Set on the rugged west coast of Ireland, Galway is a major destination on the Emerald Isle. Some visitors flock to this laidback university town for the famed horse races, while others stop for live music and pub culture. More and more, however, visitors are coming to Galway for its fantastically diverse food scene.
Whether you are craving Japanese, are looking for vegetarian-friendly cuisine, or want to treat yourself to a tasting menu at an award-winning restaurant, there is something to suit every taste in Galway.
Chef Enda McEvoy has been awarded the title of Best Chef in Ireland, and one meal at his Michelin-starred restaurant is enough to see why. McEvoy believes in only using ingredients from the west of Ireland (think pickled roses and wild garlic seeds). Because the dishes depend on what can be sourced on any given day, the menu changes constantly. Book a table to slowly savor the seven- or nine-course tasting menu with a bottle from Loam's impressive wine cellar.
Fish does not always have to be fried and served with chips in Ireland. Wa Café is a wonderful restaurant that uses local products to craft Japanese dishes using traditional techniques. Try the Achill Island Smoked Mackerel rolls, made with tamari (Japanese soy sauce) and wrapped in seaweed. For another local twist on sushi, order the roll maki with teriyaki chicken and leeks. Nigiri and maki change daily based on the best available seafood.
Looking for excellent food in a friendly bar setting? Head to the Dáil Bar. Start with the chili calamari rings or goat cheese spring rolls before moving onto the main event: the grill. You can get roast chicken or grilled strip steak—but the burgers are really some of the best in Galway. Can't decide what to get? Consider the Connemara prime steakhouse burger, which comes with local beef, bacon, and cheddar.
With six different locations, the Gourmet Tart Company is a Galway staple for sweets and takeout. However, it is the 70-seat café in Salthill that serves the most delectable breakfast. The full Irish—complete with rashers, Irish sausages, eggs, pudding, and fried potatoes—is legendary. If you don't eat meat, the vegetarian breakfast is also fantastic. Order this meal, and you'll get Portobello mushrooms, a grilled tomato, potatoes, avocado, and expertly poached eggs.
The drive to the seaside area of Barna is well worth the trip to enjoy fresh seafood at O’Grady’s on the Pier. The country-style dining has a warm, rustic charm, while the terrace offers some of the best views of Galway Bay. Start with the local Castletownbere Bay crab claws or fresh steamed mussels with chorizo, paprika, and leeks. The main courses change depending on the catch of the day, but whatever you get, you're sure to enjoy some of the best seafood in Ireland.
Aim for Sea Road in Galway’s West End for the best brunch in town. Trendy Kai is the go-to spot on Sunday mornings because of their incredible spread and welcoming atmosphere. Almost everything served here is organic and locally produced. The pancakes are unforgettable, but don’t miss the crab salad if it is on the menu.
The airy Lighthouse is Galway’s leading vegetarian café. Stop by early in the day for fresh scones and organic coffee, specialty tea, homemade chai, or Irish kefir. For lunch, the café offers a range of plant-based daily specials, most of which are vegan. The dosa plate is a great option for a bit of international flavor, whereas the seasonal sandwiches are so satisfying you won’t think twice about missing any meat. The café stays open later on Sunday when brunch is served from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Head out to the Salthill area of Galway for a taste of Italy in Ireland. The cozy restaurant has all the Italian classics, plus a great selection of wine and beer from the bel paese. The real reason to book a table, however, is for the wood-fired pizza. Try the Caesar Grillo, served with tomato sauce, mozzarella, bacon, chicken, arugula, and Caesar salad dressing. There are lots of veggie-friendly options like the Quattro Formaggio calzone, stuffed with mozzarella, feta, parmesan, and goat cheese.