Situated along the Wild Atlantic Way, as captivating as Sligo’s landscape is, think lush green fields, majestic mountains, and the mighty Atlantic Ocean, there is plenty to tempt you indoors.
To get a flavour of this unassuming culinary county, the Sligo Food Trail is the perfect place to begin; mapping out the abundance of tasty treasures that make Sligo a fantastic foodie destination.
Food that nourishes the body and scenery that nurtures the soul – who says you can’t have the best of both worlds?
We’ve tasted our way along the Sligo Food Trail, and gone a little off track too, to bring you three of the best places to stay, for breakfast or brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks.
People flock to Strandhill not only for the great surf, but for the fresh bakes, gourmet toasties and breakfast salads at Shells Cafe – and a great food photo too, at this very Instagrammable venue. At this seaside café and bakery, set up by Dubliner Jane and South African chef Myles Lamberth in 2006, everything is baked in-house from their seeded loaf, and brioche breads, to zingy lemon squares and buttery scones. Right next door you’ll find their ‘Little Shop’ selling food produce, ceramics, more of their favourite things, and copies of the two cookbooks the pair have written.
Known for its warm hospitality, this 1920’s tea rooms in the heart of Sligo town now operates as cafe, bakery and cookbook shop. Start your day with a sandwich of your choice made on fresh bread made at their in-house bakery, or choose from an innovative menu with options like the American Steak with Budweiser dip, sauteed mushrooms and Monterey Jack cheese, and Grilled Smoked Ham with melted thick Edam, maple mayo on a crusty loaf. If you must have something sweet with your tea or coffee, try one of their desserts, that just so happen to be gluten-free and, again, baked fresh daily.
Pudding Row in Easkey was founded by Dervla James, of the Pepper Pot in Dublin in 2015. With views out over the Atlantic Ocean, it’s the perfect stop-off point for those exploring the Wild Atlantic Way. Serving up freshly baked goods, salads and delicious lunches, their all-day breakfast includes the likes of Cannellini Beans on Toast with a fried egg, along with some Pepper Pot favourites like Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Organic Burren Smoked Salmon.
Sweet Beat Café
Even the most die-hard of meat lover’s hearts skip a beat once they taste the plant-based, vegan-friendly food served at this Sligo town favourite. Starting as market stall at the Strandhill People’s Market, the café opened in 2015 and has been converting the non-believers to the veggie side ever since with its innovative menu of plant-based dishes and specials like falafel, veggie bean burgers, risotto, and linguine. The drinks menu is just as intriguing with Turmeric Smoothies, Rosehip Kombucha and Ginger Bug Kefir. Sweat Beet is also the first café in Sligo to offer Dublin’s favourite 3FE coffee.
Nook Café & Restaurant
Some of the prettiest plates in Ireland can be found in Collooney, just 10 minutes outside Sligo town. Focusing on local and organic ingredients, award-winning Chef Ethna Reynolds serves upmarket comfort food from a menu that changes monthly, along with quirky specials like crab cake tacos, and Korean fried chicken with cucumber kimchi. The coffee is ‘almost’ local too; hailing from Leitrim’s Art of Coffee, just over the border.
Eithna’s by the Sea
For surfers the waves at Mullaghmore, often reaching 50 foot, are not to be missed, but for foodies visiting the seaside village it’s all about the award-winning seafood restaurant Eithna’s By the Sea. Overlooking the picturesque harbour, when the sun is shining chef Eithna O’Sullivan’s dishes are best enjoyed at one of the outdoor tables, while watching the lobster fishing boats come and go from Donegal Bay and the tourists being shuttled out to explore the monastic settlement at Inishmurray Island.
Following a fire in 2015, and the extensive renovation that followed, Eala Bhán is once again one of Sligo town’s most popular dining spots. The restaurant is owned by local man, Anthony Gray, the former President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland who also owns Trá Bhán in nearby Strandhill. With the kitchen under the careful supervision of head chef Marcin Szczodrowski, steaks and local seafood are a speciality and the dessert menu is just as tempting.
One of Sligo’s oldest pubs, Hargadons has established a reputation not only for the perfect pint of Guinness but for its food too, earning Sligo’s only entry to Michelin Guide. The gastro style restaurant priortieses local fare with options like Killary Harbour Crab Salad and Coopershill Venision Loin. Hargadon’s winelist is just as impressive; importing fine wines from all over the world. Their house wines are sourced from their very own vineyard, Terramonti, in the Languedoc region.
With its quirky interior using recycled materials, Knox on Sligo’s O’Connell Street provides a relaxed dining space for getting together with friends over a table full of tapas. With strong Mediterranean influences their evening tapas menu can also be enjoyed out on their outside terrace – and when the sun shines you might just think you’re in Spain rather than Sligo.
Thomas Connolly’s Pub
Winner of RAI Sligo Pub of the Year 2017, Thomas Connolly is the oldest traditional Irish pub located in the North West corner of Ireland. Continuing the great tradition of whiskey in W.B. Yeats country, and part of the Irish Whiskey trail, the pub is home to an impressive collection of over 60 whiskies made up of premium Irish, Scotch and Bourbons. A hub for musicians from near and far, an evening of live music at Thomas Connolly’s pub is not to be missed.
The Draft House
Running with a tagline “We Don’t Do Ordinary”, since opening in 2015 the Draft House has endeavored to create a unique and quirky gastro enterprise in the seaside town of Strandhill. The bar has succeeded in its mission with a stylish decor designed by local artists using reclaimed materials, impressive drinks list, boasting a large selection of craft beers and cocktails using top whiskeys, and striking array of dishes made from scratch using quality local produce.
Harrison’s Bar & Restaurant
Located in the village of Cliffoney, at the foot of Benbulbin, Harrison’s is just 15 minutes north from Sligo town. This family business has been running for over 100 years, and has racked up numerous awards for their bar, food and customer service. Great food and an considerable craft beer range make Harrison’s a spot to visit for anyone travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Glasshouse Hotel
Sligo’s only 4 star city centre hotel, towering dramatically over the Garavogue River The Glasshouse is hard to miss with a striking glass exterior shaped like a ship in dock. The impressive design continues inside, where you’ll find the AA Rosette winning food in The Kitchen Restaurant and two lively bars the Café Bar and the View Bar. Close to O’ Connell Street, the hotel is a hop, skip and jump away from and all the main cafes, bars, galleries and shops in the city.
Nestled in the centre of a 500 acre private estate privacy is guaranteed at this country house hotel. The family home of O’Hara’s for eight generations, the house is still in immaculate condition. Open fires open fires, large, bright bedrooms and noteworthy cooking make this the perfect base for exploring the stunning North West of Ireland, or an ideal venue for special events such as weddings and civil ceremonies.
Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa
Guests at the 4 star Radisson Blue have the best of best worlds. Offering majestic views of Sligo Bay and the neighbouring mountains, the hotel is as close to the beach at Rosses Point village as it is to Sligo city centre. The renowned County Sligo Golf Club is only a short trip away too. That’s if you can be tempted away from the hotel’s own facilities including the AA Rosette-accredited Classiebawn Restaurant, Benwisken Bar, 18-metre pool, and top-rated spa.
For more information and to plan your own stay in Sligo visit sligofoodtrail.ie.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.