“Where land and sea collide. Where untamed beauty abounds. Welcome to unforgettable experiences.”
A joint venture by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal touring route in the world. Bringing together businesses, viewing points and activities from Cork to Donegal (or Donegal to Cork depending on where you start!), this venture showcases the best of the West.
Here are the top places to get incredible food experiences along the way:
This eatery needs no introduction for food lovers! Consistently winning awards for best Seafood in Ireland, Fishy Fishy is everything the Wild Atlantic Way is about. Husband and wife team Martin & Marie Shanahan have been setting the standard for seafood since 1990 and they have been perfecting their art ever since. Martin is very selective about the quality of the fish he serves, ensuring only the freshest catch & local produce go onto his menu. Regularly seen on tv and the covers of his cookbooks, Martin has created the go to restaurant for seafood lovers and he’s even converted a few disbelievers!
Skibbereen has been hailed as the gastronomical capital of the South West so a food trip down the Wild Atlantic Way wouldn’t be complete without stopping here. Where better to relax than an enchanting estate set in beautiful woodlands beside a private lake. The Restaurant at Liss Ard offers guests innovative and fresh dishes based on the best ingredients from West Cork producers. These are combined with organically grown produce from the estate gardens including salad leafs, spinach, radishes, wild garlic, potatoes, herbs and whatever surprises the seasons might yield.
You wouldn’t believe that a chef with no formal training could create the highest rated restaurant in a food mecca like Dingle. Idás is a French/Irish fusion restaurant by Kevin Murphy who is trying to create a unique West Kerry dining experience. The produce has been locally sourced and in some cases foraged for your gastronomical pleasure and the resulting dish is presented with the artistic flair that you would expect from a previous fine art student. Idás brings together Dingle produce, French influences and Irish traditions in innovative and exciting dishes.
Visitors to the Wild Atlantic Way should be able to eat the best food the route has to offer while enjoying the best views along it. You will find both of these at the West End in Fenit, which means ‘The Wild Place’. This fifth generation pub has a beautiful conservatory area that looks out over Tralee Bay and serves up only the best locally sourced meat. However, the range and quality of local fish and seafood offered make the restaurant predominantly a seafood destination. Award winning chef Bryan O’Keefe runs his bar and restaurant with a simple motto ‘fresh or nothing’.
It’s no surprise that a restaurant owned by the Commissioner General of Euro Toques Ireland produces amazing dishes based on the best local ingredients. Award winning chef Wade Murphy has opted for casual dining and his ever changing menus reflect his use of seasonal, top quality Irish produce from County Limerick. 1826 is a wonderful example of modern Irish cooking served in a relaxed style. Based in a rustic, old world cottage in the heart of Adare, the best restaurant in Munster 2015 should be right at the top of the list for food lovers.
This luxury country house, set in a converted 19th century convent in Adare, oozes style without pretension. Surrounded by 10 acres of mature trees, orchard and kitchen garden, fresh herbs and vegetables are gathered daily for the preparation of dinner. These contribute to seasonal menus while other ingredients are carefully sourced from organic farms and artisan food producers. The Mustard Seed has been the centre for modern Irish cooking for almost thirty years and a meal here is sure to be a memorable affair.
A visit to the West has to include a trip to the Burren and where better to stay than the award winning luxury retreat where writers like J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have been inspired by the beautiful surroundings. Don’t just visit for the views though as head Chef David Hurley and his team are gathering awards at a rapid pace for their creative and modern dishes. Serving up the best local ingredients like organic Burren lamb and game, and fresh Atlantic fish and shellfish, the Dining Room is a restaurant not to be missed. An exceptional experience after a long day’s adventures!
If you want to visit Clare’s Best Restaurant 2015, get in early! It is first come, first served in the Wild Honey Inn as befits their relaxed, gastropub style. The building dates back to 1860 and that gives this Lisdoonvarna gem a sense of character and charm, which makes it the perfect setting for an intimate, family run inn. The Burren influence is present in the local and rare meats they serve and in the fresh fish that is caught locally. Chef Aidan values the wildness of the location and if you visit in season he will serve up Ireland’s finest game for you.
The Burren Smokehouse was first established in 1989 by Birgitta and Peter Curtin. They researched the smoking traditions in Ireland and in Sweden and the idea of the Smokehouse was born. For over 25 years the Smokehouse has been providing Burren smoked Salmon, Mackerel and Trout to local and international customers. A trip to the visitors centre gives a unique insight into the family owned business and their production, you will also get to sample all of their delicacies including smoked local cheeses. The Smokehouse is a renowned culinary experience that is a star of the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Wild Atlantic Way offers visitors the very best in local and artisanal produce. Merging these ideas with Iberian influences, Cava Bodega provides Galway City with an authentic Spanish Tapas menu. Hailed by our own Tom Doorley as ‘the best tapas in Ireland’, diners will not be disappointed by the range of over 50 Spanish tapas and 100 accompanying wines. Relaxing in the contemporary restaurant, you can immerse yourself in a communal food experience that is committed to ethical processes, local produce and genuine Spanish flavours.
As the ‘Venice of the West’, Westport has long been held as a cultural hot spot in Ireland and holds a prominent place on the Wild Atlantic Way. Number one for dining in Westport is Frankie Mallon’s award winning restaurant An Port Mór. Rustic and creative dishes are produced using only the finest ingredients. As a member of Euro-torques, Frankie is committed to food provenance and supporting small, local producers. From Clew Bay crab claws to Achill Mountain Lamb, An Port Mór is serving up the best that the West has to offer with a quirky style and delicious flavours.
Quirky contemporary design contrasts wonderfully with the beautiful surroundings of the Ice House Hotel. This is an eclectic, extraordinary retreat that is truly one of a kind and not to be missed if you are anywhere near Ballina. As in all the best restaurants, head chef Anthony Holland creates his dishes based on colour, seasonality and locally sourced ingredients. ‘Food with a story’ is prominent here, as the seasonal menus proudly display the origins of the produce. Experience it for yourself from the striking restaurant, perched on the banks of Ballina’s salmon estuary.
Eala Bhán is perched like a real swan on a beautiful stretch of the Garavogue River. During the day, a casual bistro that serves fresh, local and organic dishes and in the evening it becomes a stylish and intimate restaurant that raises the bar for Connaught cuisine. The food is classic with a contemporary twist and the handpicked seafood reigns supreme, from chowders to Mullaghmore lobsters. Eala Bhán is a real gem, excellent bistro food beautifully presented, perfectly cooked, and excellent value for money. If you are lucky, you might spot some of their namesake swans drifting along the river.
Cromleach Lodge is currently a four star House Hotel but it started out as a humble family home in a bungalow. For over thirty years owners Christy and Moira Tighe have been developing their small B&B into a well renowned retreat. Most of that renown has come as a result of their excellent restaurant Moira’s, one of the best in the North West. Innovation and fine dining combined with high standards like providing provenance for key ingredients on all menus ensure that Moira’s continues to raise the bar for culinary excellence along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Lough Rynn Castle is one of Ireland’s most luxurious castle hotels. Set on the banks of the lough, this historic Castle is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and ancient forests. The award winning restaurant is clad in its namesake sandstone and offers a traditional French cuisine with Irish influences coming through. Head chef Clare O’Leary has created a menu that utilises fresh local produce and ingredients from their own garden such as rhubarb, berries and flowers. Not just popular among guests, the restaurant is usually full of locals. This is fine dining unique in the region, set in a charming and historical location.
You might be surprised to see pubs on this list but this one is a bar like no other. Ideal for curling up by the fire, The Oarsman is a traditional Irish pub full of character, with an elegant and stylish restaurant upstairs. The philosophy is simple food, well sourced, cooked with a bit of flair and value for money. The bar menu is not your standard fare, rather a casual version of the excellent dishes being served upstairs. Suppliers are hailed on every menu and there is a considered list of craft beers available. This is the ideal spot for an authentic Irish food and drink experience.
‘Made in Inishowen’ – never was a truer phrase spoken. Donal Doherty (son of the original Harry) runs his establishment like a How-To Guide in food provenance. Chef Derek Creagh produces a menu that brings out the best from fish sourced down the road in Greencastle boats to fruit and veg from their very own gardens. Harry’s has been a champion for local produce for over twenty years and dry-ages all the local meat and game in their own hanging room. A food experience like this doesn’t have to break the bank either as Harry’s offers amazing value all year round.