Ireland’s 100 Best Restaurants – now with beach shack and food carts
Food, glorious food
McKenna’s Guides has published its annual list of Ireland's 100 Best Restaurants, with a smorgasbord of entries ranging from fine dining to food shacks.
Galway is “the finest city to eat in Ireland” according to John and Sally McKenna's influential guide, published this week in app format for Apple and Android.
New entries on the 100 Best Restaurants list include The Happy Pear in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Forest Avenue and The Fumbally in Dublin and Cork's "gourmet street kitchen", The Food Depot - run by Irish MasterChef winner, Diana Dodog (pictured above).
Also included is Harry’s Shack in Portstewart, Co. Derry (below) – a beach shack whose chef Derek Creagh has worked in Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck and Riverside Brasserie.
Harry's Shack, Portstewart, Co. Derry
Mixing cafés, food carts and pizza joints - such as Skinflint in Dublin - in among the cream of the country's mid-range and Michelin Star restaurants signals just how far Ireland’s casual food scene has come in recent years.
"In addition to food carts from Derry and West Cork, there is also a food shack, there is a canteen that is housed in a market, there is a surfer's paradise in Co. Sligo, and there is a pizza place in Donegal run by an hotelier, a baker and a craft brewer,” John McKenna says.
The choices may look eccentric, but there are some serious CVs behind them.
The fact that chefs like Creagh and Dodog are cooking in shacks and trucks reflects a trend towards food experiences rather than stuffy service, McKenna adds.
“What unifies these places, is great cooking," he says.
"When you think of the traditional food cart in Ireland you think of a gruesome experience, a greasy chipper, only fit to eat from when you're drunk... but these are very, very different."
However, the 100 Best list is also notable for its exclusions.
Kilkenny scarcely features, for instance, with just one entry (Campagne). Mount Juliet’s Michelin Starred Lady Helen restaurant fails to make the cut.
Mount Juliet - missed the cut
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland's only two Michelin Star restaurant, is perhaps the most surprising omission, with Oliver Dunne's Bon Appetit also absent.
"I would be no respecter of Michelin Stars," McKenna says. "It's not what I'm interested in, and it's not what the people who buy our books are interested in."
Bolstering its foodie reputation, Galway's new entries include Enda McEvoy's Loam, McCambridge’s of Shop Street and Upstairs @West, in Barna’s Twelve Hotel.
Dublin-based restaurants account for a quarter of the total list - with 25 total inclusions, while Kerry has just four of Ireland's Top 100 restaurants, three of which are in Dingle.
100 Best Restaurants in Ireland
Lennons @ Visual, VISUAL Centre, Carlow
Step House Hotel, Borris
MacNean Restaurant, Blacklion
The Olde Post Inn, Cloverhill, Butler’s Bridge
Gregan’s Castle, Ballyvaughan
The Long Dock, Carrigaholt
Vasco, Fanore [NEW]
Vaughan Lodge, Lahinch [NEW]
Wild Honey Inn, Lisdoonvarna
Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry
The Black Pig, Kinsale [NEW]
Café Paradiso, Lancaster Quay, Cork
Deasy’s Harbour Bar, Clonakilty
The Farm Gate Café, English Market, Cork
Fenn’s Quay, Cork
Fishy Fishy Café, Kinsale
The Food Depot, Courtmacsherry [NEW]
Glebe Gardens, Baltimore
Good Things Café, Durrus
Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty [NEW]
Manning’s Emporium, Ballylickey [NEW]
Monks Lane, Timoleague [NEW]
Sage Restaurant, Midleton
The Square Table, Blarney [NEW]
Harrys Bar & Restaurant, Bridgend
The Mill Restaurant, Dunfanaghy
The Tap Room, Rathmullan House [NEW]
Ananda, Dundrum Town Centre
Brioche, Ranelagh [NEW]
Brother Hubbard & Sister Sadie, Capel Street
The Cake Cafe, Pleasants Place [NEW]
The Canteen at the Market, Blackrock Market [NEW]
Chameleon Restaurant, Temple Bar
Chapter One, Parnell Square
China Sichuan, Sandyford
The Chop House, Shelbourne Road
Dunne & Crescenzi, South Frederick Street
Ely Winebar, Ely Place
Etto, Merrion Row [NEW]
L’Ecrivain, Lower Baggot Street
Forest Avenue, Sussex Terrace [NEW]
The Fumbally, Fumbally Lane [NEW]
The Greenhouse, Dawson Street
L. Mulligan Grocers, Stoneybatter
Mourne Seafood Bar, Grand Canal Dock [NEW]
Pearl Brasserie, Merrion Street Upper
Pichet, Trinity Street, Dublin
Restaurant Forty One, St Stephen’s Green
Skinflint, Crane Lane
Thornton’s Restaurant, St. Stephen’s Green
Winding Stair, Lower Ormond Quay
The Woollen Mills, Ormond Quay Lower, [NEW]
Aniar, Lower Dominick Street
Ard Bia at Nimmo’s, Spanish Arch
Cava Bodega, Middle Street
Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites, Inis Meain
Kai Cafe + Restaurant, Sea Road
Loam, Geatta Na Cathrach, Fairgreen [NEW]
McCambridges, Shop Street [NEW]
Upstairs @ West, Barna [NEW]
Idás, Dingle [NEW]
Global Village, Dingle [NEW]
Out Of The Blue, Dingle
The Ballymore Inn, Ballymore Eustace
Harte’s of Kildare, Kildare Town
Campagne, 5 The Arches, Gashouse Lane
The Cottage Restaurant, Jamestown
The Courthouse, Kinlough
Luna Restaurant, Dromahair [NEW]
The Oarsman, Carrick-on-Shannon
Canteen, Mallow Street
La Cucina, Castletroy
Restaurant 1826, Adare
Viewmount House, Longford
Eastern Seaboard, Drogheda
Knockranny House, Westport
An Port Mor, Westport
Rua & Café Rua, Castlebar
Shell’s Café, Strandhill [NEW]
Chez Hans & Cafe Hans, Cashel
The Old Convent, Clogheen
Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore
The Tannery Restaurant, Dungarvan
The Fatted Calf, Glasson
The Happy Pear, Greystones [NEW]
The Strawberry Tree at Brook Lodge, Aughrim
Upstairs at Balloo, Killinchy
Browns & Browns in Town, Derry,
Harry’s Shack, Portstewart [NEW]
James Street South, Belfast
Howard Street, Belfast [NEW]
Lost and Found, Coleraine [NEW]
The Old Schoolhouse Inn, Castle Espie
OX, 1 Oxford Street, Belfast
Pyke’n’Pommes, Queen’s Quay, Derry
Shu, 253 Lisburn Road, Belfast
Gregan's Castle - one of Ireland's 100 Best
McKenna’s Guides are compiled and published in app format for both Apple and Android by influential food writers John and Sally McKenna. They also launched an updated version of their ‘Where To Eat & Stay on the Wild Atlantic Way’ guide this week.
The apps are produced together with DCU’s School of Communications via the Enterprise Ireland knowledge partnership scheme, and include GPS and links to social media and websites for the establishments listed.
They are available on iTunes and Google Play at €2.99 each.