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Great-value Irish restaurants: 13 places to go for dinner

Part of the Irish Times guide to 100 great-value restaurants, cafes and places to eat in Ireland 2022


16 Lancaster Quay, Cork; 021-4277939,

Corkman Denis Cotter has been spreading the word about vegetable cuisine in Paradiso since 1993, using rich flavours and super seasonal ingredients. He’s recently travelled to Dublin for a series of successful pop-ups in Overends Kitchen in Airfield in Dundrum, using ingredients grown right in the estate garden. Back home in Cork, the restaurant remains relevant thanks to small plates from head chef Maedhbh Halton and a well-curated, predominantly natural wine list from sommelier Dave O’Mahony. Joanne Cronin

Da Mirco Osteria

4 Bridge Street, Cork; 021-2419480,

It’s a case of north meets south in this charming, bright, plant-lined osteria, with owner Mirco Fondrini hailing from Valtellina in northern Italy and chef Vittorio Grimaldi a native of Naples in the south. The result is outstanding Italian cooking that easily combines Italian and Irish ingredients. Sample the handmade ricotta and spinach gnocchi in sage butter, grilled free-range pork fillet rolled with lardo valtellinese in a red wine and balsamic vinegar sauce or warm up in the colder months with polenta with porcini. JC

Dillon’s Corner

68 Bridge Street, Skibbereen, Co Cork; 028-23316,

On a busy corner in Skibbereen, Ruairí Melvin Dunne and Dawn Price-Latorre’s smart bakery, deli and restaurant will stop you in your tracks. All the pizzas and breads are made with organic, unbleached flours; and Union Hall fish, meat and vegetables also get a turn in the impressive wood-burning oven. Many years spent working in Trullo and Padella in London means that the pasta is benchmark level, and unsurprisingly, the wine list is organic and natural. Corinna Hardgrave


32 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7; 01-5527678,

Regulars swear by the smashed cucumber salad, prawn toast and basil duck in this pale pink restaurant on the busy stretch of Stoneybatter. The chef, Yang Jian, previously worked in Mak at D6 and China Sichuan, and it shows in a line-up that is mainly Sichuan, with just a few regional dishes. It’s open Sundays, which is always good to know, but you’ll need to book, as it’s a popular time. Of note is the €11.95 lunch special menu available Tuesday to Friday. CH


Margadh RHA

Royal Hibernian Academy, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2; 085-2744859,

This may be the best-value tasting menu in the country. At €42 you can expect an eight-course parade of clever small plates, with carefully sourced produce being the thing that drives the flavour. It could be a pristine Calabrian anchovy, burrata with seasonal vegetables, or Flat Iron steak tacos. And there’s plenty to love on sommelier James Brooke’s wine list, with over a dozen options by the glass. CH


27 Church Road, Holywood, BT18 9BU; +44-28-90425665,

Noble is to be found in Holywood, a little town outside Belfast. Self-described as a seasonal bistro, with a bright and stylish upstairs diningroom, the cooking here from chef Pearson Morris is perfect modern classic. Choose from crisp braised beef and mustard remoulade, fish of the day and delectable frangipane tart with plum ripple ice cream, all enjoyed with a recommendation from their well-chosen wine list. JC


6 South Square, Townlands, Rosscarbery, Co Cork; 023-8831796,

Mark Jennings and Sarah-Jane Pearce bring every bit of their culinary love to what has to be one of the most beautiful diningrooms in the country. The food appears simple, until you realise what’s on the plate. It could be Skeaghanore duck with roast aubergine, tahini yoghurt, pickled elderberries, hedgerow jelly, brown butter mousse, crab apple granita, and buckwheat crumble. It sounds like a lot, but it all works seamlessly. None of this is straining for effect. It is also incredible value at €65 for five courses, and €53 for three. Now open year round. CH

Rúibín Bar & Restaurant

1-3 Dock Road, Galway, H91 D7NE; 091-399200;

In a city teeming with good quality restaurants, Rúibín has managed to capture the hearts of locals with its clever menu of dishes that skilfully bring world influences to top quality Irish produce. It reflects the level of travel that owners Alice Jary and Richard Kennan did before landing on the perfect formula that Galway never knew it needed. Ceviche, shiitake and tofu dumplings, gnocchi, and hake with ‘nduja butter are just some of the dishes on the constantly changing menu. CH

Saltwater Grocery

97 Terenure Road East, Dublin 6; 01-4907900,

Few restaurants have surprised me as much as this suburban pocket of culinary genius, where the fishmongers and deli transforms into an evening restaurant with a few tables tucked into the tight room. It’s a €65 nine-course tasting menu, which sounds ambitious until you realise that the chef here, Karl Whelan, spent considerable time in Chapter One. Highly individual, this is Michelin star food, and the aged Clare Island salmon with soy and yuzu koshi jelly is a standout. One of my best meals this year. CH

Square Restaurant

6 Market Square, Dundalk, Co Louth; 042-9337969,

A visit to the restaurant where Conor Halpenny heads the kitchen is on the list of quite a few of the country’s gourmands, but what they probably won’t be expecting is to come away talking about the home-made cheese and onion crisps. It says everything you need to know about the attention that is paid to flavour by the former winner of the Euro-Toques young chef of the year, where bistro dishes are driven by seasonal produce, and cooked with skill. CH

The Lamplight

Market Street, Clifden, Co Galway; 095-30863,

A wine shop, wine bar and restaurant; this atmospheric space serves many important functions in Clifden, stocking an impressive number of bottles by young Turk winemakers which you can enjoy with tapas at the weekend. Balázs Rakamazi, the Hungarian chef, is seriously into smoking meat and butchers whole Mangalica pigs, with a different cut featuring on his menu each week. CH

The Olde Glen Bar and Restaurant

Glen Village, Carrigart, Co Donegal; 083-1585777,

Fans of Ciaran Sweeney’s fermented potato bread with bacon and cabbage will be relieved to hear that it’s still on the €60 three-course menu at this popular Donegal outpost. There’s plenty of choice between fish, meat and vegetarian dishes; and a generous level of snacks and sweet bites top and tail this very substantial dinner offering. CH


Bridge Street, Athlone, Co Westmeath; 090-6478850,

Snacks at the start of a meal are generally an indication of a fine dining menu, not a €39.50 value three-course dinner, where a delicious smoked Gubbeen gougère is the first bite you get. But then, everything on John Coffey’s incredibly affordable menu is underpinned by quality. The pork is free range and the vegetables are from Millhouse and Lough Boora organic farms. It also helps that he is a very accomplished chef. CH

Follow a link below to read the other sections of this guide

Corinna Hardgrave’s introduction
Twenty-three new places to eat
Fifteen places to go for a quick bite
Fourteen places to go for lunch
Eleven places to go for small plates
Eight places to go for seafood
Seven places to go for takeaway
Nine places to eat sustainably