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Ireland’s best restaurants: 20 places dishing up great local produce

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

51 Cornmarket

51 Cornmarket Street, Cork; 083-0102321,

Corkonians are quick to spot a good thing, and in the case of 51 Cornmarket word has travelled far about their French toast, duck and waffles, and brunch fries (fries topped with a poached egg and glorious Hollandaise sauce). It’s not all about the brunch, however. Seasonal plates such as beef carpaccio with soft egg yolk, fresh market fish or Anne’s indulgent homemade cakes bring the crowds to the Coal Quay long past brunch hours. Joanne Cronin


8 The Arches, Barrack Street, Kilkenny; 056-7756297,

If there’s a quality food producer based in Kilkenny, you’re likely to see them name-checked on Nicole and Bart Pawlukojc’s menu at Arán. Their breakfast, lunch and brunch creations range from Highbank Orchards cinnamon roll French toast to Cubano sandwiches with “John Joe’s ham”, and if you can resist the pastries and cakes at the front you have admirable willpower. They recently opened a takeaway/bakery across the street from the original, perfect when you need to grab and go. Lisa Cope

Bread 41 Upstairs

41 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, D02 H308;

For Eoin Cluskey it’s not just about the bread—though his bread is truly spectacular. It’s also about constantly striving to make things better, to reach his zero-waste goal. A mural in the beautiful upstairs space at his Pearse Street bakery reads “There’s no planet B”, which is exactly the sort of inspiration you need as you chat over weekend brunch and tuck into kimchi fritters, sourdough open sandwiches and the exceptionally good croissant Benedict. A new bakery is planned for Greystones. Corinna Hardgrave

Daddy’s Cafe

538 South Circular Road, Rialto, Dublin 8;

Follow Daddy’s on Instagram at your peril, as you may find yourself racing to the Rialto Riviera for one of Colm Keane’s daily specials, such as the Rialto-letta, a riff on the New Orleans classic muffuletta made with Salter’s free-range ham and Wooded Pig salami; or a beautiful tart of Cooleeney cheese, curly kale, apple and walnut, followed by a homemade cake slice. The specials change, but there’s always a delight to be found at Daddy’s. Pet-friendly. JC



128 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork; 021-2398720,

The original Goldie sits atop Shandon Steeple, watching over Cork. It’s the perfect name for Aishling Moore’s unique nose-to-fin restaurant, where the menu is driven by the daily catch. As a result there is a relentless creativity that always feels fresh. Order small bites of monkfish-cheek scampi with gherkin ketchup or panisse with creme-fraiche tartare, followed by hake with cafe de Paris butter or Tamil Nadu mushy-pea fritters. JC

Hen’s Teeth

Blackpitts, Dublin 8; 01-5613036,

Is Hen’s Teeth an art store, a lifestyle store or a restaurant? Who cares when it’s this good? From a small kitchen, Killian Walsh produces an eclectic range of lunch and dinner dishes, such as Connemara mussels with ‘nduja, grilled padrón peppers or fried octopus with morteau-sausage ragu. A night-time tasting menu is available at €55 (€45 vegetarian), or relax on Sundays with the Killer Roast. JC

Kai Restaurant

22 Sea Road, Galway; 091-526003,

While everyone talks about Jess Murphy, her focus on sustainability and the amazing food she cooks at Kai, there is another leading light in this restaurant, her husband, David. Always on the floor in the evenings, when the casual daytime menu moves to something quite a bit more serious, he is an outstanding example of how front of house can be run with effortless skill and warmth. The thing to order on the dinner menu is the seven-year-old dairy cow steak. CH

Kingdom 1795

Main Street, Killorglin, Co Kerry; 066-9796527,

Chef-owner Damien Ring has a striking CV, featuring L’Enclume, in England, and not-too-distant Ashford Castle, but his first solo restaurant with Suzi O’Gorman, who runs front of house, is probably his proudest achievement. Nothing veers towards dull; beef tartare is dressed in smoked aged fat and served with gherkin-jalapeno hot sauce and sweet-mustard mayo; shallot soup comes with crispy pork, garlic and kale; coffee parfait is made with Cloud Picker’s finest grinds. Finding a reason to visit Killorglin has never been so necessary. LC

Mister S

32 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-6835555,

The best Irish produce cooked over live fire equals flavours that are hard to beat. Mister S set the bar for casual food cooked over flames in Dublin, and after eating here it’s impossible to return to American barbecue imposters with their sticky sweet ribs. Meat comes from small Irish farms like Andarl and Castlemine, with seafood from top suppliers Sustainable Seafood Ireland and Glenmar. Delivering such high-quality food at casual-dining prices is to be applauded. LC


1a Evergreen Street, Cork; 021-4312716,

It’s a brave man who opens an eight-seat Japanese eatery and takeaway at the bottom of Barack Street in Cork, but Takashi Miyazaki is more than capable. He’s travelled a long way from Fukuoka, merging his traditional cuisine with Irish ingredients. Michael McGrath now oversees the kitchen, turning out beloved staples such as lemon ramen with pork belly, tori tatsuta don and onigiri rice balls, as well as daily specials. JC

O’Mahony’s of Watergrasshill

Main Street, Watergrasshill, Co Cork; 086-8316879,

Máire O’Mahony may be the fourth generation behind the bar of this small country pub, but, along with her partner, Victor Murphy, she’s kicked it firmly into the modern day. Bright art and yellow tabletops combine as the backdrop for the sharp cooking of Barry Phelan and creative drinks with foraged ingredients from John Coleman. Well worth a detour from the M8. JC

Saint Francis Provisions

Short Quay, Kinsale, Co Cork; 083-0636879,

Chef-owner Barbara Nealon and chef Rebecca Recarey describe themselves as having international flavour rooted in the local larder, with a menu led by the growers and farmers they work with. You might find grilled radishes with ricotta, ox tongue and Templegall croquettes, or octopus with purple potatoes, all served alongside some brilliant natural wines. The seats outside are some of the most in demand in Kinsale, whether or not the sun is shining. LC


25 the Coombe, Dublin 8; 01-4546921,

Take a traditional Dublin pub, install an open kitchen, polish all the woodwork until it gleams, and craft a menu that includes retro classics like devilled eggs, shrimp mayonnaise, stunning cock-a-leekie pie with golden pastry latticework, and perfect cote du boeuf served in willow pattern tureens. The result is chef Stephen McAllister and Andrea Hussey’s defining modern gastropub. Pet-friendly. JC


Bridge Street, Athlone, Co Westmeath; 090-6478850,

A stone’s throw from the mighty Shannon, John Coffey’s Thyme is a welcoming space that has been quietly but confidently going about its business for years, serving seasonal menus featuring organic Irish producers. Coffey’s starter of crispy hen’s egg is always a delight for the eyes and stomach—and a style that continues throughout the meal. The keen pricing and sustainable wine list add to the good cheer. JC

Toonsbridge Dairy

Toonsbridge, Inchigeela, Co Cork; 087-3457790,

Tucked between the dairy and gardens is where you will find the little Toonsbridge shop and cafe. Open weekends only, and located in Cork’s Muskerry Gaeltacht, it sells cheeses produced from its buffalo herd, as well as olives and Mediterranean goods from its sister business the Real Olive Company. Order a cheese toastie, fresh pastries or stone-fired pizza and feast on them in the colourful gardens or polytunnel. A lovely spot to break a long road trip. JC

Square Restaurant

6 Market Square, Dundalk, Co Louth, A91 X9WY; 042-9337969,

As soon as you sit down in this smart, lively room, order the homemade cheese-and-onion crisps, which will give you a sense of the flavours you can expect from Conor Halpenny, a Euro-Toques young chef of the year. It is essentially a bistro menu, driven by seasonal produce, with prices that are so reasonable it’s a wonder the place doesn’t have a Bib Gourmand. CH

Stock Kitchen & Bar

1st floor, St George’s Market, Oxford Street, Belfast, BT1 4FH; 028-90240014,

Three words describe Danny Millar’s restaurant: location, location, location. Set above St George’s Market, it can measure local produce in food metres rather than miles, with supplies travelling from the market stalls to the kitchen. Oysters, crubeens, fish soup and slow-cooked rabbit are just some of the dishes that are worth tucking into. CH

The Old Couch Cafe

11 O’Connell Street, Waterford; 087-1725947,

A recent listing in the Michelin Guide had everyone googling Damira Levacic and Przemyslaw Muszynski’s small, quirky restaurant in a city that is quietly racking up enough hot restaurants to merit a gastro getaway. A move from a six-course to an €80, 10-course tasting menu shows the level of ambition here, where local and foraged ingredients form the core of the dishes. Dinner runs on alternate weeks. CH

Wá Sushi

13 New Dock Street, Galway; 091-895850,

Chef-owner Yoshimi Hayakawa, who came to Ireland in 2001, sold sushi in Galway Market before finding her own space to showcase her skills—and sushi devotees travel from far and wide to sample her offerings. Lunch is a casual menu of sushi, gyoza and seaweed noodle salad; dinner is where it gets serious, with an omakase/tasting menu of what they’ve termed “Galway-Mae sushi”, a combination of traditional Edomae-style sushi techniques using locally caught fish and ingredients from the west of Ireland. LC


Unit 7, the Village, Stepaside, Dublin 18; 01-5581362,

Provenance, seasonality and sustainability are buzzwords frequently thrown around by restaurants, but rarely are they enacted to the levels at Woodruff. At times the menu feels like a grand flavour experiment that diners are willing guinea pigs for. You’ll likely meet foraged, fermented and magically created ingredients that you’re not familiar with (pickled magnolia, scarlet elf cup mushrooms and amazake, to name a few), and the dining experience here is an elevated one. The exceptional wine list is another reason to make the trip to Stepaside. LC

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

Corinna Hardgrave’s introduction
Fourteen new places to eat great food
Thirteen top tables by the sea
Seven top outdoor dining spots
Eighteen top places to eat on a special occasion
Eight great places for vegetarian and vegan food
Ten places with wonderful wine lists
Ten great places to eat — and stay over afterwards