The Wild Atlantic Way is the essential road trip for any devout Hibernophile but unbeknownst to many, it’s secretly the ultimate foodie holiday for any dedicated connoisseur.
Driving along every winding road and country lane from Cork to Donegal, you’re sure to work up a ferocious appetite.
Well we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of our favourite restaurants along the route. Here’s our ultimate foodie guide to the Wild Atlantic Way.
For breath-taking images of the Wild Atlantic Way, click here.
4 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork City
Cork is a vibrant and spirited city in the South-West of Ireland and is considered by many (only people in Cork) to be the true capital city, therefore it’s the natural starting point for your Wild Atlantic Way adventure. Nestled on the banks of the River Lee, the city is full to the brim with excellent cafes, gastro-pubs and restaurants, but we have a particular favourite that you’re sure to love.
Situated at the end of Cork’s Oliver Plunkett Street, Elbow Lane Brew and Smokehouse is a micro-brewery which offers up some of the finest steak and ribs in the county. This dimly lit, L-shaped restaurant is full of character and it’s easy to feel right at home here. All the food is cooked over a wood-fired grill in full view of guests and the freshly brewed beer is equally delicious.
If you’re not feeling particularly carnivorous, Elbow Lane also offers a Fish of the Day special. Going all out? Add some of house’s specialty triple-cooked chips…Yum! To finish up, order a beer tasting tray to wash down all that glorious food. All of Elbow Lane’s craft beers are produced in-house and are brewed to compliment the food.
Top Tip: can’t get a table? Leave your name and number with the waiter and they’ll ring you when a table is free – now that’s service.
Waterside, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Photo by miheco
There’s a saying that the next parish after Dingle is America, as the isolated town is situated on Ireland’s most westerly point, making it a haven for any seafood lover. Local fishing boats throng the harbour every morning to unload their catch and if the haul is good, you can expect to indulge in some delectable seafood.
Out of the Blue is found in front of Dingle’s marina. Painted a bright blue colour, this quaint restaurant is hard to miss. The menu changes daily, depending on the catch each morning and if it isn’t up to the chef’s standards, they don’t open – simple as.
The biggest crime you can commit when cooking seafood is to overcomplicate it. The dishes at Out of the Blue perfectly compliment the beautifully fresh produce on offer and are a delight to sample. Why not order the delicious seafood chowder to start? Followed by the pan-seared scallops and home-made pineapple and chili salsa – they won’t disappoint.
Cupán Tae, 8 Quay Lane, Galway City / Kai Restaurant, Sea Road, Galway City
Photo by Brideen
It’s very hard to pick just one excellent place to eat in Galway – so that’s why we picked two. We’ve got you covered for either a light afternoon snack, a refreshing cup of tea (we know you can’t survive with your daily brew) or a delightful evening meal.
Feel like indulging your sweet tooth? Then Cupán Tae (Kup-on Tay), which is Gaelic for ‘a cup of tea’, is your go-to café in Galway. Conveniently situated near Galway’s historic Latin Quarter, this hidden gem serves freshly home-made cakes, buns and delicious treats throughout the day.
And if you haven’t guessed by the name, they have a slight obsession with tea. Be sure to try the Irish Cream Tea – a full bodied black tea with subtle hints of cocoa, vanilla and whiskey.
Meanwhile Kai Restaurant is the perfect setting for casual dining, opened by Kiwi chef Jessica Murphy in 2011, Kai’s menu changes daily and whilst the selection is limited, all dishes are executed to the highest standard.
Flooded with natural light, the vibrant bohemian interior is sure to brighten anyone’s mood and if that fails, the enticing food certainly won’t.
Photo by blacksheepfoods
1 Brewery Place, Westport, Co. Mayo
Few towns in Ireland can match the charm, atmosphere and foodie experience of Westport. This brightly coloured coastal town is a must for anyone exploring the Wild Atlantic Way and with many delightful pubs, cafes and restaurants dotted throughout the town, you’re sure to be impressed by the lrish fare on offer.
Tucked away down a quaint lane you’ll find the exceptional An Port Mór. Opened by Northern Irish chef Frankie Mallon in 2009, An Port Mór has set the precedent for other Irish restaurants to follow. Using only locally-sourced seasonal produce, the rustic and homely dishes are a tour de force.
As this writer has a particular affection for the controversial delicacy black pudding, the pot-roasted pig cheeks and black pudding salad starter is a must. The chef’s forte is seafood and the fresh fish and shellfish on offer will not disappoint – the tasty Clew Bay king scallops are always a winner.
And even if the weather is a bit miserable outside (and let’s face it, it’s Ireland so it probably is), you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome in An Port Mór. The homely interior is a pleasure to dine in and the prompt and friendly service is without fault.
Top Tip: get there early for the Early Bird Menu which is served from 17:00 to 18:30.
Lower Main Street, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
Your Wild Atlantic Way adventure is coming to an end, you’ve sampled the best Irish food and seen Ireland’s glorious west coast but don’t fret – we have one more foodie recommendation for you diligent road trippers.
Situated on Letterkenny’s main street, The Lemon Tree is an unassuming and cosy restaurant and we’re here to tell you that this wee gem is the best kept secret in County Donegal. The setting is casual, however the fare on offer would challenge some of the best fine dining restaurants in Dublin.
The Lemon Tree is a family-run operation which prides itself on sourcing local and sustainable produce. Each element on the menu is connected to Donegal whether that be the locally caught seafood or craft beers.
Even the harshest critics would struggle to find fault with this impressive menu. The pan-fried fillet of monkish with caramelized pork belly is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the sides of Champ – buttery mashed potatoes combined with scallions – perfectly compliment this exceptional dish. We cannot recommend this hidden gem highly enough.
Top Tip: Check out the Early Evening Menu served from 17:00 to 18:45 here.
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Do you have any foodie suggestions for us? Comment below.