10 of the Best Foodie Experiences in Ireland

By Jayne Leonard
26 Mar 2015

Of all the feedback we receive, one of the most positive relates to the quality of Irish food. Superb Book Tickets to Ireland’s Top Food & Drink Attractions fresh ingredients and creative cooking combine to create wonderful ‘foodie’ experiences to suit all tastes and budgets. Here are 10 of the best places to experience our food (and drink). Don't forget the Irish Proverb – “Laughter is Brightest where Food is Best”. Enjoy!

  1. Farmers Markets:  As you travel throughout Ireland watch out for the farmer’s markets. These sell a variety of local and in-season fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs; farmhouse cheeses; artisan chocolates; homemade cakes, tarts and breads, and a huge selection of other gourmet and organic treats.  You’ll get to meet the people who grow and make your food; enjoy the sights, smells and flavours surrounding you; and experience the buzz of market day - it’s a foodie experience like no other. The bustling and hugely popular English Market in Cork City, taking place Monday to Saturday; and the historic and vibrant Milk Market in Limerick City at weekends, are just two examples of what Ireland’s markets have to offer. For a full list of approved Farmer’s Markets see the Irish Food Board’s website at www.BordBia.ie.
  2. Top Food & Drink Visitor Attractions: Here on TopAttractionsIreland.com you can buy the best value tickets to some of Ireland’s top Food & Drink Attractions, including the iconic GuinBuy your Tickets to Ireland’s Top Food & Drink Attractions hereness Storehouse - home to the world famous GUINNESS® brand and Ireland’s number 1 tourist attraction! While there, you can even pick up some tips on how to use the famous ‘black stuff’ in meals, drinks and desserts. Get to tour a wonderful chocolate factory at Butlers Chocolate Experience; visit the newly renovated home of Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey; try an Irish Coffee at the place it was invented (Foynes, Co. Limerick); or watch award-winning cheese being made at Aillwee Cave Farm Shop.
  3. A Taste of .... Food & Drink Festivals: Almost every county celebrates their local food culture with a festival. Throughout the year, there are numerous festivals of food and drink which include tastings, food trails, walks, restaurant specials and much more. Indulge at the West Waterford Festival of Food in April; Taste of Dublin in June; both the Westport Food Festival and the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival in September; or the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival, Co. Kerry, Kinsale Gourmet Festival, Co. Cork and Savour Kilkenny – all held in October. There are many other festivals to be sampled year-round - keep an eye out  and don't forget to check out our post on the Top 40 Festivals to attend in 2015!
  4. Foodie Towns & Cities: While fresh and tasty local produce can be found in all four corners of the country, there are a number of stand-out towns and cities which are knDingle Kerry Irelandown in foodie circles as distinguishing themselves through the quality of their dining experiences, gourmet trails, farmers’ markets and food festivals. These include Cork City, Galway City, Dublin City and Howth in Co. Dublin, Kilkenny City, Kinsale in Co. Cork, Loop Head in Co. Clare, Sligo, Westport in Co. Mayo and, of course, Dingle in Co. Kerry - named the ‘Foodie Town of Ireland 2014’ at the Irish Restaurant Awards.
  5. Ireland’s Cookery Schools: Combine your holiday with a stay at one of Ireland’s many cookery schools, where you can learn about our seasonal produce and how to use it! Probably our most famous cookery school is Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, East Cork, owned by Darina Allen - one of our most well-known chefs. Here you will find a diverse range of courses, with many ingredients coming from the school’s own gardens. Or try Dublin Cookery School, offering courses suitable for everyone from the novice to the professional; or Ballyknocken Cookery School in Co. Wicklow, run by celebrity TV chef Catherine Fulvio. For other cookery schools around the country, see Good Food Ireland’s listing.
  6. Michelin-Star Menus: Ireland has no less than 9 Michelin Starred Restaurants, delivering impeccable dining experiences. In Dublin, with its reputation for fine-dining, make a trip to the Patrick Guilbaud restaurant at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel (Ireland’s only two-starred restaurant); or Thornton’s at the Fitzwilliam Hotel; Chapter One in Parnell Square; L’Ecrivain on Baggot Street Lower; or Bon Appétit in Malahide. Outside of the capital, restaurants boasting this accolade are Campagne in Kilkenny City; the Lady Helen at Mount Juliet Estate in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny; the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford; and Aniar in Galway City.
  7. Pub Grub: Ireland is famous for its pubs and many of them offer great food. Our pubs range from cosy, traditional eateries, to the more modern and upmarket ‘gastro-pubs’, serving everything from local fish caught fresh that day, and traditional slow-cooked beef stews to seared duck and organic pasta dishes. See Georgina Campbell’s Ireland Guide online or the Good Food Ireland website for a listing of pub food in Ireland - including the shortlist and winners of the 'Food Pub of the Year' award.
  8. Craft Ciders & Beers: Ireland has seen an array of micro-breweries popping up in the last number of years - with well over 40 now producing a range of beers and ciders for every palate. There are even whole festivals surrounding these tipples and, even if you can’t make one of the festivals, they can always be found in many pubs and bars throughout the country. You can also find gluten free, organic and vegan craft beers and ciders. See the Beoir website for the A-Z of Irish craft brews.
  9. Special Diets: With an increase in food allergies and intolerances, more and more dining establishments are now catering for differing dietary requirements. Many restaurants now offer gluten free options and vegetarian options (but always enquire when booking or ordering) and many will cater for other allergies when requested. While there are no dedicated gluten-free restaurants yet, O’Connell’s in Donnybrook is one of Dublin’s leading coeliac friendly restaurants - they bake their own gluten-free bread and most menu items are gluten-free. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants can also be found in the larger towns and cities, like Galway, Cork and Dublin. Georgina Campbell’s Ireland Guide online lists coeliac friendly venues and those offering veggie menus.
  10. Food Trails: What better way to experience a place than by combining its culinary offerings with some local knowledge? Embark on a guided ‘food trail’ through one of Ireland’s towns or cities with an experienced foodie guide, who will bring you to some of the best local eateries offering the finest and freshest produce and wine. Examples of such tours include Fab Food Trails (www.fabfoodtrails.ie) which offer food tasting walks in Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny. On one of these trails, you can sample the local delights while learning about the city’s history and architecture.  Or take a guided ‘foodie’ and fun walking tour of Dublin on a Tapas Trail enjoying food bites in 3 different secret restaurants.  To get out into the countryside, try the Connemara Foodie Experience around the beautiful and wild Connemara tasting the finest of the region’s produce; or the Gourmet Greenway Food Trail in Co. Mayo which showcases the wonderful artisan food in the vicinities of Mulranny, Newport, Westport and Achill.


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For more useful tips and links make sure to check out both our Useful Links page and our blog post listing 60 Top Websites to Help you Plan your Ireland Visit!

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