Beyond lockdown: 100 great places to eat in Ireland

Good Day Deli in Cork: The menu is  so vibrant and inviting you might not even notice it’s predominantly vegetarian.
The Covid-19 lockdown isn’t permanent, so it’s time to look ahead – and to look forward to supporting Irish restaurants, cafes and other places to eat again

The restaurant industry in Ireland is going through an unprecedentedly bleak period. But this national lockdown will not be permanent, and when we come out the other side we will want to revisit the places we love to dine in, the rooms that host our celebrations and offer us a place to feel welcome and minded.

Why have a list of restaurants, cafes and other places to eat at all when everywhere is closed? We asked ourselves this many times. We see this list as a guide, to be held on to and referred to over the coming weeks and months and into next year. It is also a tribute to the courage and determination of everyone in the hospitality sector.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

We know that when restaurants open again, diners will be looking for different things. Some people will still want to eat outside, others will be looking for spacious rooms, and there will be an interest in options for private dining. These are the details we’ve captured here. It’s a snapshot of how restaurants have adapted.

Things will continue to change, so check details with the restaurants when ordering or booking. Please support your local restaurants and cafes, be that through eating in when we’re allowed to, dining outside, or ordering takeaway or home dinner kits. Our restaurants and cafes are wonderful bastions of pleasure and hospitality, but they are also businesses, and we need to support them now if we want to continue to enjoy them in the future. Corinna Hardgrave

A (t) after a venue’s name means takeaway is available, or has been at some time during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please check in advance

Jump to:
Fifteen great places to eat with outdoor seating
Nine great places to eat with spacious dining rooms
Eight great places to eat with private dining rooms
Twelve great places to eat that offer globe-trotting escapes
Twelve great destination-dining venues
Sixteen great places to eat on a special occasion
Eighteen great places for a casual meal
Ten great places to eat with outstanding wine lists

FIFTEEN GREAT PLACES TO EAT WITH OUTDOOR SEATING

Andchips (t)
3 Castle House, The Quay, Dungarvan, Co Waterford; 058-24498, andchips.ie
Eunice Power is affectionately known as The Powerhouse because she clearly has 10 times more energy than the rest of us, using the excess to fuel brilliant ideas, one of which is Andchips, a fish and chip shop which she opened a year and a half ago. Her Covid-19 response was to negotiate a sizeable outside dining area and add even more to the menu, including the hugely popular fish tacos and fish pie. Everything is under €15, even the wine at €14.50 a bottle. Corinna Hardgrave
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks/visors, screen in front of service counter, outdoor tables

Baste BBQ (t)
39 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Portobello, Dublin 8; 01-9081955, bastebbq.com
The outdoors is, of course, the only proper home for a serious barbecue set-up, and it’s not just for summer. With a mix of tent cover and dining pods, Andy Noonan has transformed the base for his two Argentinian wood-burning parrillas and Pitmaker wood and charcoal-fired smoker into a cosy winter space with fire pits and blankets. Cool sounds, grilled flatbreads, babaganoush, charred, slow-cooked smoky joints of meat, and BYOB, what’s not to like? CH
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor tables

Dede at The Customs’ House (t)
The Customs House, Baltimore, Co Cork; 028-48248, customshousebaltimore.com
Ahmet Dede, the chef who landed a Michelin star at the now shuttered Mews restaurant, has taken Baltimore to his heart, bringing a taste of Turkey to the yachties and second-homers. A team of Turkish chefs with an outdoor kitchen, barbecue and wood-fired oven conjure up manti – little dumplings with lamb, and monkfish a la Turka from pristine local produce. There is an impressive covered outside area and a back gate allows diners to enter and exit without walking through the restaurant. Set menus are €60 for dinner and €40 for Sunday lunch. CH
Covid precautions: Staff and diner temperature checks, masks, filtration, outdoor tables

Eatyard (t)
Crossguns Bridge, Glasnevin, Dublin 9; 01-9060218, the-eatyard.com
Already geared up for the great outdoors before the event of the abominable Covid, Eatyard now has six vendors at its new home across the city, offering a choice of burgers, La Cocina Cuevas’ tacos and birrieras, pizza, dumplings, vegan comfort food from The Saucy Cow, and great coffee from 3fe. You can grab a table by booking ahead on the Eatyard website, and order pints, cocktails and natural wines from The Bernard Shaw bar to have with your food. Open Thu-Sun, closed Jan-Feb. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor tables

Fisk Seafood Bar in Downings, Donegal: It is hard not to wonder if you’ve dreamed it up.
Fisk Seafood Bar

Fisk Seafood Bar (t)
The Harbour Bar, Downings, Co Donegal; fiskseafoodbar.com
Sitting outside the tiny seafood haven Fisk, in Downings, looking out over Sheephaven Bay, it’s hard not to wonder if you’ve dreamed it up. From the crispy squid with lemon aioli, to the local crab claws with dulse butter, to the crab on Scarpello toasted sourdough, everything is spanking fresh and simply delivered. This year they’re staying open right through winter, with a new weather-proofed beer garden out the back complete with stove, so even on the chilliest of nights outdoor dining is an option. Lisa Cope
Covid precautions: Masks, one-way system

Good Day Deli (t)
Nano Nagle Place, Douglas Street, Cork; 021-4322107, gooddaydeli.ie
The menu at Good Day Deli, in Cork city centre oasis Nano Nagle Place, is so vibrant and inviting you might not even notice it’s predominantly vegetarian. They prefer to focus on their ethos of local, organic and sustainable – like the lightly battered Irish hake in their Kai Moana tacos. Owners Kristin Makirere (originally from Cook Island) and Clare Condon (a Cork native) have varied backgrounds, including hospitality, gardening and environmental economics, and Good Day Deli, complete with its extensive, covered outdoor dining area, feels like a model for the future. LC
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks

Grangecon Kitchen (t)
Grangecon, Dunlavin, Co Wicklow; 086-0862812, grangeconkitchen.ie
Laura McEvoy and Stephanie Myerscough opened their utterly divine cafe in this beautiful Wicklow village in July 2019, rising early to make three different types of sourdough for their BLTs and sandwiches, ricotta buttermilk pancakes, shakshouka, an array of stunning cakes and the country’s best doughnuts. Dining is alfresco in the garden to the side of the cottage which is covered with a large canopy and has heater lamps. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor tables

Grow HQ in Waterford: “Grow, Cook, Eat” is the ethos here.
Grow HQ

Grow HQ (t)
Farronshoneen, Dunmore Road, Waterford; 051-584422, giy.ie/grow-hq
“Grow, Cook, Eat” is the ethos at Waterford’s Grow HQ, and it really is that simple. The land surrounding the cafe is filled with everything from golden raspberries to greenhouse-grown lemons, carrots to courgettes, and each week the “hero plate” takes what’s in abundance and serves it five different ways. They added an outdoor food truck at the start of the summer for anyone wanting to avoid eating in, and have a partly covered terrace for more than 40 people. LC
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor tables

L’Gueuleton
Fadebrook House, 1 Fade Street, Dublin 2; 087-9393608, lgueuleton.com
Who knows what we’re going to have to spend to get a drink with our food in the following months, but if it’s €9, and outside, the new small plates at L’Gueuleton are a great way to have a casual bite with friends. A few of our €8.90 favourites include onion and Gruyère tart, confit duck croquettes, and pan-fried mackerel with fennel and horseradish cream. And their wonderful French onion soup is back on the menu. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart, outdoors

Locks (t)
1 Windsor Terrace, Dublin 8; 01-4163655, locksrestaurant.ie
Without doubt, this is one of Dublin’s best lunch spots, and with a new covered seating area that stretches the length of the building, and heaters and rugs to keep things cosy, this canalside restaurant is likely to become one of the hottest bookings in town. The €39 three-course lunch and €55 dinner menus offer a changing selection of terrines, fish, meat and vegetarian dishes, and tasty desserts, all pulled together skilfully using top-quality produce. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart, outdoors

MacNean House and Restaurant
Main Street, Blacklion, Co Cavan; 071-9853022, nevenmaguire.com
Normally booked out well in advance, this year, with plans constantly changing, cancellations are opening up on an adhoc basis, so it’s well worth sticking your name on the waiting list. Neven Maguire and his team have put huge work into developing a comfortable and magical outdoor area with awnings, heaters and lights for pre- and post-dinner drinks. Dining is inside and, regulations permitting, there is private dining at the chef’s table for 10 to 20 guests. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 2m apart

Connemara cuisine: the Misunderstood Heron food truck in Leenane
Connemara cuisine: the Misunderstood Heron food truck in Leenane

Misunderstood Heron (t)
Derrynacleigh, Leenaun, Co Galway; 083-0244203, misunderstoodheron.com
At the side of a car park in Connemara, overlooking the magnificent Killary Fjord, locals and hungry travellers queue for up to 45 minutes to experience food truck Misunderstood Heron’s pork belly rice bowls, lamb chops with lentils and homemade pasties. Husband and wife Reinaldo Seco and Kim Young first met in this corner of Ireland, and after travelling the world together decided there was nowhere else they’d rather be. As lunch views go, this one is hard to top. LC
Covid precautions: Masks, queue markers

Salty Buoy (t)
Avon Ri, Blessington, Co Wicklow; and Baste, 39 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Dublin 8; saltybuoy.ie and instagram.com/saltybuoytruck
On the move, so you’ll need to check Insta to see where and when Niall Sabongi’s vintage Citroen van is parked. With a menu limited to fish, done a few great but simple ways, the lobster roll is every bit as good as you will get in Maine – yes, that means the proper roll – and the hake Kiev was one of the summer hits, although in many cases, it was the lesser-spotted Kiev, so if it’s on the menu, jump on it immediately. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1-2m apart, outdoors

Shells (t)
Shore Road, Strandhill, Co Sligo; 071-9122938, shellscafe.com
This quintessential coastal cafe and bakery is enviably located on Sligo’s sweeping Strandhill Beach where owners Jane and Myles Lambeth have honed their nautical style just right. Their stellar brunch-led food offering considers local produce foremost, as well as producing everything they can in house. Fresh breads, homemade jams, granola and beans, much of which can be bought to take home in the divine adjoining Little Shop. Ali Dunworth
Covid precautions: Masks, one-way system, outdoor tables

Shouk (t)
40 Drumcondra Road Lower, Drumcondra, Dublin 9; 01-5322114, shouk.ie
A meal at Shouk feels like taking a holiday through the Middle East, by way of lamb and beef stuffed Arayes, smoky chargrilled aubergine covered in tahini and pomegranate, and an eye-popping mezze with warm, freshly made pitta breads that’s the antidote to the most stressful of days. They’ve extended their outdoor area and part of it can be covered and heated for cold days and nights, so there’s no reason to miss out on some of the capital’s most exciting food. LC
Covid precautions: Masks, one-way system, outdoor tables

Back to top

NINE GREAT PLACES TO EAT WITH SPACIOUS DINING ROOMS

Ananda (t)
Cinema Building, Sandyford Road, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 16; 01-2960099, anandarestaurant.ie
Once you step out of the lift in Ananda and get a waft of Karan Mittal’s cooking you’ll soon forget the shopping centre surrounds. The menus, with a la carte, tasting and pre-theatre options, take you on a journey from amuse bouche of chaat with fresh turmeric yoghurt to delicate Indian classics using wonderful Irish products like ghee roasted Irish goat and Causey Farm lamb with dum biryani rice. An unexpected joy of a menu, great value and exciting flavours. AD
Covid precautions: Masks

Canteen
11 Bow Lane East, Dublin 2; 01-5222000, marlinhotel.ie/canteen.html
One of the first out with the pots and pans after lockdown, James Sheridan opened the latest iteration of Canteen in the new Marlin Hotel to a general fanfare of applause, and with the four-course menu escalating from €58 to €65, we’re hoping that’s it for price creep. But the food here is very good, the classic savoury dishes all hit the mark, and the pastry is a bit of a standout, with seriously skilled amuse bouche and desserts. A private room is also available. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1.5m-2m apart

China Sichuan (t)
The Forum, Ballymoss Road, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin 18; 01-2935100; china-sichuan.ie
A firm favourite for any Chinese food fans with good reason, the piquant Sichuan aroma hits you as you walk in the door to find a menu, loaded with flavoursome garlic, ginger and of course Sichuan peppers. Due to reopen just as the second Dublin lockdown was announced, they’ve taken a long view on dining in and continue a very popular takeaway. And the menu? You’ll still want to try it all. AD
Covid precautions: Staff and diners’ temperature checks, masks

House Restaurant
Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford; 024-87800, cliffhousehotel.ie
Martijn Kajuiter, the chef who landed the Michelin star at House restaurant at the Cliff House Hotel, has moved on, taking his spherification and molecular kit with him. Things have changed. Ian Doyle has taken over the kitchen and the style of food is earthier, more contemplative and very delicious. The €115 tasting menu shows balance and poise, and the brilliantly matched wine pairing, which is slightly eye watering at €85, is well worth it. There’s a lot of ambition here. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart

Mount Juliet / Lady Helen Restaurant Michelin Star award
Mount Juliet: Lady Helen Restaurant

Lady Helen Restaurant
Mount Juliet Estate, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny; 056-7773000, mountjuliet.ie
One of the most popular escapes this year, although this Georgian country house is really quite grand, it is incredibly comfortable and welcoming. Little has changed in what is offered in the one Michelin star Lady Helen dining room, so there’s a choice between a seven- and nine-course tasting menu or you can order a la carte. John Kelly’s cooking is classical and assured, and for more privacy, it’s possible to book The Parlour for up to 18 guests. CH
Covid precautions: Staff and guest temperature checks, masks, tables 1m+ apart

Loam restaurant in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Loam, in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Loam
Fairgreen Road, Galway; 091-569727, loamgalway.com
In a room that is made for social distancing, the low-key decor reflects the approach here: flavours are close to nature and Enda McEvoy’s restrained but skilful hand in his Michelin star kitchen ensures that every dish on the €78 tasting menu has a sense of place. Squid is cut into fine noodles, a low temperature egg yolk is bathed in an intense shiitake broth, and all the flavours align. The €41 wine pairing is a must. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart

The Pepper Pot (t)
59 South William Street, Dublin 2; 01-7071610, thepepperpot.ie
The best cafes do the simple things better than you could have imagined – such is the case with The Pepper Pot Café’s pear and bacon sandwich. Juicy roast pears, Hegarty’s cheddar, free-range bacon and mustard mayonnaise on crusty, pillowy white bread make for one of the country’s best sandwiches. The Victoria sponge cake is the ultimate follow up, with a golden sponge, softly whipped cream and raspberry jam ratio that’s hard to beat. LC
Covid precautions: Screens, queue markings

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
21 Merrion Street Upper, Dublin 2; 01-6764192,restaurantpatrickguilbaud.ie
After the auto temperature check, the prices here may have you rechecking your symptoms – shortness of breath, sweaty brow – but this is one of the airiest rooms in the country, and is top of the list for people who are being super cautious. A two-Michelin star experience; beautiful, detailed, precise cooking with pristine produce is the hallmark of the food here. The €65 three-course lunch menu is a relative bargain. Bring deep pockets for the impressively deep wine list. CH
Covid precautions: Staff and diner temperature checks, masks/visors, tables 2m apart, outdoor terrace

Sangria
19 Middle Street, Galway, 083-8785155, sangriagalway.com
This really is a step through the door to another world. Dark wooden floors, a mural of passionate tango dancers, and a tropical torrent of lush foliage reflect the Guatemalan heart of Byron Godoy Flores and his American wife, Mary Carroll Godoy. The menu reels through homemade Latino tapas – corn tortillas, empanadas, pupusa (a griddled, filled flatbread), and the fish for the ceviche is from Gannet Fishmongers. Be sure to try the Sangria, it’s very good. A covered rooftop patio is planned for 2021. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, visors, tables 1.5m apart, outdoor area

Back to top

EIGHT GREAT PLACES TO EAT WITH PRIVATE DINING ROOMS

Allta (t)
101 Setanta Place, Dublin 2; 01-6170988, allta.ie
There’s a cool London vibe, in the best possible way, at this casual yet deadly serious restaurant. The kitchen is loaded with talent – Niall Davidson, Hugh Higgins and Kevin Burke – and there is an energy to the food here, a real understanding of how to harness the flavours of top quality produce. A €65 tasting menu is now the only option, and, each evening, a few special bottles are opened for wine by the glass. The downstairs private dining room is unbelievably private, with its own music system and record player. CH
Covid precautions: masks, tables 1.5m apart, dividing screens at sharing table

Chapter One
18-19 Parnell Square North, Dublin 1; 01-8732266, chapteronerestaurant.com
The year 2020 has been a challenging one for most of us, with general anxiety levels never higher. If you want to forget about your worries and the outside world for a few hours, there are few better places to descend into and be metaphorically wrapped in a blanket than Chapter One’s underground dining room. The warm service is consistently among the best on the island, the bar, restaurant and private dining areas feel like pieces of architectural art, and the food is the best of Irish meets Michelin. Whatever you look for in a restaurant, Chapter One is a treat. LC
Covid precautions: Staff and diner temperature checks, masks

Clanbrassil House Restaurant on Clanbrassil Street Dublin 8. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Clanbrassil House. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Clanbrassil House (t)
6 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Dublin 8; 01-4539786, clanbrassilhouse.com
The more casual, sister restaurant of Bastible – another restaurant that gets our grá – this is a particularly good place for private dining as either of the rooms can be booked for the purpose, but the vibe stays relaxed and comfortable. Gráinne O’Keefe’s food is always a pleasure to eat, and for now, the only option here is a €55 four-course menu. For a €10pp supplement, you can get the legendary 80-day whiskey-aged côte de boeuf for two. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 2m apart

The Gold Bar at Hang Dai
The Gold Bar at Hang Dai

Hang Dai
20 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-545 8888, hangdaichinese.com
Don’t let the anonymous takeaway street facade fool you, this is no neon orange chicken-balls joint. Instead at this uber cool Camden street restaurant you will find reimagined, fun that takes on some Chinese-food favourites like juicy prawn toast, lip smackingly good duck pancakes and a dedicated vegetarian menu section. All combinations that pair well with their wonderful drinks menu and cocktails galore. Upstairs is home to The Gold Bar and a fully covered balcony which can be booked for private dining and events. AD
Covid precautions: Masks

Mister S (t)
32 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2; 01-6835555, misters.ie
Ireland has never been the place for bone fide barbecue, which is one reason why Mister S on Dublin’s Camden Street has made such an impact. The beef shortrib, the Andarl Farm pork tomahawk, the barbecue monktail – every dish is a reminder of why cooking with fire has no substitution. Their ingredient sourcing is commendable, as are the prices they manage to sell their utterly delicious dishes at. The downstairs long table can sit private groups of up to 18. LC
Covid precautions: Masks, twice-daily sanitisation using fogging system

The Saddle Room
The Shelbourne, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2; 01-6634500, theshelbourne.com
Still sparkling after its €40 million refurbishment, a jaunt through the foyer of the Shelbourne Hotel on the way to the Saddle Room feels pretty special. As classic restaurants go, this has all the solid establishment touches in place: a seafood bar, great steaks and a luxurious spacious room. There are two private rooms, The Martin Turner room caters for up to 10 and The Trophy room caters for up to eight people. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 1m+ apart, outdoor terrace

Sheen Falls
Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare, Co Kerry; 064-6641600, sheenfallslodge.ie
Cormac McCreary’s food is connected closely with the surrounding area and their home-smoked salmon, which is caught on the estate, is particularly special. Probably lesser known is the fact that the wine cellar here is one of the most atmospheric and intimate private dining spaces in the country, where guests are served a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The drawing room is also available for private dining. CH
Covid: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 1m+ apart

The Tavern Bar & Restaurant (t)
Murrisk, Westport, Co Mayo; 098-64060, tavernmurrisk.com
Flanked by Clew Bay views to the front and Croagh Patrick to the rear you can see why this Westport pub has become an essential stop off on the Wild Atlantic Way. A family run bar and restaurant, they are well renowned for warm service and serving pub classics alongside local delights like Killary mussels, Connemara oysters and Cleggan scallops. A great option for get togethers when allowed, with four private dining rooms to choose from. AD
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, outdoors

Back to top

TWELVE GREAT PLACES TO EAT THAT OFFER GLOBE-TROTTING ESCAPES

3 Leaves (t)
Blackrock Market, 19a Main Street, Co Dublin; 087-7691361, 3leaves.ie
Husband and wife Santosh Thomas and Milie Mathew have created something wonderfully unique in their small space in Blackrock Market. Thomas’s cooking has redefined Indian food for much of their customer base, with samosa chaat, pani puri and carrot halwa for dessert a world away from what many are familiar with. Milie loves nothing more than looking after people, and it’s impossible to leave here without feeling reinvigorated about eating out. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Bia Rebel (t)
409 Ormeau Road, Belfast; 00-44-7933-861720, biarebel.com
“Forty hours of cooking in every bowl” is the tagline for Belfast’s Bia Rebel ramen bar, and this can be the only possible explanation for the profound levels of flavour. Chef Brian Donnelly’s signature Belfast Original has 26 ingredients, including oolong tea, orange blossom, sofrito, 20-hour chashu pork, smoked tamago egg and handmade noodles, and the Truffle Butter Parmesan is an umami overload, in the most impressive way. LC
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, visors, medical-grade UVC light to sanitise the air

Bia Rebel ramen. Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Bia Rebel ramen. Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Bo Tree Kitchen (t)
65-67 University Avenue, Belfast; 00-48-90507544, botreekitchen.com
Bo Thai Kitchen owners Helen O’Malley and Pun Bua-In have run restaurants together for 25 years (while married, then divorced), gathering an impressive following wherever they’ve gone, and for the past three years lucky Belfast has had them in residence. With herbs and spices flown in from Thailand weekly and an extensive menu of familiar and lesser-known Thai dishes, this is food that isn’t dumbed down for the Irish palate. BYO of £2 per bottle of wine is another big draw. Booking is essential. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Bun Cha (t)
11 Moore Street, Dublin 1; 01-5358881, buncha.ie
Moore Street in Dublin has long been a mash-up of cultures, but nothing has drawn me there more over the past two years than Vietnamese Bun Cha. The shatteringly crispy pork spring rolls, bun cha with barbecued pork and noodles, and handfuls of fresh herbs on every plate are consistently fantastic. LC
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks

Grano (t)
5 Norseman Court, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7; 01-5282003, grano.ie
Calabria is the toe of Italy, and when one of the locals heads to Dublin and later sets up his own ristorante, it’s good news all round. Even better still is when his mama hops on the plane to give the all-important nonna advice on how to make the best pasta, which being Calabrian is made without eggs. This is a dream of a restaurant; every neighbourhood should have a Grano. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 1m+ apart

Iyers (t)
38 Popes Quay, Cork; 087-6409079, facebook.com/iyerscafe
Gautham Iyer opened his unassuming, vegetarian, south Indian-style cafe seven years ago in Cork city centre, gaining a dedicated following before word got out beyond the city walls. Now no food lover’s trip to Cork is complete without a stop-off for his samosa chaat, utthapam fermented pancakes and the main attraction: dosas served with fresh coconut and tomato chutney. They closed their small indoor space during the pandemic but outdoor seating is available as well as takeaway. LC
Covid precautions: Masks; staff all from same family

Conor Sexton of Nightmarket in Ranelagh. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Conor Sexton of Nightmarket in Ranelagh. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Nightmarket (t)
120 Ranelagh, Dublin 6; 01-5385200, nightmarket.ie
One of the huge delights over lockdown was a takeaway from Nightmarket. Jutarat Suwankeeree brings food alive with the rustic flavours of her home, Chiang Mai, and the tantalising heat and spice of seafood dishes from Hua Hin. She and her partner, Conor Sexton, were quick to adapt to the constantly changing hospitality environment, and now have a seating area in the semi-covered, heated side tunnel and two outside tables. Eating her food in, out or at home, is a joy. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor area

Pickle (t)
43 Camden Street, Dublin 2; 01-5557755, picklerestaurant.com
If Pickle was in London, it would have a Michelin star. We could happily eat every dish on Sunil Ghai’s north Indian-inspired menu and start all over again. Paratha bread is made fresh each day. Minced goat curry is layered with spices and cooked slowly with onions, garlic and cloves, and served with a soft maska pao bun. And then there are the jars of pickles, some of them many years old. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors

Reyna Mediterranean Grill (t)
29-30 Dame Street, Dublin 2; 01-6704013, reyna.ie
Who would have thought we’d be yearning for kebabs? But as lockdown lifted and the provocative aromas of Turkish kebabs wafted out on to Dame Street, the word was soon out that this recently opened joint ticked every box for a kebab worth travelling for: a charcoal grill to add a smoky note to the shish kebabs; upright, rotating spits with layers of meat basting and charring; and a tandoor oven for flatbread. An affordable menu worth working through, starting with the mezze. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, chefs behind screens

Reyna Turkish restaurant, Dame Street, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Reyna Turkish restaurant, Dame Street, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Solas Tapas & Wine (t)
1-5 Dykegate Street, Dingle, Co Kerry; 066-9150766, solastapas.com
Solas is a small but adequately spaced Dingle restaurant serving Mediterranean-style “plátaí beaga” full of bold flavours and featuring the best of local Kerry produce. Chef Nicky Foley creates delicious combinations such as Annascaul black pudding empanadas, Cromane mussels with olives and seaweed and a divine selection of home-made croquettes, with the seafood version always stealing the show. Don’t forget to order some locally baked Bácús sourdough, essential for mopping up any remnants of these delectable plates of food. AD
Covid precautions: Masks/visors

Sprezzatura (t)
5/6 Camden Market, Dublin 8; sprezzatura.ie
Sprezzatura owner Thom Lawson wanted to open a pasta bar with Italian ideas and Irish produce, sustainability at its core, and no plate of food costing over €10, and it’s been a queue-creating formula. The menu is a compendium of Irish produce, with Cashel Blue gnocchi, “tyres” with Littlecress pesto and Toonsbridge ricotta, and Irish heirloom tomato salad. Oil is rapeseed not olive, stracciatella is Cork not Campania, and the semolina pasta for the flour is milled in Kildare. LC
Covid precautions: Masks, one-way system, screens

Uno Mas
Uno Mas

Uno Mas (t)
6 Aungier Street, Dublin 2; 01-4758538, unomas.ie
The tortilla here draws comparisons with the much-loved specimen in Barrafina, London, which in turn takes its direction from Cal Pep in Barcelona. Gildas with a glass of sherry are a perfect way to start, before you work your way through the menu and the extremely well-chosen wine list. The set lunch menu has been replaced with an a la carte menu, which runs for both lunch (Friday and Saturday) and dinner. CH
Covid precautions: Staff and diner temperature checks, masks, tables 1m+ apart, partitions between tables

Back to top

TWELVE GREAT DESTINATION-DINING VENUES

The Cottage Restaurant
Jamestown, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim; 071-9625933, cottagerestaurant.ie
At this charming country restaurant chef Sham Hanifa expertly and creatively combines his Malayasian and Thai cooking knowledge with Irish ingredients to turn out dishes that are exciting and hearty in equal measure. His ever-evolving seasonal menus feature ducks from Cavan, venison from Sligo, and goat and quail from Fenagh. There is great value to be had with the dinner menu here probably thanks in part to the restaurant growing some of the vegetables, fruit and edible flowers themselves on site. AD
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks

The Cottage has a great value dinner menu.
The Cottage

Everett’s (t)
22 High Street, Waterford, Co Waterford; 051-325147, everetts.ie
Vikings, Normans and world class glass cutters have all been through this historic merchant city, which is so ready for a new shot of energy. Peter Everett, returning to his home here to open a good quality bistro in a 15th-century building with business partner Keith Noonan, will hopefully inspire some of those exiting Dublin to follow suit. Producers are name checked, the cooking is assured and private dining is also available. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, screens between tables

The Fatted Calf
Church Street, Athlone, Co Westmeath; 090-6433371, thefattedcalf.ie
Husband and wife team Fiona and Fergal O’Donnell opened The Fatted Calf in Athlone in 2010 to showcase the best ingredients the Midlands has to offer, and once you taste their Lisduff black pudding bonbons, Greene’s Farm frittata with Lough Boora spinach, or treacle-braised John Stone shortribs, you’ll realise how integral they are to the Midlands food map. A must if you’re in Athlone, or a worthy diversion when crossing the country. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Global Village (t)
Main Street, Dingle, Co Kerry; 066-9152325, globalvillagedingle.com
When chef Martin Bealin realised he could not operate his restaurant fully in the current Covid climate, he turned to his neighbours, Curran’s Pub, to set up a food offering that allowed them both to open safely. The kitchen retained its black book of local produce and reimagined its menu as street food to be served in the courtyard adjoining both businesses. The casual, changing menu of fresh fish and chips, Kerry beef burgers and good vegetarian options paired with tasty Curran’s pints has been going down a treat. AD
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor seating

Gregans Castle
Ballyvaughan, Co Clare; 065-7077005, gregans.ie
Looking out across the landscape that inspired JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings, Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray’s Burren retreat is total escapism and the food here is worth the delightful trek. This is the kitchen that Mickael Viljanin cooked in before he left to open The Greenhouse, David Hurley took over, and Robbie McCauley has been running the show for the past three years. It’s formal stuff with a €79 table d’hôte or €100 tasting menu, but it’s not stuffy and the cooking is exacting, making full use of top quality local produce. Closed end Nov-12th Feb. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart

Chefs Christopher and Gary Molloy have been joined by Ciaran Sweeney, previously of Forest & Marcy, in the kitchen at Lemon Tree Restaurant.
Food at Lemon Tree Restaurant

Lemon Tree Restaurant
32-34 Courtyard Shopping Centre, Lower Main Street, Letterkenny, Co Donegal; 074-9125788, thelemontreerestaurant.com
The Lemon Tree Restaurant in Letterkenny is not what you may expect from its shopping centre facade. Inside you’ll find a cosy dining room serving refined plates of modern Irish food using close-to-home ingredients including Donegal sea salt, sea herbs and vegetables, on a changing seasonal menu. Everything is expertly cooked and beautifully presented by head chefs Christopher and Gary Molloy with Ciaran Sweeney, previously of Forest & Marcy, joining the kitchen team recently. Another reason to add it to your must visit list. AD
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 2m apart

Mary’s Cottage Kitchen
Main Street, Ballycastle, Co Mayo; 096-43361, facebook.com
Ballycastle is a delightful village with a brand new contemporary art gallery which is well worth a visit. And be sure to plan your visit around lunchtime so that you can drop into this charming restaurant run by Mary Munnelly and her daughter, Geraldine. Piping hot fish chowder with homemade soda bread, beautiful quiches, hearty beef and Guinness casserole, salad of local crabmeat and a wonderful selection of cakes are among the reasons you should get here.
Closed mid Nov-end Feb. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 1m+ apart, sensor lights in bathrooms

The Mustard Seed is well known for its eclectic style and warm welcome.
The Mustard Seed

The Mustard Seed
Echo Lodge, Ballingarry, Co Limerick; 069 68508, mustardseed.ie
This delightful country house hotel in Limerick is well known for its eclectic style and warm welcome that shines through on its menus. Food from the kitchen garden features heavily along with plenty of excellent local suppliers and the rooms are a joy to eat in, thanks to owner Edward John Joyce’s splendid decor. They host plenty of interesting curated dinners and events throughout the year, worth booking ahead. AD
Covid precautions: Masks/visors

Pilgrim’s
6 South Square, Townlands, Rosscarbery, Co Cork; 023-8831796, pilgrims.ie
There are few restaurants worth driving across the country to eat in, but Pilgrim’s is pilgrimage-worthy, if you can get a booking. Owners Mark Jennings and Sadie Pearce have created something genuinely special in their white-bricked dining room covered with dried flowers and hanging garlic. This summer’s lobster escabeche with courgette carpaccio, and Angus rib-eye with garlic-nasturtium smoked butter will live for years in the memory of anyone lucky enough to eat them. Don’t even think about skipping the oak-smoked potatoes with wild garlic mayo. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Poacher
4 Market Square, Ballina, Co Mayo; facebook.com
There is a lot to be said for good bistro food, and Daniel Mayr and Yvonne Kathrein immediately struck all the right chords with their keenly priced dishes in this smart restaurant above Heffernan’s butcher shop. No surprises that the meat is top quality: Oliver Carty’s organic gammon is shredded and dressed in vinegar and topped with a crispy hen’s egg, and there’s also plenty for vegetarians and vegans. The €22/€27 Sunday lunch menus are a steal. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart

Restaurant 1826 (t)
Main Street, Adare, Co Limerick; 061-396004, 1826adare.ie
The chocolate box town of Adare attracts shedloads of visitors, not just those stopping on their way back from Kerry, and while Adare Manor is clearly a great, if expensive, reason to visit, equally worth the journey is Wade and Elaine Murphy’s cosy restaurant, where black sole is served on the bone with crisp Dooncastle oysters, and all manner of local produce gets chef Wade’s extremely capable treatment. Closed three weeks in Jan. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks/visors, tables 2m apart, screen around bar/service area, outdoor area

The Tannery’s €35 three-course Sunday lunch is the perfect excuse to head to Dungarvan.
The Tannery’s €35 three-course Sunday lunch is the perfect excuse to head to Dungarvan

The Tannery (t)
10 Quay Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford; 058-45420, tannery.ie
The Wine Bar at Paul and Máire Flynn’s smart restaurant (Paul also writes about food for The Irish Times) was a Covid casualty, so they now have a smaller team, a smaller menu and – good-news alert – price reductions on the wine list. The €35 three-course Sunday lunch continues to be the perfect excuse to head here, especially for Paul’s signature crab creme brulee. If you fancy pushing the boat out, a €5 supplement will see you tucking into a roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. Two private dining options available. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 1.5m apart

Back to top

SIXTEEN GREAT PLACES TO EAT ON A SPECIAL OCCASION 

Aimsir (t)
Cliff at Lyons, Celbridge, Co Kildare; 01-6303500, aimsir.ie
Jordan Bailey and Majken Bech-Bailey landing two Michelin stars just four months after opening was no surprise to anyone who had been lucky enough to dine there before the gongs were announced. A mesmerising array of Kilner jars, charcuterie and produce lines shelves as you enter the stunning dining space, and the inventive €180 tasting menu is a love song to Irish produce, starting with a dehydrated Violetta potato that oozes Bán goat’s cheese. This is perfection, right down to the beautiful €125 wine pairing. Expensive, but we’re betting on this being Ireland’s first three-Michelin-star restaurant. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 2m apart

Aimsir Restaurant. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Aimsir. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Bastion
Main Street Kinsale, Co Cork; 021-4709696, bastionkinsale.com
Kinsale was once considered the food capital of Ireland, and Paul and Helen McDonald are looking to restore that honour with their atmospheric one-Michelin-star restaurant, where local produce and the changing seasons influence what’s on the innovative €80 eight-course tasting menu. You could match this with the €60 pairing or dig in to their very classic list, where there is an enormous offering by the glass, including Penfolds Grange 2009 for €201. Closed end of January for a month. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 2m apart

Campagne (t)
5 The Arches, Gashouse Lane, Kilkenny; 056-7772858, campagne.ie
It is well worth jumping on a train for Sunday lunch at Garrett and Bríd Byrne’s one-Michelin-star restaurant, which conveniently is opposite the arches of Kilkenny train station. After years as head chef in Chapter One, classic cooking comes naturally to Garrett, and new-season grouse, pheasant and venison all end up on the block in this impressive kitchen. The prices are insanely good value – €40 for the three-course lunch and early bird. We’ve no idea how he pulls it off. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart, filtration

Dax restaurant. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Dax. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Dax (t)
23 Pembroke Street Upper, Dublin 2; 01-6761494, dax.ie
Somehow the Michelin Guide has yet to discover the charms of this much-loved Dublin restaurant. One of the nicest places to go for lunch, and indeed dinner, the combination of Olivier Meisonnave managing front of house and Graham Neville in the kitchen with his very skilled, classical cooking results in an almost old-school loyalty to the following here. Lunch is particularly good value, and don’t miss the prawn-stuffed courgette flower if it’s on the menu. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 1.3m+ apart

Forest Avenue (t)
8 Sussex Terrace and 126 Leeson Street Upper, Dublin 4; 01-6678337, forestavenuerestaurant.ie
One of the finest examples of restaurant innovation this year was Forest Avenue’s foray into grocery, as it reimagined its acclaimed restaurant as a shop to such success that it has become a permanent fixture. But fear not, the plan is for the shop to live side by side with the restaurant, which will transform back to dining in the evenings. This means the kitchen team are back doing what they do best, cooking great Irish food with authenticity and originality and their signature laid-back yet high-end style. AD
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 2m apart

The Greenhouse
21 Dawson Street, Dublin 2; 01-6767015, thegreenhouserestaurant.ie
It’s well worth digging in to your Communion money to go the whole hog with the €180 tasting menu and €115 wine pairing at this recently refurbished two-Michelin-star restaurant, but even the €75 lunch menu is a treat. Mickael Viljanen changes dishes on the menu at a dizzying rate, but the signature foie gras with a quenelle of tart apple sorbet, caramelised walnuts and cubes of Lincolnshire smoked eel has tenure for life. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1-2m apart

Ichigo Ichie
5 Fenns Quay, Sheares Street, Cork; 021-4279997, ichigoichie.ie
It is not easy to find good Japanese restaurants in Ireland. Usually you find them only where you have a large Japanese community to support them, such as in London and New York. So a Japanese chef setting up a casual noodle shop, Miyazaki, in Cork, and then following with a fine-dining restaurant, using pristine local and imported ingredients and landing a Michelin star, is very good news indeed. Tasting menus: €120 and €135. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 2m, Perspex screens at the chef’s counter

Liath (t)
19a Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin; 01-2123676, liathrestaurant.com
The ante has been upped again at this Michelin-starred temple of gastronomy in the unlikely surroundings of Blackrock Market. Once you’re inside the hallowed doors, you’ll forget all about the hustle and bustle outside. The seasonally led tasting menu now has a new feature, Mothu – a petits fours course that brings the bitter, sour, salt, savoury and sweet notes of the preceding courses to a stunning crescendo.
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 2m apart, screens

Michael’s/Little Mike’s (t)
57 Deerpark Road, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin; 01-2780377, michaels.ie
Hospitality should in theory be about generosity, yet ever-tightening margins and rising taxes make that idea increasingly rare, so how Michael’s in Mount Merrion seems to leave every diner feeling completely spoiled is particularly impressive. From the overflowing seafood platters (arguably the best in Dublin) to the lower-than-average wine prices, to the superlative staff, owner Gareth Smith and manager Talha Pasha steer a ship that everyone wants a seat on. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Mulberry Garden (t)
Mulberry Lane, Donnybrook, Dublin 4; 01-2693300, mulberrygarden.ie
You have to start the evening here with one of Adi’s cocktails in the courtyard, which is covered, heated and “old normal” beautiful. Little has changed. The seasonal menu follows the same successful format; three courses for €55, with three choices on the starters and main course, finishing with dessert or cheese. The cooking is assured, the room and atmosphere buzzy. A complete joy. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 1m+ apart

Noble, Holywood, Co Down
Noble

Noble (t)
27 Church Road, Holywood, Co Down; 048-90425655, nobleholywood.com
Noble owner Saul McConnell works the restaurant’s upstairs dining room like he’s entertaining old friends at home. Smiles abound, nothing is an imposition, and the short, appealing menu, along with daily specials on the wall, makes choosing what to eat a joy rather than a difficulty. Locally sourced ingredients like Bangor Bay crab and Portavogie prawns take pride of place, and the beef dripping chips have their own special following. LC
Covid precautions: Masks/visors

The Oak Room at Adare Manor
The Oak Room

The Oak Room, Adare Manor
Adare Manor, Adare, Co Limerick; 061-605200, adaremanor.com
The magnificent Oak Room exudes special occasion energy, with its reassuringly expensive and unashamed opulence. Yet, despite being on the more formal end of things, this one-Michelin-star restaurant doesn’t feel stuffy. Mike Tweedie heads up the kitchen, most of the produce comes from within a few kilometres, and the food on the €120 three-course market menu is refined, precise and dramatically presented. Add €80 for a classic wine pairing. Private dining available in The Library. CH
Covid precautions: Staff and guest temperature checks, masks/visors, tables 2m+ apart

Potager, Skerries
Potager

Potager (t)
7 Church Street, Skerries, Co Dublin; 01-8029486, potager.ie
Cathal Leonard has clearly been planning his first solo restaurant his whole life. The former head chef in Chapter One has returned home to north Co Dublin with partner (in life and business) Sarah Ryan. This is not classic fine dining, it’s an exciting, dynamic fusion of tastes, textures and flavours, in an old bank vault in Skerries. He struggles to sit still so the menu changes frequently, but the restaurant’s cheese course (a variation on a whipped mousse) is the perfect illustration of someone who’s not trying to play it safe. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Restaurant Chestnut (t)
The Chestnut Tree, Staball Hill, Ballydehob, Co Cork; 028-25766, restaurantchestnutwestcork.ie
“Gentle” is not a word you generally associate with Michelin-star restaurants, yet that is one of the first things that comes to mind when you walk through the door of Elaine Fleming and Rob Krawczyk’s atmospheric restaurant, which still carries the air of a much-loved pub. Top produce and vegetables from nearby Glensallagh Farm are cooked with a huge amount of restraint, skill and understanding of flavour for the €95 tasting menu. Closed January and February. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 2m apart

Volpe Nera (t)
22 Newtown Park, Blackrock, Co Dublin; 01-2788516, volpenera.ie
Dublin favourite Etto has spawned a new generation of chefs and restaurateurs, and the latest is former head chef Barry Sun’s first solo opening in Blackrock. Featuring many of the same sensibilities as Etto, its short, frequently changing menu shows influences from Spain to Italy and China to Japan. Blackrock residents have never had it so good. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Aidan McGrath’s cooking at Wild Honey Inn is classical and precise
One of Aidan McGrath’s dishes at Wild Honey Inn

Wild Honey Inn
Kincora Road, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare; 065-7074300, wildhoneyinn.com
A weekend that includes dinner at Gregans Castle, followed by dinner in Aidan McGrath and Kate Sweeney’s one-Michelin-star restaurant, or indeed the other way around, is well worth planning. It is cosy, with a pub atmosphere, and the cooking here is anchored in French classics, so you’ll find dishes such as duck and foie gras terrine, grouse in season and passion fruit soufflé on the €80, three-course menu. Closed mid November to beginning of March. CH
Covid precautions: Visors, tables 1.5m-2m apart

Back to top

EIGHTEEN GREAT PLACES FOR A CASUAL MEAL

#51 Cornmarket
51 Cornmarket Street, Coal Quay, Cork; 083-0102321, instagram.com/51cornmarket
In an age where picture perfect cafe food has become de rigueur, it takes a lot to stand out but 51 Cornmarket manages to do just that. French toast, flat whites and the tired old breakfast staple of eggs benedict are given a new lease of life here thanks to meticulous sourcing of local ingredients and a light hand in the kitchen. The lunches have also garnered a loyal following with queues down the street common on busy days, but it’s worth the wait. AD
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoors

Alma (t)
12 South Circular Road, Portobello, Dublin 8; 086-815 8324, alma.ie
One of the prettiest spots in Portobello that also happens to have some of the best food, Alma’s menu features the usual cafe suspects of sourdough and eggs but an Argentinian slant offers up exciting, fresh combinations. Buttermilk pancakes are served with homemade dulce de leche sauce, poached eggs come with avocado, mushrooms, feta and salsa criolla and the Argentine version of the sausage sandwich, choripan Argento, is a very worthy contender. They offer hearty vegan options too. AD
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor area

A view of the exterior of Bread 41. Photograph: Tom Honan
A view of the exterior of Bread 41. Photograph: Tom Honan

Bread 41 (t)
41 Pearse Street, Dublin 2; bread41.ie
Eoin Cluskey made a name for himself baking long-fermented breads, using traditional methods and organic flour along with an unwavering commitment to sustainability and using fresh local produce. The result is brilliant bakes that tend to disappear as fast as they can come out of the oven. Pastry fans are spoilt with piles of sweet and savoury croissants, decadent buns, buttery, flaky sausage rolls and new additions all the time. They’ve remained predominantly takeaway this year but are working on extending to re-open for sit down. AD
Covid precautions: Masks, screens, outdoor area, one-way system

Cían’s On Bridge Street (t)
1 Bridge Street, Westport, Co Mayo; 098-25914, ciansonbridgestreet.com
Having already garnered a loyal following with his casual and thoughtfully sourced menus, this year chef Cían Hayes added a more fine dining version of his well-regarded restaurant over the river at Hotel Westport. He has enjoyed experimenting with this pivot so much that plans are afoot to add fine dining options to his Bridge Street spot too, but for now lucky Westport residents can enjoy both options. Ingredients are paramount in both iterations using local vegetables, seafood and meats. AD
Covid precautions: Masks/visors

Daddy’s Café (t)
The Circular, 538 South Circular Road, Dublin 8; daddys.ie
The simple but oh-so-tasty mashed organic eggs in a cup is a breakfast staple at this Rialto café and a perfect example of their attitude to cooking, eating and being. Their menus feature great Irish producers such as Jane Russell, Tartine and Annascaul and there are always Instagrammable cakes and treats to eat in or take home. The small produce shop in their Pink Coffee Parlour section selling food that they love is hard to resist. AD
Covid precautions: Masks

Dough Bros, Galway
Dough Bros

Dough Bros (T)
Unit 1 Cathedral Buildings, Middle Street, Galway; 085-2145283, thedoughbros.ie
The number one spot to eat in Galway this summer was outside O’Connell’s Bar, where Dough Bros Eugene and Ronan Greaney were serving up their award-winning pizzas, which range in price from €9 to €13, and are loaded with top ingredients – San Marzano tomato sauce, Toonsbridge fior di latte, Gubbeen Smokehouse chorizo and chicken from the Friendly Farmer. They also do takeaway and DIY pizza kits. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart, Perspex screens

The Fish Box (t)
Green Street, Dingle, Co Kerry; 087-6027866, thefishboxdingle.com
Having their own fishing trawler rightfully gives the Flannery family behind Dingle’s The Fish Box certain bragging rights when it comes to sourcing. Fresh as can be local seafood is the mainstay of the menu with classic fried fish served alongside new favourites like the monkfish spice box, “fishito” bowls and weighty kebabs. The chips are proper too, made from delicious Maharee potatoes. AD
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks/visors, one-way system

Goldie
128 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork; 021-239 8720, goldie.ie
Fish, but make it fun, is the philosophy behind new Cork city hotspot Goldie. The menu changes daily and often during service as their “whole catch” approach results in them having a variety of species rather than a preference for particular fish. This means there is always plenty of great fish to choose from and it may be steamed, fried, pickled or raw, depending on what skilled chef Aishling Moore decides to do with it. But rest assured, it will certainly be good. AD
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks/visors, screens

Grálinn (t)
Fethard on Sea, Co Wexford; instagram.com/_gralinn_
Having made a name for themselves in the cafe scene in Dublin and then with a travelling festival food truck, Dee Kelly and Matteo Griscti have finally found a permanent home for Grálinn in Fethard on Sea. They opened the doors to their no-fuss, all about taste, café in February and despite the world being in turmoil they have had a solid summer doling out Roasted Brown coffee, delectable doughnuts and baking using local and foraged ingredients. A brunch menu is imminent. AD
Covid precautions: Masks

Hen’s Teeth Diner, Dublin 8
Hen’s Teeth Diner

Hen’s Teeth Diner (t)
Blackpitts, Dublin 8; 01-5613036; hensteethstore.com
Hen’s Teeth is a store, gallery and diner tucked away on Blackpitts in Dublin 8 and if you are wondering if it’s possible to be that cool and still do good food? The answer happily is, yes. Amongst the bright, curated interior expect to be well fed and watered from a menu of creative small plates. Crumpets with whipped cod’s roe, lobster rolls or pork dumplings may feature as themes and ideas vary each week. AD
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 2m apart, outdoor area

Juniors (t)
2 Bath Avenue, Beggars Bush, Dublin 4; 01-6643648, juniors.ie
This Dublin stalwart is back on everyone’s “must eat” list again since chef Fiachra Kenny joined the kitchen from neighbouring venue The Old Spot. Juniors has always been a solid neighbourhood offering with famously good lunchtime sandwiches and now the evening menu has been given a new lease of life with some elegant new additions from Kenny, but do not fret, Juniors favourite “Pint of Prawns” remains on the menu. AD
Covid precautions: Masks, outdoor area, one-way system

Kai Restaurant, 22 Sea Road, Galway
Kai Restaurant, 22 Sea Road, Galway

Kai
22 Sea Road, Galway; 091-526003, kairestaurant.ie
In a room that somehow always manages to dazzle with light, New Zealander Jess Murphy (a former Irish Times food writer) and her husband, Dave, bring a casual energy but serious food ethic to their much loved Galway café and restaurant where food provenance is the starting point for everything. The fish fingers with Kai tartar have gained a loyal following, and the groaning counter of delicious looking cakes is our sort of temptation. CH
Covid precautions: masks, tables 1m+ apart

Mamó (t)
Harbour House, Harbour Road, Howth, Dublin 13; 01-8397096, mamorestaurant.ie
Mamó swept into Howth last September, and suddenly the fishing village had a destination restaurant. Owners Jess D’Arcy (ex-Etto) and chef Killian Durkin (ex-Chapter One and Thornton’s) have a loyal local clientele, whose needs and wants Jess excels at looking after, but the Dart still teems with diners travelling from across the city each week to try their by-catch ceviche, “cod chip” (taramasalata on confit potatoes) and Howth honey tart. The wine list and the service are as excellent as the food. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

No Messin’ (t)
7 Haymarket, Smithfield, Dublin 7; nomessinbakery.com
No Messin’ bakery was one of the few bright spots to emerge from 2020. Proper Order Coffee owner Niall Wynn struggled to get a good supply of pastries to his Dublin 7 café, so together with baker Hilary Quinn came up with the idea for “No Messin”, using foraged, seasonal ingredients in pastries that can hold their own against any in the country. The “Cardi B” cardamom bun was their instant signature, but creations like the meadowsweet and apricot dani bun and sea buckthorn curd meringue set them apart from the rest. LC
Covid precautions: One-way system, screens

Richmond, Dublin 8
Richmond, Dublin 8

Richmond (t)
43 Richmond Street South, Portobello, Dublin 8; 01-4788783, richmondrestaurant.ie
If you’re finding it hard to remember which day of the week it is, diary the first Tuesday of each month, because it’s well worth a jaunt into town for the monthly tasting menu. Snacks vary, and could include gougères filled with an intense cheese custard, oysters and stuffed chicken wings. They have a serious way with pies here, they vary depending on what’s available. Top class cooking and exceptional value. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature checks, masks, tables 1m+ apart

Spitalfields Pub & Restaurant. Photograph: Alan Betson
Spitalfields Pub & Restaurant. Photograph: Alan Betson

Spitalfields Pub & Restaurant
25 The Coombe, Dublin 8; 01-4546921, spitalfields.ie
This beautiful opening from the team behind The Pig’s Ear on Nassau Street may technically be a pub, but it’s still very much restaurant food here, with enthusiastic nods to hearty pub fare. The heartiest perhaps being the cock-a-leekie pie, a family sized (although they say for two) chicken and leek pot pie with a lovely lattice topping. There is a solid selection of elevated bar snacks and you can order a pint with your dinner or choose from interesting wines on tap. AD
Covid precautions: Masks

Tartare (t)
56 Dominick Street, Galway; 091-567 803, tartaregalway.ie
This gorgeous cafe and wine bar comes from the well-known Galway team behind Aniar and Cava Bodega (which includes the Irish Times food writer JP McMahon). By day, working as a cafe, they do sourdough sandwiches, organic salads, small plates and homemade pastries. In the evenings the small-plates menu expands with a touch of Aniar about them. Local oysters, beef tartare, lots of local ingredients and delicate cooking. A superb wine list is made up entirely of organic, biodynamic and natural wines. AD
Covid precautions: Masks

Tiller+Grain salads ‘blow most others out of the water’.
Tiller+Grain salads ‘blow most others out of the water’.

Tiller + Grain (t)
23 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2; 087-6808933, tillerandgrain.ie
Clair Dowling trained in London’s Ottolenghi, among other places, but it’s the Israeli chef/restaurateur that seems to have been the inspiration for the spectacular flavours to be found at her first cafe. Her salads blow most others out of the water, with seasonal vegetables lifted to new heights and daily changing fish and meat cooked on an indoor barbecue. Don’t skip the homemade cakes, like lemon and yuzu curd meringue and blackberry brownies. LC
Covid precautions: Masks

Back to top

TEN GREAT PLACES TO EAT WITH OUTSTANDING WINE LISTS

Barrow’s Keep (t)
Marsh’s Street, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny; 056-7724728, barrowskeep.com
Morgan VanderKamer really upped the Dublin wine game, with her comprehensive by-the-glass list of interesting wines from small producers, when she worked as the sommelier in the much-loved but now closed Stanley’s on St Andrew’s Street. After a move to Graiguemanagh, she and her partner, chef Stephen McArdle, have since relocated to a larger premises in Thomastown. Great bistro food, an outstanding wine list, a beautiful outside dining area and an impressive wine bar (closed for the time being) make this well worth a visit. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, tables 1m+ apart, outdoor area

Jumoke Akintola and Peter Hogan, Beach House, Tramore, Co Waterford. Photograph: Patrick Browne
Beach House. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Beach House (t)
Turkey Road, Tramore, Co Waterford; 051-338270, beachhousetramore.ie
A visit to Tramore will be filled with nostalgia for those who holidayed there with buckets and spades as kids. It’s home for Peter Hogan, who has opened this very smart restaurant with his partner, Jumoke Akintola, who has such a magical way with a piece of fish and a beurre blanc sauce. The wine bar and deli below is well worth investigating. James Brooke, former sommelier at Glover’s Alley and Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, has stocked the shelves with very interesting bottles. CH

Etto (t)
18 Merrion Row, Dublin 2; 01-6788872, etto.ie
The off-duty chefs’ favourite place to eat. The côte de boeuf with Bordelaise sauce and crispy garlic potatoes has reached legendary status, as have the red-wine-poached prunes. The a la carte menu now runs for both lunch and dinner (instead of a set menu at lunch). Delve into the well-priced wine list for plenty of interesting small producers. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, partitions

Fish Shop (t)
Fish Shop, 76 Benburb, Street, Dublin 7; 01-5571473, fish-shop.ie
If you’ve never tried the classic combination of fish and chips with a glass of chilled sherry, head into Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola’s little piece of heaven with its marble counters, high stools and pristine fish. It feels more Barcelona than Stoneybatter. The bites include gildas, squid with aioli and croquettes, the catch of the day is not to be missed, and since they’re added a wine shop, you can buy any bottle off the shelf to take home, or drink there with €10 corkage. CH
Covid precautions: Masks, seating limited to eight, maximum group size of two

Host (t)
13 Ranelagh, Dublin 6; 01-5612617, hostrestaurant.ie
Ranelagh got lucky when Chloe Kearney and Niall McDermott opened their neighbourhood restaurant and started hand-rolling pasta and filling it to make pumpkin cappellacci with walnuts and sage. Everything on this menu, from the small plates to the grilled meat, is a lesson in menu planning, and the wine list – with bottles from Filipa Pato, Luis Seabra, Guimaro and Testalonga – should be used as a training manual for young sommeliers and wine lovers. CH
Covid precautions: Visors, tables 1m+ apart, ventilation system

Ox, Belfast
Ox

Ox
1 Oxford Street, Belfast; 048-90314121, oxbelfast.com
If you’re looking for a Brexit adventure, head up to Stephen Toman and Alain Kerloc’h’s one-Michelin-star restaurant, in a room that is so unbelievably laid-back, it is hard to imagine that these two cut their teeth in Alain Passard’s three-Michelin-star L’Arpège in Paris. Until you taste the food, that is, on the £29 three-course lunch menu and £60 six-course tasting menu. The wine offering is equally impressive, with the more casual wine bar being used for private dining. CH
Covid precautions: Staff temperature, masks, tables 1m+ apart

Paradiso, Cork. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Paradiso. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Paradiso
16 Lancaster Quay, Cork; 021-4277939, paradiso.restaurant
In 1993 Dennis Cotter was one of the few vegetarians in the country, so his restaurant was seen as a peculiarity until you actually sat down and had dinner and realised you had not missed the primal taste of flesh at all. So of course he’s the height of cool now, and with Meadhbh Halton heading up the kitchen, and a natural wine list that lists Manzanilla for €5, unfiltered and wild ferment wines, Pet Nat, and orange wines, it’s still a real pleasure to pull up a seat and tuck in. CH
Covid precautions: Visors, tables 1m+ apart, room dividers, outdoor area

Variety Jones restaurant on Thomas Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Variety Jones. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Variety Jones
78 Thomas Street, Christchurch, Dublin 8; 01-5162470, varietyjones.ie
Foraging, fire and flavour are just a small part of the arsenal used in the seductive attack of the senses at this super casual one-Michelin-star restaurant. Chef-patron Keelan Higgs and sous chef Kelan Heffron work their sorcery on the €60 six-course menu, while co-owner Aaron Higgs and Vanda Ivancic manage front of house. The ever-changing, low-intervention wine list is driven by the fact that there’s little storage, which allows for a serious amount of just-in-time stocking. CH
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, tables 1m+ apart

West Restaurant
The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway; 091-597000, westrestaurant.ie
The Twelve Hotel has earned its stripes as a covetable food staycation, this year in particular. The boutique Barna hotel is home to an in-house bakery, pizzeria and well-regarded gastropub, The Twelve Pins. West Restaurant is their fine-dining offering, and fine it is – all dark wood, cosy booths and plenty of space. The tasting menu pays homage to their enviable surrounding area featuring a long list of local suppliers. Paired wines are adventurous, delivered with knowledge and offered in three price tiers – a nice, accessible touch. AD
Covid precautions: Masks/visors, outdoor area

Woodruff (t)
The Village, Stepaside, Dublin 18; 01-5581362, woodruff.ie
Everything from the decor to the menus at neighbourhood restaurant Woodruff is a result of careful consideration and thoughtful sourcing, with sustainability at the core. They make lots of their produce in-house, including bread, butter, ferments, pickles and foraged condiments, meaning the brunch and dinner menus are full of interesting touches. The wine list follows suit with sourcing, featuring well-regarded classics joined by some more adventurous skin contact wines and even a non-alcoholic Riesling. AD
Covid precautions: Masks

Back to top