I never need much encouragement to head to Galway, a city that’s buzzing with culture, creativity and seaside fun. They are well used to welcoming throngs of tourists. The pubs are incomparable to most cities, but amongst all this, you’ll also find some of the most innovative and laudable food and drink in the country.
If you’re stuck for time or simply want to get your bearings, I’d highly recommend signing up for one of Sheena Dignam's Galway Food Tours. These enjoyable and informative walking tours of will introduce to a side of the city you simply won’t find on your own.
It includes stop-offs and chats with local characters and producers peppered among a healthy amount of tasting.
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This is certainly a city that welcomes exploring. Here are just some of the highlights keen foodies should seek out stat.
Coffee, snacks, drinks
Coffeewerk + Press is usually my first stop off. One of the prettiest cafes around, it combines a concept-store that sells wonderful prints and curated homewares, with a great multi-roaster coffee offering. They rotate International coffees which you don’t often see elsewhere, like Tim Wendelboe. Sit back with your cuppa and enjoy in the Kinfolk-esque surroundings.
Morning bakes should be literally sniffed out at Marmalade Bakery. You will get the waft of fresh baking long before you get to the store. This new neighbourhood spot has already won a legion of fans and rightly so. Their insanely good breakfast bakes include cinnamon buns and muffins piled high with gourmet toppings. With two daily bakes, there’s plenty of sourdough on the go, and they also do some wonderful sandwiches. I defy you not to try the salted caramel tart.
Make sure to factor in a stop off at American Village Apothecary & Tasting Room. You’ve probably never had a drink like those on offer here. Claire Davey makes unique syrups, tinctures and bitters from locally foraged ingredients, using them to create her signature drinks, teas and brews.
Browse the shelves for bog myrtle tincture or gorse flower syrup or simply book into one of their tasting tours where you will be immersed in the smells and tastes of Connemara and America Village, learning all about what they do here.
Brunch, lunch and casual dinners
For relaxed dining with a local focus, head to Dela on Dominick Street and marvel at the amazing amount of local, homegrown and seasonal food that features on the menu. Here they grow as much as they can on their nearby Moycullen Farm and feature plenty of other local suppliers with cheese from Sheridans and fish from The Gannet fishmonger.
It is great for brunch, lunch or dinner and they also do a good value early bird.
Kai is one of the best-known spots in Galway for a good reason, Chef Jess Murphy has somehow formulated a unique cuisine I call ‘things you will want to eat’. She combines comfort food classics with local ingredients, for dishes that are playful and taste great. At lunch, look out for the fish finger sandwich and salads that will turn your head. The cake display is divinely distracting and worth saving space for. Dinner is more of the same, usually with some great local fish and meats.
For some of the best pizza in Galway or indeed Ireland, you can’t go wrong with Dough Bros. From starting out as a street stall they now have two outposts in the city serving up their beautiful wood-fired pizza.
People flock to both for their fun take on pizza toppings, anything goes and everything works. The Denis Irwin comes with Toonsbridge Mozzarella, Gubbeen chorizo, nduja sausage and caramel baked pineapple. The Tandoori comes with Tandoori Chicken, corn, pickled chilli, mint cucumber yoghurt and lime. Make sure to order a foraged roast garlic dip for your crusts.
Visit Sheridans Galway cheese shop to see where it all began. Opened in 1995, this is where Seamus and Kevin Sheridan first started selling cheese in 1995.
Upstairs you’ll find their wonderful wine bar, pouring a great selection of old world wines with Italy as the main focus. Grab a stool and get tasting while you graze on plates of cheese and charcuterie.
Tartare is a newish cafe and wine bar from the well known Galway team behind Aniar and Cava Bodega which are both worth popping on your list.
By day, Tartare acts as a cafe serving sourdough sandwiches, soup, organic salads and small plates of local oysters, beef tartare and weekly specials along with homemade pastries and tea and coffee.
In the evenings head here for a more extensive small plates menu with a touch of Aniar about it. You will find lots of local ingredients and sublimely delicate cooking. They also serve boards of Irish farmhouse cheeses and charcuterie and a superb wine list made of entirely of organic, biodynamic and natural wines.
If a fancier dinner is on the agenda, plan ahead and book Loam. Chef Enda McEvoy cooks Michelin-starred food with a distinctly local focus and hints of Nordic cuisine. Their tasting menu is well worth the time. Head there midweek if you prefer, for the simple menu of two or three courses.
There is also a wine bar where you can grab a glass from their impressive list and nibble on some local cheese and charcuterie.
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