Galway, Ireland’s gateway to Connemara Valley, the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher, is a foodie charmer all its own. Whether here for a night or three, Galway will implore you to stay longer or, at least, come back as soon as possible. Over the last few years, it has deservedly earned accolades for its fast-growing culinary scene and continues to impress locals and visitors at every turn.
Still, the options for dining are infinite and can leave you dazed and indecisive. For authentic Irish cuisine that mixes it up and breathes new life into Galway’s gastronomy, here are our top picks to satisfy your foodie cravings!
For the culinary team at Michelin-starred Aniar, food is wholly a narrative of past and future. They have reinvented the idea of terroir to embrace Ireland’s rugged west coast into every meal, allowing guests to taste the melodies of the landscape. Choose from a 6-, 8- or 10-course dinner that innovatively reflects the flavours, ever-changing with the seasons, that are found in the area.
The menu, which is updated daily, proudly shares where ingredients have been sourced from. And they suggest the perfect wine and cider pairings alongside that night’s dishes. One night you may find smoked cheese and kelp, blow-torched oyster and turnips and eel on their Inis Oírr menu (all are aptly named after the Aran Islands). Though it’s a high-end establishment, it’s worth the price and the experience.
Address: 53 Lower Dominick Street, Galway, Ireland
4. Cava Bodega
The chef of Aniar strikes again, and with a Spanish flare. They’ve been named Ireland’s best tapas, and rightly so: Cava Bodega presents over 50 local Spanish tapas while supporting local farmers and winemakers. The marriage is unrivalled. Split as many plates as possible, because there isn’t one to go wrong with.
From their vegetable section, Catalan ratatouille, Moorish couscous with the delicate flavour of rose petals and a heap of chickpea empanadillas. Fall head-over-heels for salted cod cakes, paired with a light lemon mayonnaise; or, profess your tastebuds’ joy from the rafters after a bite of their Jamon croquettes or tomato bread with serrano ham and a drizzle of olive oil.
Cleanse your palate with their great sorbet, a sweet sensation of rosé cava and liquorice meringue. Cava’s artisan approach has made it a Galway staple, and one you have to see (and eat through!) to believe.
Address: 1 Middle St, Galway, Ireland
3. The Front Door
The Latin Quarter is all the livelier with this contemporary Irish pub. Its spacious two floors allude to an adventure, resembling handfuls of restaurants in one, every room equally as cosy as the last.
Here, you can watch a match, celebrate anything and relax after a day of sightseeing, all in the comfort of its hidden nooks. To boot, they serve Irish cuisine with modern twists and happily accommodate all dietary restrictions. Delight in their shepherd’s pie; tempura prawns, paired with avocado mayo; and Herterich’s Whole Hog burger, a homage to a full Irish breakfast and complete with Sonny’s special sauce. Try it for yourself to understand what makes it so unique! Don’t leave without demolishing their chocolate and hazelnut brownie.
If you’re here on a Sunday, start your morning off with their boozy brunch. An order of their Hangover Helper–a fried egg sandwich–or Croque Madame–baked ham and cheese over bloomer bread–gets you back on your feet after a night out so you can take on the day, wherever it may lead you.
Address: 8 Cross Street Upper, Galway, H91 YY06, Ireland
2. Trattoria Magnetti
This family-owned Italian Ristorante has found favour in Galway for its atmosphere of home and home cooking. Today, they continue the tradition of hand-making their pasta, and one bite will whisk you off on holiday within a holiday.
If that isn’t enough, they serve carbonara pizza. You don’t realise you need pancetta and an over-easy egg topping mozzarella cheese until it’s right there in front of you. Trattoria Magnetti incorporates Irish delicacies, such as seafood, goat’s cheese and venison into ravioli, bruschetta and, of course, pasta for fresh, doubly-familiar meals.
Weather permitting, take a seat on the patio and, if asked, say yes to a blanket. Surrounded by the company, good wine and tantalising plates, you won’t be leaving anytime soon.
Address: 12 Quay St, Galway, Ireland
Located off of Eyre Square and at the top of the city centre is Maxwell’s, Galway city’s oldest restaurant. Once both a restaurant and wine, whiskey and tobacco importer, this spot perfectly blends classic, upscale and affordable. The bright windows overlooking the street and flooding the space with natural light is in itself a treat. Maxwell’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I promise, if you come for breakfast, you’ll definitely be back later.
They employ only the highest quality ingredients, like their seafood, sourced daily from Rossaveal Port. Enjoy a colourful dish of poached eggs, bacon and toast with chilli jam. Or, their appetiser of poached pear and duck spring rolls. There is something to suit everyone’s tastes on the menu, from pork belly to noodle and vegetable stir-fry to their self-proclaimed luxury seafood pie. And their desserts–oh, the desserts–are presented in varying mason jars and pack a punch of richness. Sticky toffee pudding, anyone?
Address: 14 Williamsgate St, Galway, Ireland