Clean eats or little treats? Where's the best food in Ireland?

From “food hugs” to “wow” scones which shops serve Ireland’s most tastebud tickling temptations?

Cake at The Pepper Pot Cafe

Cake at The Pepper Pot Cafe

 

It’s day 20 of the Best Shops competition and there are thousands of appetite-whetting nominations in the best food and drink category.

If you're looking for a place that's both homely and worldly, look no further than Cosgrove and Son on Market Street in Sligo town, says Cathleen Mair. “This intimate shop sells the most amazing olives, cured meats, cheeses and delicious muesli. In a world where large, anonymous chains increasingly dominate the quality and personality of this shop really stands out.”

The PepperPot, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, has fed Orla Jones well on numerous occasions and she has travelled from Waterford for its pear and bacon sandwich, a delicacy she says is “not just a sandwich, it is a food hug!”

For the clean eaters amongst you there are several health food shops listed including Atlantis in Castlebar, nominated by Mary Conneally, and An Tobairin health and wellness in Bandon Cork, which Eileen Lynch says is “the best in the country”. Fresh ‘N’ Fruity, Lucan, sells “brightens up the whole village”, writes Stephen O’Connor while Jerry Esmonde Fine Fruit and Veg, Market Yard, Tipperary “brings enjoyment to the mundane task of fruit and veg shopping”, writes Treasa Phelan. “Jerry always something new or interesting for you to try from a tropical fruit to the hottest chili and some recipe advice to go with it!”

Vegetarian David Cullinane suggests trying the Grangecon Café, in Blessington, an eaterie that has at least two daily vegetarian options and uses organic, locally sourced produce that change with the seasons. “The homemade bakery options are outstanding and include baked yeast bread, Praline and pistachio gluten-free gateau, home made apple tarts and caramel slices. And their scones - wow - no wonder the wifii access is justifiably 'bestsconesaround'.”

JJ O’Driscolls, in Ballinlough, Co Cork, “stocks everything from deli delights to coffee beans and is the A to Z for food lovers”, writes Denise Mulcahy. For daily bread Fiona McConnell loves The Bakehouse, New Ross, Wexford for “the bread and banter”.

Anyone who lives within a mile of Brady’s Butchers, Belvedere Road, Drumcondra, knows it and loves it, writes Ann Quinn. “The meat is Irish-reared, the selection of prepared items is colourful and varied, the staff are friendly and helpful. But, what stands out is its manager, Sean Smith. He is the shop, in all its fun and chat and efficiency. Sean is why we shop in a butchers' shop, rather than grabbing any old thing in the supermarket.”

Lydia Walsh loves Scoop, a new ice cream shop in Ranelagh that sells “unique gelato, made on the premises, in an array of different flavours each day ranging from decadent Ferrero Rocher and pistachio to Oreo and bubblegum for the children. They sell crepes, waffles, milkshakes, sundaes and there are cute deck chairs outside where you can just sit back and relax.”

And if, after all that, you feel the need to burn off some calories then head to Pedals and Boots, Lauragh, Co Kerry where after “divine cakes and buns you can hire a bike and learn about any of the excellent walks nearby”, Paddy Loneragan writes.

To vote for your favourite shop in the competition, backed by AIB, go to irishtimes.com/bestshops. Entries close on Wednesday August 3rd

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