The 9 most memorable food experiences in Ireland

Soak in the views, savour the moments and embark on some of the greatest food experiences the island has to offer….

Experiencing food in Ireland is not just about fine-dining excellence in the city’s best restaurants. It’s about seafood on a beach, it’s about apple pie in a wild location, it’s about picnicking on the very freshest fish you’ve just plucked from the ocean.

1. Lunch at Moran’s Oyster Cottage, County Galway

If you’re looking for a special food experience, then look no further than Moran’s Oyster Cottage. Located within a 250-year-old cottage at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in County Galway, this place has fed everyone from Julia Roberts to Roger Moore. Sit inside in a cosy snug in the original building, or take in the glorious surrounding seascapes with a table outside. Order up plates of Galway Bay oysters, wild native clams and steamed Galway Bay mussels. Our advice? Top it off with a pint of Guinness. It doesn’t get better than that.

2. Harry’s Shack, Portstewart

No matter where you are in the world, there’s nothing quite like sitting on a beach with your toes in the sand, eating insanely fresh seafood. Well, in Northern Ireland there’s a place you can do just that. Harry’s Shack has gathered a legion of fans since opening in 2014. With a stunning seaside setting on Portstewart Strand, the simple shack here is home to some of the best seafood cooking on the island of Ireland. All you have to do is rock up, kick back and enjoy.

3. Belfast Food Tour, Belfast city

With one of the most innovative restaurant scenes on the island of Ireland, Belfast is a hotbed of incredible flavours from the refined tastes at Ox to fine-tuned seafood at the Mourne Seafood Bar. But to really get under the skin of this Northern Ireland foodie hub, take to the streets with the multi-award winning Belfast Food Tour. Capturing the spirit of Belfast’s unique flavours, producers and restaurants, the tours cover everything from whiskey to bars to delicious bites with energy, fun and insider knowledge.

4. The Happy Pear, Greystones, County Wicklow

The lively little town of Greystones in County Wicklow is a 30-minute DART (train) ride away from Dublin, and yet it feels like it's a million miles away from the city’s urban buzz. Anchoring the town’s food scene is a vegetarian mecca, The Happy Pear. Run by twins David and Stephen Flynn, the café has become a hotspot for veggies and carnivores alike thanks to its tasty and creative take on plant-based foods. On a sunny day the atmosphere here is fabulous, with tables and chairs casually strewn outside and a lively crowd. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not join the twins for a dawn swim at Greystones’ Ladies’ Cove, where they take to the seas every morning with locals and visitors. Follow it with breakfast at the café on Church Road, and you’ve got a pretty memorable start to the day!

5. Ice Cream in Dingle, County Kerry

Dingle has feel-good written all over it. This joyous little town in County Kerry packs in great pubs, excellent restaurants and a laid-back bohemian vibe that draws visitors from all over the world. Visit, and you’re bound to notice a bustling queue that seems to linger outside a blue shop on Strand Street. This is Murphy’s Ice Cream – a glorious temple to all things dairy. Handmade with the finest fresh farm milk and local cream, the flavours here are worth travelling miles for: Dingle sea salt, caramelised brown bread and Irish coffee. It’s ice cream, with a definite Irish twist.

6. Pyke ’N’ Pommes, Derry-Londonderry city

A repurposed shipping container may seem like an unlikely place to find one of the island of Ireland’s great food experiences, but Pyke ‘N Pommes in Foyleview likes to do things differently. Located on the riverfront in the historic city of Derry-Londonderry, this is casual food with a gourmet twist and a very local heart. Tacos, a legendary Wagyu burger, slow roasted pork and some of the freshest fish around – make no mistake, it’s a culinary gem.

7. The English Market, Cork city

With a history stretching back to 1788, the English Market goes way beyond your average food market. Located at the heart of the foodie city of Cork, this place serves up an explosion of tastes, a riot of colours, and time-honoured foods that you won’t find anywhere else. There’s tripe (cow’s stomach) and drisheen (a type of blood pudding) at A O’Reilly & Sons, traditional spiced beef at Tom Durcan’s, and some of the finest smoked salmon in the world at Frank Hederman’s. After exploring, head upstairs for some traditional local dishes at the Farmgate Café, including tripe & onions, with drisheen; lamb’s liver and bacon; and, of course, sausage and mash!

9. Cupán Tae at the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, County Cork

When it comes to coastal wildernesses, the spellbinding wave-lashed peninsula of Sheep’s Head in County Cork is a cut above. Walk out to the lighthouse that sits at its very tip and you’ll be surrounded by the white-tipped Atlantic Ocean and views that stretch out indefinitely. But this wild little spot is also home to what has been dubbed “the tea shop at the end of the world”. Run by Bernie Tobin, Cupán Tae (“cup of tea” in Irish) sits at the start of the lighthouse walk and is the essence of simple food done well, with salmon sandwiches, light fluffy scones and legendary apple pie. Simple food, breathtaking location, memories made.

10. Gourmet Fishing Trip, County Kerry

Butter-coloured sands, turquoise waters dotted with islands and a backdrop of undulating mountains, Derrynane in County Kerry is something special – a place of extreme beauty on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s also home to a very memorable food adventure – a gourmet fishing trip with Atlantic Irish Seaweed. Boatman John Fitzgerald whisks visitors away to catch and picnic on sashimi and ceviche Irish-style around the islands of Derrynane Bay. Wild, wonderful and an experience to cherish.

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