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All the Best Food We Ate in Ireland!

 

 

The Foodie’s Guide to Irish Cuisine

All the Best Food I Ate in Ireland

 

I anticipated that Irish food would involve lots of stew and lots of Guinness. Since I visited Ireland in October, when the weather was quite fall-esque, the change to heartier, comforting meals was really nice and homey. But, I also discovered that modern Irish cuisine is so much more!

Since we spent such a long time in Ireland, I have a pretty full list of Irish bars, restaurants, artisanal companies and food tours that I liked, so I’m organizing this post into sections. Just read whatever you’re most interested in!

 

Quickly jump to:

 



 

The Best Irish Pubs

You find pubs in every Irish town, no matter how small. It’s more than just a bar for the Irish, and more of a social gathering space. I was surprised to see lots of families at first but Irish pubs are known for more than just great beer – they usually have live music playing and serve great food so it makes sense. You can always rely on pubs to serve the Irish classics, ahem beef and Guinness stew.

There was live music playing more than 50% of the time and I loved hearing traditional Irish music. It really makes for such a nice vibe. We’d often have dinner in our hotel, as we were exhausted each day from sightseeing (and as I discovered, hotel restaurants serve incredible food) and then pop over to the pub, which would be within or attached to the hotel.

From the outside, Irish pubs are also really colorful and quaint! We drove through so many cheery towns where every building was painted a different shade and in Galway, I loved the toucan Guinness posters.

In terms of music, I thought pubs which advertised traditional Irish music might be doing so for tourists, but it’s not really so. Yes, you’ll find lots of tourists there drawn to the music, but local Irish too. The music is great! Funny enough, we heard lots of country music. Irish people have a well deserved reputation as storytellers.

Below is a photo of the most famous Irish bar, Temple Bar in Dublin. I have more recommendations for you though, keep reading!

 



 

These are Irish pubs we enjoyed, all across Ireland:

1. J M Reidy’s (Killarney)

This bar is amazing. During the day they sell sweets and excellent coffee and operate a bit like a cafe. At night, they open up the backrooms and while the front two rooms look like a traditional pub, keep exploring and you’ll find a cocktail room which makes the most amazing drinks and even an outdoor courtyard… with another bar! It was a trip wandering through Reidy’s!

2. The Reg (Waterford)

I was thinking back to all the desserts we had throughout Ireland (we didn’t skip a single night because man, who knew the Irish could whip up some great dessert?!) and I think The Reg tops the list.

Now you wouldn’t think to visit an Irish pub for the dessert, and trust us, The Reg pours a great Guinness, but it’s also quite a great place for lunch or dinner. Because the food is excellent, I wrote a whole post about it, which you can read here.

3. The Blind Piper (Caherdaniel)

This colorful pub in Caherdaniel, County Kerry, is an adorable place to stop along the Ring of Kerry. It serves incredible food, from hearty seafood chowder to risotto to burgers with ballybunion relish, and of course great beers. We were lucky to have lunch when local Irish musicians played some traditional Irish music!

 



 

Ireland’s Craft Beers

The craft beer movement is alive and kicking in Ireland as well, and we had the chance to tour both the Killarney Brewing Company in Killarney and the Dungarven Brewing Company in Dungarven. I freely admit I know nothing about beer, but the beer lovers in our group seemed very impressed by both.

  • Killarney’s brewery tour is perhaps a little more polished and slick, as they have a restaurant on site for tastings. Don’t skip the food – they wood fire pizzas fresh out back which are amazing. Try the goat cheese and also the spicy meat pizzas.
  • Meanwhile the Dungarven company is a home run business and was one of the first to experiment with craft beer in Ireland, long before anyone in Ireland had an interest. I really liked how they experimented with seasonal varieties and a label for seaweed beer caught my eye!

 



 

Cooking Schools in Ireland

If you like taking cooking classes while traveling, Ireland has some excellent cookery schools where you can learn traditional Irish recipes and try your hand at them! Most of these are set on farms and country estates, which is a unique setting to cook in!

 

Irish Food Trails

Ireland has a growing food scene dedicated to promoting local artisan products and family run businesses. From vibrant farmers’ markets in tiny towns to fine dining options, there are lots of opportunities to have a gastronomic holiday in Ireland.

If you love delving into the story and people behind food, you have to explore the Irish food trail! These are available in Dublin, County Kerry and County Cork so wherever you’re traveling to in Ireland you can sample some great artisanal Irish products.

 

Try these Food & Wine Tours in Ireland

 

Here are some additional local Irish artisanal products and family run companies we tried:

  • Dingle Gin produces exceptionally smooth gin and vodka. You can take a tour of the distillery on the outskirts of Dingle, in the southwest Gaeltacht region of Ireland.
  • Murphy’s Ice Cream makes all their own ice cream by hand, the old fashioned way, without artificial dyes or flavorings, using all locally sourced materials. Try their fun flavors like caramel honeycomb, caramelised brown bread and dingle gin.
  • The Atlantic Irish Seaweed company offers seaweed walks along the beach, informative talks about the benefits of seaweed and gourmet tastings. It’s so worth learning about seaweed and you’d be amazed at how seaweed can be turned into food. Ice cream anyone?

 

From seaweed piles on Derrynane Beach…

 

 

…to ice cream!

 

There’s no seaweed taste, these are fruit + yogurt and chocolate pops. Carrageenan is a binding agent extracted from red seaweed.



 

Modern Irish Food

Irish food is having a moment. Focused on fresh ingredients from both the land and sea, with dishes like Comeragh lamb, fresh oysters and brown butter bread pudding, I was quite blown away by modern Irish cuisine.

 

The Best Restaurants in Ireland

I’ve listed some of the best restaurants we ate at in Ireland below! Everything below was very, very tasty. As I mentioned, many times we ate at our hotel restaurant and opted for the 3 course menu where the food was incredible. I don’t typically eat at hotels but as I’m sure you’ll find on your Ireland vacation, Irish hotels are quite unique! Below are a selection of the best restaurants we ate at in Ireland.

There are of course so many more good restaurants in Ireland, so feel free to use the list below as just a starting point!

 

The Cliff House Hotel & House Restaurant


 

If you want to try fine dining, you’ll love The Cliff House! All ingredients are locally sourced and the dining room has great views over the bay. We didn’t stay here but I would have loved too. We asked to take a tour of the property and it would probably be my top choice for hotels in Waterford if I were to visit again.

 

County Waterford (Michelin Starred)

Read my post about our lunch here. 

Check room rates and availability at the hotel here.

 

The Strand Inn


 

You won’t find fresher seafood anywhere else. Stop in to the Strand Inn for classics with a twist, like mussels in black bean & ginger sauce. Attached to the restaurant is a family run bed & breakfast, with really cute rooms.

 

County Waterford

Read my post about our experience here.

Check room rates & availability at the hotel here.

 

Gregans Castle


 

We stayed here and loved the manor house, it’s incredibly well decorated and dinner here was a treat! Gregans Castle is very well known for their Irish hospitality and fine dining – they’ve won countless food & wine awards. Don’t miss this one.

 

County Clare

Read my post about our experience here.

Check room rates & availability at the hotel here.

 

Killarney Royal Hotel


 

For dinner, they serve a set 3 course menu that’s quite a good value. I loved the duck and dessert.

 

County Kerry

Read my post about our experience here.

Check room rates & availability here.

 

Brandon House Hotel


 

We stayed here overnight but what was really memorable was the dinner. Everything on the menu was great and we each tried a different dessert – everything was so good no one wanted to share! Get the pavlova and cheesecake.

 

County Wexford

Read my complete experience here.

Check room rates & availability here.

 

The Reg


 

Not only does this Irish pub serve great drinks, it also has a club and live music throughout the week. We had lunch here and I was blown away. Try the blaa bread local to Waterford, oysters rockefeller, creme brulee and the lamb.

 

County Waterford

Read my post about our lunch here.

 

 

Quinlan’s Seafood | County Kerry – A family run seafood restaurant that’s always packed. Make sure to get the crab claws and fish & chips! We came twice but I was too hungry to take great photos, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one :)

 

 


One last note, Ireland is very gluten free friendly. I noticed that many places had menus clearly marking gluten free or allergen ingredients (and not just the expensive restaurants). It’s a shame to miss out on Irish brown bread but if you’re allergic to gluten or have other dietary restrictions, you’ll be pleased to find many substitute options!

Happy eating!

 

 

Visiting Ireland – Travel Checklist

Aer Lingus, the national Irish airline, offers non-stop flights from select US cities. While we didn’t enjoy our experience with them (flight attendants skipped us for meals multiple times and were rude) Aer Lingus is rapidly expanding their routes and offers low fares (some non stop) from many US cities. We found cheap flights to Ireland in October – you can check for flight deals and routes here.

When returning to the U.S., take advantage of the U.S. pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports, where you complete U.S. immigration, customs and agriculture controls before departure so that when you land in the U.S., you can just collect your bags.

I highly recommend staying at an Irish country house or family run hotel during your trip. Irish hospitality is truly something else. Check out Ireland’s Blue Book for luxury, boutique accommodation with a focus on family-run properties and excellent food.

Lastly, be sure to visit Ireland with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, or your phone gets stolen, or an injury forces you to cancel all or part of your vacation, travel insurance will help when you need it most. Hurricane Ophelia hit the country smack in the middle of our road trip! I use and recommend Allianz travel insurance.

 

 You Might Also Enjoy: 

 

Ireland Vacation Planning Articles

Itinerary, Tips & Advice for How to Plan the Perfect Ireland Vacation

For Foodies: All the Best Food We Ate in Ireland

How to Master Driving in Ireland (as a tourist!)

7 Useful Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland

10 Enchanting Castles in Ireland – You Can Actually Stay In!

Packing Checklist: What to Wear in Ireland

 

Irish Sights, Activities & Tours We Especially Enjoyed:

Co Galway: Visiting Kylemore Abbey, Ireland’s Most Beautiful Castle?

Co Kerry: 7 Can’t Miss Sights in Killarney

Mingle in Dingle: The Best Things to Do in this Quaint Fishing Village

Co Waterford: 8 Reasons You’ll Love Waterford, Ireland’s Oldest City!

Visiting the House of Waterford Crystal

Is Mount Congreve Ireland’s Best Garden?

Co Wexford: Don’t Skip Wexford – Here’s Why!

Co Kilkenny: Exploring Kilkenny Castle, in photos

 

Restaurant & Hotels We Loved:

County Clare: Gregans Castle Hotel

County Galway: Rosleague Manor Hotel, Where to Stay in Galway

County Wexford: The Strand Inn

County Waterford: The Cliff House Hotel, The Reg Pub

 

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