We had such a phenomenal response to our 24 Hours in Galway article we decided to let you in on a few super spots in Kilkenny. Only an hour and a half from Dublin, Kilkenny is always a safe bet for a fun night away. “The Marble City” as it’s known is rich in cultural spots as well as amazing nightlife and a thriving food community. So here’s some of our favourites we think you should check out next time you stay.
Lunch – Five to Try
Having just won “Best Casual Dining “in the Irish Restaurant Awards for Leinster, Foodworks is one not to be missed. Located centrally on Parliament Street in what was once housed a bank,this funky cafe style bistro offers good honest food at very reasonable prices.
Several times winner of National ‘Pub of the Year’ and a bit of a National Treasure, Langton’s is always worth a visit. A consistent winner of many awards, The 67 bar is a buzzing environment where you can enjoy authentic traditional Irish food in relaxed, comfortable and stylish surroundings. Pop in for lunch and enjoy some!
We had the pleasure of experiencing a glorious lunch in Zuni’s, Head Chef Maria Raftery’s cooking is sublime. Always nice to see female chef creating some modern Irish dishes of this standard. Just remember to order the apple trifle for dessert – divine.
One thing you’ll find in Kilkenny is lots of little cafe/tea rooms this is the one you need to seek out – Vintage Tea Rooms, located beside the renowned Campagne Restaurant. Food is homemade daily on the premises, and the café offers a varied menu to meet all tastes. Once inside you’ll feel you have stepped back in time in their quirky, elegant surroundings.
If it’s good enough for Darragh Doyle, a Kilkenny native then it’s good enough for us! Cafe Sol Restaurant in Kilkenny City and Sol Bistro in Thomastown offer fabulously fresh local food served with a Mediterranean twist. Casual, relaxed setting with superb in season produce.
Dinner – Five to Try
An absolute stalwart in Kilkenny is Ristorante Rinuccini, a family run business based in Kilkenny for more than 25 years. Make no mistake this is no run of the mill Italian, this is far more special. See our full review HERE. Set in a deceivingly big space with lots of little nooks and crannies this is our number one restaurant to try in Kilkenny, the service and charm are a big part of this marvellous place.
You cannot mention dinner in Kilkenny not have Campagne high on your list. This stylish, Michelin star restaurant based under the old railway arches near McDonagh Juntion has a sleek modern feel, fine dining atmosphere, with a strong french influence on the menu of high end produce.Not only has the restaurant won many notable accolades but it’s Chef/Owner Garret Byrne has won Best Leinster Chef three years running. For a memorable culinary treat this is one worth loosing the purse strings for.
If your after a bit of Kilkenny culture to blend with magical food then Anocht in The Kilkenny Design Centre is a definite go to. This unusual venue tucked away in the centre with a stunning view of Kilkenny castle opensThursday to Saturday only. The beautiful room with it’s wooden beams and rich oak is a perfect spot to relax and soak up what Kilkenny is renown for, good food and a rich history steeped in arts and crafts.
Located 10 mins outside Kilkenny city you will fins one of the most beautiful spots in the county, this stunning woodland estate houses one of the finest restaurants not just in Kilkenny but in Ireland. Lady Helen is pure indulgence in the opulent setting of the Mount Juliet Estate, Kilkenny’s only other Michelin starred venue. Head Chef Ken Harker will wow you with his exquisite creations, leaving a lasting memory of one of the best meals you will ever taste.
A perfect gem for the whole family is La Rivista Restaurant, a casual buzzy atmosphere, good honest Italian food and some fantastic offers such as their Sunday Lunch 3 courses for €21.95. Fab selection of gluten free offerings, even stocking Estrella Damm gluten free beer. A definite safe bet for anyone with kids in Kilkenny for the weekend.
Bars – Five to Try
Kilkenny literally seems to have pubs and bars everywhere you look one of our favourites is Bridie’s Bar. Don;t let the quaint shop front fool you, behind the old school facade is one of the best bars in town. Walking in the door you may believe you’ve stepped into one of the many old time sweet shops in Kilkenny, step a little further through their legendary saloon doors and a pint of the good stuff awaits you.
Probaly Kilkenny’s most popular bar is The Left Bank. What was once a large branch of Bank of Ireland was sold off and transformed in 2008 to a modern, spacious late night bar. A huge space complete with working fireplace in the smoking area and a regular hot spot for live acts. Whether you there to watch the match or catch a gig you can’t go wrong.
If you ask most locals where they frequent for their pint The Blue Bar at the top of Kilkenny Town seems to always come up. Perfect place for a quiet pint and some good conversation.
If pints are not your thing pop into GrapeVine Wine and Tapas Bar for some tasty tapas and a few glasses of delicious wine. Grapevine also have a pretty decent selection of craft beers should the urge take you.
Not many people probably know Kilkenny is home to Ireland’s first craft exclusive bar Brewery Corner, not a bar that has been publicised much but a craft lovers paradise. A huge selection of craft beer and cider on draught with the added bonus of a generous offering of international craft beers also. Easy to miss from it’s tiny facade on Parliament Street behind the door is people with a real passion for the craft movement in Ireland. The guys host a “Beer Club” once a month so you can sample the best of new beers around.
Hotels – Five to Try
The Pembroke is fab boutique hotel neatly compacted into the heart of the city with some fantastic views over Kilkenny Castle, everything is in walking distance and this is a very comfortable base for touring around the city. Rooms from €84 per night.
If your looking for something a little bit more spacious Hotel Kilkenny is a chic, modern hotel that is family friendly hotel with a super leisure centre and spa to soothe all your worries away. Great programmes for the little ones to keep them busy while you sip on a nice glass of bubbly.
Sometimes every now and then you just need to really spoil yourself, and there is no better oasis than Mount Juliet, less than 20 minutes from Kilkenny. This five star resort set 1500 acres of stunning , manicured grounds is an ideal escape for a night a pure indulgence. Wine and dine in the elegant Michelin star Lady Helen Restaurant and avail of the “Taste of Lady Helen Experience” with and overnight stay and 7 course tasting menu to feed all your senses. Prices from €289
Lyrath Estate Hotel is another fine example of style and sophistication. This 17th century house has been tastefully restored and the contemporary hotel sits alongside blending old and new is a striking setting. The Oasis spa is one of the finest in the country and a superb example of five star luxury. Prices start from €80pp.
We simply couldn’t leave out The Hibernian in Kilkenny for excellent value for money and a super central location. This boutique hotel has long been a popular spot for an overnight break in Kilkenny. With it’s award winning gastro pub and lively late night bar Morrisons, you can be guaranteed a fun stay.
So there you have it, 20 reasons why Kilkenny is still one of the most popular destination cities in Ireland.
Keith & Jules Mahon are the founders of TheTaste. We want TheTaste to be a culinary kaleidoscope to champion every taste, food, wine, cocktails, whiskey, etc. We are delighted to be part of such a creative and fast moving industry and are very passionate about sharing with you our unique journey around Ireland finding the best culinary hotspots.