One of the best things about travelling around Ireland is discovering the amazing small businesses that are found the length and breadth of the country, not to mention sampling their delicious wares.
As someone who has mostly holidayed in Ireland over the last few years, I can say without a doubt that one of the highlights is always the small businesses producing amazing food that you discover along the way.
Sure, you'll look back fondly at your pictures of the stunning views, and memories of swimming in the sea will get you though a slow day in the office, but you'll also reminisce about that mind-blowing sandwich, or the pastries you kept going back for each day.
These cafés, bakeries and coffee obsessives are to be found in even the most remote-seeming areas, and each feels like a real treasure. Here are some of our favourites around the country.
Stone Valley Roasters
On a trip to West Cork last summer, my boyfriend insisted we go to this café almost every day, so excellent was the coffee. Located in Clonakilty, there's not much on offer apart from their coffee menu, but this alone is worth making a detour for.
This Skibbereen spot feels like stepping into someone's front room, with a beautifully traditional shopfront and plenty of cosy corners. The building provides plenty of nooks to settle into and enjoy a coffee and a snack.
Priory Coffee Co.
With locations in Cork city, Youghal, Mallow, Fermoy and Riverstick, Priory Coffee Co. are providing lunch and coffee across the county. Their range of sandwiches and toasties is definitely worth trying out.
Heron Gallery and Café
If you're exploring the Sheep's Head peninsula, then you have to stop off at this eclectic café. Not only is the food delicious, but owner Annabel Langrish also uses the space as a gallery for local artists, while outside there is a whole garden that guests are encouraged to explore, and where some of the ingredients for the dishes are grown.
Packed full of delicious baked goods from sourdough to sausage rolls, if you're in Galway city make sure to swing by Marmalade for a perfect breakfast or mid-morning treat.
An absolute institution in the city, the food in McCambridge's really is as good as they say. What's more, you can pick up some treats to take home on your way out from their extensive range of groceries.
Coffeewerk + Press
If great coffee is what you're after, then Coffewerk + Press is the place to go. While you enjoy your brew, you can wander around their selection of beautiful artwork and homewares, or pick up an artist-designed postcard to send home.
Located next to the Killary Fjord in Connemara, Misunderstood Heron provides delicious food and sweet treats in a truly breahtaking setting. Stop by for a lunch with a view you'll never forget.
Beloved by Ireland's foodie community, Shells Cafe is situated next to the sea in Strandhill, and is a favourite among surfers. You don't need a wetsuit to enjoy their excellent range of delicious dishes, however, which changes daily and always has something exciting on offer.
A new venture from the people behind Shells Cafe, Baker Boys is located close to the centre of Sligo, and has a range of delicious baked goods, from savoury tarts to chocolate chip cookies.
Another spot for excellent baked goods, the folks at Pudding Row are currently changing things up, but we'll be keeping a close eye to see what they come up with.
If you're on the north coast, then make sure to stop off at Babushka in Portrush. Nab a seat by the window or outside to watch the surfers as you enjoy your food, and under no circumstances should you leave without one of their caramel squares.
No visit to the Giant's Causeway is complete without a grilled cheese from Maegden, this adorable food truck perched on the side of the Causeway Road, outside Bushmills. Another place where the food comes with a side of Atlantic views, not to mention one of the best sandwiches you've ever had.
From sourdough bread to unusual sandwiches, Ursa Minor in Ballycastle has a wonderful selection of things to choose from. If you're heading out to Rathlin Island, why not buy a selection to make a truly excellent picnic?
Coffee and Cactus
If a city break to Belfast is on the cards, then make sure to put Coffee and Cactus on your list to visit. They've opened in a corner of beloved furniture and lifestyle store Maven, and combine amazing coffee with a gorgeous selection of plants.
With several locations across Belfast, District is a great place to go for a delicious brunch, lunchtime salad, or to just pop in for an iced latte.
Lost & Found
Lost & Found in Coleraine (and also in their new Portstewart location) serve up truly delicious food and excellent coffee. Their bright space is a delightful setting to while away a few hours in, or sit outside if the weather's co-operating.
9ine Hostages Coffee
If you've gone to check out the home of the Derry Girls, then 9ine Hostages Coffee is a great place to stop off for a sweet treat and a coffee. Situated just outside Butcher's Gate, they also have some outdoor seating for warmer days.
If you're planning on exploring Strangford Lough, then make sure to put Haptik on your list of places to visit. Their range of dishes taste even better than they look, offering plenty of diverse and fresh flavours.
Finegan & Son
Newry's Finegan & Son has an excellent food menu, from breakfast staples to delicious lunches, as well as great coffee. Their space is also a delightful place to spend time, although right in the centre of the city, its large windows make the space feel calm and bright.
Combining excellent coffee with eco lifestyle goods, Duo in Limerick is a must-visit if you're in the city. Browse their selection of books, homeware items and eco-alternatives to everyday items while you enjoy your coffee, or just sit at the window and watch the world go by.
A delicious menu is complemented with a coffee selection to please even the pickiest coffee aficionado. Located on Mallow Street, it's also in the heart of the city, near the People's Park.
Bean in Dingle
Offering coffee and some sweet treats, Bean in Dingle roast their own beans, so you know that they're serious about the freshest coffee possible. Its cheerful exterior means it's hard to miss, situated on Green Street.
My Boy Blue
With an amazing brunch offering, My Boy Blue is great spot to start your day. They also serve 3FE coffee if you simply want a caffeine pick-me-up.
Yummy Cafe Market
With a great selection of sandwiches and salads, Yummy Cafe Market in Tralee is a perfect stop for lunch. It's also a great spot for families.
With sourdough made from local heritage grains farmed and milled just 10 milmoetres from the café, you can tell Aràn in Kilkenny are serious about making the most of local produce. They also have an excellent selection of pastries that are hard to pass up.
With patisserie that truly looks like works of art, it's no surprise that Kilkenny locals love Cakeface. They also have a great lunch menu, with salads, soups and sandwiches on sourdough and artisan bread.
Old Barracks Coffee Roasters
Close to the shores of Lough Derg, Old Barracks Coffee Roasters in Birdhill is a great place to stop for some excellent coffee and a great pastry. As a roastery, they also have an extensive selection of beans to buy, and a new grocery section has recently opened, with Irish cheeses, relishes and other products.
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Dooks Fine Foods
Serving up everything from breakfast to fabulous evening menus at the weekends, Dooks in Fethard is worth a visit at any time of day. They also have a fine-foods shop, so you can take some wonderful products home, too.
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Trade Coffee in Waterford city provides excellent coffee and pastries. Situated near the river, it has an outdoor seating area where you can sit and enjoy your brew.
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Always bustling on a weekend morning, get to Seagull Bakery in Tramore early to get your pick of their sourdough bread and delicious pastries. Their chocolate and hazelnut croissants are insanely good.
Featured image: @coffeexcactus, @coffeewerkandpress
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