Cork City is Ireland’s second city, though residents of the rebel county have been known to refer to it as the “real capital of Ireland”.
The bustling city is bursting with independent coffee shops, artisan produce, live music and an impressive dining scene. Keep reading to find out some of the best places to eat, drink and sleep in Cork City.
There’s no place better to start your morning than with a flavoursome breakfast at Ali’s Kitchen. Located in the city centre, the food produced by owner and chef Ali Honour is inspired by “traditions and influences from home and travels through Europe”.
The artisanal ingredients used in Ali’s Kitchen are locally sourced and seasonal, with traditional brunch favourites all appearing on the menu, along with a variety of sandwiches, lunch dishes and baked goods on offer.
Ali’s Kitchen is open weekdays from 8.30am to 5pm, with varying hours of business at weekends.
Three Fools Coffee
Located outside Cork City Library on Grand Parade, Three Fools Coffee likes to impress visitors by creating “the most interesting flavours and finest coffee”.
Serving everything from delicious blends to single origins, Three Fools Coffee also stocks a number of food products from local producers, including Toonsbridge Dairy, O’Mahonys Butchers and Arbutus Breads.
Three Fools Coffee is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, Saturdays from 9am to 6pm and Sundays from 11am to 6pm.
Filter Espresso and Brew Bar
Shake up your morning coffee with a visit to Filter on George’s Quay in Cork City, where you’ll find a wide range of local roasters, including Badger & Dodo, 3fe and The Golden Bean.
They also stock a great selection of herbal and fruit teas and some sweet treats to ensure you get your morning off to the perfect start.
Filter Espresso and Brew Bar is open from 8am to 6pm every Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 5pm on Sundays.
First established when Moróg O’Brien opened her restaurant and country store in Midleton, Co. Cork in 1984, Farmgate Café has become a staple in Cork’s dining scene.
Located on the first floor of Ireland’s oldest and most historic food market, the English Market, there’s a wonderful link between the café and the producers on the ground floor.
If you want to sample the produce in the English Market but aren’t in a position to prepare it yourself, then Farmgate is a great place to experience the finest local produce in the heart of Ireland’s second city.
Open every Monday to Saturday, with lunch being served between 12 noon and 3.30pm. You can also grab a sandwich, soup and a cake until 5pm.
Crawford Art Gallery Café
Located on the ground floor of the Crawford Art Gallery, the Crawford Gallery Café serves delicious lunches, teas, coffees and cakes in a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere.
A popular meeting place in Cork City, the café serves brunch favourites like Eggs Benedict, as well as soups, sandwiches and much more at lunchtime. For a real treat, indulge in one of the café’s divine desserts while admiring the works of art helping to create your picture-perfect moments.
The Crawford Gallery Café is open during the gallery’s opening hours, from 10am to 5pm every day except Thursday, when the café is open late until 8pm.
Currently celebrating its 10th year in business, Market Lane has been a staple on Cork’s food scene and has always taken its culinary inspiration from the iconic English Market in the city centre, locally sourcing as much of its produce as possible.
Open for both lunch and dinner, Market Lane serves a variety of hearty dishes, focusing on traditional meat, fish and vegetables, much to the delight of guests.
Market Lane is open every day, with varying hours in the evenings and on Sundays.
Visit Les Gourmandises if you want to experience classic French cuisine in the heart of Cork City. The restaurant was mentioned in the 2017 Michelin Guide and their dishes were described as having “a classic French heart and original Irish twists”.
Chef Pat Kiely and his award-winning team pride themselves on utilising the best possible local ingredients, along with high-quality international wines, to create something special for diners.
Les Gourmandises is open every Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm to 9.30pm.
Open for nearly 25 years, Café Paradiso has continued to attract acclaim for their innovative and groundbreaking vegetarian cuisine.
Consistently producing creative dishes to satisfy the palates of its diners, Café Paradiso is helmed by founder and executive chef Denis Cotter. The rich variety of ingredients used in the unique dishes burst with the flavour of the season’s must-have ingredients.
Located on Cork’s famous quays, Café Paradiso is the perfect spot for dinner with a few friends and is open every Monday to Saturday from 5.30pm to 10pm.
Located on Sheares Street in Cork City, Holy Smoke specialises in pit-smoked barbecue using 100% Irish meat that is slowly cooked at low temperatures for up to 16 hours.
The award-winning restaurant smokes the meat in-house on a daily basis before dry-rubbing it with a signature blend of herbs and spices.
To visit the internationally-renowned pitmasters, John Relihan and Decky Walsh, you can pop into Holy Smoke from 4pm every Wednesday to Sunday.
Serving both contemporary and Mediterranean cuisine, Star Anise has been a staple in Cork City for more than 13 years.
Head Chef Carolyn Buckley is inspired by “simple honest food” and aims to offer guests “maximum taste and quality” when sampling their food, which is created using local ingredients.
Located on Bridge Street, you can visit Star Anise every Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm and can reserve a special lunch if required.
Choose from over sixty gins and seventy whiskeys at Brick Lane in Cork City, a bar that is always creating new and exciting tipples for their customers.
They also boast an impressive selection of cocktails, with seasonal options being created by Head Mixologist Gary Fitzgibbon.
Not only attracting crowds at weekends with their impressive drinks offering, Brick Lane also serves delicious food throughout the day and has become a popular destination for lunch, brunch and dinner. Visit Brick Lane every day from 11am until late.
Cask is a boutique cocktail and food venue on MacCurtain Street in Cork City. Only open since February 2017, Cask is already renowned for its innovative and seasonal cocktails, designed by manager and accomplished mixologist Andy Ferreira.
Their cocktail menu changes every eight weeks and is based around wild ingredients that are available to pick and forage, including fresh dillisk and rosemary flowers.
Cask also offers a list of more than 20 carefully selected wines and street food-inspired bites, created by award-winning chef Bryan McCarthy. For a truly unique drinks experience, visit Cask from 5.30pm every day.
Arthur Mayne’s Pharmacy
Arthur Mayne’s Pharmacy is a wine bar which boasts a unique history due to its location in a 120-year-old pharmacy on Pembroke Street in Cork City.
A wide range of different wines are available in this unusual bar, and its intriguing surroundings have been a welcome addition to Cork’s varied nightlife.
Arthur Mayne’s Pharmacy also serves coffee, brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night bites so you can munch away while exploring the bar and sipping a glass of wine – what more could you want!
The Montenotte Hotel
If you’re keen to experience the bright lights of Cork City, then the newly refurbished Montenotte Hotel is the perfect base to explore the rebel city. Modern, stylish and chic, the Montenotte is Cork’s freshest boutique hotel and a wonderful spot for a girls weekend, couples getaway or family break.
With magnificent views of the city, The Montenotte is home to the Panorama Bistro and Terrace, which serves dishes featuring delicious locally sourced produce.
When you aren’t exploring all Cork has to offer, why not relax in your comfy surroundings, take in an evening movie at the in-house Cameo cinema or make use of the leisure centre, featuring a 20-metre swimming pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.
The River Lee Hotel
With history, culture and a vibrant food scene right on your doorstep, The River Lee Hotel is a fantastic location for a stay in the heart of Cork.
This contemporary glass-fronted luxury hotel is just 10 minutes walk from the city centre, with shops, architecture, theatre and restaurants all a short distance away.
With modern features, including a spa, fitness centre and indulgent Afternoon Tea, you won’t be short of things to do and places to eat here.
The Metropole Hotel
The historic Metropole Hotel has been at the heart of Cork hospitality for 120 years, particularly given its enviable city centre location.
Just a short stroll from shops, restaurants, bars and theatres, The Metropole Hotel is the perfect base for any stay in Cork’s bustling city centre.
All guests staying at the Metropole Hotel can also enjoy complimentary access to the Leisure Centre, which boasts a 20m swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and gym.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.