100 of the best restaurants and places to eat in Ireland, 2021

Subscriber OnlyFood

It’s the ideal time to try one of Ireland’s top-notch new restaurants, or visit old favourites

It is so wonderful to see restaurants back open – and, dare we say it, feel some normality returning, as we head out to meet friends and enjoy the conviviality of a good night out with great food.

In this list, our 100 great restaurants for winter, we’re featuring the categories that people are searching for most, including new openings, great places to dine with friends and family, where to go for a special occasion, the places that are doing amazing vegetarian and vegan dishes, the places with clever wine lists, and where to eat outdoors as the days get cooler. Things will continue to change, so be sure to check details with the restaurant when booking. Corinna Hardgrave

This guide includes:

  • Thirteen great places that are new and noteworthy
  • Seventeen great places to go with friends
  • Fourteen great places worth a special journey
  • Twelve great places with iconic dishes
  • Fifteen great places for special occasions
  • Ten great places for vegetarians
  • Six great places for families
  • Six great places for all-weather outdoor dining
  • Seven great places with tempting wine lists

Thirteen great places that are new and noteworthy

Strawberry dessert service at Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen

Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen 18-19 Parnell Square North, Dublin 1; 01-8732266, chapteronerestaurant.com Mickael Viljanen’s partnership with Ross Lewis of Chapter One was the blast of exciting news that had everyone geared up for the reopening of indoor dining. Booked out the minute reservations went live, the restaurant then saw glowing reviews flow in, particularly for its €65 lunch. It got five stars from us, and raised questions about the price of just about every other fixed-price menu in town. We expect the Michelin Guide to go right in with two Michelin stars, and we’ll be watching closely as Chapter One continues its ascent to three, which we think will take quite a few years yet. Corinna Hardgrave

Éan bakery, restaurant and winebar in Galway. Photograph: Julia Dunin Photography

Éan Bakery & Wine Bar Druid Lane, Galway; 091-374154, eangalway.com What a joy it was to eat in this amazing wine bar in Galway, which is a cafe and bakery by day. We first tried it when it was outdoor dining only, on a particularly wet night, and couldn't wait to get back to taste more of Christine Walsh's phenomenal cooking. The squid toast has become a signature dish, but the beef tartare is also pretty spectacular, so just work your way through everything on the menu. The wine list is a thing of beauty. We need an Éan in Dublin, in Cork, just about everywhere around the country. CH

Field Kitchen Camus Farm, Ardfield, Co Cork; 023-8869199, fieldkitchen.ie Six miles from Clonakilty, Camus Farm is a 30-acre holding, growing certified organic produce and raising Dexter cattle, and in June they opened a restaurant. Sustainability practices are at their core, with solar power, an on-farm well, and compost going back into their soils, and food for the restaurant is home-grown or locally sourced. The set, no-choice menu is served from Friday-Sunday, and wines are organic too. Lisa Cope

Full Moon Thai 8 Parliament Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2; 01-4453111, fullmoon.ie Approach the menu at Full Moon Thai with excited caution – this is not Thai food for Irish people, it's Thai food for Thai people. The whole deep-fried seabass with a spicy herb salad is so hot you might need a fire extinguisher on standby, but you won't be able to stop yourself going back for more. Don't miss the Khao Tod (curried, crispy rice balls), Lab Moo (spicy pork salad) and beef Pad Kra Pao with Thai basil. LC

Kingdom 1795 in Killorglin, Co Kerry. Photograph: Michael O’Leary

Kingdom 1795 Main Street, Killorglin, Co Kerry; 066-9796527, kingdom1795.com Housed in an old pub building, Kingdom 1795 is a light and airy neighbourhood restaurant opened by chef Damien Ring and his front of house partner, Suzi O'Gorman. Both have stellar hospitality experience behind them and it shows in the confident cooking and warm welcome you'll find here. There is a commitment to sourcing locally for their casual lunches and concise dinner menus and there is an impressive drinks list too. Closed mid-February to mid-March. Ali Dunworth

Little Acorn Market Square, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow; 059-6451805, instagram.com/littleacorncafe Chef Maggie Roche has cooked in some of the finest restaurants in the UK and Ireland and it really shows in the elevated cafe menu at this beautiful new Baltinglass spot. Since opening at the start of lockdown they have been selling out daily with good reason – sandwiches are stuffed with made-from-scratch fillings, salads are layered with flavour and texture and the Parmesan chips are worth going for alone. AD

Chef Gráinne O’Keefe, in her restaurant Mae, above The French Paradox, in Ballsbridge, with manager Julien Chaigneau. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Mae 53 Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4; 01-2313903, maerestaurant.ie All eyes were fixed on Gráinne O'Keefe when she left Clanbrassil House to partner with Ballsbridge wine shop, The French Paradox, to open a restaurant upstairs which takes Irish produce as its starting point. It's a €62 fixed price tasting menu, which starts with snacks, progressing to Cáis na Tire agnolotti, and a meat or fish course. Dessert is a very fine tarte tatin with Calvados and crème fraiche. CH

Native Seafood The Crescent, Portstewart, Co Derry; 0044-7828 127739, nativeseafood.co.uk Finding themselves jobless in the first lockdown, Rebekah and Steafan McCarry started delivering lobsters, and soon a fish mongers and seafood restaurant emerged. Fish is sourced directly from fishermen in Portrush, Portstewart and Ballycastle; cleaned and filleted on site, and either sold in the fishmongers, or served on the daily changing menu. Everyday classics like hot dogs, sausage rolls, corn dogs, and burgers are made with sustainably sourced fish rather than meat, and sold at an affordable price. CH

Rúibín Bar & Restaurant 1/2 Dock Roads, Galway; 091-399200, ruibin.ie Chef Alice Jary and Richard Kennan opened their restaurant in 2019, but have been adapting at breakneck speed, and are now settled into serving lunch during the day and two distinct options in the evening. In the bar, it's all about small sharing plates, ranging from oysters to pig cheek fritters. In the restaurant, there's a more serious à la carte menu with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. It's all about the quality of the produce here, with exciting cocktails, and wine from small organic producers. CH

Russell's Bar & Eatery at Fiddle & Bow Fiddle + Bow Hotel, Teergonean, Doolin, Co Clare; 065-6700200, fiddleandbow.ie With pale wooden floors, upcycled furniture, a blazing fire, and shelves lined with old books, fiddles, a bodhran and an accordion, the focus here is all about keeping things simple. So you'll get seafood chowder and bouillabaisse on Viv Kelly's menu, and battered fish served with seriously good hand-cut chips. There are meat and vegetarian options too. A great place to hang out with friends. CH

Stock Kitchen & Bar 1st Floor, St George's Market, Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 4FH; 0044-28 90240014, stockbelfast.com Open from Thursday to Sunday, with times varying according to the day, Danny Millar's first-floor restaurant in Belfast's St George's Market has been getting quite the name for its food, which uses produce from the market below. Top dishes include fish roasted on the bone, Peter Hannan's cote de boeuf and the market seafood casserole. CH

Damira Levacic and Przemyslaw Muszynski at the Old Couch Café in Waterford city. Photograph: Patrick Browne

The Old Couch Café 11 O'Connell Street, Waterford city; 087-1725947, oldcouchcafe.com You don't often hear of a pivot from a cafe to a five-table fine dining restaurant but that's exactly what Damira Levacic and Przemyslaw Muszynski at The Old Couch Café have done. Anyone lucky enough to nab a table at their charmingly compact restaurant will be glad it happened. Their six-course tasting menu masterfully combines local ingredients with Polish and Croatian cuisine. One to watch. Closed early January. AD

Chef Danni Barry at The Wicklow Escape in Donard, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The Wicklow Escape Donard, Co Wicklow; 083-3754372, thewicklowescape.com The Wicklow Escape primarily offers gorgeous three-day gourmet getaways but with the brilliant chef Danni Barry at the helm, they knew it was a good idea to open up for non-residents. Now you can book dinner on Wednesdays and Fridays to try Danni's seasonal menus, made up according to what is around her in the bountiful kitchen gardens and what can be sourced from neighbouring farms and suppliers. Closed in January. AD

Seventeen great places to go with friends

51 Cornmarket 51 Cornmarket Street, Cork; 083-0102321, instagram.com/51cornmarket If there’s a better French toast in Ireland than 51 Cornmarket’s we haven’t heard about it. Crispy on the outside, soufflé-like in the middle, dripping with honeycomb butter, butterscotch and bacon, it’s an illustration of how chef owners Anne Zagar and David Devereaux do everything – better than you’ve ever had it. Slivers of pickled daikon radish hide within a rich crab crumpet; “brunch chips” arrive topped with a poached egg, hollandaise and a bacon crumb; eggs royale come with house cured trout and caviar. This is food deserving of a captive audience, and they’ve got it. Lisa Cope

Ard Bia Spanish Arch, The Long Walk, Galway; 091-561114, ardbia.com The cavernous interiors of Ard Bia at Galway's Spanish Arch, with candelabras, wooden walls and mismatched plates, set the tone for a meal filled with unusual combinations, global flavours and lots of locally sourced meat, fish, cheese and vegetables. If your wallet is feeling the pinch, their famous brunch is a more purse-friendly option to experience what they do. LC

Bastible 111 South Circular Road, Dublin 8; 01-4737409, bastible.com We have always been huge fans of Barry and Claremarie FitzGerald's Leonard's Corner restaurant, where the low-key decor belies the quality of the food. From day one, it has had a Michelin star feel to it, with carefully sourced produce cooked inventively and with precision. It is tasting menu only, €68 for seven courses, featuring dishes such as poached oyster with elderflower and tomato dashi; grilled celeriac with hen of the woods' mushrooms, and lamb neck with pointed cabbage and sheep's yoghurt. Corinna Hardgrave

Big Fan 16 Aungier Street, Dublin 2; 01-5388886, bigfan.ie Big Fan is serving some of the most original, eye-popping Asian food in the country. Head chef Alex Zhang, originally from Dalian in northern China, cooked in some of Dublin's best Chinese restaurants, before owner Robert Hayes lured him away. The dong po style pork bao are benchmark level, the enoki mushrooms with garlic chilli sauce will have you scraping the plate, and the wagyu cheeseburger dumplings sound like they could be there for shock value, until you taste them. Provenance of ingredients, particularly meat, is very impressive, a backdrop of hip hop creates the perfect soundtrack, and the whole place is just fun from start to finish. LC

Grano Unit 5, Norseman Court, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7; 01-5282003, grano.ie Pasta is made fresh each day at this buzzy Italian restaurant which is one of the top places to head to with a group of friends. The food is Calabrian, and the flour used for the pasta is made from an ancient grain called Senatore Cappelli. There are a number of new dishes on the menu, including cappellacci di melanzane – ravioli stuffed with aubergine, with buffalo mozzarella cream, cherry tomatoes and crispy aubergine – that put this restaurant right at the top of our must visit again list. CH

Turkish eggs at Daddy’s in Dublin 8

Daddy's 538 South Circular Rd, Rialto, Dublin 8; daddys.ie Daddy's has taken the dull, predictable breakfast menu found in most cafes and turned it on its head. Turkish eggs, croissandwiches, and mashed organic eggs in a cup are a few of the dishes they've become famous for, and their 'big breakfast' is a who's who of the country's best egg, bacon and pudding producers. Lunch-time sandwiches are jaw-droppingly inventive, and the sweet and savoury tarts are worth getting there early for. LC

The all-weather terrace at Hang Dai in Dublin 2

Hang Dai 20 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2; 01-5458888, hangdaichinese.com Hang Dai can be summed up in two words – flavour and fun. The buzzy, music-filled restaurant on Camden Street was made to look like a flouro subway train, and the food is loud enough to compete with its surroundings. Expect dishes like prawn sourdough toast with yuzu mayo; Iberico pork secreto char siu; and their signature whole roast Skeaghanore duck, served as a broth with pickles, with pancakes and cherry hoisin sauce, and in duck yuck sung with oyster sauce. The gold room upstairs is ideal for more intimate gatherings. LC

Hara 16 Lisburn St, Hillsborough, Co Down; 0044-28711-61467, harahillsborough.co.uk In the small town of Hillsborough, Co Down, two former Chapter One chefs have created a neighbourhood restaurant that quietly goes about its business feeding diners Durrus puffs, rabbit turnovers and duck terrine with sweet pickled rhubarb. Roz and Andy Turner's Hara is relaxed yet serious when it comes to food, and the warm-natured staff will be delighted to see you. LC

Kai Restaurant 22 Sea Road, Galway; 091-526003, kaicaferestaurant.com Jess and Dave Murphy's Kai is one of the most exemplary neighbourhood restaurants around. Delightful lunch and dinner menus change daily depending on what's available, in season and what the chefs are inspired by. Jess's Antipodean influences are executed deftly, with Irish ingredients at the core, but most paramount is that everything is really, really tasty. There's the stunning cake display too. Everyone will find something to love here. Ali Dunworth

Mok Pla, grilled seabass fillets with home made curry paste, Thai herbs, sticky rice and wrapped in banana leaf, at Kin Khao Thai. Photograph: Adam Lyons

Kin Khao Thai Abbey Lane, Athlone, Co Westmeath and Greenfield Shopping Centre, Maynooth, Co Kildare; kinkhaothai.ie There are now two equally excellent outposts of Kin Khao Thai – the original in Athlone and a newer restaurant in suburban Maynooth. Both offer bona-fide Thai cuisine with many dishes leaning towards Isaan Thai and its strong, gutsy flavours. The breadth of options on the menus means they are great spots for eating with friends with a mix of dietary, and maybe heat, requirements. AD

Las Tapas de Lola 12 Wexford Street, Dublin 2; 01-4244100, lastapasdelola.com This buzzy Wexford Street restaurant ticks so many boxes for friends' nights out – plenty of choice, splendid flavours, vegetarian options and a great drinks list to boot. The menu is full of classic Spanish tapas such as croquettes, garlic prawns and padron peppers, with Irish suppliers and imported artisan Spanish ingredients sitting side by side. AD

Locks restaurant, Portobello, Dublin 8

Locks 1 Windsor Terrace, Dublin 8; 01-4163655, locksrestaurant.ie Andy Roche, formerly of Aimsir, joined this canal-side restaurant to take over as head chef, and there's been a steady stream of chefs checking out the food here ever since. Skilful and refined, dishes have included ox tongue on tiny waffles, dotted with micro herbs and pickled girolles; dry-aged beef tartare with smoked marrow; and Castletownbere lobster with burnt onion. All diets, including vegan, are catered for, so great for a group. CH

Elaine and Wade Murphy at 1826 in Adare

Restaurant 1826 Main Street, Adare, Co Limerick; 061-396004, 1826adare.ie Nestled in a row of much-photographed thatched cottages in Adare you'll find Wade and Elaine Murphy's popular Restaurant 1826. This spot is a stalwart on Irish eating lists for good reason as it offers top-notch modern Irish cooking and wonderfully warm service. The menu has a nice emphasis on local and seasonal, whether it's Korean fried chicken or grilled wild turbot, so there's plenty you'll want to try. Group bookings are welcomed. AD

A weekly changing menu means there is always a surprise on the plate at Solas Tapas in Dingle

Solas Tapas Restaurant Strand Street, Dingle, Co Kerry; 087-9932116, solastapas.com The "plátaí beaga" on offer at Solas are a great way to eat with friends and a chance to sample as many of chef Nicky Foley's creative combinations as you can. A weekly changing menu here is led by what's available from their own kitchen garden and local suppliers, but you might expect Annascaul black pudding empanadas or croquettes stuffed with local seafood. Closed in January until the end of February. AD

The Legal Eagle 1/2 Chancery Place, off Inns Quay, Dublin 7; 01-5552971, thelegaleagle.ie This smart, lovingly restored pub is particularly good for groups and get-togethers thanks to an extensive menu that, as a bonus, really celebrates Irish food. Much of the cooking here is about elevated pub grub and nose to tail cooking but they always make sure to have interesting vegetarian and vegan options available. Happily, the drinks list matches the extent of the food. AD

The Universal, Galway

The Universal 9 William Street West, Galway; 091-728271, theuniversal.business.site A pub with excellent food that's not a gastropub. Somewhere to drink brilliant wine and eat interesting small plates that's not a wine bar. It's hard to put The Universal into a box, because there's nowhere else like it, but there should be. The long, dimly-lit, charm-filled room spills out to on-street tables, where a rollicking crowd eat confit shallot and goat's cheese tarts, and whole turbot on the bone with caper brown butter, washing it down with some of the best natural wines around. LC

Vaughan's Anchor Inn Main Street, Liscannor, Co Clare; 065-7081548, vaughans.ie Flaggy Shore oysters with coriander and Vietnamese dressing is just one of the truly delicious dishes on the menu of this classic seafood restaurant. The fact that you can add a taster flight of three different Taittinger Champagnes for €19 makes it all the more special. The menu is predominantly seafood, with Liscannor Bay lobster, Galway langoustines, and local fish. There are also a number of meat options, so perfect for a group of people. CH

Fourteen great places worth a special journey

Aimsir in Celbridge, Co Kildare

Aimsir Cliff at Lyons, Celbridge, Co Kildare; 01-630500, aimsir.ie If two Michelin stars aren't enough reason to get you to Aimsir then the exceptional dedication to ingredient-led cooking should. Chef Jordan Bailey works exclusively with native Irish produce for Aimsir's impressive 18-course tasting menu. Expect clever uses of foraged Irish herbs and spices, plenty from their onsite kitchen garden and new farm and a finely curated selection of Irish suppliers on the menu, along with outstanding two star cooking of course. Ali Dunworth

Bastion Main Street Kinsale, Co Cork; 021-4709696, bastionkinsale.com Bastion in Kinsale was added to the growing list of Michelin-starred restaurants in Cork last year with good reason. Here you'll find pared-back modern Irish cooking with a huge emphasis on local and seasonal sourcing for their signature tasting menu. They also offer a full vegetable tasting menu option, although it should be pre-ordered. The extensive wine list is well curated and matches the refined cooking happening here. Closed mid-January to mid-February. AD


Cush By The Pier, Ballycotton, Co. Cork; 021-4646768, cush.ie The quiet fishing village of Ballycotton in East Cork has a few reasons to visit – the stunning 7km cliff walk; pints in The Blackbird; and the natural smoked haddock with potato velouté and a crispy hen's egg at Cush. Chef Dan Guerin's food philosophy is the more local, seasonal and sustainable the better, and his menu takes classic component such as croquettes, fishcakes and jus, and spins them into something that overdelivers on the menu description. The interiors are modernly maritime and very comfortable. Lisa Cope

Diningroom at Gregans Castle in Co Clare

Gregans Castle Ballyvaughan, Co Clare; 065-7077005, gregans.ie The location for this boutique hotel, in the middle of the Burren, is enchanting, and head chef Robbie McCauley makes full use of the local larder. It is tasting menu only, so very much for a special occasion, with two options – a seven-course menu for €80, or a 10-course menu for €95. McCauley's cooking is confident, flavours are well-defined, and he has the maturity to pare back where necessary. All diets are catered for with advance notice. Corinna Hardgrave

Chef proprietor Takashi Miyazaki in Ichigo Ichie in Cork

Ichigo Ichie 5 Fenns Quay, Sheares Street, Cork; 021-4279997, ichigoichie.ie Cork is always a great destination for dining and when you're looking for something really special you won't be disappointed by Michelin-starred Ichigo Ichie. Here, chef Takashi Miyazaki specialises in Japanese kaiseki tasting menus – elaborately prepared, beautifully plated, super seasonal and incorporating plenty of excellent local suppliers. If you can't get a booking here, seek out his nearby takeaway Miyazaki for an equally excellent but much more casual option. AD

Lignum in Loughrea, Co Galway

Lignum Slatefort House Bullaun, Loughrea, Co Galway; 087-3300559, lignum.ie Head to Lignum for refined yet relaxed fine dining where there is a real dedication to the ingredients being hyper-local, seasonal and sustainable. The centrepiece of the restaurant is the wood-burning oven where they cook much of their 10-course tasting menu so expect plenty of smoke, char and warming woody flavours. They also cater well for vegetarians, with a full veggie tasting menu available when requested. AD

Linnane’s Lobster Bar in Co Clare

Linnane's Lobster Bar New Quay, The Burren, Co Clare; 065-7078120, linnanesbar.com The substantial outdoor terrace at Linnane's was one of the big hits this summer, as long as you had booked well in advance. It overlooks the working pier in New Quay where lobster is landed, and available on the menu for €41 a pop. That price may be a bit rich for some diners – although probably not those who arrived by helicopter the last time we were there – but there is also good value to be had. We particularly liked the clams, and the fish and chips. CH

A trio of starters at MacNean House in Co Cavan. Photograph: Paul Sherwood

MacNean House and Restaurant Main Street, Blacklion, Co Cavan; 071-9853022, nevenmaguire.com If ever there was a destination restaurant, Neven Maguire's MacNean House is it, and although it seems to be forever booked out, it is always worth checking for cancellations. Maguire's food is always delicious, and he has the agile ability to weave in nuances from his travels while still allowing the essential beauty of local produce to shine through. The nine-course tasting menu is €98, and €153 with a wine pairing. CH

Fish and chips at Morrissey’s of Doonbeg

Morrissey's of Doonbeg Doonbeg, Co Clare; 065-9055304, morrisseysofdoonbeg.ie Cosy in the winter with two smart interconnecting rooms, and buzzy in the summer with a large outside terrace, the menu in this gastropub is pleasingly straight forward. Doonbeg crab claws in a bath of warm garlic butter is a speciality, as is scampi and locally landed fish. Prices are reasonable, and portions are substantial, so you may find you want to share the apple crumble which comes with ice cream and a jug of warm creme Anglaise. CH

Pilgrims 6 South Square, Townlands, Rosscarbery, Co Cork; 023-8831796, pilgrims.ie You should travel from far and wide to eat at Sarah-Jane Pearce and Mark Jennings's Pilgrim's (and many do each year). The menu of homegrown, locally sourced and foraged produce is brought together by hands that are nothing short of magic, and even if you think you know a vegetable, fruit or cut of meat, prepare to be dumbfounded by its newly found flavour. The diningroom with its white washed walls, wooden beams and dried flower bouquets, evokes a quaint French cottage, and it's one of the loveliest places in west Cork to enjoy what's sure to be one of your most memorable meals. LC

Restaurant Chestnut The Chestnut Tree, Staball Hill, Ballydehob, Co Cork; 028-25766, restaurantchestnutwestcork.ie Elaine Fleming and Rob Krawczyk have always had a purity of vision when it comes to the style of food they serve on the €100 tasting menu in their one-Michelin star restaurant. They now raise their own pigs for charcuterie, make their own butter and cheese, and pickle, ferment and dry seasonal produce throughout the year. All of the produce used comes from organic farmers and an ability to treat these ingredients with restraint results in focused, delicious food. CH

Square Restaurant 6 Market Square, Dundalk, Co. Louth; 042-9337969, squarerestaurant.ie In a small, simply decorated room that would almost bring Etto to mind, Conor Halpenny, the winner of the Euro-Toques young chef of the year in 2017, has returned to his home town to cook a focused a la carte menu, driven by local and seasonal produce. Snacks, and tasty starters such as buttermilk fried chicken, are followed by substantial main courses and elegant desserts such as a very on-trend choux bun. CH

The Cottage Restaurant Jamestown, Co Leitrim; 071-9625933, cottagerestaurant.ie Right on the banks of the Shannon in the village of Jamestown, you'll find Sham Hanifa's unassuming restaurant, The Cottage where he is cooking some of the most creative food in Ireland. Hanifa skillfully combines his Malayasian and Thai cooking knowledge while showcasing specialist Irish produce and homegrown ingredients for a menu that is as tasty as it is exciting. Note the restaurant is closed in January. AD

Wine & Brine 59 Main St, Moira, Co Armagh; 0044-28-92610500, wineandbrine.co.uk Chris McGowan, who trained with Richard Corrigan, Pierre Koffmann and Gary Rhodes, will be familiar to fans of the Great British Menu. He now runs this restaurant with his wife Davina, where the focus is on using local produce featuring dishes such as pig's head doughnut with smoked eel, and plaice on the bone. A tasting menu runs on Saturday, and Sunday lunch is £32 for three courses. The menu includes vegetarian options and they're happy to adapt for vegans with prior notice. CH

Twelve great places with iconic dishes

China Sichuan The Forum, Ballymoss Road, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin 18; 01-2935100, china-sichuan.ie It’s been a long wait. After a hugely successful pop-up at Whelehan’s Wines, this highly regarded Chinese restaurant is finally back open, offering the Sichuan favourites that have made it so popular. This, of course, means that its legendary tea-smoked duck, which is half a duck smoked over jasmine tea and camphor wood, is back on the menu. Corinna Hardgrave

The côte de boeuf at Etto

Etto 18 Merrion Row, Dublin 2; 01-6788872, etto.ie Etto is a Dublin dining favourite, so it's no surprise they have a few dishes that could be considered iconic. Their glorious côte de boeuf served with a heap of crispy garlic potatoes and Béarnaise sauce for dipping is certainly a contender. But we have to go with the magnificent dessert of red wine prunes and vanilla mascarpone. Even Nigella Lawson gave it the thumbs up. Surely it doesn't get more iconic than that. Ali Dunworth

Oysters at Goldie

Goldie 128 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork; 021-2398720, goldie.ie There are chefs who spend their whole lives trying to cook like Goldie's Aisling Moore. There's an innate understanding of ingredients, flavours and combinations in this kitchen that makes the fact that the leader of this brigade is just 26 all the more astounding. Goldie focuses on tail-to-fin dining (don't miss the crispy fish spines if they're on) and has a hyperlocal menu that changes with what suppliers have to offer that day. It's all inventive, gently handled and heart-stoppingly delicious, and this kitchen has the potential to turn out many more stars of Ireland's culinary future. Lisa Cope

Host 13 Ranelagh, Dublin 6; 01-5612617, hostrestaurant.ie From small plates to hearty meat dishes, there is lots to love at this chic neighbourhood restaurant, but it's the fresh pasta, made daily in house, that those in the know will tell you to order, in particular their pumpkin cappellacci, a signature stuffed pasta of northern Italy. Host's version is filled with pumpkin, Parmesan and nutmeg, and served with a divine butter, sage and walnut sauce. AD

Ceviche at Mamó

Mamó Harbour House, Harbour Road, Howth, Dublin 13; 01-8397096, mamorestaurant.ie When seaside-situated Mamó reopened after Ireland's last lockdown the overwhelming consensus from diners was that the food was better than ever, but how? Weren't they out of practice? Owners Jess D'Arcy and Killian Durkin kept their staff employed throughout the pandemic with takeaway, at-home meal kits and picnic options, and it turns out their talented kitchen were raring to serve food on plates again. The famous cod chip hasn't gone anywhere, and if you see a ceviche with crisps on the menu, pounce. LC

A seafood platter at Michael’s

Michael's/Little Mike's 57 Deerpark Road, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin; 01-2780377, michaels.ie Over the years you learn not to take a chance on a new restaurant when it's a birthday, anniversary or some other momentous occasion when the stakes are too high to risk a disappointing experience. That's where Michael's and Little Mike's come in. Every customer gets the red-carpet treatment, the seafood platters should be Unesco protected, and the wine list is always full of exciting bottles at fair prices. Just try to leave here without an enormous smile on your face. LC

Food on the grill at Mister S

Mister S 32 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-683 5555, misters.ie The burnt-end rendang spring rolls with beef that has been brined, barbecued, shredded and mixed with Malaysian spice are among the many reasons to visit this restaurant, where cooking over fire on the robata-style grill brings an extra dimension of flavour. Other not-to-miss dishes include smoked Angus short rib, Andarl Farm tomahawk pork, and grilled fish. The restaurant is looking sharper than ever, and is now open for lunch on Friday and Saturday. CH


Pickle 43 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-5557755, picklerestaurant.com There's always something new to discover on Sunil Ghai's bounteous north Indian-focused menu and plenty of notable dishes, but the one that gets the most airtime has to be the goat keema pao. Free-range goat mince from Co Wicklow is slow-cooked with onion, garlic and black cardamom and served with maska pao, a butter bread bun perfect for mopping up any decadent remnants of this iconic curry. AD

Cock-a-leekie pie at Spitalfields

Spitalfields Pub & Restaurant 25 The Coombe, Dublin 8; 01-4546921, spitalfields.ie There's a wonderful old-fashioned kind of modernism at Spitalfields both in the decor of the lovingly restored pub and in Stephen McAllister's consummate cooking. Retro dishes are given an elegant update like the delectable Parker House roll served with bone-marrow gravy, but it's the eye-catching cock-a-leekie pie that really steals the show. Served whole, family-sized (although they say for two), with picture-perfect lattice topping, it's a joy to eat. AD

The Beach House Turkey Road, Tramore, Co Waterford; 051-338270, beachhousetramore.ie The Beach House could sit in just about every category – it's a destination restaurant, perfect for a special occasion, has a beautifully chosen wine list – but anyone who was a fan of Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola's Fish Shop restaurant in Smithfield in Dublin will be heading there for the fish. It may be a tranche of brill with mussels and Muscadet, or black sole with caper butter, but it will always have Akintola's magic touch. There are also meat, vegetarian and vegan options, so this really is a place for everybody. CH

The Olde Glen Bar and Restaurant Glen Village, Carrigart, Co Donegal; 083-1585777, oldeglen.ie Everything on the menu in this popular Donegal restaurant has an eye-watering provenance, with fish from dayboats in Greencastle and organic produce from local farms, but the reason diners are beating a path to this outpost is for Ciaran Sweeney's fermented potato bread. Fans of his cooking during his time in Forest & Marcy will remember the copper pot of foaming bacon mousse and bowl of cabbage that is served with the bread. It's iconic. CH

Wá Cafe 13 New Dock Street, Galway; 091-895850, wacafe.net Wá Cafe is worthy of a special pilgrimage for lovers of Japanese food. Chef-owner Yoshimi Hayawaka's salmon katsu rolls, spicy tuna maki, and matcha chiffon cake are as good as you'll find on this island, and her Tuesday-night omakase, a type of Japanese chef's table where you put yourself in her hands, should be on your all-Ireland food bucket list. LC

Fifteen great places for special occasions


Ananda Cinema Building, Sandyford Road, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 16; 01-2960099, anandarestaurant.ie Once you get a waft of the cooking at Ananda, you'll instantly forget the shopping centre location and your focus will be fully on the plethora of tastes and smells that are ahead of you. Expect contemporary Indian cuisine that cleverly incorporates plenty of Irish produce, but it's the deep understanding of the spices used here that really makes for a unique dining experience. Ali Dunworth

Aniar 53 Dominick Street, Galway; 091-535947, aniarrestaurant.ie After a significantly long closure, it is so good to see JP McMahon's one-Michelin star restaurant back open, with a €110 seasonal tasting menu that draws on the terroir of the west coast of Ireland. It extends to 18 dishes, many of them small bites and snacks, using quite a bit of Nordic technique; so, you'll get the earthy flavours of misos and kojis working through dishes with local produce. Vegetarians and vegans catered for with advance notice. Corinna Hardgrave

Campagne 5 The Arches, Gashouse Lane, Kilkenny city; 056-7772858, campagne.ie The €45 three-course lunch and early bird menu at Garrett and Brid Byrne's one-Michelin star restaurant continues to offer some of the best value in the country. Byrne's cooking is highly seasonal and built on classic technique, so you'll see new season grouse, pheasant and venison, as well as terrines, soufflés, glazed lemon chiboust, and inventive dishes like foie gras crème caramel. CH

Raspberry mousse, hazelnut, blood orange at Delahunt

Delahunt 39 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-5984880, delahunt.ie The dapper surroundings of Delahunt were always a big draw and even more so now they've added individual mahogany snugs within the restaurant and a stylish, covered courtyard. The food has plenty of thought put into it also, a lighter lunch menu is followed by evening tasting menus made up of smart, seasonal dishes. There are some fun wine offerings from Franks, their neighbouring wine bar. AD


Everett's 22 High Street, Waterford city, Co Waterford; 051-325147, everetts.ie Peter Everett, who trained with Michael Quinn, Ross Lewis and Graham Neville, returned to his home town in 2018 to open a bistro in a 15th century building which has become the go-to restaurant for special occasions. It has a concise à la carte menu, and includes the likes of seared Wexford scallops, striploin and braised featherblade, Goatsbridge trout, and buttermilk panna cotta, with a number of vegetarian options, which can be adapted for vegan diets on request. CH

Forest Avenue

Forest Avenue 126 Leeson Street Upper, Dublin 4; 01-6678337, forestavenuerestaurant.ie John and Sandy Wyer were among the first to adapt to the pandemic, opening a deli, grocery and wine shop at their Forest Avenue restaurant, which has become so successful, it is here to stay. Their restaurant has moved around the corner to the former Forest & Marcy premises. With more limited hours, it's dinner only, Wednesday to Friday, and the format is tasting menu only, with a €98, nine-course, surprise menu which is driven by the seasons. CH

Turbot, Ardmore potatoes and duck egg sauce at House Restaurant

House Restaurant Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford; 024-87800, cliffhousehotel.ie Ian Doyle took over as head chef in this one-Michelin star restaurant in 2020, bringing a very different style of cooking to the table. With plenty of foraged, fermented and pickled touches, there is a huge focus on seafood and sustainability on the €130 tasting menu. The dining room has been completely refurbished, and there is now a chic new House Lounge for pre- or post-dinner drinks. CH

Liath 19A Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin; 01-2123676, liathrestaurant.com The five elements of taste form the framework for Damien Grey's precise cooking in this pocket of haute gastronomy in Blackrock Market. It's a €120, one-Michelin star tasting menu, which starts with the bitter element, moving on to sour, salt, savoury and sweet, with each course annotated on the menu. Seasonal produce features and the autumn menu includes squash, oysters and pigeon. CH

Mr Fox 38 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1; 01-8747778, mrfox.ie At Mr Fox, chef Anthony Smith delights Dubliners with his unpretentious restaurant and modern Irish cooking that nods to French classic styles. The food here is consistently good with new ideas and a variety of cultural influences being incorporated all of the time. Keenly priced tasting menus change monthly to keep it seasonal and desserts are a highlight, particularly the retro-inspired creations like the wonderful walnut whips. AD

Potager 7 Church Street, Townparks, Skerries, Co Dublin; 01-8029486, potager.ie You don't need to go to Potager in Skerries for a special occasion, Potager is the special occasion. Chef/owner Cathal Leonard is cooking some of the most interesting food in the country, with a fanatical focus on the best produce coming out of north Co Dublin's land and sea, and the wonderful, relaxed service is led by partner and co-owner Sarah Ryan. From the first bite of onion bread with ricotta and kale, to the last of a chocolate and mountain cranberry macaron, this is a meal you won't forget any time soon. Lisa Cope

Restaurant Lady Anne Creamery House, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny; 056-4400080, restaurantladyanne.ie This handsome building, which has been meticulously restored over a number of years, is home to Keith and Carmel Boyle's special occasion restaurant, where the level of detail extends to a stool for your handbag. Anchored in the French classics, the tasting menus make the most of seasonal and local ingredients including rose veal from Johnstown in Kilkenny. Open Friday and Saturday for dinner, €80; and Sunday for lunch, €50. CH

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud 21 Merrion Street Upper, Dublin 2; 01-6764192, restaurantpatrickguilbaud.ie The gold leaf ceiling says it all, this is a restaurant for special occasions, and after 40 years in business, there is no doubt that there is still plenty of love for this two-Michelin star stalwart. Lunch is €80, but to get a real sense of the experience here, you need to spring for the €140 four-course degustation, or €205 eight-course tasting menu in the evening. Bring a wealthy wine-lover to round off the experience. CH

Table Forty One

Table Forty One 41 Main Street, Gorey, Co Wexford; 053-9421366, tablefortyone.ie It would be easy to miss this upstairs restaurant, but it's worth checking out for the well-priced menu offering two courses for €29.50 and three for €38. With four starters, four mains and two desserts to choose from, the cooking here is assured, with delicious terrines, fish and meat dishes. The wine list is short, if a little unexciting, but it's inexpensive. It's all about a good experience that won't break the bank at this popular spot. CH

The Oak Room

The Oak Room, Adare Manor Adare Manor, Adare, Co Limerick; 061-605200, adaremanor.com It doesn't get more special occasion than Adare Manor, a favourite haunt of the Munster rugby squad, and yes, the prices in the one-Michelin star Oak Room restaurant reflect this. Mike Tweedie's signature tasting menu will set you back €160, and if you want to go for matching wines, it's €80; or you could level up to the €140 pairing. For that, you get a top notch experience, with precise, delicious cooking using luxury ingredients, and produce that comes from within a few kilometres of the restaurant. CH

Volpe Nera

Volpe Nera 22 Newtown Park, Newtownpark, Blackrock, Co Dublin; 01-2788516, volpenera.ie Barry Sun's Blackrock-based Volpe Nera is the suburban restaurant every neighbourhood dreams of. Modern food with a Mediterranean (and sometimes Asian) spin, diners love the mushroom dumplings with aged soya, and the suckling pig, with morcilla, braised endive and romesco, but there are no duds in this dining room. The setting feels intimate and cosy, and service is first rate. LC

Ten great places for vegetarians

3 Leaves Unit 30, 19A Main Street, Blackrock Market, Co. Dublin; 3leaves.ie There’s a running theme amongst everyone who visits 3 Leaves in Blackrock Market, where Santosh Thomas cooks the food and Milie Mathews serves it: complete and utter joy. Their pani puri, misal pav and taster thalis are Indian food like many Irish people have never experienced before, and the service is so warm and welcoming it feels like you’ve been on a meditative retreat. It’s hard to imagine anyone leaving here without a warm glow and a plan to return soon. Lisa Cope

Clanbrassil House. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Clanbrassil House 6 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Dublin 8; 01-4539786, clanbrassilhouse.com Everything has changed at this popular restaurant since Gráinne O'Keefe moved to open Mae, and there's a new team in the kitchen, headed up by Jimmy Dobson, ex-Potager. The hash browns and Clanbrassil stalwarts are gone – it's a completely new line-up of dishes. It's à la carte during the week, changing to a €65 six-course tasting menu on Friday and Saturday. Standout dishes include roasted onion tortellini, and baked cream with wild berries, and a full vegetarian and vegan menu is available on request. Corinna Hardgrave

Dooks Fine Foods

Dooks Fine Foods Kerry Street, Fethard, Co Tipperary; 052-6130828, dooksfinefoods.ie There is good reason that the dishes at this smart local cafe and deli have more than a passing resemblance to Yotam Ottolenghi's, as Richard Gleeson, the chef and co-owner here, learnt from the master himself. Vegetables are at the core of what they do, sourced from two local organic growers. But there are also some tasty dishes for carnivores, particularly their hot lamb flatbreads served with fermented chilli yoghurt. CH

Rainbow carrots at Glas

Glas 16 Chatham St, Dublin 2; 01-6724534, glasrestaurant.ie Vegetarians and vegans in the capital have never had it so good since the opening of this modern temple to vegetables on Chatham Street. Banish the thoughts of vapid vegetable curries and sad salads – here you'll find Jerusalem artichoke croquettas; plum and tarragon terrine; and flamed kohlrabi with sunflower seed puree and ashed goat's cheese. Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores will all find something to love here, and the lovely staff and plant-filled interior complete the picture. LC

Enda McEvoy of Loam. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Loam Fairgreen Road, Galway city; 091-569727, loamgalway.com Winner of the first Michelin sustainability award, followed by a Michelin green star, a partnership with farmers and food producers has always been at the heart of what Enda McEvoy and Sinead Meacle do at their Galway restaurant. Vegetables feature heavily on the €85 seven-course tasting menu, both vegetarian and vegan menus are available, and the cooking here is always earthy and restrained with well-defined flavours. CH


Paradiso 16 Lancaster Quay, Cork City; 021-4277939, paradiso.restaurant One of the originals, Dennis Cotter opened his vegetarian restaurant in 1993, and proved to us all that a menu without meat or fish could be wonderful. Meadhbh Halton heads up the kitchen now, and the approach has changed to small plates, with an option to order all nine savoury dishes to share at €63 for two. Most dishes can be adapted for vegans. CH

Richmond 43 Richmond Street South, Portobello, Dublin 8; 01-4788783, richmondrestaurant.ie The early bird menu seems to have disappeared from most restaurants, but you'll still get it every evening in this popular neighbourhood spot, with two/three courses for €26.90/€31.90. Popular dishes on the current menu include heirloom tomatoes with tapenade and bloody Mary sorbet, and seared halibut with sweet stem cauliflower, white beans and bonito butter. Vegetarian options are always available, and vegan with prior notice. CH

Vegetarian feast at Shou. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Shouk 40 Drumcondra Road Lower, Drumcondra, Dublin 9; 01-5322114, shouk.ie It's always exciting to find a menu that puts as much focus on vegetables as meat, and then when they taste as good as at Shouk, you're onto a winner. They serve a menu that's a fusion of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, with all the best flavours from both. Vegetarians can feast on stuffed pita bread, bright meze platters and standalone veggie dishes. You won't go hungry here. Ali Dunworth

Soup 2 44-47 King Street North, Smithfield, Dublin 7; 083-0119384, soupramen.ie A sister restaurant to Soup Ramen in Dún Laoghaire, Will Shannon, Conor Hughes, and Jamie Hynes have brought their love for Asian-inspired food to Smithfield. The legendary deep-fried kimchi is still on the menu, along with ramen, banh mi, laksa, and a variety of vegetable-focused dishes and salads. More than half of the menu is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and their noodles, sourdough baguettes and kimchi are all made in-house. CH

Tiller + Grain. Photograph: Tom Honan

Tiller + Grain 23 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2; 087-6808933, tillerandgrain.ie Ottolenghi-trained Clair Dowling's restaurant is one of the go-to places for vegetarians, with at least eight different vegetarian dishes available each day, and a large focus on vegan options. Soups and vegan hot pots with grains all feature as we move into the winter months, but you'll also find dishes with sustainable fish and higher-welfare meat. Rose Ponsonby is the very skilled pastry chef there, and it is well worth checking out her celebratory cakes. CH

Six great places for families

Farmgate Broderick Street, Midleton, Co Cork; 021- 463 2771, farmgate.ie Farmgate in Midleton isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to food - it’s doing the classics, and doing them very well. It’s an ideal choice for family gatherings, groups and occasions when you need a menu that’s going to appeal to the masses, but with plenty of well-sourced local produce, like the Castletownbere mussels in the moules marinere, and the Frank Murphy black pudding that’s served with their seared scallops. Lisa Cope

Poacher Restaurant, in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan

Poacher 4 Market Square, Ballina, Co Mayo Daniel Mayr and Yvonne Kathrein's €29 three-course Sunday lunch and early bird menu at this upstairs restaurant is incredibly popular with families, which is unsurprising. The meat, from Heffernan's butcher shop below, is top quality, fish is from Garvin's fishmonger, and there is a separate vegetarian and vegan menu. Corinna Hardgrave

Saint Francis Provisions Short Quay, Kinsale, Co Cork; 083-0636879, instagram.com/stfranciskinsale Lovingly created, locally sourced small plates, natural wines and atmospheric outdoor tables make St Francis Provisions one of the best places to eat in Kinsale. A regularly changing menu means there's always something bright and beautiful to feast your eyes on, and a lunch here will leave you feeling reinvigorated for the rest of the day (unless you overdo it on the lovely wines, which is also a nice way to spend a day). LC

The Muddlers Club in Belfast. Photograph: Elaine Hill

The Muddlers Club 1 Warehouse Lane, Belfast; 0044-2890313199, themuddlersclubbelfast.com There aren't many Michelin-starred meals that diners would feel comfortable having a (well-behaved) child tag along for, but The Muddlers Club make it so much easier for parents to enjoy their six course, seasonal tasting menu by providing an option of steak or fish with vegetables for younger diners (for the bargain price of £5). Adults will enjoy dishes like trout, apple and chive; and beef, girolle and bone marrow, and if you don't give the smallies a taste you'll be doing them a disservice. LC

The Tannery: Children’s menu here should be the model for every restaurant in the country. Photograph: Shane O’Neill

The Tannery 10 Quay Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford; 058-45420, tannery.ie Ireland is still not in tandem with many of our European neighbours when it comes to welcoming children into restaurants, so Máire and Paul Flynn's The Tannery will come as a happy discovery for food-loving parents and little ones alike. The room, food and service make every meal feel like an occasion, and while the adults can enjoy crab créme brulee, and roast pork with apples and cafe de Paris sauce, younger diners can enjoy ham and mushroom croquettes, followed by pumpkin and beef cheek spaghetti, with ice-cream and autumn berries for dessert. The children's menu here should be the model for every restaurant in the country. LC

Thyme Custume Place, Athlone, Co Westmeath; 090-6478850, thymerestaurant.ie Recommendations for this restaurant have come in from all directions, particularly for their Sunday lunch which is the perfect family day out. In autumn the focus moves to game, with partridge, grouse, venison, mallard and pheasant appearing on the menu. The supplier list is top notch and the cooking is skillful. CH

Six great places for all-weather outdoor dining

Barrow’s Keep

Barrow's Keep Marsh's Street, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny; 056-7724728, barrowskeep.com The large outdoor area at this acclaimed restaurant in Thomastown has been hugely popular with diners, and is being upgraded with heaters to allow for winter use. There is so much to like about this restaurant, from Morgan VanderKamer's skilfully selected wine list of organic small producers, to the accomplished bistro dishes that focus on locally sourced ingredients. Vegetarian options on the menu can be adapted to vegan diets on request. Corinna Hardgrave

Dede at The Customs' House The Customs House, Baltimore, Co Cork; 028-48248, customshousebaltimore.com A Michelin star landed in double quick time for Ahmet Dede, and unperturbed by any need to go the formal route, he and business partner Maria Archer instead continued to develop the outside dining area, adding a roof, overhead heaters, sheepskin rugs, blankets and a log burning fire. The €95 tasting menu here has featured Turkish-inspired dishes such as stuffed cabbage leaves with aromatic rice and lamb served with smoked beetroot and yoghurt, along with Selep goat's milk ice-cream, served in a frozen bowl. CH

Dublin Bay prawns with Cafe de Paris Butter at Hen’s Teeth

Hen's Teeth Blackpitts, Dublin 8; 01-5613036, hensteethstore.com The hipster hot-spot that is Hen's Teeth incorporates an uber-cool store, gallery, cafe and, more recently, a colourful outdoor seating area complete with awnings and heaters. But don't let the fun facade fool you, there is some great cooking happening here and their all-day cafe menu will continue to be served on their natty street terrace, with plans to also introduce an indoors weekend tasting menu called The Gallery Tables. Ali Dunworth

Mikey Ryan’s Bar & Kitchen

Mikey Ryan's Bar & Kitchen 76 Main Street, Cashel, Co Tipperary; 062-62007, mikeyryans.ie Behind the stylish classic pub front, you'll find an equally stylish gastropub and two well-appointed outdoor areas that can be enjoyed year-round. The Glass Well has a louvred outdoor pergola surrounded by the restored stone walls of the Cashel Palace Hotel and The Secret Garden is an additional private walled area. Throughout the venue, you can enjoy the modern pub grub where Tipperary suppliers are celebrated. AD

Piglet 5 Cows Lane, Old City Temple Bar, Dublin 8; 01-7079786, pigletwinebar.ie Whenever it comes to meeting up with friends in an outdoor setting, we find ourselves drawn, as if by a gravitational force, to this hugely atmospheric wine bar owned by Thibaud Harang and Enrico Fantasia. The outside tables are, of course, the best, and the €35 set menu, which includes cacio e pepe, pork ragu and duck gizzards, means it's easier to justify a bit of a rummage through the impressive wine list. CH

Outdoor dining at Pot Duggans

Pot Duggans Pot Duggans, New Road, Ennistymon, Co Clare; 065-7072212, potduggans.com There's a superb outdoor area at this Ennistymon venue, which ran a succession of pop-ups over the summer. Chef Ashley Gribbens (ex-Little Fox) has been cooking Middle Eastern dishes with big bold flavours here throughout the summer, and will be keeping up her residency right through to next year. There's an impressive number of vegetarian and vegan options, so it's great for a big gang. CH

Seven great places with tempting wine lists

Fish Shop Fish Shop, 76 Benburb, Street, Dublin 7; 01-5571473, fish-shop.ie You feel more like you’re in a tapas bar in Spain than in Smithfield when you sit at one of the marble counters here and sip a glass of sherry, or an interesting low-intervention wine, with gildas (the Basque pinxto of chillies, olives and anchovies on cocktail sticks), cockles in manzanilla, squid with aioli, or croquettes. Fish and chips are a classic, and there is now a new main course of whole roasted fish with chips and tartare sauce. The wine list has been hugely extended, with plenty by the glass, including an interesting grower champagne. Corinna Hardgrave

Ox 1 Oxford Street, Belfast; 048-90314121, oxbelfast.com If you're not a local, it's well worth heading to Belfast and the Michelin-starred Ox for its inexplicably well-priced lunch menu: you'll get two courses for £25 or three for £30. Stephen Toman, who spent many years working at Alain Passard's three-Michelin-star L'Arpège, in Paris, is notably talented. The wine is equally impressive. CH

Uno Mas

Uno Mas 6 Aungier Street, Dublin 2; 01-4758538, unomas.ie Liz Matthews and Simon Barrett have all the delicious bites you'd expect on a Spanish and modern Mediterranean menu, so you'll find gildas, tortillas and flan de queso. There is also a well-chosen wine list that starts with sherries, works its way through some of Spain's most acclaimed small producers, and now has an impressive selection of grower champagnes. Vegetarian dishes are available, and vegans are catered for with advance notice. CH

Tartare 56 Dominick Street Lower, Galway; 091-567803, tartaregalway.ie JP McMahon's cafe and wine bar in Galway's West End serves small plates with a difference, such as courgette with salted gooseberry, hazelnuts and sea herbs; and chicken wings with black-garlic glaze, turnip and kimchi. The chef – who also writes about food in the Irish Times magazine – can find a way to introduce seaweed into everything, from the potatoes to the cookies, and the natural wine list is beautifully compiled. Lisa Cope

Variety Jones

Variety Jones 78 Thomas Street, Christchurch, Dublin 8; 01-5162470, varietyjones.ie A six-course evening tasting menu for €65 is a bargain when it comes to Michelin-star dining, and in the casual surroundings of Variety Jones it is served to share, family style. For chef-patron Keelan Higgs and his sous chef, Kelan Heffron, the focus is always on local, organic and seasonal produce, which is cooked over the open fire. For wine, put yourself in the hands of sommelier Vanda Ivancic, who will have some interesting, low-intervention suggestions. Prior notice is essential for vegetarian and vegan options. CH

West Restaurant The Twelve Hotel, Barna Village, Co Galway; 091-597000, westrestaurant.ie With some of the country's best produce on his doorstep, chef Martin O'Donnell makes it the hero on his à la carte and €68 tasting menus. Connemara langoustine and homemade black pudding feature, along with locally foraged produce and in-house charcuterie such as lambcetta. The wine list, compiled by the Twelve Hotel's general manager, Fergus O'Halloran, has won the Wine Spectator award numerous times, and all wines are available by the glass. CH


Woodruff Unit 7, The Village, Stepaside, Dublin 18; 01-5581362, woodruff.ie Foraging, fermenting and curing are buzzwords in the Woodruff kitchen, where chef Simon Williams and team go above and beyond to deliver one of Dublin’s best and most original dining experiences. The plating is so beautiful that you may be pained to stick your fork in and ruin it, and the beautifully chosen wine list is just as equally worth travelling for. Woodruff has the whole package. LC

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column