10 Delicious Dishes to Try in Ireland

Experience the cuisine of the Emerald Isle with recommendations from Travel Channel.

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Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Irish Breakfast

If you want to start the day with a hearty meal, the full Irish breakfast is the way to go. It is quite similar to a full English or Scottish breakfast except for a few variations such as a choice of white pudding (suet, oatmeal and pork) instead of kippers or perhaps Irish soda bread instead of grilled toast or a potato cake. The Irish breakfast served at The Lodge in Kenmare, Ireland is a tasty protein-packed offering that includes a grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, pork sausages, bacon and white and black pudding (pork blood, oat groats and spices).

Guinness and Irish Beef Stew

Irish food, like British and Scottish cuisine, has come a long way from the heavy pub fare of the '70s and '80s before the farm to table movement gained popularity. Today the emphasis is on fresh and locally grown produce and locally-sourced meats and even a traditional dish like Guinness and Irish beef stew gets a robust makeover at Busker Brownes in Galway where the flavorful ingredients are simmered in Guinness beer and topped by a dollop of champ (mashed potatoes and green onions).

Beet Salad

Not all beet salads are created equal and the innovative and delicious deconstruction of the dish at No. 35 in Kenmare, Ireland is a total winner. Visually enticing, the presentation includes deep red, ruby, yellow and white beets dressed with fresh parsley, pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.

Steamed Cockles

Along the coast of Donegal County, Ireland, seafood reigns supreme and besides familiar shellfish like mussels and oysters, visitors can expect some lesser known favorites like cockles. Nancy’s Bar in Ardara serves up a heaping bowl of the steamed goodies (they have a nutty, clam-like flavor) in a lemon, scallion and butter broth which you can sop up with slices of dense, crusty Irish brown bread. It makes an excellent pairing with a fine local craft beer like a Yannaroddy Porter.

Ham Hock Pâté Salad

Leave it to renowned chief Frankie Mallon to come up with inspired, award-winning dishes at his restaurant An Port Mor in Westport, Ireland. His starter plate of ham hock paté salad with its rich, smoky flavor was the ideal way to launch a memorable meal.

Roast Halibut and Pan Seared Scallops

If you are a seafood fan, you will be in food heaven while touring the west coast of Ireland, regardless of whether you explore the north, central or south regions. Almost every restaurant or pub serves a superb fish and chips but more health-conscious foodies should check out the roasted and broiled fresh fish specials like the succulent roast halibut and pan-seared scallops with potatoes, zucchini and beets at The Olde Castle Bar in Donegal Town.

BLT Toastie

Sandwiches are served for lunch at many Irish restaurants and pubs but they are more likely to be called toasties or wraps. Hannigan’s Bar and Restaurant in Killarney offers a delightful variation on the classic BLT sandwich which is served on toasted flat polar-bread (nicknamed flap). The bacon is closer in texture and flavor to Canadian bacon instead of the streaky variety with distinct strips of fat which is more common in the U.S. Side accompaniments of tart, creamy cole slaw and champ are not uncommon.

Shepherd's Pie

When it comes to comfort food, it’s hard to top a traditional favorite like shepherd’s pie. Although the dish has many variations, the standard recipe consists of beef or lamb in a savory gravy sauce with carrots, peas and celery. It is then covered with a layer of mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. This simple but satisfying version is one of the standout offerings at Foley’s restaurant in Kenmare.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

It is not unusual to find this rich, decadent treat on many dessert menus in the U.K. though every restaurant or pub likes to put their own signature spin on it. At The Pier Head in Kinvara, Ireland, the sticky toffee pudding is a soft, warm sponge cake with a light gingerbread-like flavor and drizzled with caramel sauce. It is topped with fresh strawberries and accompanied by creme anglaise (sweet custard), and vanilla bean ice cream.

Fig and Walnut Sponge

The signature dessert at the Knights Bar in Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin, Ireland is their fig and walnut sponge, a foodie variation on the classic sponge cake dessert. A warm, walnut-infused sponge cake is topped with fresh figs in a flavorful syrup and accompanied by salted caramel ice cream and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

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