Life Food & Drink

Sunday 26 May 2019

30 of the best 'for all' restaurants: where to dine that will delight omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike

It's a modern-day dining out headache: where can you book that will satisfy both the meat eaters and plant-based dieters in your group of friends? Here, Katy McGuinness lists some of the best restaurants which offer a menu to delight omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike

Momo in Waterford
Momo in Waterford
Ballynahinch
Pickle
Ballymore Inn
Nevan Maguire
Katy McGuinness

Katy McGuinness

Chances are that, even if you are a committed meat- and fish-eater, you have vegans and vegetarians amongst your friends and family. We went in search of the restaurants around Ireland that put a real effort into making sure that everyone is happy with the choices of dishes available to them, whatever their preferences.

The days of sad pasta with bland tomato sauce as the only vegetarian option may not be fully behind us, but many restaurants are doing much better. Here are 30 of those that are showing the way forward in terms of inclusive eating. If you're unsure about whether a restaurant can cater for different dietary requirements, a phonecall ahead is always a good idea, and remember - a good restaurant should always be able to come up with something interesting for vegans and vegetarians, but they like to get some advance warning .

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

Please note, the list is in no particular order.

1 Cava

Galway; cavarestaurant.ie

Tapas restaurants tend to be amongst the best in terms of offering a good selection of dishes that will appeal to a cross-section of dietary preferences. At Cava there's a whole section of the menu devoted to vegetable- and pulse-based tapas, with dishes such as Catalan ratatouille, chicory and hazelnut salad, and wild mushrooms with organic cider and garlic all popular. Great choices for fish- and meat-eaters too.

In Dublin, Las Tapas de Lola is another tapas restaurant with plenty of veggie options.

2 Forest Avenue

Dublin 4; forestavenuerestaurant.ie

John and Sandy Wyer's 'neighbourhood dining room' has a reputation for excellent food and interesting wines, but it's perhaps not as well-known for being a more than safe house for those who prefer not to eat meat or fish. There's a six-course menu for vegetarians that sits alongside the regular €68 menu. Agnolotti is a signature dish and the current iteration features Parmesan, white asparagus, whey and pistachio butter.

Sister restaurant, Forest & Marcy, located just around the corner, also has plenty on offer for vegetarians.

3 Westgate Design

Wexford; westgatedesign.ie

Wexford's answer to Avoca is a family-owned business that doesn't make a fuss about looking after vegans and vegetarians, but there are always plenty of interesting options on a menu that majors on locally sourced ingredients, with everything prepared in-house. A popular lunch spot.

4 One Pico

Dublin City Centre;

onepico.com

Head chef Ciaran McGill puts real effort into the meat- and fish-free dishes at One Pico and it's a favourite with many vegetarians. 'Violet Artichokes, Coolea Fondue, Hazelnuts, Linseed Cracker' is one of the main courses on the current à la carte menu. It's a dish that's as appealing to omnivores as it is to vegetarians.

5 Shouk

Dublin 9; Facebook: shoukdublin

The Middle-Eastern food at Shouk in Drumcondra is all about flavour, and there's absolutely no short-changing of vegans and vegetarians in that department. Owner Alon Salman is from Israel by way of Wexford and the food in his modest little restaurant is as perfect an expression of the Middle Eastern cuisine Yotam Ottolenghi describes in his book Jerusalem as there is to be found in Ireland. The fact that it's BYOB and has a large outdoor seating area that will come into its own as soon as the sun starts shining only add to its appeal. You'll need to book - Shouk is no longer the secret that it was when we first discovered it back in late 2017.

6 Pickle

Dublin City Centre;

picklerestaurant.com

2019-05-11_lif_50050513_I2.JPG
Pickle

It's almost a cliché to say that Indian restaurants offer more choice to vegans and vegetarians, but when the food is as good as it is at Sunil Ghai's Pickle on Camden Street, who cares? The inspiration here is the street food of Northern India, and when it comes to flavour the vegan and vegetarian dishes don't stint. We particularly like the Vegetarian Thali, but there are plenty of other options.

7 Ananda

Dundrum, Dublin; anandarestaurant.ie

Ananda is Ireland's most sophisticated Indian restaurant, and Karan Mittal's exemplary and innovative cooking is not limited to pleasing omnivores. A recent vegetarian tasting menu to celebrate the festival of Holi drew praise from the great and the good, and Mittal's skill at combining great Irish ingredients with Indian spicing and techniques is as evident in his vegan and vegetarian dishes as it is throughout the rest of the menu.

8 Eastern Seaboard

Drogheda, Co Louth; glasgow-diaz.com

Reuven Diaz reimagines many of the dishes on the menu at Eastern Seaboard as vegan or vegetarian variations, even if they weren't originally conceived of as such. These sit alongside vegetarian dishes such as hen of the woods mushrooms with fregola, nettles and wild garlic, and napa cabbage roll-up with sticky rice and chilli peanuts. We hear that the Holy Cow vegan ice-cream sandwich with sprinkles is a must.

9 The Brehon

Killarney, Co Kerry;

thebrehon.com

Chef Chad Byrne went vegan himself for a while, something that he says brought a true understanding of the challenges in making vegan food appealing to his customers. Twenty per cent of the bar and restaurant menus in the hotel are vegan, with a daily vegan special in the restaurant. Byrne says that he doesn't use "grim, processed imitation twonk" (hip hip hooray!). We like the sound of the Polenta and Hazelnut 'Burger' with fennel slaw and harissa and tahini spread.

10 Nine Arches

Ballymahon, Co Longford; Facebook: NineArchesBallymahon

Nine Arches (reviewed here last week) is not what one would expect to find in deepest Longford, but chef Daniel Skukalek is cooking some exciting, complex, beautiful-looking food here. There's a monthly Vegetarian Supper Club from spring through summer using vegetables grown on a local organic farm, with a six-course tasting menu for €40.

11 Brother Hubbard

Dublin City Centre; brotherhubbard.ie

Owners Garrett Fitzgerald and James Boland have geared their menus towards vegetable-focused Middle Eastern food since they opened in 2012. "Lots of our customers choose the vegetarian and vegan options without even realising that they are doing it," says Fitzgerald, "and we have seen a major shift towards plant-based dishes to the extent that half our dinner menu is now vegan. Everyone is trying to eat more healthily and it's on trend, so Brother Hubbard has become an ideal venue for vegetarians and vegans and their friends to eat together. The signal from the market is very clear - people have realised that it's not binary, you don't have to be one thing or the other."

12 Riba

Stillorgan Dublin; ribarestaurant.ie

Regulars love the Italian/Mediterranean menu at this popular neighbourhood spot, run by the third generation of the Borzza and Vozza familes. The sourcing of meat and fish is excellent, and vegetarians are always well looked after, and sing the praises of the blood orange and red quinoa salad, and wild mushroom panzerotti with truffle cream, in particular.

13 The Greenhouse

Dublin City Centre; thegreenhouserestaurant.ie

When it comes to fine dining, it doesn't get any finer than at Mickael Viljanen's Greenhouse restaurant, which one of these days will get the second Michelin star that it's deserved for some time now. In the meantime, book in for a dining experience that is unmatched in the capital, with dedicated vegan and vegetarian menus available if you phone ahead.

14 Liberty Grill

Cork City; libertygrill.ie

There's a comprehensive vegan/vegetarian section on each menu at this popular Cork restaurant, making it a good choice for a group with different eating requirements. We like the sound of Mexican millefeuille followed by a blackened tempeh burger.

15 Momo

Waterford; momorestaurant.ie

o_Print_May_2019_14.jpg
Momo in Waterford

Ask a Waterford vegan or vegetarian where they'd most like to be taken for dinner and they'll tell you Momo, where the menu effortlessly provides options to suit all of the people, all of the time. We particularly like the sound of bang bang spicy noodles with spicy cauliflower, Asian vegetables and nigella seeds, followed by the lime and coconut 'cheesecake'. If those dishes don't rock your boat, then the slow-cooked beef rib with Milanese risotto surely will.

16 MacNean House

Blacklion, Co Cavan; nevenmaguire.com

2019-05-11_lif_50052236_I4.JPG
Nevan Maguire

Neven Maguire's wonderful MacNean House offers a vegetarian tasting menu for €85; if you choose matching wines it's €135. A recent menu included Jerusalem artichoke veloute, Ryefield goat's cheese salad with walnut purée and pickled vegetables, roast pumpkin risotto, courgette risotto fritters, red pepper orzo, lemon and herb couscous, ricotta and organic chard ravioli followed by pre-dessert, two actual desserts, cheese and petit fours, after which everyone has a nice lie-down. There's a vegan menu available on request.

17 Darwins

Dublin City Centre; darwins.ie

This family-run restaurant on Aungier Street looks after 'carnivorous, coeliac and vegetarian' diners without batting an eyelid. Known for its great Black Angus steaks, it also serves a mean vegan steak, which comes with chips, beetroot hummus, caramelised onion and pickled cauliflower florets. The owners are vegetarian, and there's a whole section of the menu dedicated to vegan and vegetarian dishes.

18 Lucky

Tortoise, Dublin City Centre; Facebook: Lucky Tortoise Dumpling Company

We've been fans of the Lucky Tortoise ever since we first tried it out when it popped up at The Hill pub in Mountpleasant and more recently at Eatyard. We've enjoyed seeing it grow in confidence ever since, and the latest incarnation on Aungier Street is the most polished yet. The all-in €20 dim sum deal is the business, with both omnivore and vegetarian versions available. The lunch deal is €12. Great for groups.

19 The Kitchen Café at Galway Museum

Galway; thekitchengalway.ie

Located at Spanish Arch, Galway's new-ish café is already a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike. It's daytime-only (for the time being?) and the menu is packed with vegan and vegetarian options, with the option to add meat to some if you really can't do without. Chili sin Carne is one such dish - spicy tomato and chilli sauce with kidney beans & red peppers served on basmati rice topped with sour cream, fresh coriander and jalapeños, with tortilla chips for dipping. You can add chorizo if you like. We also like the sound of the Middle Eastern mezze.

20 Ballymore Inn

Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare;

ballymoreinn.com

2019-05-11_lif_50051092_I3.JPG
Ballymore Inn

Barry and Georgina O'Sullivan's lovely restaurant has full vegan and vegetarian menus available all the time to complement its delicious gastropub menu. Saffron risotto with Ballyhoura mushrooms and fresh herb falafel with shredded cabbage salad and tahini dressing are just two of the dishes that caught our collective eye. The Ballymore Inn's pizzas are legendary, and there are versions available for everyone, whatever their dietary preferences.

21 The Garden Room at The Merrion

Dublin City Centre; merrionhotel.com

Many hotels have vegan dishes on the menu in their restaurants, and some have full vegan menus, but The Merrion is the only hotel to have a vegan menu designed by author Holly White in collaboration with The Merrion's Ed Cooney and Paul Kelly. The menu has been such a big hit since it was introduced earlier this year that it has just been updated for spring/summer. We particularly like the chickpea pancake with guacamole and cherry tomatoes.

22 Kai

Galway; kaicaferestaurant.com

Is there any category of 'Best Of' list in the country on which Jess and David Murphy's lovely Salthill restaurant doesn't feature? Regulars - whether vegetarian or not - say that they often choose the vegetarian dishes here because they are so damn tasty, while fish- and meat-eaters are spoiled for choice. The portions are substantial too, so go with a big appetite.

23 Chameleon

Dublin City Centre;

chameleonrestaurant.com

Carole Walsh and Kevin O'Toole's charming Chameleon restaurant in Temple Bar serves as many vegan/vegetarian meals as it does those with meat. This is a great place for a big group, and it's easy for everyone's dietary needs to be accommodated without fuss. Plus the food is truly delicious, making the most of all the best flavours from the exotic Spice Islands.

24 Grow HQ

Waterford; giy.ie

The menu at Grow HQ's café/bistro on the outskirts of Waterford uses well-sourced meat, fish and poultry but is also - as you might expect - a good place to come with vegans and vegetarians. We particularly like the weekly Veg Hero platter which presents the garden superstar of the week in five different ways. Recently the star was beetroot, which came as a char-gilled white beetroot steak with Cashel Blue cheese and crushed macadamia nuts, beetroot kraut risotto with smoked Knockanore cheese, beetroot and smoked paprika gazpacho, golden beetroot hummus and beetroot chips and beetroot fritter with spiced yoghurt.

25 Ballynahinch Castle

Connemara; ballynahinch-castle.com

2019-05-11_lif_50051354_I1.JPG
Ballynahinch

Ballynahinch's talented head chef, Pete Durkan, has introduced both vegetarian and vegan menus to complement the regular menu featuring all manner of gorgeous local produce on offer in the hotel's restaurant, which is open to non-residents. We love the sound of pea soup - the essence of early summer - and salt-baked celeriac with salsa verde, yuzu kosho and puffed grains; whatever you eat, it will taste even better if you nab a table with a view by the window.

26 The Cedar Tree

Dublin City Centre; cedartree.ie

The long-established Cedar Tree is a Dublin institution, and for good reason. This mezze-style food lends itself to sharing and there are plenty of choices here for both vegetarians and meat-eaters. Flavour is always to the fore.

27 Peploe's

Dublin City Centre; peploes.com

While omnivores will tuck into Graeme Dodrill's upmarket bistro-style menu - and should not even attempt to resist Rick Higgins' superior steaks - there's a wealth of choice for vegans and vegetarians too, with dishes such as butternut squash lasagne made with oat milk béchamel.

28 Boxty House

Dublin City Centre; boxtyhouse.ie

Vegans love to tuck into the thick vegetable stew made with coconut milk, while their omnivore companions go for traditional Dublin coddle. The Boxty House comes in for lots of praise from Dubliners looking for somewhere to bring visitors from abroad - there's no fuss when it comes to accommodating all types of dietary requirements and non-meat-eaters are well looked after.

29 Truffles

Kilkenny; trufflesrestaurant.ie

The vegan and vegetarian menu at Truffles, the Kilkenny bistro and wine bar, wins plaudits from the restaurant's regular customers who love the fresh flavours and constant innovation. Aubergine schnitzel and cauliflower steak are just two of the dishes that keep enticing them back.

30 Croi

Tralee, Co Kerry; croirestaurant.com

Who - vegetarian or not - could resist the prospect of an 'Enchanted Woodland Salad' made with 28 ingredients including wild and foraged leaves, wild flower mist, tempura of wild mushrooms and pickled daikon relish? Not us, anyway. Afterwards we think we'd go for the spiced cauliflower steak with wild foraged coastal greens and seaweed jus, with wild gorse panna cotta by way of dessert. Omnivores are spoiled for choice with a range of impeccably sourced meat- and fish-based dishes.

Weekend Magazine

Editors Choice

Also in Life