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Fifteen great places for relaxed dining with friends around Ireland

Cafes and restaurants for when you feel like sharing (small plates), fancy brunch or maybe only something on sourdough will do

Food from Little Acorn Café in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow


8 Barrack Street, Kilkenny; 056-7756297,
Calum Johnstown, head baker at Arán Artisan Bakery in Kilkenny. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Bart Pawlukokjc and Nicole Server-Pawlukojc’s bakery and bistro really seems to be in top gear at the moment. They took Supreme Champion at the 2022 Blas na hÉireann awards and have never taken their feet off the pedal, while also seeming to have endless fun. The new summer brunch and evening menus pull together a gamut of influences, from Polish (Bart), Filipino (Nicole) and Japanese to Spanish, and pretty much everything in between. With unlimited coffee at breakfast, and a child and dog-friendly atmosphere, they’ve got all the bases covered. Joanne Cronin

Cafe Lógr

Unit 2, Main Street, Adare, Co Limerick, V94 CYR6; 061-513133;
David and Petra Hayes, owners of Cafe Lógr in Adare

Weekend brunch is special at David and Petra Hayes’s beautiful cafe in Adare, where regulars return for the French toast with Amarena cherries and pistachios, the Turkish eggs and the wild mushroom ragout with poached egg on sourdough toast. Get there early on a sunny day to ensure you get one of the outside tables. Corinna Hardgrave

Dash Burger

6-11 Kevin Street Lower, Dublin 2 and 159 Capel Street, Dublin 1;
Double smash burger from Dash Burger, Dublin

Sometimes only a burger will hit the spot and when you find yourself in that kind of mood Barry Wallace’s Dash Burger is the place to go. After a burger tour in New York, where he met US burger legend George Motz, he went all in, creating thin, crustily seared, umami-rich burgers that are served double or triple, with juices oozing in soft potato buns. The current collaboration with Allta restaurant comes with the restaurant’s signature shiitake miso butter for extra decadence. Read our full review here. JC

Fish Box

Upper Green Street, Dingle, Co Kerry; 087-6027866,

A firm Dingle favourite, the Fish Box has recently had a bit of a glow up and it is looking very good indeed. All the seafood used in the restaurant comes from the Flannery family’s own trawler, Cú Na Mara, and other produce is sourced from small artisan businesses. Check out their signature fish box, piled high with fresh cut chips, battered fish and squid. Gluten-free options are also available and there’s a larger beer and wine selection available thanks to the new bar. JC


Fish Shop

76 Benburb Street, Dublin 7, D07 X3PN; 01-5571473.

I will never tire of the confident simplicity of Fish Shop, where you can start with a glass of sherry and a gilda before moving on to a beautifully cooked piece of battered fish, with perhaps a Jura white from their incredible wine list. There are just 15 counter stools at this wonderful restaurant so advance booking is advisable. CH


Sunny Row, Fethard on Sea, Co Wexford;
Herby beans at Grálinn, Fethard on Sea

Dee Kelly and Matteo Griscti have started serving dinner at their charming, sea-adjacent cafe, where the focus is primarily on vegetarian food. During the day, brioche French toast comes with semi-dried blood orange wedges and pistachio mascarpone, and haricot beans are slow-cooked in a basil and cavolo nero sauce. Produce is top-tier, with sourdough from Seagull Bakery, eggs from Tinnock Farm and vegetables from McNally Farm. They now have 18 outdoor seats. CH

Izz Cafe

14 George’s Quay, Cork; 021-2290689,
Izz Cafe, George's Quay, Cork. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Even though Eman and Izz Alkarajeh have recently expanded their hugely popular Izz Cafe by taking over space from a neighbouring gelato parlour, it can still be challenging to get a table. That is because the Palestinian food here is exceptionally good, and Cork people know a good thing when they see it. Warm breads, still puffy and pillowy, are perfect for enjoying scoops of creamy hummus spiked with pickles, while baked manoosheh (flatbreads) are topped with halloumi, labneh with honey or spiced shredded chicken. JC

Little Acorn Café

Market Square, Baltinglass East, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, W91 YD50; 059-645 1805,
Maggie Roche with fish tacos at her Little Acorn Café in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Years spent training under Alain and Michel Roux at their three Michelin starred restaurant The Waterside Inn, in Maidenhead, is what underpins the focus on flavour in Maggie Roche’s delightful west Wicklow cafe. Fish tacos are piled high with tempura haddock, O’Neill’s bacon and Grá Arán sourdough is used for the BLT which comes with home-made crisps, and the pancakes are fluffy and generous. They are now opening for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. CH

Maison Gourmet

6 Henry Street, Kenmare, Co Kerry; 064-6641857,
Patrick and Emma Puech (right) with, from left, their nephew Giani Soulier and their sons Mael and Roman Puech, who run Maison Gourmet in Kenmare. Photograph: Valerie O'Sullivan

Emma and Patrick Puech’s charming daytime cafe is the place to head for breakfast or lunch in Kenmare. Croissants are made with French butter, the Croque Madame on pain de mie is a delicious sandwich with ham, cheese and béchamel with a fried egg on top, and the pastries are glorious. The bistro seats outside are the most coveted in town. CH


3 John’s Bridge, Kilkenny; 087-4025353,
Sineád and Maeve Moclair at their restaurant Nóinín in Kilkenny

Sinéad Moclair worked in The Fumbally for three years, was the chef behind the Connemara pop-up Báidín and opened Nóinín in November 2022 with her sister Maeve. Walk-in by day, it is possible to book at the weekends when a short dinner menu features. It is a concise two-course menu, featuring dishes such as pollock tempura, lamb kofta tagine and Indonesian-style stir-fried rice topped with sambal oelek and a crispy fried egg. CH


30 Mallow Street, Limerick, V94 EY22; 061-312657,
Achill Island oysters at Rift in Limerick

Dalton Greene has expanded his cafe, where Venezuelan chef Emily Vasquez brings some of her cooking influences to breakfast, lunch and brunch. Dishes range from eggs Benedict and French toast to cornbread with chipotle butter and smoky bacon, arepas and birria tacos. It opens as a wine bar during the evening in the summer months, with low-intervention wines, small plates, oysters and cheeses. CH

Savoir Fare

Bridge Street, Westport, Co Mayo; 098-60095;
Savoir Fare in Westport, Co Mayo. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin

You need to get in early if you are hoping to bag a lunchtime table in Alain Morice and Nuria Brisa’s daytime bistro and wine bar. It is a little pocket of France in Westport, with pâte en croute, Galway snails, roast organic chicken and bouillabaisse on the menu. There is an interesting selection of wines by the glass, including wonderful burgundies made by Master of Wine and Mayo local, Roisin Curley. Read our full review here. CH


Ballymascanlon, Dundalk, Co Louth; 042-9371856,
Strandfield in Ballymascanlon, Dundalk, Co Louth

A meal with the kids, a coffee with friends or a pit stop while travelling, Strandfield is perfect for summer days. This charming and popular spot combines a florist, bakery, cafe and grocery, with inside and outside seating available. Breakfast dishes are made with eggs direct from the farm and the menu is a mix of flatbreads, tartines, salads, wood-fired pizzas and much more. When leaving, stock up with local bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables, cheese and fresh flowers. JC

The Grain Store

Killruddery House & Gardens, Southern Cross Road, Killruddery, Bray, Co Wicklow; 01-2863405,
The Grain Store at Killruddery in Bray, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Killruddery is a gorgeous little microcosm just a short distance from Dublin city. Within the estate, there is so much to do and explore, including an excellent Saturday Farm market, but it is the food offerings that really shine. Go casual and quick with wood-fired pizzas from the Pizza Shed, or dine at the Grain Store where chef Niall O’Sullivan is cooking up a storm with ingredients from the estate and local producers. In the evening time, explore with the four course seasonal supper club. Read our full review here. JC

Tango Street Food

Muckross Road, Killarney, Co Kerry; 064-6636986,
A slice of summer on a plate at Cafe Lógr, Adare

Argentinians Facundo Rodulfo and Pamela Neumann have made Killarney their home, and the town is all the richer for this decision. Rodulfo is a master of asador cooking, using his timber-fired parrilla grill to turn out sizzling gaucho dishes such as choripan, short ribs, skirt steak plus occasional specials of T-bone steak or traditional stuffed flank steak. If that wasn’t enough, Tango also produces empanadas, award winning sourdough pizzas and delectable Argentinian sweet treats. JC