Not that long ago, the phrase “Irish cuisine” was almost an oxymoron: Variety was limited, and long, slow boiling was the key to preparing everything from cabbage to coddle.
Cut to 2019 and you’re never far away from a treat for your taste buds. Over the past decade, Irish restaurants and entrepreneurs returned from all over the world with fresh, exotic ideas on what makes a good meal, restaurant or cafe. At the same time, international visitors and new residents brought delicious ingredients and combinations from their home countries to restaurant tables throughout the land.
The result is a country with a rich, diverse and mouth-watering range of foods.
In fact, many streets and corners of Ireland have such a density of eateries that you could easily take in a veritable smorgasbord of international delights without breaking a sweat. We’d especially recommend taking in some of the sites of these areas. Ireland being small and scenic island makes it one of the best places to combine excursions with food: Take in a refreshing, therapeutic walk to work up an appetite before getting stuck into some local food.
We’ve put together three appetizing walking tours across Ireland that are close to lovely places for a hike or a stroll. These trips will bring you to the streets of Dublin, Dingle and Cork via seafood, noodles, ice cream and much, much more. Bon appetit…
Kerry has an embarrassment of stunning locations that are very hike-friendly. One of the most scenic is the Conor Pass. The 3.5 hour/7k walk of the Conor Pass to Croaghskearda Loop brings you through to the summit of Croaghskearda Mountain at 608m. From there, you’ll want to take a while to catch your breath and take in the humbling vista of mountains and lakes. A short drive from the Conor Pass will bring you to the heart of Dingle…
A rightfully popular village in Kerry, Dingle is where visitors from the Kingdom and all over the world come in search of pubs with great atmosphere and food to die for. You might spot a dolphin too!
A good place to start is Ashes on Main Street, a renowned seafood restaurant and bar. This pillar of Dingle serves up super-fresh local seafood like mussels, prawns and lobster. There’s simpler fare too, like their fish & chips and famous chowder. A long-standing, family-owned establishment, Ashes even named a lemonade after the owners’ daughter!
Then, not far beyond Ashes sits John Benny’s Pub, Strand Street, a hub for live music, a good pint and hearty, tasty, high-end pub grub. The revolving menu tends to include a lot of seafood: Like all Dingle eateries, they have access to fresh produce straight from the shores of the Atlantic, which is a few yards away.
To top it off, we’d recommend Murphy’s Ice Cream, also on Strand Street. With branches across the country, coast to shining coast, Murphy’s is establishing itself as a national treasure. Its handmade ice-cream is delicious and innovative, sparking taste buds you didn’t know you had. Murphy’s brown bread flavoured ice-cream is as surprising as it is delightful.
While we have discussed the capital’s forest trails and haunted gems before, one of Dublin’s greatest treasures is arguably its biggest: Phoenix Park. If you turn left (heading to the North Side) from the North Road entrance, there’s a lovely tree-canopied trail that brings you towards Castleknock. This natural path, like the best parts of Europe’s largest park, feels beautifully cut off from the din of the city.
Another favourite walking spot is via the North Circular Road entrance: Head straight in, as the zoo is on your right, and continue walking. That’s where the space opens, and you might spot one of the park’s famous deer.
A short hop from Phoenix Park, Capel Street is one of our favourite streets in Dublin, blending traditional shops, pubs and personality with a range of new restaurants and bars.
Starting at the end nearest to the Liffey, you can make your way up via Soup Dragon, a legendary, long-running soup cafe. Their sandwiches are substantial and often creative, using generously thick slices of bread and fresh ingredients and sauces. And their “soups” are varied, stretching the definition to include curry and chilli.
Close by and towards the north, there’s a branch of Musashi, one of the city’s most popular and reputable noodle/sushi chains. Their sushi selections are especially tasty and good value.
Continuing in the same direction, Brother Hubbard North is a popular haunt for those who want something a little different for breakfast, brunch or dinner. Turkish eggs menemen, anyone?
On the top of Capel Street (close to Parnell Street), sits the Black Sheep pub. This independent craft beer joint has a terrific bar food menu – hefty sandwiches, finger-licking finger food and buttery chicken tenders.
Just a few kilometres from the City Centre, the Blackrock Castle Loop is a popular spot for walkers and joggers. With an easy incline and a short distance (5 kilometres), this is a relaxing, scenic jaunt. There are appealing river and harbour views, as well as the grandiose castle, and because it’s in a relatively urban area, there’s no shortage of coffee shops.
A good kick-off, especially if it’s in the morning, is Filter, North George’s Quay. A mecca for serious coffee drinkers and a staple of many locals’ mornings; Filter serves the finest beans from Ethiopia to Brazil.
A 5-minute walk northwest and over the River Lee will bring you to The English Market on Prince’s Street, a massive roofed market and home to myriad stalls and eateries. Including Farmgate Restaurant.
Farmgate serves local food, mostly from the Munster region. In some cases, the food is so local that it’s sourced from other businesses in the English Market! The small menu changes frequently, altering to facilitate changes in availability from local stalls and suppliers. Farmgate’s specialty is local Cork recipes and favourites. That means seafood, lamb and seasonal dishes.
Leaving the Market and heading to Pembroke Street, Orso Kitchen and Bar is known for Mediterranean and North African cuisine with some local Cork flourishes. This popular place offers food like Lebanese lamb mini pies, beef bazella pie and the fresh seafood catch of the day. Their desserts are well regarded too, with locals especially fond of coconut & mango cheesecake.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for more food, or just want to have a drink, Electric on South Mall Street is a versatile, multi-floor and hugely popular bar and restaurant. This place is just as well-known as a brunch spot as it is for its nightlife. In between those hours, you can book an afternoon tea or a hearty lunch (think high-end bar food like burgers, steak and seafood) or just chill with a pint or a cocktail.
Following the breadcrumbs…
It can be easy to take Ireland for granted sometimes, but the country’s size and climate have created some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth; and just a stone’s throw from that scenery, its people have set up some of the finest restaurants. You just need to know where to start. You’ll find the maps below very helpful in planning you foodie walk in the areas above.
Don’t forget, whatever your taste and location, you can find the right map for your needs in Online Map Shop, which will always keep you on the right track.
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