just outside of the main town, serving brunch, lunch and dinner made from the freshest local ingredients.
The farm itself grows all sorts of veg, while local farmers supply orchard fruit. There's a farm shop on site with all their produce available to buy alongside homemade jams and baked treats, and flavoursome free-range eggs - there's no excuse for not cooking up a storm after a visit to The Donkey Shed.
Fifty50 does an early bird menu for a mere €12.95 for two courses seven days a week and I still haven't found any other place to rival it. Mediterranean influences flow through the menu and there's a special cheesecake that changes daily. Malteaser or Cookie Dough? Just get it.
Fancy date nights are sorted with the seriously stylish Eatzen and cosy Mancini's
Eatzen has been around since 2004 and is still one of the best spots in Ashbourne. A sleek dining room with creative Asian dishes (the black sole is particularly good) and chefs that aren't afraid to throw in some spice, it's a clear winner for date night.
Boozy cocktails and a dessert menu that will have you tempted to lick the plate make Eatzen a rival to any popular Chinese restaurant in Dublin.
Mancini's and La Bucca are two cosy little Italian restaurants where you can get your creamy carb fix. Although they've adapted the menu to Irish tastes (actually putting chicken in pasta for example) these two places offer classic, comforting Italian food, with prices ranging around €13 for a hefty bowl of pasta.
And as for steak fanatics? Ohhh boy you're in for a fantastic feed in Ashbourne
Close proximity to local farms means that Ashbourne has easy access to great meat, which makes for amazing steak. I'd travel any distance for the steak at The Snail Box, an off-road pub and restaurant with roaring fires and - quite possibly - the world's largest collection of baseball caps hanging from the ceiling.
Rich black pepper sauce and golden fried chunky chips. Mmm. Portions are beyond generous and their grilled fillet steak (€28.95) is just as good eaten the next day in a juicy sambo.
Giving Dublin suburbs such as Swords a run for their money, Ashbourne is just getting better and better.
Hop in the car (or the v handy 40 minute bus ride!) to explore just some of what this vibrant town has to offer. One bite of the steak down here and you won't be disappointed.
But best of all, neither will your wallet.