Best Food (and Drink) in Ireland

Google ‘best pubs in Ireland’ and you get a LOT of pubs – in fact, just in Dublin alone there are more than 800 of them.

On the other hand, google ‘best food in Ireland’ and your choices drop off dramatically. Still, that hasn’t stopped a lot of people from listing their top eight to ten foods to try in Ireland.

And after a lot of research munching my way through Ireland here are mine:

Guinness on tap. A friend told me that even if I wasn’t crazy about Guinness I had to try it on tap in Ireland at least once. “It’s totally different than what we get here in Canada.” My next door neighbour added that the closer you got to Dublin the better the Guinness was.

They were both right. But for me Guinness isn’t a really great beer, being surprisingly thin with a sour edge. The White Room in the Guinness Storehouse at St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, IrelandOn the other hand, everyone in Ireland loves their Guinness and the bulk of the pubs out there are ‘Guinness’ pubs.Beachcomber Bar on Fanad Head in IrelandI read somewhere as the weather turns cold, people turn to ‘warmer’ beers and that’s when the stouts and porters come into their own. There’s a definite reason for this. For starters these beers are better served warm, as opposed to lagers that are better ice cold on a hot summer day.

Some people even consider Guinness a meal in a glass, which makes it a prime candidate for one of the best foods in Ireland. And there’ll be a lots of opportunities to try it; did I mention that Ireland has a LOT of pubs?

Irish Coffee. While we’re on warming drinks, Irish coffee is perfect after a blustery hike. At the Village Inn Pub in Ardgroom, I had this Irish CoffeeIrish Soda Bread.

Hubby finds it tasty but “too dry”.

I say, “That’s why they invented Irish butter.”

I normally don’t like bread but I love Irish soda bread! It’s easy to make too, so it’s one experience you can bring home with you.

(PS. Their seafood chowder is pretty good too, and they usually add one smoked fish into the pot which adds immensely to the flavour experience.) 
15IrCoastalCausewaySeafoodChowder6196wFish and Seafood. 80% of the European Fisheries, with the best fish and crab in Europe. We ate tons of crab there!Crab legs at Il Vicolo Restaurant in Galway, IrelandGrandma Singletons Farmhouse Cheddar. A sharp cheddar with a texture that melts in your mouth. If you see it anywhere buy a big hunk! Actually, all Farmhouse Cheddars are outstanding – usually sold in rounds with a wax exterior.
Farmhouse Chedder Cheese RoundBallyoak Soft Smoked Cheese. Discovered at a Belfast food fair and served on home-made soda crackers, this cheese is worth travelling all the way to Ireland for.
Smoked Cheese at aBelfast Food FairMicrobrews. Okay don’t get me started or I’ll blog your ear off. But the very best was Sarah Roarty’s Award winning Oatmeal Stout, and not just because we had a personal invite to visit her and try a pint. And if you don’t count beer as a cheap source of food you obviously haven’t spent a lot of time in Ireland.

The Black Sheep Pub in Dublin was described to us as an excellent place to get ‘crafty’ beers. Although owned by Galway Bay Brewery, they had plenty of other craft beers on tap and not a Guinness in sight. I didn’t think I liked stouts until I had their Buried at Sea Chocolate Milk Stout.
Beer Taps at Dublin's Black Sheep PubThe White Hag Irish Brewing Company near Galway is tiny but makes up some amazing beers that definitely could be considered food. For instance their White Sow Coffee-Infused Oatmeal Chocolate Milk Stout has everything you might want in a breakfast beer. White Hag Coffee-Infused Oatmeal Chocolate Milk Stout, an curious beer but delicious from IrelandThe Full Irish. The best way to experience this is by staying at a real old-fashioned B&B. This is part 1 of the full Irish breakfast which consists of eggs, sausage, bacon, fried bread, fried tomato and a potato patty. Part 2 consisted of fresh-baked scone, Irish butter, strawberry jam and coffee.Part 1 of the full Irish breakfast consists of eggs, sausage, bacon, fried bread and a potato pattyApples in salads. For some reason the Irish dump apples into all their salads. I love it! They make decent apple cider too, something that is an alternative if you happen to hit an all-Guinness bar and you don’t like Guinness.
fish, salad and chips at a Castletownbere restaurant

The best of the other lists

National Geographic Irish food list starts off with an image of the Queen of Tarts Bakery, which immediately made me think of the excellent dessert squares that we often had as a light lunch in Scotland! However, despite this photo, tarts do not actually make their list. What does? Farmhouse cheese, seafood, smoked salmon, lamb, traditional breads, Irish whiskey, ‘tea time’, apple cider, microbrews and new Irish gin. National Geographic’s Ireland and Northern Ireland: Food and Drink

BBC Good Food lists shellfish (oysters come into season in September for the Galway Oyster Festival but this is outrageously expensive), soda bread, Irish stew, Colcannon (a mashed potato & vegetable dish) and Champ (a mashed potato & green onion dish- we had it a lot), Boxty (a type of potato pancake), Irish salmon and smoked salmon, a nameless but apparently delicious ‘boiled bacon, potatoes and cabbage’ dish, black and white pudding, Coddle (a slow-cooked stew) and Barmbrack (a fruit bread). BBC’s Good Food: Top 10 foods to try in Ireland

Conde Nast lists Irish butter, brown bread, yogurt, ice cream, seaweed, vegetable soup, Black Pudding, black current syrup, fish and chips, and coffee. Their start-up photo shows a pint of Guinness which didn’t make anyone else’s list but mine. Conde Nast’s Foods You Must Try in Ireland

Lovin’ Dublin’s has a somewhat eclectic list of fattening Dublin foods and where to eat them. The treat list includes such items as ‘Sea Salt Ice Cream’ at Murphys and ‘Fish and Chips’ at Burdocks, and is supplemented with a bunch of tweets of other people’s favourite Dublin dishes. 8 Things You Have To Eat In Dublin Before You Die

With our Canadian dollar in free fall against both the pound and the euro, we had to be a bit more economical in our dining choices and Ireland.com’s budget hints were much appreciated. Ireland.com’s Budget Dining in Ireland

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