How Much Does It Cost? Part III: Food in Ireland

We’re counting up all the expenses for our 2014 trip to Ireland. Parts I and II covered transportation and accommodations. This time we are talking about one of my favorite subjects, food!

Not just any food though, so-delicious-I-can-still-taste-it-someone-please-bring-me-some-now food.

Food in Ireland

The Irish have an incredibly strong connection to the land and sea. Restaurants and pubs sometimes offer the name of the fisherman who provided the catch of the day on a board outside. Many B&B’s offer fresh eggs for breakfast laid by the free range chickens in the back yard. Every sandwich undoubtedly comes with a crisp side salad with a light vinaigrette that I still can’t replicate at home.

Irish Stew
A bit of Irish stew to warm the soul.

It never takes us very long to find good food in Ireland. The Irish have a natural knack for it, especially comfort food. Think a bowl of stew, a cup of soup, a warm scone. Oh, I am getting hungry.

Our Best Meals in South East Ireland

Instead of giving you the play-by-play for every meal we ate, below are our top 8 favorite places in the south east (plus a day in Cork). If you happen to stumble upon any of these establishments in Ireland, you won’t be disappointed.

Admittedly, I am not a food blogger, and I am terrible at actually taking pictures of what I eat. Usually I am too busy enjoying the food that I don’t think to take a picture of it until after I have gobbled most of it down. Oops!

Wicklow Heather, Laragh, Co. Wicklow: €25 and €28.65 (ate 2x)

  • Rustic-chic restaurant (is that even a thing?) with dark wood and old relics adorning the walls
  • Joe Day 1 & 2: Lamb stew
  • Steph Day 1: Vegetable soup with brown bread and chicken side salad
  • Steph Day 2: French Onion soup with brown bread and side salad
  • “Let’s stay in Laragh and just eat here every night,” I whined to Joe (I wasn’t kidding and I still kind of wish we had).
  • Reservations on weekends or anytime in July and August are probably a good idea.

Roundwood Inn, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow: €15.75

Roundwood Inn, Co. Wicklow Ireland
The unassuming Roundwood Inn.
  • Pub with plenty of accolades for good food and a politically engaged and entertaining clientele (read: men talking politics and local gossip around the bar)
  • Joe: Fried chicken and chips
  • Steph: Vegetable soup and brown bread (notice a trend?)
  • Vegetable soup tip: slather the bread with delicious Kerry Gold Butter and dip it into the golden, piping hot soup and taste the butter slowly melt in your mouth. Yum!

Chapter House and Tea Rooms, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny: €15.80

Tea Cup and tea pot
Tea, a great addition to any breakfast!
  • Chapel turned café in the side of St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Kilkenny
  • Joe and Steph: Eggs, toast and tea for two
  • If I lived in Kilkenny, this would be my spot. I’d bring friends here for a coffee and an afternoon chat. I’d pore over the paper on a Saturday morning with a scone and pot of tea.  If someone was looking for me, people would answer, “check the Chapter House”.

Carroll’s Hotel, Knocktopher, Co. Kilkenny: €24.90 and €22 (ate 2x)

  • A B&B recommended local pub
  • Joe Day 1 & 2: Lasagna and chips (yes they serve French fries with pasta!)
  • Stephanie Day 1: Spaghetti
  • Stephanie Day 2: Ham and cheese Panini with chips, salad and coleslaw
  • When customers ask the barman if he’d seen the priest yet, you know you are in the right place.

Galileo’s, Clonmel, Co. Kilkenny: €20.30

  • Casual Italian restaurant
  • Joe: Margherita pizza
  • Steph: Spinach and cheese tortellini in a cream and tomato sauce
  • Joe parked our car a million miles away from any restaurant. Desperate for a place to eat to appear, we walked right up to an older couple passing by and asked for a recommendation. They happily pointed us to Galileo’s. Joe ate every last crumb and I was licking the bowl. I think we liked it.

Neville’s Bar, Fethard, Co. Wexford €24.50

Fish and Chips at Neville's Bar Fethard
A fuzzy photo of Joe’s AMAZING fish and chips.
  • Bistro style food with pub atmosphere in a tiny town on Hook Head Peninsula
  • Joe: Fish and chips
  • Steph: Asparagus risotto
  • While my risotto was tasty, Joe’s fish tasted like it swam right up onto the plate, perfectly battered and cooked. I had as much as Joe would let me, and I don’t even like fish (true story!).

Mary Barry’s Bar, Kilmore, Co. Wexford: €25.00

  • Restaurant known for super fresh seafood from Kilmore Quay (which we didn’t try—silly us)
  • Joe: Roast beef with potatoes and vegetables
  • Stephanie: Turkey breast stuffed with ham, accompanied by potatoes and vegetables. Bulmers Irish Cider
  • This place was packed! Mary Barry’s was a highlight of our trip and not to be missed if you are anywhere near Kilmore, Co. Wexford.

Farmgate Café, English Market, Cork City, Co. Cork: €11.00

Berry Crumble Farmgate Cork
A mostly eaten (and two minutes later entirely devoured) berry crumble from the Farmgate.
  • Small café on second floor of English Market
  • Joe: Ham and cheese sandwich with side salad
  • Steph: Berry crumble (dessert for lunch!)
  • The freshness is what shines here. Most of the ingredients are sourced from the shopkeepers and producers in the market below.

Tips for Eating in Ireland

When we travel in Ireland, we always eat the huge breakfasts offered by our B&B hosts. This and few snacks throughout the day usually tide us over until well in the afternoon. Dinner is commonly a full meal (or dessert—because I am on vacation!) at a pub or a casual restaurant.

Banoffee Pie
My, ahem, dinner. Banoffee pie!

We pack a few snacks from home and stop at grocery stores along the way for bananas, apples, granola bars, crackers, dried fruit or whatever catches our fancy.

On this trip, we stayed in self-catering apartments for a few days. This gave us the opportunity to save a few euros and make some meals. We bought eggs, bread and jelly (and packed a jar of peanut butter, which is uncommon and expensive in Ireland).

When eating at a pub, walk up to the bar and ask for menus. Grab a seat and watch for a waiter or order at the bar when you are ready. We don’t spend much money on alcohol or soda, which can really add to the cost. Water is usually our beverage of choice.

Tipping is much different than in the US and isn’t a big addition to our total food costs. Irish usually tip 10-15% at table service restaurants for good service. Bar tenders typically don’t accept tips, but you can buy them a “round.” Don’t be surprised if they ask to “drink it later” and pocket the cash.

Total Cost of Food: €524.13

We spent $712.82 US on all food expenses for 15 days in Ireland (exchange rate for one euro was about $1.36 at the time).  Each day averaged about €34.94 or $47.52.

When budgeting for food in Ireland, it is best to evaluate your eating and drinking habits. Will you eat two meals a day and have a pint every night? Will you have access to kitchen to make a few meals for yourself? Do you like high-end dining experiences or are you happy with great pub grub?

Have you been to Ireland and have a favorite spot to eat? Are you heading there soon and looking forward to something special?  Share in the comments!

 

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20 Comments

  1. Your site is great. My wife and I are going to Ireland for the second week of May, and I have used your tips for just about everything that I have booked up to this point. We will be touring the cities, towns, and countryside, and we are really looking forward to the pubs and restaurants. I know you mentioned that you and your husband don’t drink much, but my wife and I are pretty heavy drinkers (sounds terrible when I say it like that) and I just wanted to know if you have a guideline on what to expect as far as drink prices. Would you say that it’s pretty comparable to drink prices in America? Thanks again.

    1. Hi Mike! You win for the best comment of the day. :-) I think you will be right at home in Ireland and will find that many people enjoy a pint or two (or few). You will spend much less if you can avoid clear tourist spots for drinks. Temple Bar in Dublin, Shop Street area in Galway, etc. On average you will find a pint of beer to be between 4.50-5.50 euro. Bulmers Irish Cider (my personal fav) might be little more.

  2. I came across your paking list last night, linked it to my Evernote and started reading today…I must say how impressed I am by your responses for the last 3 years (in the one that I tagged anyways) awesome. Love it!! Heading to Ireland for my second trip, last one 7 years ago with my wife and my 23 yr old son is joining us. We are there in March… St Pat’s in Dublin this time :-) and the rest of the time we will basically be wandering to the north through Northern Ireland and how far west depends on how it goes. We have some key places we want to see (Causeway and such) but really playing it as it goes. This by the way is really a challenge for me as I usually have things planned to the minute, or so my wife says LOL. Last time we basically did the center, Dublin to Galway, Cliffs, Castles and Claire island (wifes family name is O’Malley after all), I also tucked in Newgrange…had to after listening to the book “Ireland” by Frank Delaney, more than you need to know of course. So my question, with us wandering we are thinking we will do B&B, but nothing in advance. What is the best method to locate as we travel?

    1. Hi Mike! Thank you so much for the wonderful compliments! You’re upcoming trip sounds fantastic! St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is something I’ve yet to do—I am quite jealous! :-)

      If you are booking on the fly, I really like B&B Ireland. You can reserve online with less than 24 hours in advance for most places and all you need is to place a deposit. They owner will charge your card (or accept cash) the remaining amount when you actually arrive. Or you could have a few B&B’s you are interested in staying in various towns, use your cell phone or your previous night’s B&B’s phone to reserve your next night in the location you’re going. If you have a list of a few places you should be pretty well set. The only place I’d be sure to book would be in Dublin for St. Pat’s Day–I imagine that can get pretty busy!

      I hope you and your family have a wonderful time!

      P.S. Don’t even get me started on Frank Delaney! Love him and absolutely love listening to his audio books. I am currently reading Shannon–which is actually the first book I’ve read rather than listened too. After listening to Ireland and Tipperary, I can basically here Frank (because we are on first person terms here) speaking the words. Its’s great! :-)

  3. Your site is amazing! This will be our first trip to Ireland…we’re traveling the second week of June. We’re so excited and cannot wait to immerse ourselves in every aspect of Irish culture that we can! We even have names and pics of some of my husband’s relatives that we hope to track down during our visit. Thank you so much for the time and effort you’ve put into this site. Once I found it, it’s been my only source of info. :)

    1. Hi Jay & Lorie!
      Thanks so much for the kind words. It makes me so glad to hear the site has been helpful for you too! I do hope you get to chat with your relatives. We’ve heard of people doing just that and oh the stories they come back with. Good luck on your quest and have a great time in Ireland! -Stephanie :-)

  4. Hey Stephanie! This is the best blog I’ve found on Ireland! I am going to be backpacking there for a couple of weeks this coming August! I am so excited and love reading all this stuff, it’s so helpful!

    1. Hi Molly!
      Thanks so much. I am sure you are going to have a fantastic time packing in Ireland. Enjoy every minute!

  5. Hi Stephanie, Thank you so much for all your valuable information. I have been to Ireland before but didn’t handle the rental car. I’ve been going nuts for the last few days trying to figure it all out. I finally stumbled onto your web page and presto, the information I needed was right there. Thank you, Thank You, Thank you.

    We went with Dan Dooley and it couldn’t have been simpler.

    Again, Thank you
    Pat

    1. Hi Pat! Thanks so much for the kind words. :-) I so glad the information you found was helpful! It’s a lot to take in, but it looks like you have things under control. Feel free to come back and let us know how it went! All the best for a great trip!

  6. Booked a few B&Bs in Dublin and Cork. Could I get opinion on the following: Albany House in Dublin, and Blarney Stone in Cork. Debating whether to go Air Bnb to save some $ …but doing historical/geneology research so first trip requires some ‘atmosphere”. Hoping to get to Westmeath, too. WIsh they had a “be my friend for a few days” site LOL.

    1. Hi Karen!
      Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience or recommendations regarding those two B&B’s. Most B&B’s are lovely though, so if you do decide I doubt you would be majorily disappointed. On the other hand AirBnB is a great second choice and often can be actual B&B’s, so you might not be missing of the “atmosphere” so to speak. :-)

      I love the idea of Be My Friend for a few days! I’d sign up too! Ha! Have a great trip!

  7. Thank You Stephanie!

    Your site is amazing…in addition to your great writing style and insights the navigation works and is pulling together everything we have been able to learn elsewhere! My wife and I are going to Ireland for the first time in two weeks. We will be looking up cousins and hope to find the old home place from the 19th century. We have 2+ weeks and hope to see a lot of the south and some of the north. Too ambitious?

    1. Hi Len! How exciting your trip is so soon! It sounds like you two are set up for a great time! Without seeing your itinerary it’s hard to tell if you are being too ambitious. I usually stick to two regions for two weeks (if the whole of Ireland is 4 regions). If you spend a couple nights in most places then I think it’ll be just fine. Enjoy!!

  8. How easy is it to find gluten free alternatives? I do love breads and scones…do some of the local bakeries in Dublin, Cork make these GF? (So much better than store bought anything…) 5 more weeks and counting!! Looking forward to reporting my finds!

    1. Hi Karen! It is definitely getting easier, but it might be a little bit of a struggle in the rural areas. Dublin has some great GF options. These should get you started: http://www.glutenfreedublin.com/
      http://lovindublin.com/dublin/dont-let-dietary-requirements-hold-back-10-best-gluten-free-restaurants-dublin
      http://irishfoodgoddess.com/2014/05/01/20-best-gluten-free-places-to-eat-in-dublin/
      http://www.glutenfreeireland.com/

      I hope this helps–and let me know what you find (I’ll add it to my arsenal!). :-)

  9. Hello,
    My family and I are leaving next week for our 2 week stay. For most of us its our first time. But as I’m the token vegetarian do you know if there’s any trouble finding veg options at the local eateries?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Annaliese!
      I’ve worked with a few people who have been vegetarian in Ireland and found it a little challenging, but not impossible. Their fruits and vegetables are amazingly fresh and so you’ll have the best possible options. Here are a few sites that might get you started, but I would definitely ask around when you arrive. Your B&B hosts will probably be a great resource for local options. http://irishvegan.ie/eating-out/
      http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g186605-c40-Dublin_County_Dublin.html
      Have a great trip!!

  10. I stumbled across your blog a bit late (most of our reservations are already made) but have learned much in a short time. This will be our first (and probably only) trip to Ireland, going in June of next year for our 50th anniversary. We are spending four nights at Castle View B&B on Carrig Island in Co Kerry to look up relatives in the Ballylongford/Asdee area and two nights in Sword in order to take the bus into Dublin on our last full day in country (MUST visit The Guinness Storehouse!) Other than that, we are going to wander through the Cork and Kerry areas with a must stop in Waterford (already have tickets for the tour of the crystal ‘factory.’) We are looking forward to gleaning even more info from your site; it has already helped with car rental!

  11. I’m traveling to Ireland (flying into Shannon) for a yoga retreat in September. I arrive 2 days before the retreat and saved 2 full days after the retreat. I want to see as much as possible in these 4 days. For my first 2 days, I’d like to try to get a good feel for Limerick and Ennis. As I will only have a vehicle the last 3 days of my trip and I’ll be staying in Youghal, Co. Cork. My great-grandparents were decedents from here and I can’t wait to visit and see the area. I’ve reserved a room at the Aherne’s Townhouse…but the following day I want to drive around and see as much of this ‘zone’ as possible (referring to the “X” on the country when traveling) . What do you recommend? I’d like to see the as much of Cory and Killarney – but not sure I’ll have enough time as I’ll need to be making my way back up to Limerick. Thanks for any advice and (more) travel tips!

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