10 Irish restaurants and cafes worth travelling to

From The Irish Times’s 2018 guide to the 100 best foodie destinations across Ireland

 

Nowhere gets on this list of Ireland’s best destination plates – part of our 100 best restaurants, cafes and places to eat in Ireland 2018 – through anything other than a commitment to great food. These are the places we have loved, that made us swoon, grin, relax, and feel hopeful, awed and, above all else, happy.

We’ve marked this year’s newcomers and used a to flag every place that serves a main course for less than €15.

Wine & Brine € (lunch) NEW
Chris McGowan could easily have joined Belfast’s growing crowd of great restaurants when he returned home to Northern Ireland, but instead he brought his cooking talent to the small town of Moira. This way he gets to put spectacular dishes on plates at less than big-city prices. Wine & Brine combines tasty gastropub snacks with the kind of skilful restaurant cooking that is getting him noticed and deserves to bring a whole new crowd to a quiet country corner. CC Wine & Brine, 59 Main Street, Moira, Co Armagh, 048-92610500, wineandbrine.co.uk

4 Vicars NEW
You can see why this place was once a tea room tucked in behind St Patrick’s Cathedral and the steep tumbling streets of Armagh. But the cooking here is more than preserves and scones. It takes a flavour fiend like Gareth Reid to make a game broth as memorable as the one I enjoyed on an icy November day. He and his wife, Kasia, have turned this lovely old house into a really good restaurant. There’s a plan to turn Armagh into the Kinsale of the North. With restaurants like 4 Vicars they’re well on the way to getting there. CC
4 Vicars, 4 Vicars Hill, Armagh, 048-3752 7772, 4vicars. com">4vicars.com

Cleneghans € (early bird) NEW
Danni Barry won a Michelin star at Eipic, in Belfast, then decamped to the countryside at the end of last year. She took over the kitchen at Cleneghans, outside Craigavon, giving a 250-year-old business a fresh start. The old inn used to be known as Winnies, after Winnie Cleneghan, according to the Lurgan Mail. Barry has brought years of hard graft in high-end kitchens to this simple old place with a superb menu. If she keeps up these standards, in years to come they’ll be calling it Danni’s. CC
Cleneghans, 48 Soldierstown Road, Craigavon, Co Armagh, 048-92652952, cleneghansrestaurant.com

St George’s Terrace NEW
Between bailouts and trackers, banks haven’t earned any soft spots in our hearts. But one legacy is a handsome stock of buildings in towns around Ireland. One of these became St George’s Terrace Restaurant in Carrick-on-Shannon, a town better known for its hens and stags than its fine dining. Chef Dave Fitzgibbon is paddling a more ambitious canoe, putting beautiful food into a beautiful room in style, with country portions and at country prices. CC
St George’s Terrace Restaurant, St George’s Terrace, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, 071-9616546, stgeorgesterrace.com

Brownes NEW
Reopened by the grandson of Gay Browne, the original owner, this was a pub that put heart back into Tuam. The chef Stevie Lane and his wife, Amanda Fahy, kept the front bar pretty much the same, with its Formica counter and small open fire, but out back they turned Brownes into a gastropub. Not in the soulless pulled-pork-from-a-freezer and jam-jars-for-glasses kind of fashion but by pulling together a delicious menu from local cheesemakers, farmers and growers. It’s a parlour trick that other struggling country pubs could look to learn. CC
Brownes, the Square, Tuam, Co Galway, 093-60700, brownestuam.ie

1826 Adare NEW
Thatched cottages were probably never as cosy as 1826 Adare, in the Co Limerick town, manages to be. Wade Murphy’s cooking teams traditional hearty ingredients such as ham hocks and chicken livers with the kinds of vegetables and condiments that take old favourites to a different level. Seaweed butter, anyone? It’s relaxed, friendly and as unpretentious as pub food, but with a chef’s take that takes it from fine dining to damn fine dining. CC
1826 Adare, Main Street, Adare, Co Limerick, 061-396004, 1826adare.ie

Hazel Mountain Chocolate
John and Kasha Connolly have created a haven for sweet-toothed chocolate lovers with their bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the Burren hills, which features an organic cafe. If you can’t make it out to the wilds of Co Clare, you can visit their Galway chocolate shop and cacao brew bar for their bars, hot chocolate, hazelnut-and-dark-chocolate spread and cacao tea. AMcE
Hazel Mountain Chocolate Factory and Organic Cafe, Oughtmama, Bell Harbour, Co Clare, 065-7078847; Hazel Mountain Chocolate Shop & Cacao Brew Bar, Middle Street, Galway; hazelmountainchocolate.com

Firehouse Bakery & Cafe €
When you visit Patrick Ryan and Laura Moore’s bakery, in Delgany, you’re getting four businesses for the price of one. The bakery is part of a complex of independent businesses that includes Roasted Brown’s coffee roastery, the Pigeon House restaurant and the Delgany Grocer. Come for the loaves of Firehouse Bakery sourdough, stay for the wood-fired-oven pizza and sweet treats. AMcE
Firehouse Bakery & Cafe, Delgany, Co Wicklow, 086-1561984, thefirehouse.ie

Teach an Tae €
The moment I set foot on Inis Oírr, weary from ferry travel, I crave the home-grown and home-made food of Alissa and Micheál Donoghue’s Teach an Tae. Expect local fish, Aran goat cheese from Inis Mór, and greens from the garden on the menu. AMcE
Teach an Tae Aran Cafe & Tea Rooms, Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, Co Galway, 099-75092, cafearan.ie

Grow HQ € NEW
It’s astonishing what the writer, broadcaster, gardener and garlic enthusiast Michael Kelly has built, and is building, with his full-time horticulturists and green-fingered volunteers in Waterford. Grow HQ is the real-world home of GIY, Kelly’s movement to encourage people to grow it yourself. It’s a place to inspire people to grow their own food and provide them with the skills to do it. The cafe at the heart of this gardening complex seeks to reconnect visitors with where their food comes from. Visit the gardens, get your hands dirty in the soil while learning about GIY’s community projects, then rest over a Garden Patch quiche, Seagull sourdough toasted sandwich or HQ blaa. AMcE
Grow HQ, Farronshoneen, Dunmore Road, Waterford, 051-584422, giy.ie

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