Road Tripping? 10 Restaurants Across Ireland You’ve Got To Try Out This Summer

Denise Curtin is uncovering the foodie gems you need to put on your 'must-try' list!


Shouk – Dublin 


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In the heart of Drumcondra, you’ll find – if you look closely, a rare find that’s compactly hidden away from the hustle and bustle. That rare find is Middle Eastern restaurant, Shouk. Think divine pitas bursting with flavour, every hummus dish you can possible imagine, as well as sharing plates and taster menus making sure you can a bit of everything and miss out on nothing. Shouk also caters very generously to the veggies and vegans among us making it great for all the gals!


Catalyst Coffee – Wicklow 


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Set yourself up for the day or reward yourself post walk, hike or swim, whatever tickles your fancy at Bray’s Catalyst Coffee. The food is as Instagrammable as it is tasty (which are often two factors that don’t align) and the sea setting makes it an all round 10/10, with its latest location on the Strand Road. The restaurant is eco-conscious, the food is plant-based and the coffee is GOOD, in fact it’s very good. Do yourself a favour and get the breakfast burrito too!


Cafe Mexicana – Cork 


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As a true Corkonian myself, I would never recommend a trip to those heading down south without a stop off at Cafe Mexicana. Think divine Mexican food, pitches of margarita, friendly staff and a seriously cosy vibe and you’ll capture the true essence of this total foodie gem. Located on Carey’s Lane, Cafe Mexicana is in the centre of the city and has been dishing out the good stuff since before I can even recall. Dishes to most certainly note include the moreish nacho bowls, crispy prawn tacos, and flavoursome chicken enchiladas. Mmmm.


Canal Bank Café – Dublin 


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In Dublin’s fair city, Upper Lesson Street to be precise, you’ll find Canal Bank Café. Open seven days a week and serving everything from lunch and dinner during the week, to brunch at the weekend, Canal Bank Café is hear to suit every need and tickle every fancy. With a cosy atmosphere, the menu includes a variety of dishes from streak to fresh fish and free range chicken. My favourite dish though? It’s got to be the beer battered fish and chips, with a skinny margarita.


Crust – Wexford 


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I love to Google and book every eatery before I ever set sail on a trip away, but last summer Crust was an accidental surprise that turned into a trip highlight while tipping around the east coast. As a lover for a wood fired pizza, I knew this place was going to be good by the footfall entering and exiting the door with pizza boxes stacked high to the heavens. Serving a concise menu that includes pizzas, breads, dips and drinks (re: wine), this place is a perfect pitstop for pizza lovers, holiday goers, or simply, date night hunters.


Shells Cafe – Sligo 


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Any trip to Sligo has got to incorporate a trip to Shells Cafe, just ask anyone who has ever been there. When you romanticise what a seaside cafe should encompass, Shells has. got it. A friendly atmosphere, great coffee, heart warming and homely sambos like The Sligo Slammer (bap with house pork patty, brown sauce, hash brown, fried egg and bacon), as well as a bakery and cute gift shop. Shells truly gives you the feel of a family business (because it is) and makes the café feel just as much yours, as theirs. We love.


Rocksalt – Louth 


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Award winning and delicious, Rocksalt has two stunning locations in Co Louth, one in Blackrock and the other in Dundalk, serving banging food since the brand first began four years ago in 2018. With speciality coffee that they blend themselves (yep, you can’t get that anywhere else, folks), as well as food and treats that will have you coming back for more, Rocksalt is the perfect place to catch up with a friend, grab a bite to eat after a dip in the sea, or simply sip a brew and watch the world pass by. You can sure I’ll be venturing back soon for that prawn poboy; exceptional.


Coppi – Belfast 


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If you love small plates, Italian food, cocktails and a contemporary setting, you’re going to be weak for Coppi. Located at St Anne’s Square, Belfast, Coppi is most certainly one to book for a birthday, anniversary, girl’s trip or date night, any occasion that deserves something a little bit extra special. The extensive wine list, as well as selection of creative and classic cocktails as well as craft beers, mean you’re not only getting served the finest of food, but the best drinks to accompany it too! Coppi is also the perfect reason to get all dolled up and cheers to the weekend, the right way!


The Fish Box – Dingle 

Small, but mighty, that’s how I would describe the Dingle Peninsula and all that it has to offer. In fact, it could easily do with it’s own double page spread in the mag! But until then, I’ll leave you with one really solid recommendation if you happen to find yourself down that direction this summer, The Fish Box. In true Kerry fashion, the directions to find this foodie gem are ‘across from the church and near Dick Mack’s’. The Fish Box is family owned and family run, with the freshest of seafood coming from the restaurant’s own trawler.


Pizza Punks – Belfast 

Anytime I hear a friend heading to Belfast, I harp on about Pizza Punks. I do my classic ‘I swear you NEED to eat here or else…’ move, then forcing them when they return to describe every bite to me and praise me on my recommendation. I don’t ask for much, do I? But Pizza Punks deserves all the emphasis because it’s a) deadly pizzas and b) deadly cocktails. The whole restaurant has an edgy vibe, think neon signs and an industrial feel and the menu, well, it’s a treat. From toppings like sriracha caramel pork belly to vegan pepperoni, and desserts like ice cream sandwiches and pineapple cheesecake, the place is a taste explosion worth trying.

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