As an island nation, Ireland has access to some of the best fish in the world. There are places in Ireland where you can get hand farmed oysters from the local beds, sustainable crabs fresh off the boats and fresh fish prepared and cooked right in front of your eyes.
Here are some of TheTaste’s favourite seafood restaurants.
Aqua – Howth, Dublin
Aqua was born out of nautical nostalgia. The owners wanted to restore the building that used to house Howth Sailing Club and so Aqua opened its doors just in time for the new millennium. The combination of spectacular views and the finest seafood available makes for a multi award winning restaurant. Aqua is devoted to quality, organic ingredients and a few years ago they established a kitchen garden in an allotment on Howth Hill to provide them with everything from herbs to vegetables. They even have their own pod of seals, which live around the pier and have become a tourist attraction in their own right!
Rock Lobster – Dundrum, Dublin
Rock Lobster at Harvey Nichols is Ireland’s only fully sustainable seafood restaurant using the finest fresh ingredients to create tasty and fun dishes. It’s no wonder then that they have won the Good Eating Guide ‘Best Seafood Restaurant’ for two years running now. Not only do they serve up an extensive range of freshly caught fish, delicious Irish and Canadian lobster and platters of hot and cold oysters, they also serve up classic and original cocktails in The Rock Lobster Bar. Laid-back, contemporary dining in one of Dublin’s most stylish seafood restaurants.
La Mère Zou – St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Nestled between Dublin’s best restaurants and hotels on Stephen’s Green, La Mère Zou has become just as much an institution for city centre dining as its famous neighbours. Open since 1994, this is Classic French Cuisine at its best. They offer a large selection of fish and seafood selected directly from the local fish market; all served up in a classic bistro style, often in traditional cast-iron cocottes. La Mère Zou is a big hit with customers and critics alike, making it an enduring favourite for food lovers in the capital.
Ouzo’s – Blackrock & Dalkey, Dublin
Any restaurant that has a dedicated ‘Crab and Lobster Feast’ section on the menu should be featured here, especially if all that seafood is sourced fresh every day from their very own boats. All of Ouzo’s crab, lobster and shrimp are caught between Waterford and Kilkeel along the East coast, and all the fresh fish comes from local fishermen. With produce this good, the chefs really treat it well and you cannot beat their daily specials for quality and flavour. So good they opened a second location, Ouzo’s is perfect for seafood lovers. Enjoy your meal with a glass or two of their self-produced wine.
La Maison – Castle Market, Dublin 2
La Maison is probably the most authentic French restaurant in Ireland. It is the latest venture of Breton chef Olivier Quenet; he transformed his previous café and boulangerie into this stylish and chic restaurant. French art work from the Paris at Puces market adorns the walls and romantic photos line the stairs adding to the French ambience. Dishes range from French staples like Soupe de Poisson and Poêlée de la mer to Shellfish Risotto and fresh catch of the day. A charming hub in the middle of Dublin’s food scene.
Caviston’s – Glasthule, Dublin
Caviston’s Food Emporium is a household name in quality produce. The range of delicacies on offer in the charming store is testament to the passion and dedication of the team. This commitment runs right over into the restaurant. After 50 years in the seafood business, they opened the Restaurant in 1996 and have been at the top of the seafood game ever since. You can get almost every seafood delicacy possible from fresh John Dory or scallops to Dingle crab claws and oysters. Menus change twice weekly to reflect exactly what is coming out of the sea that day so every visit brings something different to the table.
The Saddle Room at The Shelbourne Hotel – St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
The Saddle Room is one of The Shelbourne Hotel’s historic dining rooms, offering up a contemporary menu created by executive head chef Garry Hughes, using only the finest Irish ingredients. It features a unique Oyster Bar where you can sip champagne while the team prepares the freshest oysters from Carlingford, Lambay & Galway Natives. For extravagance befitting your surroundings opt for the seafood platter with lobster, mussels, crab meat and shrimp. Private dining rooms provide everything the Saddle Room has to offer in an intimate and private setting. The Saddle Room is a luxurious seafood experience that is perfect for special occasions.
King Sitric – Howth, Dublin
Established in 1971, Aidan and Joan MacManus have earned an international reputation for fresh seafood in their harbour-side restaurant. In 1999, they rebuilt their old Harbour Master’s house, relocating the restaurant to the first floor in order to make the most of the panoramic sea views. They have their own team of fishermen and chef patron Aidan cooks the fish landed daily on the pier and lobsters from Balscadden Bay. Provenance is very important at King Sitric and is proclaimed on all the menus; not surprising for a member of Euro Toques.
The Lobster Pot – Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Owned by the Crean family for over 30 years, The Lobster Pot is one of the longest running family restaurants in Ireland. Priding themselves on the standard of their silver service, you can choose main courses that are prepared right in the dining room in front of you. With a nod to French cooking and Dublin culinary institutions, The Lobster Pot has created a style all of its own preferring simplicity to over complexity. They have spent years in the business cultivating relationships with the best suppliers and as a result have access to the freshest selection of seafood sourced daily and presented to you for your perusal. A definite must visit for seafood connoisseurs.
The Silver Fox – Kilmore Quay, Wexford
Seafood is king at the Silver Fox in Wexford but it’s not all traditional fare. Head chef Gopal is serving interesting local fish dishes with some flavourings from South East Asia. It is this unique flavour profile, paired with the freshest local fish that sets this restaurant apart. The dining room is simply decorated, creating an easy, relaxed feeling. Excellent produced is cooked well and served at very reasonable prices. Something different for seafood lovers in the South East.
Fishy Fishy – Kinsale, Cork
Fishy Fishy is an award-winning restaurant run by husband and wife team Martin & Marie Shanahan. Martin takes great pride in the quality of his produce and every day he knows who has personally caught his fish. Having been in the seafood business for over 25 years, Martin is an expert on the subject, having written several cookbooks and appeared regularly on tv. Fishy Fishy is a hit with tourists and locals alike and this year won ‘Best Seafood Experience’ in Ireland at the RAI awards.
O’Callaghan-Walshe – Rosscarbery, Cork
Menus change daily at O’Callaghan-Walshe as they place a huge importance on using locally caught and sourced West Cork fish and shellfish fresh off the boats. If a particular fish is not available, then it doesn’t go on the menu. They have a no-nonsense attitude to their produce, serving it up with simple adornments and sauces so as not to overpower the exceptional seafood. Exposed stone walls, old fishing nets and glass floats all contribute to the nautical atmosphere and the casual vibe is just a façade for this multi award winning gem.
O’Connors – Bantry, Cork
O’Connors Seafood Restaurant is a famous destination seafood restaurant and has been an institution in West Cork for over a decade. Owner Pat Kiely used to be the head chef before taking it over and is ensuring the award winning standards continue. This sophisticated but relaxed restaurant is proud of its local suppliers and credits them on menus. The Luxury Seafood Pie, Bantry Bay mussels and Whiddy Island hand dived Scallops are house specialities and are presented with little fuss, allowing the ingredients to shine.
Aherne’s Townhouse & Seafood Bar – Youghal, Cork
Youghal is an historic walled port, steeped in history. It is fitting therefore that the best restaurant has a long history of its own. The Fitzgibbon family have been running Aherne’s for nearly a hundred years and in that time it has developed from a pub & shop into the guesthouse, bar and restaurant of today. Renowned for their warm welcome, Aherne’s uses only the freshest local produce so their menu changes daily. Enjoy your meal relaxing by the open fires or propped up at the friendly bar with a pint of Guinness or a glass of wine.
Out of the Blue – Dingle, Kerry
Dingle’s best restaurant happens to be a seafood only affair. A bright building on the waterfront, everything depends upon the catch of the day and nothing but the best will do. If there’s no fish, the restaurant doesn’t open. “No chips. Nothing frozen. Everything fresh or alive.” The menu is written up on blackboards, and it changes every day offering a huge variety of whatever is available from the boats that morning. This is serious seafood cookery adored by locals and tourists alike, if they are lucky enough to get a table. Possibly the best seafood outside Dublin, or maybe in all of Ireland.
Mulcahy’s – Kenmare, Kerry
For something a little bit different, try Mulcahy’s in Kenmare. Here they combine international cuisine with fresh local products and surprise you with oriental twists. Bruce and Laura Mulcahy’s contemporary restaurant has long been a favourite in Kenmare and now they have relocated to a spot on the Main Street. Being so near the sea, fish features prominently in many varied and unusual ways such as sushi starters. The compact menus are fresh and imaginative, offering trademark spicy dishes but always with a firm foundation of seasonal local foods.
QC’s Seafood Restaurant – Caherciveen, Kerry
Located in the centre of Caherciveen, QC’s Seafood Restaurant has long been established as the destination restaurant to experience when visiting Kerry. Owners Kate and Andrew Cooke only serve fresh, wild, local Irish fish, supplied by the family company Quinlan’s Kerry Fish. Sustainability is recognised as a key issue so you won’t find any imported produce here. The menu is rather flexible as blackboard specials are available as starters and as mains and everything is great value considering how fresh all the food is. QC’s has plenty of character, with original features including a rugged stone wall and an enormous fireplace, perfect for curling up in front of.
Trá Bán – Strandhill, Sligo
The restaurant is situated on the first floor over the Strand Pub and enjoys stunning views of the beach for which it is named. Owner Anthony Gray is the president of the RAI and is a champion of local Sligo produce, crediting his suppliers on his menus. Knowledgeable staff can help you decide between the best dishes like Mullaghmore lobster and the famed ‘Taste of the Wild Atlantic Way’ speciality of Pan Seared Diver Scallop, Kattaffi Prawn, Mullaghmore Baby Crab Cake and Lissadell Mussels with Carrot and Ginger Purée… Seafood heaven with exceptional sea views.
O’Grady’s on the Pier – Barna, Galway
O’Grady’s on the Pier is located just a few metres from the beach and looks out over Galway Bay. An award winning restaurant ran by Michael O’Grady, it makes the most of its proximity to the sea by using the best seasonal produce. Michael is a very hands on restaurateur and can often be seen lugging crates of fresh fish up to the kitchen from the boats he uses to source his own fish. This dedication means O’Grady’s dishes have an unbeatable freshness to them and here you can relax and indulge in some classic dishes like their Killary mussels and more unusual fare like razor clams and megrim.
Moran’s Oyster Cottage – Kilcolgan, Galway
Moran’s is a traditional thatched cottage that dates back over 250 years. A family run pub for seven generations, in 1966 they began serving seafood. Today it is run by Catherine Moran and is renowned the world over for its superb seafood and tranquil waterside location. Most well known for their famous oysters which come from the local Clarenbridge oyster bed, they are in season from September to April. This is the quintessential Irish pub of which tourists dream and postcards are made. Definitely worth a visit for the native oysters and a trip back in time.
Oscar’s Seafood Bistro – Dominick Street, Galway City
Chef Michael O’Meara uses the best quality local fish from Gannet Fishmongers and proudly credits all of his suppliers, standard for a member of Euro Toques. Since 2000, Michael has been serving up his quirky and creative seafood to customers in Galway’s cultural quarter including Fish & Chips… but with octopus! Popular with locals as much as tourists, the menu is based on seasonality and the day’s catch so it changes regularly. Featuring some of the best seafood cookery in Ireland, it is no surprise that Oscar’s is a multi award winning bistro serving up the best of the West including Clare Island organic salmon, Bearna lobsters and brown crabs and Galway oysters.
Kealy’s Seafood Bar – Greencastle, Donegal
Kealy’s Seafood Bar has been family run since 1989, when James and Tricia transformed it from the pub his parents had run into a charming little seafood haven. Situated so close to a thriving fishing port, all their fish and seafood is the best you can get in the North West. Their ethos is simple: fresh, local ingredients, simply prepared and best enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere. Classic dishes are created with the signature Kealy’s twist and Tricia’s chowder is famous all over the country. Perfect for a hearty lunch or a lobster feast, Kealy’s puts Greencastle on the map.