So you may have heard “don’t go to Ireland for the food” .. well i’m here to confirm, that statement is in fact true. The food in Ireland is just mediocre. Thankfully, the friendly local pubs and lush views, make up for the fact you aren’t living your foodie dreams.
But you’re here, or heading there, and you gotta eat. So I did the dirty work of finding the hidden gems, that do in fact have tasty meals. There were a few dishes we had that we still talk about today, because they were that good.
Harlem Cafe – We stopped at this cute little cafe, on the way from Dublin to Cushendall. The aesthetics are everything. Flowers hanging all over, cute table decor, and the mash up of random furniture. Good spot to grab some brunch! We parked in the public parking garage, which was about a 7 minute walk away.
Cushendall was a pretty tiny town, with limited options when it came to dining. A lot of the places we were going to try had limited hours, or only served food certain days. We ended up getting groceries at the local Spar, and preparing most meals ourselves. Aside from these two below. Laragh Lodge being one of the best bowls of seafood chowder I ate on the whole trip!
The Galley – Fish and chips to go! We got the standard order of fish and chips, popcorn chicken, and a burger. It was all pretty tasty, we loved the array of sauces they had to choose from. Beware, everything came with a side of chips (fries) so we had a mound of potatoes leftover. Cash only! Pounds to be specific. There is an ATM just down the street.
Laragh Lodge – We quite literally stumbled upon this gem, on our hike in Glenariff Forest. If you hike the Scenic Trail, when you come near the end you’ll see a map directing you. Veer right, instead of up the steep hill and you’ll wander into Manors Lodge aka Laragh Lodge.
Like I said above, it was the best seafood chowder I think i’ve ever had. Along with a goat cheese and beet appetizer. My partner had the special of the day, which was a steak sandwich, also VERY delicious. You can drive here if you aren’t hiking, or you can simply do the waterfall hike, instead of the entire trail.
Cafe 55 Bistro – We were drawn here for the views, so we grabbed a pint and a bite. During lunch hours they only serve in the lower level. But with panoramic views of the beach and city, I bet having dinner upstairs would be wonderful!
Kiwi Brew Bar – We stopped in for a mid day pint. Very chill, they claim to have the best pub food in town. Live music on Sundays.
Neptune and Prawn – Amazing Asian inspired dishes, overlooking the harbor. Our favorite items on the menu were the duck spring rolls and Shakin’ Beef. They also had some very refreshing cocktails. We didn’t have a reservation on a weeknight, and were seated right away. However, I would make a reservation on weekends, as it was quite busy.
The Quays Bar – Nice Irish pub, located a few doors down from the Inn we stayed at. Order at the bar, then grab a table. They have a big outdoor patio area, right next door. We didn’t eat, but they also served food. Lots of seating, seemed like good place for a group.
Hooked – Great service, cute decor, located in the city of Sligo. We stopped here to break up the drive from Portrush to Galway. Mike had the best chicken sandwich ever. I had the worst cheeseburger ever. We’re here for the honesty, right? Im sure most other things on the menu tasted as good as his chicken sandwich.
We parked in the lot under the The Glass House Hotel. Just make sure you have 4 euro, in coins to exit!
1520 Bar – Cute, quirky, very Irish, pub and restaurant. We still dream of the Lamb Shoulder and mashed potatoes. Although, all the tapas we saw go out to other tables, looked SO good too! We wandered in here on a busy Friday night without reservations, and were lucky to be seated right away. I would highly recommend heading to their website to book a reservation before!
Kirby’s – West-coast Crab meat sandwich, say no more. Okay I’ll say more, add a cup of creamy seafood chowder! YUM. Based on how good the lunch was, I would 100% try Kirby’s for dinner
Ard Bida at Nimmos – BEST BRUNCH OF MY LIFE. Cutest decor, and friendliest staff. I still dream of the Rhubarb French toast, and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Bonus, we ate here for free! The owner of Ard Bia was our Airbnb host, and breakfast was included in our stay! Even if you aren’t staying at her Airbnb, do not miss a meal here. If you want to know more about this Airbnb, and our others stays, head over to my post, Ireland Road trip: The Stays!
They get quite busy, so make reservations, or expect to wait a hot minute to be seated.
Gourmet Tart Co. – The loveliest array of sweet treats, with very friendly staff. We had a chocolate cake, a passionfruit cake, muffin, and a bunch of macaroons. I don’t think there’s a wrong choice here!
Tig Cóili – Our first taste of Irish music. I had actually seen pictures of this pub before, so I was excited to wander in. Great energy, VERY busy. If you hang out for a minute, you may be lucky enough to snag a seat. Tip the bartenders, and they’ll be sure you get your next round fast.
Monroe’s Tavern – Local sports pub. Good atmosphere. Chill place to grab a pint.
The Kings Head – Right across the street from Tig Cóili. Quite a bit bigger, being three stories tall, with multiple bars to order from. Live music, good people, great local beer. No reservations, just walk in!
Gus O’ Conners Pub – Bustling, small town, traditional Irish pub, with the best fish and chips.
With live music every night, if you are passing through Doolin, you can’t miss stopping by Gus O’ Conners pub.
When you walk in, grab a seat wherever you’d like. Head to the bar to order, and just tell them the number on your table.
The green stuff next to the fish, is mushy peas. Sounds gross, but its actually pretty dang tasty. It came as a side with quite a few fish and chip meals.
Danny Mac’s – Driving from Doolin to Cobh, we popped into this diner and were pleasantly surprised. Large portions, good food, and probably our cheapest meal.
Titanic Bar – Nice restaurant, overlooking the Harbor in Cobh. Best buffalo chicken wings and blue cheese, ever! A wee bit pricey, and reservations recommended.
The Roaring Donkey – HANDS DOWN OUR FAVORITE PUB IN IRELAND! The most friendly locals, welcomed us for a night of singing old traditional Irish tunes. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words, I didn’t.. just hum and dance along.
Wednesday night is the night to be here. We found a seat at the end of the bar, and made so many friends, that we stayed past close. We didn’t even make it outside to check out their beer garden!
Cuppacity Coffee – Quick bites, bagels, wraps, sandwiches, and more. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Apache Pizza – One night we just wanted to watch a movie and chill, so we got pizza to go. This spot was local to where we stayed.
Leonardo Cafe Kimbo – Located right on the Main Street, this cute little cafe is the perfect spot to grab a bite and relax. Good service, good prices, and great location.
Scoops Gelato – Ice cream and coffee shop, located right next to the Titanic Bar. Friendly staff, serving up an array of gelato, sorbet, and ice cream.
I love the 99 Flake, its the best vanilla soft serve I’ve ever had, with a piece of chocolate stuck in the side!
*mines missing the chocolate in the photo, because I ate it *
Truth be told, I didn’t love Dublin. The bars were full of loud, drunk people. The restaurants were charging an arm and a leg for mediocre food. Now, if I had visited in my early 20’s, I would have really enjoyed this city.
If you enjoy a rowdy evening full of shots and Guinness, you’ll love Dublin! With that being said, we made the best of it, here’s the spots we did enjoy.
The Hungry Mexican – Busy little restaurant just a block away from Temple street. This Mexican food had a bit of an Indian twist to the flavors. It was unexpected, but still tasty! We also got the pitcher of margaritas, which were good!
Gin Palace – Tapas bar, with the most amazing gin cocktails. Cute spot for a date night.
Trinity Bar – Located just a block off Temple street, this pub was a bit more chill, while still playing live music.
Brick Alley Cafe – Small cafe, with a simple menu. Great stop for breakfast.
Pifko – Great fish and chips. Very chill pub, a bit away from all the chaos.
The Palace Bar – Huge selection of Ireland’s finest whiskies. Located right on Temple street, go upstairs for the whisky bar.
The Best Snack:
Now this here is not a pub or restaurant recommendation, it’s simply a gas station find. I ate the entire box of these delicious, fluffy, chocolate, and orange cakes… in a day. I wish I brought a box home.
Spar is a gas station you’ll see all over Ireland, grab yourself a box of these magical treats!
Tipping at Pubs and Restaurants:
- When you’re at a pub and want to tip, you can use the phrase “and one for you”. It means you’re buying the bartender a round aka tipping.
- A 10% tip at any pub or restaurant is greatly appreciated by servers.
- In order to tip on a card, make sure you tell the server to add whatever amount before they swipe your card.
- If you plan on hanging out at a particular pub that happens to be busy, tip the bartender on your first round.
- Make friends! Every single local we met, was more than happy to strike up a conversation. Don’t be shy.
- I typically pay with card, but tip in cash. All people in the service industries prefer a cash tip.
- Most of of the musicians playing at the pubs, drink for free. But offering is always nice. We tried to buy a round for the guys at The Roaring Donkey, and he said “We drink for free, we only let someone buy us a round of they seem like assholes.” LOL glad we passed for cool Americans, and not assholes.
Hopefully this list of pubs and restaurants takes some of the guess work out of where you should eat in Ireland. And maybe make some of those foodie dreams come true. 😉
If you want to see all the magical Airbnbs we stayed at on our two week road trip, head on over to my Ireland Road-trip: The Stays post.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram @brittanymassey. Tag me if you try any of these reccomendations!