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Best of Irish Cuisine From Around Ireland

Our tour guides are pros when it comes to dining in Ireland. They have eaten their way around the country, exploring everywhere from cosy pub grub, quick bites to high end fine dining. We asked Darran to put together his guide to the best restaurants in Ireland. Starting in Belfast & working anticlockwise around Ireland, he explores the best of Irish dining.

By Darran

Northern Ireland Bites


Avoca Belfast, Co. Antrim

While Avoca on Arthur street in Belfast is more renowned for its traditional hand-knit lambs wool throws and cashmere cushions, we, at Vagabond love its eclectic vintage style cafe. Great baking and plenty of locally sourced ingredients makes this a great city centre lunch stop.

Rourkes, Giants Causeway, Co. Antrim

In Rourkes cafe near the Giants Causeway, its all about deserts. 36 desert choices.......

The Old Castle Bar, Donegal town, Co. Donegal

Stepping into the Old Castle Bar in Donegal town is like stepping back a few centuries in time. Top dishes here include the Wild Wicklow Venison pie, which is cooked with root vegetables in a red wine gravy sauce served with a crispy pastry top and champ potatoes. They are also renowned for their tasty Donegal Lamb Stew and its local artisan cheese boards are among the best you will find in Donegal.Recommended drink - The specially brewed, 'Red Hugh Brew' comes from one of Irelands finest Micro Breweries in nearby Roscommon.

Some of our tours that visit these locations: Vagabond 7 Day North by North West , Vagabond12 Day Giant Irish Adventure, Driftwood 11 Day Discover Ireland

The West Cuisine

Mount Falcon, Co. Mayo

New in for the 2015 season is the Mount Falcon Country Estate. While the very fine (& pricey) set menu in the main restaurant is ideal for an occasional splurge, you are more likely to find your guide tucking into the more affordable ( but still very tasty) food in the bar. The Irish Breakfast experience doesn't get better than this.

Find out more about the mighty fully Irish breakfast here.

The Sheebeen Bar, Westport, Co. Mayo

The Sheebeen bar on Westport Quay does the best seafood chowder in Ireland. It is Westport's only Michelin-recommended pub / restaurant and in 2007 it was the overall winner in the 'Best Traditional Pub' in the Irish hospitality awards. With its peat fires and golden thatched roof and warm friendly service, its very easy to lose an afternoon in this place. Owner, Colm Cronin, makes a great Irish Coffee.

Abbeyglen Castle, Connemara, Co. Galway

In the heart of Connemara stands Abbeyglen Castle. Here the staff are masters of the famous Irish welcome. A visit here is all about having great fun. We love the fact that when you order one desert, you are then entitled to try them all.

Ailwee Country Market, The Burren, Co. Clare

Ailwee Country Market shop in the Burren in county Clare have about a dozen varieties of the sweetest fudge ever. They also produce some amazing varieties of cheese here. Hard cheeses that include ingredients like cumin or nettle or peri peri. Local honey, relishes, chutney, smoked salmon and jams are all for sale here. They also stock Elderberry wine and the previously illegal moonshine called Poitin. Mead, which is an ancient alcoholic honey wine that dates back to the Bronze age is available here. Mead is still popular at weddings in some areas of rural Ireland.

Vaughans, Liscannor, Co. Clare

Vaughan's in Liscannor offers some of the best seafood you will find anywhere in the country. Back in 2006 this was voted Georgina Campbells "Best in Ireland" Bar / Restaurant of the Year. More recently, its head chef was awarded Seafood Chef of the Year 2011. Liscannor only has a population of 71, but people travel near and far for this restaurant. Galway oysters, Langoustines, Lobster, Crab claws, Scallops & Monkfish all feature on the menu. Its got the Best Fish N'Chips on tour.

Crotty's, Kilrush, Co. Clare

Stepping into Crotty's in Kilrush, County Clare is like stepping back in time. Its like visiting your Irish granny's house when you were a child. With those tiles on the floor, the Aga range cooker in the kitchen and all the chairs being different sizes with different cushions. But most Irish grannys don't serve Flash Fried Crab claws for lunch. The ham and cheese brown bread sandwich with Ballymaloe country relish is a recommended quick eat in Crotty's.

Some of our tours that visit these locations: Driftwood 11 Day Discover Ireland

South West Dinning


Ashes, Dingle, Co. Mayo

Dingle was voted "2014 Foodie Capital of the Year". Dingle Bay Hotel is consistently reliable for great food, great service and great music. But it is Ashes in Dingle town that is one of the most popular restaurants with Vagabond guides in the country. The early bird menu in this wine bar / seafood restaurant is the best evening meal option in Dingle. The lamb is highly recommended.

The Stone Restaurant, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

The best lunch to be found on the Dingle Peninsula (and maybe even the whole of Ireland) is in the Stone House Restaurant. Perched on a hillside of Ireland's most western peninsula, this family run restaurant / art gallery / stone cottage does an amazing open crab salad sandwich on home baked brown bread. Other choices include the Grilled Goats Cheese with glazed plums served on crispy ciabatta or Freshly Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass, Coconut Milk and Lime Broth served with homemade brown bread.

Murphy's Ice Cream, Dingle, Co. Kerry

The best ice cream in Ireland is undoubtedly Murphy's ice cream in Dingle. With flavours like Dingle Gin, butterscotch and Sea salt, Irish coffee, Baileys, etc. Best of all, if you are unsure what flavour you want, the friendly staff just keep giving you free samples. Love it.

Jarvey's Rest, Killarney, Co. Kerry

The Jarvey's Rest in Killarney has become a landmark location on the amazing Ring of Kerry driving route. Located in Killarney National Park this traditional pub serves a great Kerry Lamb Stew. It also has a great selection of Ireland's premium craft beers and finest whiskeys.

Kenmare, Co. Cork

We are very lucky on Vagabond tours to be staying in some best Foodie towns in the country. Kenmare is a fab town for eating out. But luckily for you, if you don't want to venture too far. Lansdowne Arms hotel offers the best hotel dining experience in Kenmare town centre. While the Coachmans hotel can attract some of the best musicians. Keep an eye out Michael O'Brien. For an occasional splurge, check out Mulcahys restaurant. Its worth the extra expenditure.

Gougane Barra, Co. Cork

The overall best food experience throughout Ireland on either the Vagabond or Driftwood tours has to be given to Gougane Barra hotel in West Cork. It takes generations to get this good. Gougane Barra is in the same family for 7 generations now. Katy looks after the food and the wine is Neils thing. Its all good, but the ever changing"Fancy Fish of the Evening" is always guaranteed to please. With exceptional service and a strong drive towards locally sourced free range and organic produce, Gougane Barra sets the standard for a quality food experience.

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