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Ireland’s best restaurants: 13 top tables by the sea

Part of the Irish Times guide to 100 of the best places to eat in Ireland 2022

. . . And Chips

Castle House, the Quay, Dungarvan, Co Waterford; 058-24498,

It’s an unwritten rule that any outing to the seaside should involve fish and chips. Especially if they are the perfectly battered specimens produced by the TV chef and catering superstar Eunice Power in her very chic chipper. Choose from ling, cod, hake or haddock—or, alternatively, burgers and falafel. Add a glass of wine from the short wine list and enjoy indoors, outdoors or to takeaway. Joanne Cronin


By the Pier, Ballycotton, Co Cork; 021-4646768,

Drive along the stunning coast on the way to Ballycotton and you will certainly be in the mood for some splendidly fresh fish when you arrive. Dan Guerin landed a Michelin Bib Gourmand for this small seaside restaurant, and it’s not just about the price—a three-course set menu, available for lunch and dinner, costs €38. His classical training underpins the seeming simplicity of how he cooks fish. A recent dish of halibut with vadouvan-spiced langoustine bisque was particularly good. Corinna Hardgrave

Fisk Seafood Bar

The Harbour Bar, Downings, Co Donegal;

Perched on a hill overlooking the bay, chef Tony Davidson and partner Lina Reppert have established Downings as a destination for the seafood lover. Every dish is a celebration of fresh seafood, including local mussels, oysters with spicy Bloody Mary granita, fish tacos or kimchi and prawn banh mi. There are seats indoors, but the best views are outdoors. Pets welcome. JC


Fethard, Co Wexford; 085-787797,

Just a stroll from the beach, this pretty 20-seater cafe, where Dee Kelly and Matteo Griscti serve brunch Thursday to Sunday, has a charmingly gentle mood. The produce for the vegetable-focused menu is local and organic, with an optional meat add-on with each dish. Mediterranean and north African influences bring plenty of interest, there are baked goods from their recently opened Lumi Bakery, and the low-intervention wine list is a joy. CH


Linnanes Lobster Bar

New Quay, the Burren, Co Clare, H91 NWX6; 065-7078120,

Book well in advance if you’re hoping to bag a table on the covered terrace, where you’ll see trays of lobster and Chablis 1er Cru winging their way to the deep-pocketed folks in the prime seats. But there’s also value to be had, particularly the very good clams and fish and chips. And, as Linnanes is the new owner of Flaggy Shore Oysters, do give them a go. CH


Harbour House, Harbour Road, Howth, Dublin 13; 01-8397096,

Lunch in the sun on Mamó's beautiful terrace, looking out at the boats and alternating between bites of their “cod chip”, ceviche with crisps, and lobster croquettes, is one of those unbeatable summer dining experiences. Owner and host Jess D’Arcy treats everyone as if they’re a Michelin inspector, and the service is matched by a thoughtful and endlessly interesting wine list, which staff will happily take the lead on. Lisa Cope

Misunderstood Heron

Derrynacleigh, Leenane, Co Galway; 083-0244203,

The Heron, as its loyal followers call it, is a “wild outdoor eatery” on the edge of Killary Fjord, where Rose OToole’s “bangin” menu with Middle Eastern and South American influences changes daily. Whether beetroot and goat’s cheese croquettes or Toulouse sausages and chimichurri on sourdough, it all tastes better outside. A new South American-style weekend barbecue is going to seriously ramp up the fun here, with full-animal roasts and serious tunes. CH

Native Seafood & Scran

The Crescent, Portstewart, Co Derry; 00-44-7828-127739,

After a freak storm ripped through Native Seafood & Scran’s operation, destroying everything in its path, the local community immediately rowed in with funding and help, such is the love for this fishmonger’s and seafood cafe. The specials are back, chalked on the blackboard—squid shawarma, Kentucky-fried monkfish burger, fish tacos, lobster rolls and fish and chips—all spanking fresh and delicious. CH

Russell’s Bar & Eatery at Fiddle & Bow

Fiddle + Bow Hotel, Teergonean, Doolin, Co Clare, V95 XR0K; 065-6700200,

Serious crimes have been committed in the name of seafood chowder, but in my book there’s one cardinal rule: no salmon. It is one of the many things Viv Kelly gets right at this totally laid-back restaurant in the supercool Fiddle & Bow boutique hotel. Fish and hand-cut chips and the bouillabaisse also get the vote. CH

Rúibín Bar & Restaurant

1-3 Dock Road, Galway, H91 D7NE; 091-399200,

Rúibín is that restaurant you wish you’d booked before you got to Galway. Lunch here is a lively affair upstairs, with tables of groups who had the heads-up in advance, and is considerably quieter in the small room downstairs. Oysters with pickled rhubarb, seafood chowder and beer-battered fish on a homemade milk bun are just some of the dishes likely to be on the menu; there’s a more extended menu in the evening. Particularly good for vegetarians and vegans. CH


Shore Road, Strandhill, Co Sligo; 071-9122938,

What happens when a Dubliner and a South African share a love of food and surfing? The answer is Shells, a cafe and bakery overlooking the sea. Try the beachwalk burrito for breakfast, a special of garlic-butter lobster, or homemade iced fingers, accompanied by their house-blend coffee from McCabe’s. The adjoining Little Shop sells Irish gifts, gourmet food and the two cookbooks written by this energetic pair. JC

The Fish Basket

Longstrand Beach, Castlefreke, Co Cork; 023-8851716,

Prepare to queue at the Fish Basket, where the lovely staff manage operations with ease. The fish, caught fresh each day at Union Hall before being battered and bundled on top of hand-cut chips, is the big draw, but you might also find lemon sole, scampi or monkfish bites, depending on the day. Sitting on a picnic bench looking down at an enormous sharing box is the perfect end to a sunny day on the beach. LC

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

Main Street, Liscannor, Co Clare; 065-7081548,

No trip to the Cliffs of Moher is complete without a stop at Vaughan’s for Flaggy Shore oysters, sauteed scallops or local lobster. Despite the throng of tourists around, there’s nothing rushed or profit-pushing here—three generations have been involved in the business, and none has let standards slip. If you don’t get the Taittinger champagne tasting flight to go with your seafood you’re not doing it right. LC

Follow a link below to read the other sections of this guide

Corinna Hardgrave’s introduction
Fourteen new places to eat great food
Seven top outdoor dining spots
Eighteen top places to eat on a special occasion
Twenty places dishing up great local produce
Eight great places for vegetarian and vegan food
Ten places with wonderful wine lists
Ten great places to eat — and stay over afterwards