16 Great Restaurants in Ireland

Ireland’s best products come directly from the sea and soil, with fresh seafood, meat, and vegetables making their way into traditional Irish cuisine and the menus of award-winning chefs, from city center to the coast.

Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites Inis Meáin, Carrownlisheen, Inishmaan, Co. Galway, Ireland
Inishmaan is one of the Aran Islands of the west coast of Ireland—one of the most unspoiled spots in the country—and Inis Meáin restaurant uses the good things that come from the pure earth and sea around it. The garden and greenhouse grows salads, herbs, and vegetables, while the fish is wild caught from the Atlantic, and meat is homestead reared. The restaurant has large windows overlooking the ocean and island and seats just 16 guests for a four-course dinner. The menu changes nightly, based on what’s available and in season, and each dish prepared by chef and native son Ruairí de Blacam has just two elements, a unique dining experience indeed. Open from April to the end of September.
Middle Road, Dysert, Ardmore, Co. Waterford, P36 DK38, Ireland
In some ways, the Cliff House Hotel is just a resting place for people looking to eat in its highly regarded Michelin-starred restaurant, but the hotel’s loft-style bedrooms are also among the most modern and stylish anywhere in this country. (Plus, each room has a terrace or veranda, and even the rain-forest showers have sea views.) The House Restaurant, though, is a highlight, and it’s unusual in Ireland because Dutch chef Martijn Kajuiter prepares food that is highly wrought, inventive, and beautifully plated—but also deliciously unpretentious. That sense of unfussiness might have something to do with the dining room itself, which is neither too stark nor too clubby, and edged by a glass wall overlooking the calm blue waters of the Celtic Sea. The hotel overlooks Ardmore Bay, 140 miles south of Dublin, and the spa’s impressive yoga program, indoor infinity pool, stone outdoor baths, and Jacuzzi can help guests counterbalance any evening’s indulgences.
The English Market, Princes St, Centre, Cork, T12 NC8Y, Ireland
Farmgate Café is a lively spot upstairs at the buzzing English Market, Ireland’s oldest food market, in Cork City Centre, with balcony seating that has great views of the bustling crowds and vendors below. Try some traditional Irish favorites, such as seafood chowder, rock oysters, lamb stew, or a version of bangers and mash—pork sausages with mashed potato, lentils, and bacon. Make sure to try a local black pudding–like delicacy called drisheen, and save room for the delicious cakes.
Harbour Road West
The Heron’s Cove is a special little spot on a small inlet in Goleen on the coast in West Cork, with harbor views and an outdoor terrace for pre- or post-dinner drinks. The harborside location also gives it access to freshly caught seafood—though steaks, duck, and lamb also feature on the menu. The restaurant is open from May to August and by prebooking for April or September. The restaurant is also a B&B, making it the ideal peaceful base for exploring the area.
Crowleys Quay, Kinsale Co, Town-Plots, Kinsale, Co. IE, Ireland
With owner and chef’s Martin Shanahan’s background as a fishmonger, it’s not hard to guess what’s on the menu here, but this place is serious about seafood. He first opened a fish shop and deli and later expanded to a restaurant, which stands out even in Kinsale, one of Ireland’s culinary hot spots. Shanahan ensures that only the freshest catch landed on the pier that morning ends up on the menu, including the oysters, lobster, and mussels, as well as what goes in the delicious fish pie.
Shanagarry, Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland
Myrtle Allen is Ireland’s answer to Alice Waters: The centenarian chef has lobbied the Irish parliament for better food policies, earned some Michelin stars, and, 50 years ago, opened a restaurant called the Yeats Room in the town of Shanagarry, an hour east of Cork City. She eventually added bedrooms upstairs and called it Ballymaloe House, and her sous-chef-turned-daughter-in-law, Darina Allen—who has written canonical Irish cookbooks and helped lead Ireland’s Slow Food movement—tacked on the Ballymaloe Cookery School and farm two miles from the main house.

This is thus the seat of Ireland’s food royalty, and it shows. The restaurant spins flavorful dinners out of whatever comes in from the farm or East Cork’s fishing boats, and the cookery school has become known the world over for teaching expert and novice chefs to make pizzas, ferment pickles, cook baby food, and grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Even without all that, the ivy-fronted house—and cabins and cottages on the farm’s grounds—make for a simple, pleasant country retreat.
Main Street, Carrownaglogh, Terryglass, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
The Derg Inn is a charming gastropub on a tree-lined road in the tiny village of Terryglass in County Tipperary. It’s a popular spot for boaters on the Lough Derg and the River Shannon, which is just a few minutes’ walk away. Tuck into tasty steaks, pot roasts, fish and chips, or the house special, the Derg burger, made of 100 percent Irish Hereford beef and served with bacon, cheese, mushrooms, onions, salad, and chips. The pub has a good selection of craft beer and a specialty Irish whiskey bar, as well as a roster of regular music and events.
Spanish Arch, Long Walk, Galway, H91 E9XA, Ireland
Ard Bia at Nimmos (Gaelic for “high food”) is a lovely space in a stone building near the Spanish Arch in Galway, and one of the city’s most popular restaurants, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Inspired by many cuisines, from Irish to Mediterranean, with influences from the Middle East, India, Lebanon, and New Zealand, the dishes range from pan-roasted West Coast monkfish to pea and mint gnocchi to lobster borek with bisque aioli.
10 Quay St, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland
The Tannery has become one of the southeast’s destination restaurants since chef Paul Flynn opened it more than 20 years ago in the coastal town of Dungarvan, County Waterford. Flynn serves fresh, local produce with a twist, such as Helvick crab crème brûlée with Harty oyster or confit purple potato with Coolea cheese for starters; mains might include hot smoked salmon with turnips and creamed kale or cured venison haunch with roasted fig and Morteau sausage. Around the corner from the restaurant is the cozy Tannery Townouse, should you wish to stay over, and a cookery school, if the food inspires you to hone your kitchen skills.
Cliff Road, Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal, Ireland
The timber-beamed ceilings, wooden floors, and brick walls give a cozy feel to this pub in the tiny village of Rossnowlagh in County Donegal. Overlooking the long golden Rossnowlagh Beach and Donegal Bay, the pub specializes in seafood, with tasty oysters, mussels, and crab claws appearing on the menu at the Conservatory restaurant and Gallery dining room. There’s a very popular Sunday lunch and, from June to October, live music every Saturday night.
Main St, Ballycotton, Co. Cork, Ireland
Blackbird is a charming pub with oodles of traditional atmosphere in the quiet fishing village of Ballycotton in East Cork. Its secret is the Field Kitchen, a trailer that was lowered into the rear beer garden, which supplies fish and chips, garlic mussels, and monkfish scampi to accompany your pint. The beer garden overlooks the stone ruins of Ballycotton village, and inside, the bar is lit by candles in Jameson bottles, as the pub is very near the home of Jameson Distillery in Midleton.
34-36 Bank St, Belfast BT1 1HL, UK
This small—but always packed—dining room is where to go for a delicious introduction to the fresh seafood that’s so abundant along the coast. Specials are chalked on a blackboard, while the likes of Mourne mussels, fish cakes, and langoustines are featured on the daily menu. The main dining room and adjacent Oyster Bar share a menu.
11-17 Exchequer Street (basement), Dublin, D02 RY63, Ireland
Whether you choose the wine bar in the basement, the gourmet food hall on the ground floor (where you can also buy hot food to eat in the wine bar), or the fine dining restaurant in a big, bright open space on the first floor, you won’t be disappointed with the quality of food in this Exchequer Street emporium, much of which is organic. Main courses on the menu include dishes like grilled Irish lamb rump with broad bean succotash, black garlic and aubergine purée and smoked potato croquette, or aged Irish rib-eye steak with a choice of Béarnaise, brandy peppercorn or truffle butter sauce. There’s also an excellent lunch menu and the pre-theater dinner menu is good value and runs all night Sunday to Tuesday and from 5.30 to 7pm, Wednesday to Saturday.
Greene Street
Dick Mack’s has been one of County Kerry’s best-loved pubs since 1899, and the shelves and walls are packed with bottles and memorabilia that tell the story of its history as a shoemaker and the famous faces that have popped in over the years, including Julia Roberts, Timothy Dalton, and Dolly Parton. There’s also an in-house leather workshop (open weekdays). If hunger strikes, pop out the back and you’ll find food trucks such as Chewy and the Beast serving up tasty burgers and shoestring fries. Live bands often play in the rear yard, and the most recent addition to Dick Mack’s emporium is a brewhouse making craft beer (tours available). It’s a Dingle experience not to be missed.
The Mall, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
In the colorful seaside town of Dingle, you’ll find the Chart House, a lovely modern restaurant in a low, stone cottage with a garden that provides many of the goodies found on the menu. Dishes are served with a creative twist, including black pudding wrapped in filo pastry with pear and lime chutney, and roast rack of Kerry lamb with cumin-spiced red onion marmalade. And of course, Dingle Bay is the source for much of what goes into the fresh seafood chowder. The limited early-evening menu, served from 6 to 7 p.m., is a good value.
The Weir, Roymore, Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, Ireland
This cute thatched cottage that looks out over the weir in Kilcolgan is home to the seventh generation of the Moran family. Whether you choose to sit in its inviting bar filled with bric-a-brac, one of the cozy snugs (private rooms), or the dining room, you can order superlative oysters and other fresh seafood, accompanied by just-baked brown bread. Wash it all down with a creamy pint of Guinness.
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