Ireland's 30 best artisan food stores
From the freshest of fish to the best homegrown produce, these stores stock all you could want and more, writes Katy McGuinness
1 Ardkeen Stores
What: It was fitting that Colin Jephson's Ardkeen Stores was the sponsor of The Theatre of Food at last year's Electric Picnic, because if there is a food store in the country with a truly national reach, then it's Ardkeen. A great shop, crammed with all the best of Irish ingredients from small producers, but also an efficient and comprehensive online delivery service that makes the range available across the country.
Where: Dunmore Road, Waterford. (051) 874 620
2 Asia Market
What: Asian supermarkets can be a bit intimidating - all those fridges full of mystery seafood and meat products - so it's probably best to start off with bargain-sized bottles of fish sauce, soy and mirin, and fresh herbs and vegetables. You can gradually work up to more adventurous purchases. Most towns in Ireland have an Asian food store now, worth checking out for spices and other ingredients.
Where: 18 Drury Street, Dublin 2. (01) 677-9764
What: The Avoca success story is one of the best of the Irish, and it's interesting to note that what started as a shawls and rugs business is now better known as a food company than anything else. If you live near an Avoca store, you may be tempted to treat it as a supermarket, and there are plenty who do, dropping in for bread and eggs, for pastries and salads, for a Poulet Bonne Femme chicken for dinner, and whatever else looks good that day.
Where: The 11 branches include Rathcoole, Galway and Belfast. Call the Kilmacanogue store on (01) 274-6939.
4 The Butler's Pantry
What: With 10 branches located everywhere from Castleknock to Greystones, and from Clontarf to Mount Merrion, TBP has developed a loyal following for its offering of handmade food, proper bread, and great puddings. Some hosts are not above passing TBP's very tasty main courses off as their own. (We're not mentioning any names here.) Each shop has a pantry area jam-packed with the very best of Irish artisan products, but only one in each category because TBP has already done the hard work of selecting the winners. Excellent catering too.
Where: Ten branches across Dublin and North Wicklow. Call the Bray store on (01) 276-1431
What: For residents of South County Dublin, Caviston's is the food mothership. Some go for the fish, some for the deli, some for the selection of organic fruit and vegetables that gets better by the week. You know you're a regular when you get offered free parsley with your darnes of Clare Island salmon. Saturday mornings are quite the scene, and at Christmas, you never know who you might run into queuing to collect the turkey (organic, bronze) and ham (Gubbeen).
Where: 58 Glasthule Rd, Sandycove, Co Dublin (01) 280-9245
6 Country Choice
What: Peter Ward's wonderful shop in Nenagh has been serving the town for over 30 years now, and loyal customers drive from far and wide to pick up the special dried fruits for their Christmas cakes and puddings, as well as the legendary brown bread. But it's not a shop that is pickled in aspic, thanks to Ward's determination to be relevant, and the influence of the next generation, now that his daughters are on board too. So you'll find all the ingredients for those clean-eating recipes, as well as the old favourites: the ham and turkey on the bone, and the proper free-range chickens roasted so that you don't have to. There's a good wine selection too, plus all manner of cakes and other treats, and a café in which to relax over lunch after all that arduous shopping. There's another outlet in the Limerick Milk Market also.
Where: 25 Kenyon Street, Nenagh, Co Tipperary. (067) 32596
What: Dingle was named Ireland's first foodie town in 2014, and a new addition on the food scene is Sarah Dolan's Crinkles, which serves great coffee and sells artisan food from the peninsula and further afield, and the locally-made Harebell Herbs beauty products. If you're ever in Dingle for the food festival, which takes place over the first weekend in October, be sure to drop in. Maja Binder's Little Cheese Shop is nearby, and between the two you'll put together a fine repast.
Where: Lower Green Street, Dingle, Co Kerry. (085) 766 9551
8 Fallon & Byrne
What: Step into Fallon & Byrne of an afternoon and the place is packed with cosmopolitan types, discussing their dinner requirements with the shop's butchers and cheesemongers. When we are grown up, we would like Fallon and Byrne to be our supermarket, in the meantime we'll continue to swing by for a glimpse into how the other half lives. With such a wide range of products, F&B is the place to try for that obscure ingredient from the new Ottolenghi recipe that you just have to make. Tonight.
Where: 11-17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2. (01) 472-1010
9 Farmgate Country Store
What: It's undeniable that Co Cork has more than its fair share of good food, much of it owing to the encouragement given to local producers and restaurants by the Allens at Ballymaloe. Máróg O'Brien's Farmgate country store in Midleton is the epitome of the food culture in these parts; her premises may be little more than a shed, but it's a comfortable enough shed and its packed to the rafters with good things to eat and drink, products from local producers and deli food made on the premises. There's a great restaurant too.
Where: Broderick Street, Coolbawn, Midleton, Co Cork. (021) 463-2771
10 Gannet Fishmongers
What: An excellent fishmongers frequented by the great and the good of the Galway food scene. The location is a little out of the way but the prices make up for the inconvenience, and you can drive right up to the door. The tuna is recommended but you'll always find something a little out of the ordinary, like little brown shrimp so fresh that they're still wriggling.
Where: 5-6 Royal Rock, Ballybane Industrial Estate, Galway. (091) 440 167
See: Gannet Fishmongers on Facebook
11 George's Fish Shop
What: Siblings Graham and Lisa Rogerson took over their parents' fishmongers a few years ago and spruced things up in terms of the shop livery and the offering. It's now the locals' go-to fishmongers for super-fresh fish, and stocks a considered range of complementary ingredients, including an excellent tartare sauce.
Where: Branches at Monkstown Farm and Monkstown Village. (01) 230-3011
12 Get Fresh
What: If you live in Rathfarnham, then Get Fresh is the reason that you will probably never leave. There's an incredibly comprehensive selection of ingredients, plus great fruit and vegetables and a good range of organic produce too. Truly a one-stop shop.
Where: Unit 6, Rosemount Shopping Centre, Marian Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14. (01) 493-7148
13 Glasraí and Goodies
What: A perfect little gem of a food shop, with home-baking, salads and sandwiches to take out, a full range of cheeses, smoked fish and Italian meats, free-range eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables. There's plenty of locally-made produce, gluten-free baked goods and good coffee.
What: Main Street, Gowran, Co Kilkenny. (056) 773-3799
14 James Whelan Butchers
What: If you said a year ago that a butcher from Clonmel would win the number one prize at the UK's Great Taste Awards for his beef dripping, you might have been laughed at, but 5th generation butcher Pat Whelan is no ordinary butcher and his shops are temples to great meat. Whelan rears his own beef and lamb, which he slaughters and dry-ages himself, and his displays would tempt even the most committed vegetarian. Next-day nationwide online delivery service too.
Where: Branches in Clonmel and in some Avoca stores including Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue. (052) 618-2477
15 Kate's Kitchen
What: The three O'Hara sisters - Kate, Beth & Jane - have been running their Sligo Town destination food shop since 2008, and it has become an essential part of foodie life in the North West. As well as fruit and vegetables and artisan products from around the country, the sisters are talented cooks and bakers and there's a simple menu of soups, wraps and a hot dish or two on offer in the café. There are also more substantial prepared dishes to take home each Thursday.
Where: 3 Castle Street, Sligo. (071) 914-3022
Portobello residents love Liston's, which has been going strong since 2000, stocking a wide range of Irish and international artisan and specialty food products, including terrific charcuterie and cheeses. Their salads are great, and there's a decent wine selection too. The catering service is top-notch, with 10 different kinds of coleslaw on offer.
Where: 25/26 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2. (01) 405-4779
17 Lotts & Co.
What: Paul and Barry McNerney are the brothers behind Juniors, Paulie's and the food offering at the Old Spot on Bath Avenue. They have made this little corner of D4 their own, and with the opening of Lotts & Co last summer they are targeting the workers of Grand Canal Dock who like to cook as well as the ones who prefer to let someone else do all the hard work. There's fresh meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, wine, a great salad bar and plenty of healthy breakfast options. Lotts & Co is a grocer, but not as you know it.
Where: 7 South Lotts Road, Dublin 4. (01) 669-7800
18 Lilliput Stores
What: Hip Stoneybatter doesn't have much in the way of food shops, but the Lilliput Stores compact little greengrocer, deli and coffee shop keeps local residents - and the staff of the Lilliput Press across the road - happy, and well-fed. A carefully curated range of edibles means that you could eat very well from here, and never have to venture near a supermarket at all.
Where: 5 Rosemount Terrace, Arbour Hill, Dublin 7. (01) 515-4815
What: Manning's has been going for over 70 years, during which time it has evolved from post office and general store into a proper gourmet food shop, with a huge range of artisan food products, many from the surrounding area. There's a sherry bar and a buzzy café too. It's great to see a business moving with the times, and keeping up with what its customers want while remaining true to itself.
Where: Ballylickey, Co Cork. (027) 50456
What: The family-run McCambridge's is a Galway institution that needs no introduction to locals, but visitors passing through could do worse than stop and stock up on a fabulous range of Irish and international products on their way to holiday rentals in Connemara. The restaurant is good too, and the outside catering service is one that's a badly-kept secret in western parts.
Where: 38-39 Shop Street, Galway. (091) 562259
What: Morton's is to D6 what Caviston's is to SoCoDu. We know of one woman who was offered an account when she first moved into the postcode, solely on the strength that her mother-in-law had one. There's a bakery, meat from Lawlor's butchers and as comprehensive a range of ingredients for cooks as you'll find anywhere. And there's a second city centre store.
Where: 15-21 Dunville Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, (01) 497-1913. Hatch Street, Dublin 2, (01) 4782758
What: Nolan's is the kind of small family-run supermarket that you wish you had within a five-minute walk of your house. It stocks Bertram Salter's chickens, Goatsbridge trout, Jane Russell sausages and all sorts of other essential and not so essential components of a good food and home life. Lucky Clontarf residents. We're sure that proximity to Nolan's is responsible at least in part for the healthy property prices in this neck of the woods.
Where: 49 Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3. (01) 833-8361
What: Part general store, part delicatessen, part artisan food parlour, O'Keeffe's is a feel-good shop stocking a carefully curated range of good things to eat, from Arbutus breads, to On The Pig's back patés and Frank Hedermann's Belvelly smoked fish. Unpretentious and democratic, this is one of those shops that you wish was your local.
Where: 2-3 Wellington Rd, St Luke's Cross, Cork City. (021) 450-2010
What: Niall O'Leary's bakery, grocers and delicatessen in pretty Cootehill has been going since the 1930s and is a repository of good things to eat. There's a tiny café with a couple of tables that serves good coffee, and a fine array of good bread and cheese (O'Leary's sells out of a wheel of Mossfield in two days) and all the artisan goodies you could wish for.
Where: 14 Bridge Street, Cootehill, Co Cavan. (049) 555-2142
See: O'Leary's Delicatessen on Facebook
25 The Organic Supermarket
What: When the Organic Supermarket first opened in Blackrock, there were those who thought that it could not last. Were there enough cranks around to sustain such a business? What is organic anyway? These days the business is going from strength to strength and its flagship store in Rathgar is thronged with affluent D6ers wanting to do right by their families. A great range of products and box deliveries too.
Where: 2c Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin, (01) 278-1111. 3-5 Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6, (01) 598-9999. 11 Townyard Lane, Malahide, Co Dublin, (01) 559-9200.
26 Rua Deli
What: If you like the food at Café Rua on New Antrim Street, then you'll love the sister shop on Spencer Street, which carries the kind of range that you'd like to see in at least one shop in every decent-sized town in the country. Rua's best-sellers include the Gubbeen range of charcuterie, David Llewellyn's apple juice and balsamic cider vinegar, and you are guaranteed to unearth some new foodie treasure on every visit. Plus there is terrific prepared food to take away, should your kitchen muse have deserted you, even temporarily.
Where: Spencer Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo. (094) 928 6072
27 Select Stores
What: Oliver McCabe's Select Stores is a Dalkey institution, a shop with a product range so tempting that you go in for half a dozen free-range eggs and some almond butter, and end up coming out laden with ingredients that you never even knew existed - never mind that you needed - half an hour before. This is the place to go to stock up when you're embarking on your new clean-eating regimen. Great juices, and a few tables at which to sit and have a post-workout catch-up with your pals over a couple of protein balls.
Where: 1 Railway Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin. (01) 285-9611
See: select stores.ie
What: Anyone with an interest in cheese will be familiar with the distinctive Sheridan's green and white livery, as Sheridan's supply their cheese to a number of retail outlets. But if you want the full experience, visit one of their shops. The one in the beautifully converted Virginia Road Station in Pottlereagh near Kells in Co Meath is the biggest, where you'll find the full range along with other Irish artisan produce. On Saturdays there's a small farmers' market.
Where: Branches in Dublin, Galway, Waterford. Call the Meath store on (046) 924-5110
29 The Good Food Store
What: The Good Food Store's smart premises on South Great George's Street is home to a great range of products including Toonsbridge cheeses from Co Cork and great breads from Tartine, Ariosa coffee and good take-out options for lunch too, including the famous daily special Roast in a Roll on a soft Bretzel roll.
Where: 24 South Great George's Street, Dublin 2. (01) 444-3877. Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. (01 667-4541)
What: Ruth Healy calls her shop a 'culinary store' but she could just as easily dub it a culinary mecca, such is its appeal in Cork. (The name 'Urru" stands for UrbanRural.) With over a hundred different products from small artisan producers, plus cookbooks, kitchen ware, craft products including Bunbury Boards and local ceramics, and a small café, this is the real deal: a place for like-minded food folk to meet and stock their fridges, and their shelves.
Where: McSwiney Quay, Bandon, Co Cork. (023) 885-4731