Irish food is inspired by the landscape and its natural resources. Ireland is surrounded by cold waters that provide fresh seafood. Its lush green fields are full of cows that munch the grass and provide rich dairy produce and beef. The Irish meadows are resplendent with wild herbs that honey bees and free-ranging lambs enjoy. The fertile soil of farms yields fruits and vegetables.
Alongside artisan producers, traditional butchers, cheesemakers and bakers are a plethora of creative chefs who take these ingredients and whip them up into exciting dishes.
If you are looking to get a taste of the island, here are some fantastic experiences in Ireland for food lovers.
Best Food Experiences in Ireland:
- Murphy’s Ice Cream, Dingle, County Kerry
- The English Market, Cork city
- Burren Smokehouse, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare
- Farmer’s Market at Airfield, Dundrum, County Dublin
- Midleton Farmers Market, Midleton, County Cork
- Two Green Shoots, Glengarriff, West Cork
- Sligo Oyster Experience, Strandhill, County Sligo
- The Strawberry Tree, Macreddin, County Wicklow
- Killybegs Seafood Shack, Killybegs, Co Donegal
- Aimsir, Kildare
Murphy’s Ice Cream, Dingle, County Kerry
If you fancy a few scoops in Dingle, head to Murphy’s for some of the best ice cream in the country. The Murphy brothers kickstarted the artisan ice cream revolution in Ireland when it first started producing its delicious dairy offerings back in the year 2000.
The ice cream is made with the finest Irish ingredients including Kerry cow milk. Whilst you are in Dingle, you have to try the Dingle Sea Salt and Dingle Gin flavours, it would be rude not to. Once you taste this ice cream you’ll know why Irish dairy products (and food in Ireland in general!) are considered some of the best in the world.
The English Market, Cork city
The English Market is an indoor food market, located in Cork City centre. It has been officially trading since 1788 and is the oldest trading covered food market in Europe. It is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5.30pm.
As you stroll around you’ll find everything from traditional Cork fare sold by long-standing family-run stalls to exciting new products from young creatives. You can stock up on produce to take away with you to cook at your accommodation or to have a picnic in a nearby park.
If you’d rather enjoy a sit-down meal, head upstairs to the restaurant on the balcony. This is a great place to enjoy some local, home-cooking and to soak up the atmosphere of the market.
Burren Smokehouse, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare
The Burren Smokehouse is located in Lisdoonvarna just off the Wild Atlantic Way and a short drive from the Cliffs of Moher. This family run business uses the best Irish ingredients to make fantastic products, most notably its smoked salmon made with Irish organic salmon.
Start your experience in the visitor centre where you’ll discover the mystery of salmon smoking and the secret of how smoked salmon is handcrafted. You’ll also learn about the history of the Burren smokehouse and some marvellous Irish myths and legends that surround salmon. Then, on to the Tasting Room to admire the retired kiln and smokebox before trying some of the delicious products.
You can stock up on edible delights in the shop and you can also pick up a Burren picnic box so that you can enjoy some local food as you explore this picturesque region of Ireland.
Farmer’s Market at Airfield, Dundrum, County Dublin
Airfield Estate is Dublin’s only working farm that is open to the public all year round. It’s a fun, family destination with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained for hours.
Apart from fun on the farm, every Friday and Saturday there is a bountiful farmers market.
You can buy all manner of Irish food, for instance, locally grown fruit and vegetables, small-batch preserves, chutneys and jams, freshly baked bread and pastries, as well as meat and fish.
If all that food shopping works up an appetite, you can pop into the cafe and feast on fresh salads, soups and sandwiches, hot food as well as scrumptious cakes and other sweet treats.
Midleton Farmers Market, Midleton, County Cork
Midleton is a historic town in south-eastern County Cork. It is here that Darina Allen formed a market so that local farmers could sell their produce. This is the original farmer’s market for quality food in Ireland and it has been in Midleton for 21 years.
Darina Allen and Ballymaloe House is still a big part of the market. They have a stall here which is run by the Ballymaloe Cookery School students and sometimes even Darina and Rory O’Connell themselves.
Make sure you stock up on local dairy products, especially cheese and fill your bags with freshly baked bread. This is a great place to see, buy and try a wide range of Irish food. The Midleton Farmers Market takes place every Saturday morning, from 9am until 1pm.
Two Green Shoots, Glengarriff, West Cork
West Cork is the culinary capital of Ireland and therefore a top destination for gastro-enthusiasts.
Due to the region’s temperate climate, an abundance of plants flourish and Kloë and Adam of Two Green Shoots turn the flora found in their wonderfully whimsical garden into a plant-based feast.
Before you chow down, horticulturist Adam gives you a tour of their edible garden whilst Kloë prepares the plants for lunch. She turns leaves, flowers, tubers, nuts, berries, botanicals and even weeds into delicious dishes and drinks. The menu is seasonal and changes depending on what is growing in the garden. You can expect dishes like vibrant nettle soup, flavourful salads, sticky onion tart and nettle and honey cake. These are paired with nettle and mint tea and dandelion latte.
Sligo Oyster Experience, Strandhill, County Sligo
Taste the Wild Atlantic Way by shucking and slurping oysters straight from the sea. On the Sligo Oyster Experience, you tour a working oyster farm and learn all about these marvellous molluscs. Admire the oyster beds and the views of the Sligo coastline as you hear about the harvesting process before learning how to shuck an oyster. Then, down the hatch, as you taste the sweet, salty, smokey oysters packed with flavour.
The Strawberry Tree, Macreddin, County Wicklow
The Strawberry Tree is Ireland’s first certified organic restaurant. It is located in the beautiful surrounds of Macreddin Village in County Wicklow.
Book a table and enjoy either a five-course dinner menu or a nine-course tasting menu. Both are unforgettable feasts filled with wonderful wild and organic foods expertly prepared by the talented kitchen team. Menus include items from the restaurant’s walk-in wild foods pantry, which is a larder laden with foraged produce. You’ll also dine on a selection of meats cured in the restaurant’s Smoke House and a terrific selection of Irish organic and raw milk cheeses.
To pair with your feast of Irish food, you can choose lovely organic wines and homebrews and tipples too like the house grappa and birch sap alcohol, which is made from the birch trees surrounding the restaurant.
Killybegs Seafood Shack, Killybegs, Co Donegal
Eating fish and chips by the water is somewhat of a tradition in Ireland, especially when you are on your holidays. The Seafood Shack is right at Killybegs Harbour. It is the perfect place to enjoy a fish supper by the sea.
The menu of the Seafood Shack is small, but perfectly formed. It features the finest local seafood which is freshly battered to order. Take your pick from breaded scampi, battered fish, cod goujons and squid. These come with chunky chips, homemade tartare sauce and a lemon wedge for a zesty kick.
Customers sit on the harbour wall whilst their super fresh seafood is prepared, but don’t worry, the queue moves quickly. Besides, you can take in the views of the largest fishing port in the country while you wait.
For an exquisite taste of Ireland, splash out and treat yourself to a table at this two-Michelin starred restaurant. You’ll find Aimsir in the stunning setting of Cliff at Lyons, a top spa hotel in County Kildare.
Aimsir opened in May 2019 and is led by husband-and-wife team Jordan Bailey and Majken Bech-Bailey. Jordan is a chef and the former head chef of three-Michelin star restaurant Maaemo in Oslo. Majken is the general manager.
As much as possible, everything served in Aimsir is grown or produced on the island of Ireland, except for sugar. The menu is a wild Irish feast of 15 individual servings. These include snacks, savoury dishes from both land and sea, and sweet dishes and petits fours. The carefully curated drinks pairings perfectly complement the flavours of the food. This is one Irish food experience that will live long in the memory.
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