It may not have escaped your attention that here at Hot Dinners we have a deep-rooted connection to Ireland (ahem). The west coast city of Galway, in particular, is where many of our family live.
Galway's also the city where the annual Food on the Edge - an international symposium for chefs - takes place, attracting top chefs from around the world to gather and share ideas and debate food culture. Hosted by chef and restaurateur JP McMahon it focuses worldwide attention on Galway, a city that has two super Michelin star restaurants and a vibrant food scene.
In addition to that, Galway is currently European City of Culture for 2020 - all of which, in short, made us think Hot Dinners readers might fancy a trip there and like a guide to the city's best places to eat and drink. So here, after considerable in-depth research, are our tips on where to eat and drink in the City of the Tribes.
Restaurants and cafes
Where: 53 Lower Dominick Street, Galway, Ireland
Galway’s first restaurant to get a Michelin star, this is chef JP McMahon's flagship restaurant - it serves a daily-changing menu with dishes inspired by and using produce from the local area. Only open for dinner (but notably family-friendly too) they serve a 6, 8 or 10-course menu.
Where: Spanish Arch, Long Walk, Galway, H91 E9XA
A longstanding Galway restaurant that's been highly rated for years - this is an all-day spot that serves up super breakfasts and brunches, before switching to a seasonally focused a la carte for lunch and dinner.
Where: 51 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, H91 E3F1
Having their own farm just outside Galway means there's a real farm to table sense to the menu at Dela. They're also big into craft beer. Their brunch is very popular with the pork burger from local pork-only butcher Herterich's a must-try.
Where: Cathedral Buildings, 1 Middle St, Galway
Unbelievably good pizza from what's billed as an authentic Irish pizzeria. The mozzarella is from Toonsbridge in Cork, they have pepperoni made especially for them in Meath and the result is fantastic.
Where: 49 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, H91 P08F
Handsome burger started out as street food, then a residency in a pub before settling down in their own place. Not only are they easily the best burgers in town, they've also been voted best burgers in Ireland. The burgers are excellent, and we also have a soft spot for their fries - particularly the Parmesan and maple bacon fries with garlic aioli. We don't have to explain why.
Where: 65 Henry St, Galway
The tourist spot for fish and chips in Galway is McDonaghs on Quay Street but head a bit further out and this newer, better spot is the best place for seafood dishes. There are all kinds, from crab and chorizo croquettes to Killary bay mussels.
Where: 22 Sea Rd, Galway, H91 DX47
Kai has been a mainstay of the modern Galway dining scene since opening in 2011. Run by New Zealander chef Jess Murphy and her Irish husband, it focuses on wild and organic produce and there's plenty to thrill vegetarians in particular. Sunday brunches see a queue down the street.
Where: 4 Middle St, Galway
Highly rated by JP McMahon, this Galway spot serves up the usual sushi and bento, but also veers off in a different direction with a Tsumami or Japanese tapas section where you can try kushikatsu kebabs, chicken gizzard yakitori and more.
Where: Geata Na Cathrach, Fairgreen Rd, Galway
Chef Enda McEvoy used to be Head Chef at Aniar before opening his own restaurant, which promptly got a Michelin star too. Voted ‘Best Restaurant in Ireland‘ at the 2019 Irish Restaurant Award, you can also pop into the bar here to try local charcuterie like Connemara air-dried lamb.
Where: Unit 3, Middle St, Court, Galway, H91 A2P5
Owner Michelle Crehan-Kavanagh of this newish spot in the heart of Galway was inspired by visits across Europe and Iceland to open this warm cafe and bakery. "We’re a group of dedicated bakers making world class baked goods without taking ourselves too seriously". They sell everything from sourdough to brown treacle soda bread and their cinnamon and marmalade buns are amazing. .
Where: 15 Merchant's Road Lower, Galway, H91 WK6P
A lovely restaurant with an arts cinema attached - the chef here is Latvian Liga Jarovoja, who used to be at Ard Bia. It's open all day serving up hot baps at breakfast, veggie fry-ups for brunch (including cauliflower hash) while dinner is a modern European menu featuring local produce.
Where: 56 Dominick Street Lower, Galway
Galway's first real introduction to the concept of small plates, think of this as JP McMahon's diffusion line serving up natural wine, dressed oysters and tartares - both meaty and vegetarian.
Where: 13 New Dock St, Galway
This teeny dockside cafe is run by Japanese-Galwegian owner Yoshimi Hayakawa and was the first place to sell sushi in Galway. They can also be found at the Farmer's Market at the weekend.
Bars and pubs
Where: 31 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, H91 WC04y
A newish addition to Galway, this singular spot uses local plants found in Connemara to make unique syrups, tinctures and bitters for creating craft beverages. So you might find a Wild Atlantic Way aperitif made with cremant and dillisk shrub and tincture and they also do a nice line in alcohol-free cocktails too.
Where: 39 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, H91 RX83
This is definitely a Jekyll and Hyde pub. The front section is all trad music sessions and pints of Guinness, but if you head on out to the back at the weekends you'll find a massive pub garden complete with a double-decker bus where Crust Bucket pizzas are served up.
Where: 8 Cross Street Upper, Galway, H91 YY06
This cavernous Galway pub is so big it actually has two doors on both the High Street and Cross Street. There are five bars set over two floors, including a space for live music and a slightly more sedate Gin Bar. It's crazy busy every night, but particularly at the weekends and at Arts Festival time or during Race Week.
Where: 46 William St, Galway, H91 RX54
Looking for Irish whiskey? Then you've come to the right place. This multi award-winning pub situated in a late medieval building offers Whiskey Platters where you can try three whiskeys along with tasting notes. As you might expect they do a cracking Irish Coffee here too.
Where: 3 Quay St, Galway, H91 TC95
Upstairs from Tigh Neachtain, you'll find this cosy wine bar where the wine list changes pretty regularly and the small plates menu features such delights as parmesan and polenta chips served with a Barna Buckfast aioli.
Where: 15 High St, Galway, H91 AY6P
There's been a pub on this site since 1649 and unlike many similarly-named establishments, this one actually gets its name from the fact that it was once the home of the man who executed King Charles I. They have a separate whiskey bar and do a particularly fine bowl of chowder.
Where: Salthill House, Upper Salthill Road, Galway
OK, so it's not in Galway City, but this Salthill pub's only a short taxi trip or bus ride from the centre and 100% worth the trip. You may recognise it from Ed Sheeran's Galway Girl video or seen pictures of its crazily-Instagrammable interior, and it's the kind of place where Hollywood actors end up doing this.
Where: 8 Eyre Square, Galway
This pub on Galway's central Eyre Square may not look all that from the outside, but what you can't see from the street is the humungous beer garden. Or should that be beer street - after all they've built a Victorian street in their huge courtyard complete with a Dough Bros pizzeria and the whole thing has a retractable roof to cope with the Irish weather.
Where: Raven Terrace, Galway
Owned by Galway Bay Brewery - if you can't get a beer you like here, then the fault is yours. They feature over 120 bottled craft beers, 21 taps (6 rotating) and there's even an open fire for colder nights.
Where: 14 Churchyard St, Galway, H91 X2R
Situated upstairs from one of the best cheese shops in Ireland, this lively wine bar has views out over St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church (which has the distinction of being visited by Christopher Columbus en route to America).
Where: 17 Cross Street, Galway
There's been a pub on this site since 1894 (before that it was the home of 'Humanity Dick' Martin who co-founded the RSPCA). You'll always find a decent session going on - squeeze yourself in and enjoy the atmosphere.
Where: 1-3 Merchants Rd, Galway
This is probably one of the better places to come for a cocktail in Galway. Set in a huge industrial space, with the longest bar in Galway, they go particular big on martinis (gin and vodka) here.
Where: 9 William St W, Galway H91 H5R9
This newish bar and restaurant in Galway's West End is probably the best place in the city right now for cocktails. They made us an exemplary martini recently and the food menu, which includes a 10-mile scotch egg with all the ingredients coming from a 10-mile radius, is also good too.
Outside Galway city
Time to make a trip outside the city? Here’s where to head to in the surrounding area.
Where: Seapoint, Barna, Co. Galway
This super fish restaurant was the first place chef Aidan McGee (now Head Chef at Corrigan's Mayfair) worked. The biggest selling point is its glorious views over Galway Bay - but the seafood-heavy menu is also full of delights.
Where: Barna Rd, Freeport, Barna, Co. Galway, H91 Y3KA
This is our local whenever we're back in Ireland. The hotel/gastropub is situated in Barna Village - a 10-minute drive from Galway. On the top floor, you'll find the fine dining restaurant with a wine list that has won multiple international awards. Our favourite spot is downstairs in The Pins Gastro Bar - the pizzas, stacked with local ingredients, are super. the menu changes regularly and we're addicted to their garlic bread.
Where: Derrynacleigh, Leenaun, Co. Galway
The only street food spot to make it into Lonely Planet's Around the World in 80 Food Trucks, this idyllic shack is perched overlooking Killary Harbour in north Connemara (one of Ireland's three fjords). Get the mussels where the food miles are more like metres - they come from the waters just behind. It's over an hour's drive from Galway, but worth the trip if the weather's behaving.
Where: Market Square, Tuam, Co. Galway, H54 VP96
Husband and wife team Stevie Lane and Amanda Fahy reopened this pub after years working in Dublin's food scene (Lane is a grandson of the pub's original owner and worked at Michelin-starred L’Ecrivain among others). It's about a half-hour drive from Galway, food is super local and seasonal and even the crisps are homemade.
Where: 1, Kanargad, Co. Galway, H62 H798
This new opening - about a 30-minute drive from Galway City - has Irish foodies all in a flutter of excitement. Their pitch is to use "ancient methods focusing on using wood to prepare, cook and serve our cuisine". So expect inventive, modern cooking with a strong emphasis on excellent produce. Pastry chef Grainne is from much-lauded Ox in Belfast so the bread and desserts game will be strong as well.
How to get there
Galway's equidistant between two west of Ireland airports, Shannon to the south and Knock to the North. If you're not hiring a car, Shannon's got better coach connections to Galway - with one going roughly every hour. And if you're heading here from Dublin there are numerous coach services as well as a regular train connection between Dublin and Galway.
The best of Galway city, mapped
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