The Best Places to Eat in Ireland

Out of all the luxuries in life, I think that food is my favorite. So of course that’s what I am interested in when I am visiting a new place. The first time I ever “visited” Ireland, I just stopped in the Dublin airport on the way to France, but I remember my breakfast being super yummy. So while I was visiting for real, I wanted to make sure that I found the best places to eat in Ireland!

The food in Ireland did not let me down, and the restaurants I listed below serve the best of the best. Get ready for lots of “best I’ve ever had”s.

Breakfast: Barnabrow House (East Cork)

Eggs Benedict from the Barnabrow HouseWe actually stayed in the Barnabrow House while visiting Cork, so we decided to try out their breakfast one morning (but you don’t have to be a guest to eat at their restaurant).

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and breakfast in Ireland usually features all of my most favorite breakfast foods. And don’t even get me started on the fresh squeezed orange juice.

At breakfast, they had a buffet which included various cereals, a fruit salad, yogurts which were literally made at a dairy down the street, and more. They also served toast and tea and coffee of course, and you could order an entree of your choice.

I ordered blueberry pancakes because a) I’m a gringo, and b) all the other options had meat. They were super delicious and also the perfect portion size. My mom got the Eggs Benedict and said it was the best she had ever had in her life.

And I almost forgot to mention the view! From the tall windows encircling the dining room, you can watch the bright morning sun light up the rolling countryside.

Lunch: Brew Bros (Limerick)

This restaurant was not at all what I was expecting. “Brew Bros” makes it seem like a restaurant designed for bachelors and guys with beards, but as soon as we walked inside, I realized that this was not the case. The restaurant was actually kind of fancy.

Not white table cloth fancy, but it was pretty upscale.

The menu was just your classic Irish lunch menu, but compared to everywhere else we had eaten, this menu was executed to perfection.

This restaurant actually just opened up a year ago, and they have multiple locations, so definitely be sure to support Brew Bros on your trip to Ireland!

Dinner: Farmgate (Midleton)

We actually went to Farmgate our first evening in Ireland. This one is white table cloth fancy. We were super under-dressed after a day of travelling, so the staff hid us in the back room.

The only downside to this restaurant was limited vegetarian options (seems to be a trend in Ireland). However, the taste of said limited options completely made up for it. The goat cheese appetizer was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth in my entire life. Period.

Ireland has really good dairy products in general (Irish butter, anyone?) Wait a minute. Scratch that. Do goat products even count as dairy products? Anyway, you know what I mean. For the rest of my life, I am going to be comparing all the goat cheese I eat to that goat cheese.

Since it was our first night in Ireland, we hadn’t even gotten any Euros yet. This restaurant uses the little handheld credit card readers, so we were not given the opportunity to tip by card.

We left a twenty U.S. dollar bill on the table. I still feel kind of bad about this because this poor man (who was the nicest waiter ever by the way) is going to have to go through a lot of trouble just to get his tip. But it’s a pretty funny story.

Dessert: Offbeat Donut Co. (Dublin)

Doughnuts from Offbeat Donut Co.

As we all know, I have a bad sweet tooth, and I luuuve dessert, so I couldn’t make a list of the best places to eat in Ireland and not include a place to get dessert!

On one of our hikes, for some reason, I had an instantaneous craving for doughnuts! I gasped and told my brother I needed a doughnut A$AP. Luckily, I was able to get one (and a half..heh) by the end of our trip.

When we were in Dublin seemed like the time we would be most likely to find a doughnut shop (the Irish don’t seem to be too fond of doughnuts, so they don’t have anything like Dunkin). While visiting Trinity College, I searched on Google Maps for doughnuts.

There were two shops equidistant from where I was standing! My brother will tell you that in this case, the key is to go off reviews. 4.7 stars, how could you go wrong? So we chose Offbeat Donut Co.

And the reviews were right! Best doughnuts I’ve ever had, I swear. I tried the S’mores flavor, the apple crumble flavor, and of course a classic sprinkle doughnut. Oh my god, my mouth is watering just looking at a picture of them.

Offbeat has many other locations, so you have no excuses (besides a diet plan, but what kind of excuse is that??)

Is Visiting the Blarney Castle Worth It?

The one place I didn’t want to go in Ireland was the Blarney Castle, one of the most popular tourist attractions, because I prefer the path-less-traveled experience. However, my mom bought my family tickets, so I really had no choice.

View of Blarney Castle from the ground.

After spending some time at the castle, I was able to decide whether or not I was right about not wanting to visit. Controversial opinion, but I honestly think that there were better things I could have done in the three hours I spent at the Blarney Castle and Gardens.

The tickets are not overly expensive, and there were not too many people there, but the real blow was waiting in line to kiss the Blarney Stone slash tour the castle. I didn’t even kiss the stupid rock (germaphobe over here), and I didn’t want to have to wait in line to look around.

Interior courtyard of Blarney Castle.

View from a window in the Blarney Castle.

“This is like waiting for a ride at Disney World.” It was a weekday and not even peak-season, and we still had to wait in line for about an hour.

The castle was quite impressive, but not cool enough to spend an hour waiting in line for, especially given the number of castles in Ireland I could have freely explored. In my opinion, everything at Blarney could be found somewhere else. However, someone along the way was able to develop the castle into a tourist trap that kept the visitors pouring in.

View from the top of the Blarney Castle.

The real hidden gem of the grounds were just that, the grounds. Surrounded on all sides by white flowers and the smell of wild garlic in the air, you can submerse yourself in a new world while walking along the trails of the magical gardens.

If you explored enough, you could find cows and fairy houses among other surprises. Not to mention hundreds of beautiful plants and well-designed gardens.Forest in the Blarney Gardens.Trail in the Blarney Gardens.

The gardens were dashed with small doses of magic explained on signs throughout the trails. My favorite part of the gardens were a little spot called the “Wishing Steps.” They were a set of stone steps that pass beneath some large rocks while a waterfall goes overhead. Walking up the wishing steps was magical and beautiful.

Waterfall over the Wishing Steps.I asked my brother what percentage of Blarney Castle visitors he thought do anything besides visit the castle and go to the gift shop (which you have to go through on the way out). “Fifty percent. Maybe forty-five.” We saw very few people walking around on the trails, especially compared to the hoard of people waiting in the castle.

View from the top of Blarney Castle.

If you do end up visiting the Blarney Castle, please make sure you check out the trails. I promise you won’t regret it.

While the gardens are beautiful, the Blarney Gardens are not the only botanical garden in Ireland. You could visit the National Botanical Gardens in Dublin or the Fota House & Gardens if you are planning a trip to Cork.

Blarney Castle from the front entrance.

Overall, I don’t think you’re missing too much if you decide to pass on the overrated Blarney Castle. However, visiting the castle and kissing the Blarney Stone are a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people, so you will have to weigh that into your decision.