Ireland’s free-spirited youthful hub suddenly seems all grown up… Here Aoibheann MacNamara of Galwegian epicurean institution Ard Bia shares her definitive fun-and-foodie guide to the City of the Tribes.
Perfectly poised between the Atlantic and the mountains for optimum beauty, tourist favourite Galway has developed a seriously enviable street-food scene. Now, established food operators are upping their game and making this the coolest foodie city in Ireland.
Eat at …
Entre Pans at the Bierhaus (2 Henry Street), pictured below, where Frank and Paul of An Crúibín (Cork) fame are now dishing up the best sambo meals around. Savour with some select beers and ground-root cocktails while you take in the beards and plaid shirts down the west end – the coolest area of town, bierhausgalway.com/entre-pans.
The Dough Bros’ Wood-Fired Pizza (24 Upper Abbeygate Street). Run by the energetic redhead Eugene Greaney and his younger brother, Ronan, this eatery started life as a stall at the market a year ago and now has a plugged-in operation, with subway-tiled wood-fired oven and industrial rustic style. The pizzas are super and made with artisan local produce. You can wash it all down with alcoholic ginger beer and enjoy the tunes, facebook.com/thedoughbros.
Biteclub, next door (36 Upper Abbeygate Street) – designed by the über- cool John Leo Gillen – has Moroccan and Indian interiors, with a lot of Brooklyn NYC thrown in. Food is easy, a clever twist on your typical takeaway, with local and seasonal produce major players here. The cocktails are epic and DJs not uncommon, facebook.com/BiteclubStreetfood.
The Saturday Market (beside St Nicholas’ Church, between Shop Street and Market Street) is a must-visit. The falafel stand will set you up for the day – you can just taste the goodness. Follow that with Dan the Donut Man’s New York-style bad boys (ask for one with “the works”), galwaymarket.com.
After a busy day buying the vegetables, you have to pop up to Sheridans Wine Shop & Bar (14 Church Yard Street, above the cheesemongers) around six o’clock, where the place will be all abuzz with locals and New York Times-reading tourists. Get Gerry to make you a cheese and meat board and ask him to choose a wine for you. It’s heaven, sheridanscheesemongers.com/shop/galway.
For established foodie favourites, try Kai (on Sea Road) for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s always an occasion, always memorable. Superb service, familiarity, seasonality and all the things a food space should be, kaicaferestaurant.com.
McCambridge’s (38-39 Shop Street), pictured below, is perpetually wonderful and buzzing. You will never visit without seeing Natalie, who always welcomes everyone warmly. I love to sit at the tea counter, get a takeaway sandwich and drink some Campbell’s tea while watching the town walk past. It’s both old-school and modern – and is truly Galway, mccambridges.com.
Shop at …
Ó Máille (16 High Street). Irish handknits, Studio Donegal blankets, wool and lots more make this my favourite Galway shop. Owner Anne is a legend – having been in the business for decades, she is the real deal. A knitter herself, she flies the flag for the woollens industry and promotes and sells the finest produce Ireland has to offer, omaille.com.
The Gaiety Antique & Vintage Store (3 St Francis Street). Owner Clodagh has a super eye for shabby-chic furniture and finds. It’s a joyful shop, inspiring and attractive, complete with upcycling painting classes. A must- see for anyone doing up a place, thegaiety.ie.
Wooden Heart (3 Quay Street). Owned by the wonderful Ulrichs clan – Who better to run a children’s toyshop than a German family? – this shop stocks an eclectic mix of intelligent and natural products for children. The space is like a doll’s house with three floors of finds, woodenheart.ie.
Sleep at …
The Stop B&B (38 Father Griffin Road). Run by creative husband and wife Emer and Russell, it is utterly stylish in a Shoreditch-meets-Williamsburg sort of way. Enjoy your breakfast while reading back issues of art magazines – that sort of thing. As the couple have three boys themselves, the B&B is super child- friendly. It’s the perfect base from which to explore, and epitomises the funky evolution Galway has undergone in the last few years, thestopbandb.com.
Above: One of Galway’s many alluring Atlantic beaches.
Drink at …
Neachtain’s (17 Cross Street). No place is more truly Galway, and no pub more perfect. Galway wouldn’t be Galway without this institution. Whether it’s a summer’s day sitting outside, or an autumn evening beside the fire … every moment here is memorable, tighneachtain.com.