County-by-county guide to the best places to eat in Ireland

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Wherever you are, you’ll find someplace great to enjoy a tasty meal or a quick snack at these carefully selected restaurants and cafes across the island of Ireland

Summer is the time when eating out gets a whole lot more chilled and relaxed. It is not so much about the impossible-to-get booking (with the exception of a special occasion). It is more about happy chatter, kicking back and nabbing an outside table on a sunny day, perhaps with a view out across the water.

This summer list, which covers 100 restaurants in the 32 counties, is exactly what you need to pack into the car with your bucket and spade. It will help you find those restaurants with terraces, outdoor spaces, seaside locations, and tasty, affordable food that works for dining with family and friends.

Our selection process for this list involved a significant amount of travel, dining and research. In addition, recommendations were gleaned from seasoned travellers and diners, and newly opened restaurants were prioritised. Corinna Hardgrave


A Fianco

Unit 6, Norseman Court, Manor Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7; 01-4452691,

A Fianco is the little sibling to Robert Mungo’s Grano but this little Stoneybatter wine bar has most definitely stepped out of the shadow of its big brother. Having opened as walk-ins only, it now accepts advance bookings, to the relief of many who would like to guarantee a spot at the counter and enjoy the extensive wine list and Calabrian-influenced small plates. Joanne Cronin



16 Aungier Street, Dublin 2; 01-5388886,

BIGFAN has been a buzzy spot right from the outset, hugely popular for its Chinese tapas and Asian-influenced cocktails. Now head chef Alex Zhang and co-owner Robert Hayes are adding to the buzz with the installation of urban beehives on the roof, with plans to use the honey in the kitchen. Watch out for changing specials. Pet-friendly outdoor terrace. JC

Daddy’s Cafe

538 South Circular Road, Rialto, Dublin 8;

A steadfast champion of seasonal Irish ingredients – and the changing specials at Colm Keane’s Daddy’s are always tempting. Recently, we’ve spotted a zesty carrot, cream cheese and egg sandwich and a burnt buffalo cauliflower and Cashel Blue cheese tart. The coffee counter groans with fresh bakes and cakes, and there’s an outdoor terrace for when the sun shines. Well-behaved dogs welcome. JC


Bray Road, Loughlinstown, Dublin 18; 01-2393471;

The minute you clap eyes on the large, zinc-topped bar in this new restaurant over Whelehans Wine, it’s clear that cocktails are going to be a feature, which is not surprising as John Farrell of 777 and The Butcher Grill is the operator behind it. There’s a wood-burning grill, live music in the evening and an interesting menu with ceviche, grilled fish, prawns and steaks. A summer terrace is on the way. CH

Fairmental Lab & Deli

10 Grand Canal Street Upper, Dublin 4; 087-1386880,

Chef and owner Valentin Ivancenco brings his many years of experience – including at Noma’s famous Fermentation Lab – to bear in this new deli near Dublin’s Silicon Docks. The space is filled with colourful jars of pickles, ferments and sauces which feature in their small menu or for purchase to go. Enrol in one of their monthly fermentation classes to learn how to do it yourself. Pets welcome. JC

Fish Shop

76 Benburb Street, Dublin 7; 01-5571473,

Grower Champagne by the glass is just one of the many reasons to drop into Fish Shop, where the 200-strong wine list is printed on paper so tactile it makes you want to up your spend. Which you should do. Because incredible fish and chips start at €15.95. You will of course have started with a gilda, then calamari and squid on toast. Watch out for the new wine bar opening on Kevin Street. CH


Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 089-2083056,

David Bradshaw and Katie Seward bring all their experience from years of working in some of London’s coolest restaurants to this smart cave à manger-style wine bar. Innovative, tasty small plates are matched with a superb wine list of more than 150 low-intervention bottles, with 15 served by the glass. Match them with Connemara oysters, surf clams with asparagus, and braised lamb shoulder with yoghurt, barley and ramson. CH


45 Capel Street, Dublin 1; 01-8748677,

Pedestrianization of Dublin’s Capel Street has bought new life to this busy thoroughfare, with outdoor seating now taking prominence. The long-standing Hilan restaurant has found recent TikTok renown for its range of mouthwatering traditional Chinese charcoal-grilled skewers. Ranging from lamb or pork belly to enoki mushrooms, all are generously seasoned with cumin and spices. JC

Ian’s Kitchen

189 Kimmage Road West, Dublin 12;

Ian Ussher struck gold when he opened his Cluck Chicken food truck and he’s now repeating his success in a Kimmage bricks and mortar brunch spot. You’ll spot the queues outside for his home-made banana bread French toast, Bloody Mary buffalo fried chicken, and his famous lemon meringue pie pancakes. There are 10 outside seats under a canopy, and a wine licence is on its way. CH

King Sitric Seafood Bar

East Pier, Howth, Co Dublin; 01-8325235,

You know it’s summer in Howth when you land an outside table at the King Sitric, which conveniently is open daily. Perfect for swilling a chilled glass of Picpoul while you work your way through local prawns, shellfish bisque, crab salad, fish and chips, and lobster, which is served five different ways. It’s market price and there’s a good chance it will be down to €30 in the summer. CH

La Gordita

6 Montague St, Dublin 2; 01-5313303,

One of the most anticipated openings in Dublin, Vanessa Murphy and Anna Cabrera, the couple behind Las Tapas de Lola, flung open the doors to their beautiful new bodega-style restaurant in March. Sanfilippo anchovies with Valdeón blue-cheese butter, tortilla del día, lamb sweetbreads and grilled octopus have immediately hit the favourites list and the Spanish apple tart is not to be missed. CH

Little Dumpling

Unit 4 Drury Hall, 23-27 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-4757777,

Sichuan chef Changquan Huang has a magic way with dumplings and if you want to go all in, you can get one of each of the 11 types for €25. Round up your mates so that you can do the menu justice and order the smashed cucumber, prawn toast and black fungus salad, and ask for the new secret Little Sichuan menu with nose-to-tail dishes. Open daily. CH


7-9 Rathgar Road, Dublin 6; 01-5585969,

A smart bistro with keenly priced food was just what Rathmines needed and Domini Kemp and Brian Montague (he of the Winding Stair restaurant group) have delivered admirably. The bavette and chips is the star but the prawn bisque and octopus are not to be missed, as well as the île flottante dessert, a thing of beauty. The newly revamped terrace has a small after-dinner bar with music and relaxed couches. CH

Margadh RHA

Royal Hibernian Academy, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2; 01-5475419,

Slightly off the beaten path, Margadh RHA has gained a reputation for its keenly priced tasting menu. It’s also a perfect spot for a refreshing glass of wine, or a little treat after a walk in town or a trip around the gallery. The rotating wine list means there’s always something new to try and the pet-friendly outdoor tables are perfect for chats in the sunshine. JC

McNally Family Farm Café

Balrickard, Ring Commons, Co Dublin;

A taste of River Cottage is on offer in north Co Dublin, where Sarah McNally, who interned there, will open your eyes to the wonders of food made with organic produce. Her partner Rory Cruickshank makes exceptionally good focaccia, which comes loaded with delicious vegetables, and you’ll find salad pots and sweet treats. Seating is limited, with room for 16 seated indoors and 16 outdoors. CH


26 Fenian Street, Dublin 2; 01-2447344,

Note has established itself as Dublin’s hippest wine bar, with a clever selection of unique wines for the discerning drinker. The sleek, slightly retro aesthetic really shines when sunlight floods in through the windows, or in the cosy evening candlelight. Chef Essa Fakhry’s modern take on Sunday lunch is one of driving factors in the revitalisation of this fine tradition across the capital’s restaurants. Pet friendly. JC


Haddington House, 9-12 Haddington Terrace, Dún Laoghaire; 01-2800011,

There are few better places to head to for alfresco drinks, pizza and salad than Oliveto’s 100-seater garden overlooking Dún Laoghaire bay. There is also a covered and heated platform with 30 seats, and a covered and heated terrace with 12 seats, serving the Italian-influenced, a la carte menu overseen by French chef François Jacusse, formerly of Luna and Woodruff. CH

Órale Street Food @ Pawn Shop

15 Dame Street, Dublin 2; 087-6036094,

It’s easy to miss this the entrance to this cocktail bar with a “cash 4 gold” neon sign in the window, but a discrete chalk board with tacos, tostadas and burritos emblazoned on it is your marker. Órale Street Food has taken up permanent residence here, serving excellent tortilla chips, a sizeable selection of tacos and a notably good black-bean burrito. Perfect to meet up with friends and explore the well-priced cocktails. CH

Osteria Lucio

Clanwilliam Terrace, Dublin 4; 01-6624198,

The outside terrace brings real summer vibes to this smart trattoria where Italian food is taken seriously by Michelin-star chef Ross Lewis. The €55 sharing menu is a steal and includes two starters, two pasta dishes, a main course and a dessert. If it’s on the menu, be sure to order the suckling pork shoulder cooked in the wood-burning oven. CH

Row Wines

1 Coppinger Row, Dublin 2; 01-4444928,

The Bereen brothers are back on Coppinger Row with Row Wines. The vibe is small plates using seasonal Irish produce from head chef Paddy Maher, and live DJ sets, all accompanied by natural, biodynamic or sustainable wines. There are plans for pop-up vermouth tastings, and Champagne and oyster evenings. Enjoy summer in the city by taking a seat on the pet-friendly terrace on this buzzing pedestrian street. JC


40 Lower Drumcondra Road, Dublin 9; 01-5322114,

Shouk provided us with many joyous Israeli and Middle Eastern meals during lockdowns and continues to do so in its large, cheerful and bright outdoor area. While there is strong love for vegetables, meat eaters will likewise find much to enjoy. Grab a group of friends and dig into The Middle East Feast, a mix of favourite dishes, priced at €34pp. JC


79/80 Grove Road, Harold’s Cross Bridge, Dublin 6; 01-5581750,

Located on the Grand Canal, Southbank is a community-orientated cafe that truly has something for everyone. Creative dishes such as chargrilled cabbage and tahini on toast or mixed-up eggs, early weekend opening hours and a very dog-friendly policy mean Southbank is constantly humming with locals. JC

Space Jaru

67-68 Meath Street, Dublin 8; 01-5327070,

Gunmoo Kim’s modern Irish take on Korean food continues to go from strength to strength with the recent opening of Space Jaru bang in the heart of the lively Liberties. Dishes such as bibimbap arancini, Korean fried chicken burgers and Tteokbokki rice cake are well priced, attracting a wide range of customers for lunch and dinner. JC

Warehouse Food Market and Café

Greenmount Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 12; 01-5880558;

Chris Chapman’s shop, cafe and event space down a small lane in Harold’s Cross has immersed itself in the community, with a light-flooded room that is a joy to eat in. The food is simple, with an all-day breakfast and a selection of sandwiches, hot lunch dishes and salads. CH



6a Callendar Street, Belfast; +44 79-17957162,

In what is bordering on a too-cool-for-school room, self-taught Belfast chef Ryan Jenkins serves up innovative plates of tasty food starting with snacks of smoked eel and kimchi tartlet, moving on to scallops in roast bone sauce and progressing to main courses with dishes such as flatiron steak and vegetable pithivier. Prices are reasonable, the cooking is sharp and the room is built for a fun night out. CH

Orā Tapas and Wine

12 Great Victoria Street, Belfast; +44 28-90315565,

Orā is the second restaurant from chef Marty Murphy, just around the corner from his first venture, Howard Street Restaurant. The style here is tapas with a modern influence and big taste, ranging from bang bang chicken with warm spiced Madras slaw, to beef fillet with chimichurri. The diningroom is cosmopolitan and stylish, with dark wooden floors and exposed brickwork walls. JC

Waterman Restaurant

5-23 Hill Street, Belfast; +44 28-90434310,

It should be no surprise that Waterman Restaurant landed a Michelin Bib Gourmand on the last round of gongs, as their no-choice lunch menu offers phenomenal value at three courses for £22.50. There’s plenty to choose from on the a la carte menu if you want to explore further, all seasonally led dishes cooked with flare and served in a truly delightful room. CH


Uluru Bar & Grill

3-5 Market Street, Armagh; +44 28-37518051,

Billed originally as Ulster’s first Australian restaurant, Uluru continues to deliver food from their Josper charcoal grill with an Australian twist, with a foundation based on Northern Ireland producers and distillers. This large eatery is spread out over two floors in Armagh’s historic marketplace area, providing crowd-pleasing options for large groups and couples alike. JC


Mimosa Bar de Tapas

College Street, Carlow; 059-9170888,

Nepalese chef Kumar Thapa weaves spices through the many dishes on the global-inspired menu at Catriona Carpenter’s popular restaurant, where tapas range from €4 to €8. An atmospheric outdoor area adds to the appeal. CH


MacNean House and Restaurant

Main Street, Blacklion; 071-9853022,

MacNean House is renowned for its Irish produce-based tasting menu, which is cooked with precision by Neven Maguire and head chef Carmel McGirr (who has staged in Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Ox and Pied à Terre). Keep an eye out for cancellations – they’re worth snagging. CH


Linnane’s Lobster Bar

New Quay, The Burren; 065-7078120,

A word of warning – be sure to book before heading over to Linnane’s waterfront seafood bar, where freshly caught lobsters are offloaded from local fishing boats in front of an enviable terrace. A new lava-rock grill in the kitchen means the menu has switched up a bit, with grilled lobster, tiger prawns, fish, steak and grilled seafood platters for sharing. CH


Toomullin, Roadford, Doolin; 065-7047990,

Set in the beautiful Clare countryside, looking towards the iconic Cliffs of Moher, Oar Restaurant and Rooms offers rustic fine dining and a regularly changing menu based on the best local produce. Guests return time and time again for the warm hospitality from owner Kieran O’Halloran, enjoying chef Cezary Sodel’s hearty yet refined food in the elegant diningroom. JC

The Dining Room at Gregan’s Castle

Ballyvaughan; 065-7077005,

There are far worse things in life than returning to the charming, turf-scented Gregan’s Castle after a day spent exploring the atmospheric Burren. Following a relaxing drink, find your way to the elegant and calm diningroom for a feast of modern Irish cooking. Start with local Flaggy Shore oysters followed by Fanore lamb and enjoy the view as the sun sets in the west. JC

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

Main Street, Liscannor; 065-7081548,

A classic menu with lobster bisque, foie gras, fish, lobster and steaks, and an impressive wine list with more than 200 bottles has kept this old-school pub restaurant on the destination list for more than 40 years. The cooking is always assured and the produce top quality. For a more casual spot, check out Vaughan’s on The Prom in Lahinch. CH

Wild at the Cave Cafe


While the famous great stalactite is the main attraction at Clare’s Doolin Cave, the adjoining Wild at the Cave cafe is perfect for a break after underground explorations. Owners Ryan Fitzpatrick and Aoife McMullan started their Wild Catering Company in the depths of lockdown, delivering healthy and tasty options such as open crab sandwich, St Tola goat’s cheese salad or a classic ham and cheese toastie. JC


51 Cornmarket

51 Cornmarket Street, Cork; 083-0102321,

Having built up a strong reputation as a brunch spot, 51 Cornmarket has expanded into evening service, in effect creating two different restaurants. In the words of co-owner Anne Zagar, this approach allows them to really showcase the talents of chef David Devereaux and team, and has even resulted in a reduction in food waste. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor terrace. JC

Restaurant Chestnut

Staball Hill, Ballydehob, Co Cork; 028-25766,

There is a purity to Rob Krawczyk’s restrained tasting menu, which is thrilling in its poised, beautiful flow. Home-made charcuterie, organic produce from Lisheen Greens and everything that is local is treated with delicacy and shines through each dish. Textural touches such as frozen Young Buck cheese add nuance but, essentially, it’s all about maturity and a deep understanding of what works. CH

Dede at the Customs House

Baltimore; 028-48248,

Chef Ahmet Dede claimed a second Michelin star for his eponymous restaurant in the seaside village of Baltimore. Under Dede’s mentorship, his all-Turkish kitchen brigade has rapidly developed their unique Turkish food made with Irish ingredients. Dishes such as lobster kebab with isot pepper or Walsh’s lamb with spiced firik are paired wonderfully well with a good-value wine list. JC

Dillon’s Corner

68 Bridge Street, Skibbereen; 028-23316,

Ruairí Melvin Dunne and Dawn Price-Latorre, who worked for years in Trullo and Padella in London, have installed a wood-burning oven in their smart corner bakery and deli, and have been churning out mouthwatering pizzas and breads made with unbleached organic flour since they arrived. The pasta is top notch and Union Hall fish, meat and vegetables also take their turn in the smouldering oven. CH


128 Oliver Plunket Street, Cork; 021-2398720,

A “whole catch” approach is what drives one of the country’s smartest young chefs, Aishling Moore, who creates much of her menu on the fly, based on what fish is landed from day boats. She has an agile, exciting way with flavour, working from snacks such as kimchi and buckwheat pancakes right through to larger plates. A grill is on the way which will make this menu even more exciting. CH


38 Pope’s Quay, Cork; 087-6409079,

Over the past decade, the vegetarian south Indian Iyer’s Cafe has knitted itself into the fabric of Cork city. Hence the dismay when owners Gautham and Caroline announced last September that they were pausing for a well-deserved break. Thankfully, Iyer’s is back in business and as good as ever, turning out street-food favourites such as chaat, vada and dosa, as well as more substantial meal combos. JC

L’Attitude 51

1 Union Quay, Cork; 021-2390219,

At 3pm, Beverley Mathews’s wonderful wine shop transforms into a hip wine bar, with food overseen by Simone Kelly and Basque native Xuban Noriega. Small plates designed for sharing range from €7 to €26.50 and include the likes of Cantabrian anchovies, Gort Na Nain asparagus, spiced beef tongue and lamb tagine. The wine list is phenomenal, with 25 available by the glass, and the outside terrace is a joy in fine weather. CH


16 Lancaster Quay, Cork; 021-4277939,

A tasting menu can leave you feeling a bit devoid of choice but at Paradiso, Denis Cotter’s €65 menu does the magical job of delivering dish after dish of incredibly tasty organic vegetarian food flecked with spices and nuance. The wine list is one of the most reasonably priced in the country, with everything available by the glass. CH


The Blue Haven Hotel, 3-4 Pearse Street, Kinsale; 021-4772209,

Chef Meeran Manzoor is a man of great ambition. Hailing from Chennai, he combines his classical training with local Cork ingredients, producing laser-sharp dishes for Rare’s five-course or seven-course tasting menus. An amuse-bouche of raw kohlrabi from Camus Farm, topped with nuts and spices, left this writer speechless. Rare is surely a place to watch. JC

Sage 2.0

The Courtyard, 8 Main Street, Midleton; 021-4639682,

Why name a restaurant Sage 2.0? Chef Kevin Aherne uses it to mark the evolution of Sage from fine dining to a neighbourhood-style venue. Quietly tucked away off Main Street, the space is modern and relaxing, with satisfying dishes such as hake Kyiv, barbecue spring lamb pastry pie and veggie flatbreads, along with cocktails and wines. JC

Saint Francis Provisions

Short Quay, Kinsale; 083-0168652,

It was a joy to open Instagram earlier this year and see the smiling faces of head chef Rebeca Recarey Sanchez, owner Barbara Nealon, and front of house Emily Hartless celebrating their receipt of a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Seating a mere 13 guests, this little spot sends guests home rollickingly happy, sated on Spanish-influenced small plates and natural wines. Watch out for pop-up pintxos nights. JC


9 Castle Street, Cork; 021-4274216,

Corkonians are flocking to Sonflour, a sustainable Italian street food vegetarian and vegan cafe. Owners Eugenio Nobile and Lorenzo Barba turn out excellent pizzas, breads and pastas made with Irish flour from The Little Mill. With dish names such as “I lost my mind by the Shakey Bridge”, live music gigs, sustainable wines and a pet-friendly policy, it’s easy to see why Cork has fallen for Sonflour. JC

The Fish Basket

Long Strand, Castlefreke, Clonakilty; 023-8851716,

The Long Strand is, it turns out, a very long beach and a fantastic spot for walking. The Fish Basket sits at the western end, with indoor and outdoor seating, turning out superb golden-battered fish and chips as well as coffee, teas and snacks. Explore the full menu with their sharing box. Opening hours can vary so check social media for the latest. JC

Yay! Burger

The Poor Relation Bar, 19 Parnell Place, Cork; 087-1407467,

There are a lot of good burgers doing the rounds so to make this list they need to be something special. Gemma Greany and Chris McDonald started with a pop-up in Hackett’s Bar in Schull during the pandemic, and are now slinging their sensational Big Kahuna beef burgers and Japanese fried-chicken fillets in brioche buns in Ballydehob, Clonakilty and, most recently, in Cork city. CH



64a Portstewart Road, Coleraine Marina, Coleraine;

Named after the tragic myth of the Children of Lir, the story of Rebekah and Stevie McCarry’s new restaurant is an altogether much happier affair. Overlooking the river Bann, Lir’s outdoor terrace is going to be a popular spot in summer months. The real star, however, is the food, which is that kind of creative crazy brilliance that leaves you dreaming of more. Their nose-to-tail ethos means they make the most of every ingredient, from smoked dogfish bacon carbonara to monkfish liver parfait. JC


Casa Cafe and Deli

Main Street, Dunfanaghy;

The very northern part of the country is not where one might expect to find Brazilian food but when local Tara Alcorn met Anderson Rodrigues da Silva the path was set. They lovingly opened the small Casa Cafe and Deli, offering a range of brunch dishes and sandwiches. Anderson’s influence really shines through in the sweet offerings, with egg-based quindim and the ever-popular pastel de nata. Pet friendly. JC


The Harbour Bar, Downings;

Bagging an outside table at Fisk is like hitting the jackpot on a summer’s day in Donegal, looking out across the expanse of the bay. It’s a no-bookings, totally chilled set-up where Tony Davidson and Lina Reppert serve oysters, tacos, bao buns, moules frites, scampi and fish and chips. CH

The Olde Glen Bar

Glenmenagh, Carrickart,; 083-1585777;

Ciarán Sweeney’s legendary fermented potato bread, which he serves with a copper pot of frothy bacon mousse, has us beating a path to Donegal each summer, where it’s on the €60 four-course menu along with tasty fish and meat dishes. There’s a more casual vibe at the outdoor dining area. CH

The Pavilion at Rathmullan House

Rathmullan House, Rathmullan; 074-9158188,

With the beautiful beaches of Lough Swilly on its doorstep, Rathmullan House has one of the best settings in the country. Seating 100 guests, the picturesque Pavilion tent is pitched on the front lawn, offering family-friendly, wood-fired pizzas, ice-cream and guest dishes. Chefs draw on ingredients from the walled garden and there’s a nice selection of craft beers, ciders and wines. JC



93 High Street, Holywood; +44 28-95788143,

Take a slingshot around Belfast on your next trip north and drive out past the City Airport to Holywood. In the small but perfect Frae, chef Shaun Tinman’s menu of modern small plates draws influences from Coolea in Co Cork to Lough Neagh. Dishes are beautifully paired with a natural wine list. JC

Kin & Folk Bakery

4 Lisburn Street, Hillsborough;

Husband-and-wife team David and Maija produce a range of breads, focaccia and utterly delectable sweet treats from this little bakery and cafe. Their sourdough is used as the foundation for daily tartines, while the filled focaccias (think 12-hour slow-cooked beef brisket with confit tomato, Parmesan mayo, rocket and maple-aged pickles) are gaining a strong following. JC


The Kissin Crust

152 Main Street, Lisnaskea; 028-67722678,

This cute little coffee shop, which is a popular spot for breakfast and brunch, is now serving a very special afternoon tea which can be booked in advance. Fine china, dainty sandwiches, scones, Victoria sponge and tasty cheesecakes are served in style. CH


Blackrock Cottage

Blackrock House, Salthill Promenade, Galway;

Blackrock Cottage is a bit of a tardis, appearing small on the outside but opening out inside. Stretch your legs on Salthill promenade or take a bracing dip in the foaming waters before enjoying Martin O’Donnell’s hearty food and well-chosen wine list. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. JC

Cava Bodega

Middle Street Mews, 1 Middle Street, Galway; 091-539884,

It’s hard to believe that Cava Bodega has been around for 15 years. This Spanish tapas and wine bar from Galway duo JP McMahon and Drigin Gaffey is constantly delivering new dishes and wines, along with the classics, using the best Irish ingredients, such as octopus pincho or rack of lamb with baby gem lettuce and St Tola cheese. JC


Druid Lane, Galway; 091-374154,

In a stylish room with an equally beautiful menu, tasty bites such as squid toast, beef tartare and devilled egg with smoked eel are just what you want to be tucking into while working through the natural and organic wine list. With Loam closed, owner Enda McEvoy is spending more time in the kitchen here and the focus, as ever, is on using organically grown local produce and cooking it judiciously. CH


22 Sea Road, Galway; 091-526003,

Jess Murphy and her husband Dave landed a Michelin green star for their farm-to-fork menu in their light-flooded convivial restaurant in 2022. They take a circular, sustainable approach, so surplus potatoes from the restaurant find their way down to their Hapi Bakery where they’re used for wild garlic potato focaccia, which lands back up on the menu in Kai. Local produce is key and is included in dishes such as Aran Island crab, mackerel on the bone and fig leaf gelato. CH


Slatefort House, Bullaun; 087-3300559

Danny Africano doesn’t sit still, and is constantly innovating and adding to the line-up of Irish-Nordic dishes on the tasting menu of this spectacular restaurant where most of the food is cooked on an Argentinian grill. It’s a surprise menu, which always brings a sense of formality, but the young team, led by restaurant manager Molly Keane, ensures that the experience is fun. CH

Little Fish

Cleggan, Connemara; 087-9603735

Starting out in a food truck in Letterfrack last year, Tom Mullan and Eva Caulwell have moved to premises in Cleggan. The concise menu adapts to what fish is landed but always includes fish and chips, buffalo prawns, calamari spice bag and their fish burger, along with some daily specials such as Killary mussels, crab nachos, chip butties and oysters. There’s a small selection of wines and outdoor seating on picnic benches and stools for sunny days. CH


An Tulach, Baile na hAbhann; 085-7566963,

Aran Island crab cakes with organic Garraí Glas leaves couldn’t taste more beautiful than when you’re tucking into them in Diarmuid Ó Mathúna’s charming cafe just minutes from Rossaveal Harbour. Ballymaloe-trained, Ó Mathúna sees to every detail here, using local produce in dishes such as goat’s cheese quiche, sourdough toasties with shoulder of bacon and Ros an Mhíl chowder. CH


1-2 Dock Road, Galway; 091-399200,

Rúibín is truly a gem in a city full of good dining choices. Split over two levels in a beautiful old stone building, owners Alice Jary and Richard Kennan have created a restaurant that is just lovely. Think fried pig cheek with date and habanero ketchup, halibut poached in buttermilk, or roast celeriac with rose harissa, with an extensive wine list available. JC

The Gourmet Offensive

52 Newcastle Road, Galway; 091-373758,

Having started with a falafel stall at Galway markets, The Gourmet Offensive offers plant-based street food from its small premises. Owners Flo and Eileen have a strong passion for vibrant, nourishing and healthy food made with the freshest ingredients. Enjoy the OG falafels, shawarma seitan kebab or arancini salad. JC

The Owenmore Restaurant at Ballynahinch Castle

Recess, Connemara; 095-31006,

It’s wonderful to see chef Danni Barry back at a restaurant helm and doubly so when it’s at the atmospheric Ballynahinch Castle. The restaurant has beautiful views overlooking the Owenmore river, a perfect setting for Barry’s seasonal, sensitive cooking, delivered with the lightest of touches. She is working closely with the head gardener so that the walled garden is being reinvigorated to provide ingredients for the kitchen. JC


Boathouse Bistro

The Dromquinna Manor Estate, Kenmare; 064-6642889,

If you fancy a little escape with a New England vibe and views out to Kenmare Bay, there’s plenty to love at this stylish wine bar and bistro, with seafood chowder, scallops and fish and chips all featuring on the menu. Grab an outside table and wrap up in a throw on cooler days. CH

Helen’s Bar

Kilmackillogue; 064-6683104

When my parents start sending pictures in the family WhatsApp group, you know that it’s got to be that magic combination of generous portions, good food and even better value. Located on the shores of Kenmare Bay, it’s not unusual to see a small boat pull up, disgorging diners in search of their dinner and a decent pint. Think seafood platters, mussels, fish and chips, all best enjoyed outdoors. JC

Maison Gourmet/Le Bar a Vin

6 Henry Street, Kenmare; 064-6641857, and

There is nowhere better to have breakfast in Kenmare than Emmanuelle and Patrick Puech’s charming daytime cafe where the croissants are made with French butter and everyone is angling for one of the bistro seats outside. Quiches, patisseries and savoury snacks all feature on the menu, with a change of mood for the evening when it transforms into a wine bar. CH

The Fish Box

Upper Green Street, Dingle; 087-6027866,

When a restaurant lands fish from its own family fishing vessel, Cú Na Mara, you know that you’re in good hands. In this case, the hands are those of Deirdre Flannery, family matriarch and the chef behind the creative menu at The Fish Box. In addition to classic fish and chips, try a spice bag featuring catch of the day or crispy chilli monkfish. JC



12 George’s Street, Newbridge; 085-7667911,

Open mainly for brunch and lunch, and for Saturday-night supper clubs, Dubh is the work of chef Emma Spain. Having started as a small cafe, Dubh is now housed in an old pub, with the open kitchen behind the original bar counter. Dishes seamlessly blend Irish produce with modern influences such as nduja and rayu. Pet friendly. JC


1 North Main Street, Naas; 045-954466,

Roast bone marrow with sourdough flatbread, beef tartare with smoked eel on beef-dripping potatoes, and Dublin Bay prawns in a pool of foaming aioli are just some of the dishes you are likely to encounter on the innovative menu in this new restaurant in Naas. With Aimsir alumni on the front-of-house team and Gareth Naughton at the stove, this is a restaurant worth travelling to. CH

The Club at Goffs

The Club at Goffs, Greenhills, Kill; 1800-600300,

After closing their Michelin-starred L’Ecrivain restaurant and deciding against opening a more casual restaurant in Dublin, Derry and Sallyanne Clarke made the smart move of heading up the new restaurant at Goffs, with James Sheridan as head chef. The setting may be lower key but the food is solidly underpinned with fine-dining nous; top quality produce is cooked precisely and served in a more casual way. CH



8 The Arches, Barrack Street, Kilkenny; 056-7756297,

It has been a story of continued evolution in Kilkenny for owners Bart Pawlukojć and wife Nicole. Their legendary bakery now sits alongside their bistro. Drawing on their combined experiences and Nicole’s Filipina background, you can enjoy sisig, sizzling eggs made with local pork and tart calamansi; Vietnamese lemon grass chicken; or the Arán rarebit with smoked cheddar and ale sauce. Dogs welcome. JC


3 John’s Bridge, Kilkenny;

Ex-Fumbally chef Sinéad Moclair opened her compact restaurant in Kilkenny last year, serving a limited lunch menu with additional dishes at dinner time. Global influences are brought to Irish produce, so you’ll find Mexican tacos, red-lentil dal, spiced lamb flatbreads and fresh Pollock in a tempura batter on Seagull sourdough. CH


Bowe’s Foodhall and Cafe

The Square, Durrow; 057-8740669,

The captivating blue-and-white exterior of the historic Bowe’s Foodhall and Cafe catches your eye when passing through Durrow and it is a lovely spot for a break on the road between Cork and Dublin. There’s a lovely walled garden to the rear for outdoor eating. The food is classic, ranging from salads and home-made fishcakes to terrines. JC


My Kitchen by Sham Hanifa

Cortober, Carrick-on-Shannon; 071-9625933,

A retail park on the edge of Carrick-on-Shannon is not a spot that immediately comes to mind when thinking of delicious, aromatic Malaysian dishes. My Kitchen from Malaysian chef Sham Hanifa is family friendly, bright and modern, offering classics such as buttermilk chicken burgers and toasties, enlivened by warming kari mee noddles or rich beef rendang. JC


Dasco Deli

No 2 High Street, Limerick; 087-6966024,

Breakfast is big news in Limerick and while the full Irish will always be popular, it’s Carlos and Mary Dasco’s Filipino breakfast, tapsilog, that is the big seller. It is a dish of marinated beef, garlic rice and a fried egg, with beef broth, apple and cucumber salad. You’ll also find big bowls of braised beef mami and noodle soup, which keep this deli going at a cracking pace all day. CH


Torc Cafe and Food Hall

New Street, Longford; 043-3348277,

Torc cafe offers travellers a chance to enjoy some hearty home-made food, as well as some delicious chocolate treats. Not only that, but you can also buy from their range of jams, chutneys and dressings in the adjoining food hall, and a range of carefully selected items and gifts from around the country. JC



6 Market Square, Dundalk; 042-9337969,

Pendant lights, stripped wooden floors, shelves with interesting-looking wine bottles and a menu that is chalked on the board tell you all you need to know about Conor Halpenny’s approach to cooking in this smart, casual restaurant. Clever snacks include Cais Na Tire sable biscuits with whipped ricotta. CH


Cafe Rua

New Antrim Street, Castlebar; 094-9023376,

A local institute for many years, Ann McMahon’s Cafe Rua is a warming space, with a melange of pine tables, colourful chairs and a chalkboard menu. This is comfort food – chicken liver pate, pan-fried mackerel with sauce vierge and hearty vegetarian curries. Nearby you’ll find their Rua Cafe & Deli, their second outpost, selling their award-winning bakery items, various local produce and deli items. JC

Savoir Fare

Bridge Street, Westport, Co Mayo; 098-60095,

Brother-and-sister team Alain and Fiona Morice are serving the old bourgeoise-style dishes that you would seek out if you were holidaying in France. Shellfish bisque, local asparagus with poached eggs, pate en croute, roast organic chicken with dauphinoise, bouillabaisse and porchetta, with wines from low-intervention producers. CH

The Towers Bar and Restaurant

The Quay, Westport; 098-24844,

Outdoor seating on a sunny day is at a premium and there are few better places to watch the sun go down over Clare Island than the beer garden at The Towers. Killary mussels, seafood chowder, fish and steaks all feature on the comprehensive menu, which is perfect for families. CH


The Signal Restaurant

Station House Hotel, Kilmessan, Co Meath; 046-9025239,

Well-known as a wedding venue, the charming and chic Station House Hotel is also a perfect spot for an overnight gourmet stay. A short hop from Dublin, the elegant Signal Restaurant regularly hosts Boyne Valley Tasting Menu nights, with chef Gordon Mooney showcasing ingredients and producers from the surrounding area, all accompanied by generous wine pairings. JC


Wild Thyme

Threemilehouse; 047-53485,

When highly experienced chef Karl Breen returned home from abroad, he decided it was time to strike out on his own. Fast forward to the colourful Wild Thyme, located in a beautiful old pub building. Using seasonal and local ingredients, the goal is to make Wild Thyme a destination spot. Karl and co-owner Sinead have expanded with the opening of the more casual Saddle Bar. JC


The Blue Apron

Harbour Street, Tullamore; 057-9360106,

Chef Kenan Pehlivan looks after the kitchen while his wife Sarah runs front of house. Open since 2011, the Blue Apron has consistently been named the best restaurant in Offaly, offering quality dishes at reasonable prices. The set menu on Wednesday and Thursday is particularly good value, with two courses for €28 or three for €33. CH


The Old Stone House Restaurant

Ballinlough, Castlerea, Co Roscommon; 094-9640332,

Prime Irish Hereford steaks, pork ribs, and chicken wings are among the menu items in this family-friendly restaurant where head chef Ray O’Connor brings a level of experience from his time working in the Shelbourne Hotel and internationally. The three-course children’s menu, which features a junior Irish Hereford steak, is popular. CH



Tobergal Lane, Sligo; 071-9138591,

Hooked draws some of its inspiration from the tools of the butcher, a tribute to owner Anthony Gray’s grandfather. The bright spacious interior overlooking the Garavogue river has big tables perfect for families or groups. Rebecca Sweeney has recently taken over as head chef, and as a former Taste the Atlantic ambassador, she is passionate about using Irish produce. Dog-friendly outdoors. JC

Shells Bakery cafe

Seafront, Strandhill; 071-9122938,

Everything about Shells just seems perfectly suited to the seaside. Seating indoors and outdoors looks out over the sea, often with surfers or swimmers braving the waves. Locally sourced foods are used as much as possible in dishes such as Indonesian gado-gado salad, curried potato and Gouda cheese cakes or their epic breakfast bap. JC


Bishop’s Buttery

Cashel Palace Hotel, Main Street, St Dominick’s Abbey, Cashel, Co Tipperary; 062-62002,

In the bright, vaulted diningroom of the beautifully restored Cashel Palace Hotel, premium Irish produce is cooked judiciously. Seared scallops could be followed by poached black sole or Wicklow sika deer, followed with a coffee soufflé, with a few small treats peppered throughout the meal. CH


Chapter V

5 Killyman Street, Moy; +44 28-87784521,

Located in a beautifully restored 300-year-old building overlooking the remains of Roxborough Castle, Chapter V restaurant comes from the husband-and-wife team of Conor and Ellen McCabrey. Drawing on local ingredients, Conor’s style is smart and flavoursome, served with warm hospitality in the calm and relaxing diningroom. JC


Beach House

Turkey Road, Tramore; 051-338270,

It’s lunch only from Thursday to Sunday in Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola’s Tramore fish restaurant. A daily changing menu features dishes that are designed to share, such as cured gurnard with celery and mint; dressed crab with broad beans and sorrel salad; red mullet; monkfish; and turbot. Seating is in the kitchen garden, with diners given the option to dine outside, weather permitting. CH

Eamo Ró Cafe and Larder

Main Street, Kilmacthomas;

A stone’s throw from the gorgeous Waterford greenway is where you will find Eamon Connors and Róisin O’Connor’s little cafe. In a story that repeats multiple times on this list, these two talented chefs have struck out on their own. They use meat from next-door, traditional butcher O’Reilly’s, and while currently open for breakfast and lunch, dinner service is on the horizon. JC



Bridge Street, Athlone; 090-6478850,

There’s a lot of misuse of the phrase ‘hidden gem’ but if any spot qualifies, then it’s surely John and Tara Coffey’s Thyme. Well known locally and with those in the know, Thyme is a mere stone’s throw from the majestic Shannon. Coffey’s signature starter of crispy hen’s egg is always changing and always delicious, and he draws extensively on local producers for his classic modern fare. JC



Sunny Row, Fethard on Sea;

Two outside picnic tables just a gentle stroll from the beach signal that you have arrived at Dee Kelly and Matteo Griscti’s charming daytime cafe, where brunch dishes include French toast with roast rhubarb, North African bean tagine and baked goods from their Duncannon-based Lumi Bakery. CH

The Sea Rooms at Kelly’s

Kelly’s Resort Hotel, Rosslare, 053-9173553,

A small garden area with views out to sea at Kelly’s Hotel has evolved into a 50-seater restaurant, The Sea Rooms, with an indoor/outdoor dining experience. Chris Fullam, formerly of The Greenhouse, Forest Avenue, and The Cliff House, is in the kitchen, making full use of the produce available from the hotel’s kitchen garden, fish from Duncannon and crab from Kilmore Quay. CH


Grangecon Kitchen

Main Street, Grangecon,; 087-7478863,

A brand new heated tent has been installed at Grangecon Kitchen to replace the old one that saw them through lockdown. Complete with festoon lighting and open fire pit, the cosy atmosphere, much loved by locals and visitors, has gone up another notch. Brunch features dishes such as Beets, Eggs and Greens or classic roast chicken sandwich, while Friday nights see wood-fired pizzas and burgers. Dog-friendly. JC

Little Acorn

Market Square, Baltinglass; 059-6451805,

Flavour first is the hallmark of the food in Maggie Roche’s daytime cafe, where carefully made mushroom and spinach omelettes, fish tacos, and beef sambos all feature on a menu packed with delicious things to eat. There are outside seats with umbrellas and wines available by the glass. CH

Pizza Shed at Killruddery

Killruddery House & Gardens, Southern Cross, Bray; 01-2863405,

The wood-fired pizzas at Killruddery have proved so popular over the past two years that they now have a permanent home in Killruddery Yard, complete with a Valoriani pizza oven imported from Italy. Neapolitan-style pizzas include Toonsbridge Fior di Latte, a Killruddery pork special and potato and wild garlic pizza with Ballymakenny Farm pink fir apple potatoes. CH

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column