Simple and hearty with an emphasis on fresh and local produce, there’s much to love about Irish food. In this foodie’s guide to Ireland, we reveal Ireland’s top towns for good eats, the best food festivals and our favourite Irish meals to make your mouth water.
While Ireland may not possess the same culinary prowess as some of its European neighbours, that doesn’t mean that it is void of its very own unique style.
Although most of Ireland’s most famous foods are seen as comfort food through and through, there is also the added element of fresh produce that weaves its ways into the tapestry of our culinary culture – be it farm to fork, or the catch of the day.
In our foodie’s guide to Ireland, we reveal the dishes that you can’t miss out on, the top towns to visit if you’re looking for culinary delights, and insider knowledge for foodies by us locals who love to eat!
Food festivals & markets
Aside from the classic Irish dishes that should not be overlooked, there is a wealth of artisan producers and gourmet makers on the Irish food scene today.
Food festivals and markets are a fabulous way to experience Ireland’s culinary arts. As a low key and laid back Irish activity, markets are intrinsic to the culture of Ireland and are seen at large across the island.
Some of our top recommendations for foodies looking to explore the island with their tastebuds include:
1. Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival, County Cork
Kinsale is known as the gourmet capital of Ireland, and this annual food festival is the jewel in its crown of culinary delights. Not to be missed!
2. The Milk Market, County Limerick
This weekend market has been running since 1852, and there’s no sign of it stopping any time soon. From confectionery to chutneys, and fresh fruits to fish, you’ll be spoiled for choice here.
3. Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, County Galway
No trip to Galway would be complete without indulging in some seafood. And, if the dates match up this seafood festival which takes place each September is an absolute must!
4. St. George’s Market, Belfast
This is not only the last surviving covered Victorian market in Belfast but also one of the most dynamic culinary experiences to be had in the capital of Northern Ireland.
5. Taste of Dublin, County Dublin
Another entry in our foodie’s guide to Ireland which cannot be overlooked is the Taste of Dublin. Each year, this food festival welcomes guests with endless edibles and entertainment. A treat for all ages!
Top towns for good eats
Ireland is a treasure trove for those looking to discover new tastes and dip their toe in unique culinary heritage.
Ripe with towns that boast their own distinctive flavour and catalogue of food experiences, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to where to dine on the Emerald Isle. Some of our favourites include:
1. Kinsale, County Cork
As mentioned before, Kinsale is one of the most magical places to whet your appetite on the island of Ireland. The Michelin-recognised Fishy Fishy is perhaps the town’s claim to fame, but make sure to snag a table at Bastion and Black Pig Wine Bar, too.
2. Galway Bay, County Galway
Galway Bay is known the world over for its quality oysters. So, if you are a first-time shucker or seasoned lover of seafood, this is the place to be. Moran’s Oyster Cottage, Kellys and Oscars Seafood Bistro all deserve a visit.
3. Howth, County Dublin
Howth is another hotspot for seafood, with trawlers lining the piers that hug the town’s quaint streets. For fish and chips head to Beshoffs; for fine dining, it has to be Aqua. If you’re looking for an educational experience, head to Howth Castle Cookery School.
4. The Burren, County Clare
The Burren Smokehouse is a favourite of those who love artisan produce. Wild Kitchen, Flaggy Shore oysters, and Burren Fine Wine & Food are all top spots for foodies, too.
5. Dingle, County Kerry
Located in Kerry, the charming town of Dingle is brimming with culinary delights. Stop by Bean in Dingle for local-brewed coffee before brunch in My Boy Blue. Later, delve into the freshest catch at Out of the Blue or try some Irish-inspired tapas at Solas.
Ireland is a small island with a big personality. Known world-over for its majestic landscape and dramatic scenery, Guinness-filled traditional pubs and love of music, there is much associated with the Emerald Isle.
One element, however, which often is overlooked is Ireland’s culinary offering. For many generations, Ireland’s food scene was modest, to say the least, with meals generally comprising meat and two veg.
In recent years though, Ireland’s food scene has been experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, and more and more culinary gems, artisanal eateries and Michelin-starred destinations are popping up on the island.
Still, while times may be changing, some of Ireland’s most iconic dishes will never go out of fashion, and no foodie’s guide to Ireland would be complete without mentioning our top famous feeds to try out.
Coddle is an Irish dish that is as traditional as they come. Consisting mainly of leftovers, this dish does not have a standard recipe per se. It is essentially made up of whatever is there on the day. Usually, however, potatoes, sausages, rashers, and onion all make an appearance.
2. Boiled bacon and cabbage
You can’t get more Irish than boiled bacon and cabbage. This meal may sound as simple as they come, but man does it pack a punch of flavours. Best served, we think, with a pint of Guinness in a traditional pub.
3. Irish stew
No foodie’s guide to Ireland would be complete without giving a shout out to the classic Irish stew. This dish is usually anchored with a hearty serving of lamb, alongside root vegetables.
Barmbrack is a sweet fruit bread that consists of sultanas and raisins. Although Barmbrack can be eaten year-round, it is most often seen at Halloween when items are placed inside the bread – whoever finds them is considered to be the lucky one!
5. Irish smoked salmon with soda bread
Irish smoked salmon and soda bread are a match made in heaven. Both native to the Emerald Isle, no trip here would be complete without trying out these two local hero foods in tandem.
To round up our foodie’s guide to Ireland, we’ve put together some lesser-known tips for those who truly want to make their culinary experience unforgettable.
Ballymaloe Cookery School: Enjoy a cooking course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, run by Darina Allen. Almost a retreat, this exceptional experience will be one not soon forgotten.
Don’t forget Irish store-bought wonders: Ireland has a horde of classic foods which can be purchased in stores around the country – perfect for the budget-conscious foodie! Make sure to try out Butlers chocolates, Tayto crisps, Barry’s Tea and Ballymaloe Relish (a product of the previously mentioned cooking school!).
If you are interested in a foodie tour of Ireland, get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org.