The Essential Guide to Irish Food

Irish Stew |

Top Ten Traditional Irish Foods and Where to Eat Them

Quality ingredients, ingenious creations, and reinvented classics can all be found in Dublin and Belfast’s coolest foodie hubs. You’ve got to start somewhere, so start by trying these ten traditional Irish foods…

Going to Dublin? Read this post:  The ‘2 Days in Dublin’ Itinerary You Need to Steal Today

12 Fast Facts About Irish Food |

1. Boxty

Eat it at O’Holohan’s on the Barge, Belfast 

Like the sound of expertly prepared Irish food in a gorgeous environment? Then climb on board O’Holohan’s, moored at the Belfast Waterfront. This restaurant-on-a-barge is famed for its boxty: a traditional potato pancake, which it serves with pan-fried hake, organic veg, and shellfish cream.

2. Home-smoked salmon

Eat it at Delahunt, Dublin 

Bring on one of the best fish dishes in Dublin. This is a thing of brains and beauty: lapsang souchong home-smoked salmon served in the incredible surroundings of a converted Victorian building on Dublin’s Camden Street. It’s the very essence of contemporary Irish cooking – creative, fresh AND delicious.


Drisheen: a type of black pudding, typical of Cork, and traditionally served with black pudding.

Irish stew: Ireland’s hearty native stew made with lamb or mutton, carrot, onion, and potato.

Champ: a simple mashed potato dish using scallion, using served with meat.

Irish Stew |

3. Coddle

Eat it at The Woollen Mills, Dublin

Perched on the edge of the River Liffey, overlooking the iconic arc of the Ha’penny Bridge, the Woollen Mills has a light, modern-industrial interior – a great counterpoint to a dish that dates back to the 1770s, Dublin Coddle. Grab a seat upstairs at the window, look out on the rippling river, and enjoy a no-nonsense bowl of bacon, sausages, onion, and potato. Honest, hearty and very Dublin.

4. Seafood chowder – eat it at Canteen at the MAC Belfast

 Eat it at Canteen at the MAC Belfast 

In the super-cool open-brick surrounds of Belfast’s premier arts venue, MAC, you can enjoy one of Ireland’s most popular seafood dishes: seafood chowder. MAC’s version uses sustainable fish and comes with Guinness and treacle bread. Come for the art, stay for the chowder.

5. Cockles and mussels

Eat it at The Exchequer, Dublin 

Fever-ridden Molly Malone wheeled her wheelbarrow around the Dublin streets selling these fresh local mollusks. But to dine on the cooked combination, you need to check out the Exchequer gastropub and its gourmet version with spiced sausage, Bulmers cider, and homemade bread.

6. Ulster Fry

Eat it at St George’s Market, Belfast 

The pinnacle of fried breakfasts, head to the St George’s Market Bar and Grill in the city center to taste an award-winning plate of sausages, bacon, potato farl, tomatoes, black and white pudding, and eggs. The secret? It’s all cooked in the same pan to let the flavors run riot. A winner, every time.

7. Slaney River slow-roasted lamb

Slaney River slow-roasted lamb at The Vintage Kitchen, Dublin |

Eat it at The Vintage Kitchen, Dublin 

Snuggled into beside Mulligan’s pub on Poolbeg Street is the Vintage Kitchen, a veritable mecca for Dublin’s foodies (such is its popularity, you must book well in advance for a weekend sitting). Bring along your own booze, bring along your own vinyl and enjoy an exemplary dish of Slaney River slow-roasted lamb. Delicious.

8. Oysters

Eat it at the Mourne Seafood Bar, Belfast 

Traditionally served with pints of Guinness, sample some of the finest at the Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast. In this relaxed informal space, seafood takes center stage. Try local oysters three ways: au naturel, Japanese-style or Rockefeller. Either way, they’re delicious, so get shucking.

9. A fresh fish supper

Eat it at John Long’s, Belfast 

A philosophy of simple but impeccable fish and chips runs through this Belfast institution, which has been described by the Belfast Telegraph as “the holiest of holy culinary shrines”. Grab a space at a Formica table, order a cup of tea, and wait for some of the best fish and chips you’re ever likely to taste.

10. The Waterford Blaa

The Waterford Blaa at Hatch & Son |

Eat it at Hatch & Sons, Dublin 

Waterford locals love their ’blaa’ – a soft bread roll introduced by the French Huguenots in the 17th century. Paired with dry-cured bacon, it’s a real delight. To try one in Dublin, head to the Georgian kitchen-café of Hatch & Sons on St Stephen’s Green. Go old school with rashers (strips of bacon), or take it upscale with spiced beef, rapeseed mayo, Coolea cheese and onion relish.

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4 thoughts on “The Essential Guide to Irish Food

  1. Murissa says:

    Fantastic list Laura!
    I”ve been to The Exchequer – such a cool place with great decor and delicious food. Although my sister did get the lamb 3 ways and did not expect one of those ways to be liver. That put her off a bit but otherwise one of my favourite places. I dare you not to swipe their awesome drink menu that is made like a chapbook with illustrations.

    The Wollen Mills in Blarney – the best fish and chips I have ever had!
    Another place you’d like is Fallon & Byrne. It was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Layover in Dublin. 3 levels -1st the wine bar, 2nd the food hall (perfect if you have an apartment near by) and 3rd is their restaurant. Such a great spot to celebrate a final evening in Ireland.

    • The Culinary Travel Guide says:

      Thanks for the great tips Murissa! Fallon & Byrne is one of the stops on our food tour of Dublin. I can’t wait to compare notes with you when I get back. Oh and by the way, I think I would have had the same reaction as your sister. 🙂

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