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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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!