Now we can talk about the Restaurants of Galway …. My second favorite thing about Galway.... after the Pubs
There are a lot of good to excellent restaurants in Galway, and even more so considering its size (80K people). I attribute this to the tourist trade, both international and domestic. Many rural Irishmen come to Galway for the “big city”, and of course Galway is known around the world and is an International tourist destination. I also attribute this to the large university population, 15-20% of the population. Finally, Galway is the Cultural and Government center for the West of Ireland. As in North America, this tends to increase the restaurant population and quality.
The following is the list of my favorites. This is not anywhere close to a complete list. If you see an interesting restaurant with a menu that appeals to your tastes, check out the posted menu and go for it, or check it out on Trip Advisor. I have done this a few times and have been pleasantly surprised. The worst I’ve had is a mediocre meal.
Péarla na Mara
This is my Galway favorite. The fish is great. The lamb is great. The beef is excellent and cooked medium-rare when you ask for it. The wine selection is limited but great. The service is impeccable. The décor is edgy but comfortable. The dish preparation and presentation is creative while still being comfortable. I would call it Irish food with a mediterranean flare. It is conveniently located near downtown Galway across the river from the Spanish Arch. Péarla na Mara is a great place to eat ... Did I mention that I think this restaurant is great! ;-) Additionally it is very convenient to music at the Crane Bar or Monroe’s. Expect to pay €15-25 for an entrée.
Péarla na Mara
The Skeff Bar and Kitchen
The Skeff is conveniently locate on Eyre Square and is co-located with the Skeffington Arms Hotel. This is my “go to” place for pub food. Think fish and chips, bangers and mash, hamburger, etc., but they usually have a dish or two with a twist if you want to experiment. The beer selection to complement your food is fantastic. They also have outside seating if you are blessed with a warm and sunny day. This is also a good place for breakfast.
I’ve eaten here several times on my own, and as part of a large work event dinner. The meals have always been very good. Lamb, Fish, and Chicken are all good. I was amazed that the food was hot and fresh, even for the very large dinner parties. The street entrance is muted and does not hint at the huge capacity. McSwiggan’s is conveniently located near the Town Hall Theatre, and a 5-minute walk from Eyre Square. If you want an upscale dinner preceded by a mixed cocktail, then this is your place. You can expect to pay €15-25 for an entrée.
Brassiere on the Corner
This is an upscale restaurant. It is very good, but a little pricey. I would describe the dish style as Irish with a Continental flare. The boards are my favorite and can include cheese, meat, seafood, and vegetables. The steaks look really good. They have a great wine & beer selection and mixed cocktails are available. Probably need a reservation. Expect to pay€20+ for an entrée, a little less for the boards.
Sheridan’s Wine Bar
This is a great place to “hang” for a little conversation, or maybe to catch up on your travel journal. I’ve had long philosophical conversations with people I don’t even know, and I’ve sat with a glass of wine and read a book. On the weekends, be prepared to share a table, and meet some new friends. Saint Nicholas cathedral is just out the window, and below is the Saturday market area. It is a good view for just sitting and contemplating. In summary, this is a very informal wine bar with some excellent cheese and craic.
The wine bar is located above Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, and yes you need to go up the narrow stairs that don’t look quite correct. The food is primarily cheese and meet boards with bread and crackers and sometimes soup. The by-the-glass wine selection is very good. If you don’t like what’s available, then you can pick one from the shelves and have it for a nominal corkage fee.
I’ve been to this restaurant many times. The lamb shank is very good when they have it. The chicken supreme is fantastic. The fish is good. It can be a little tricky to find. There is an alley North of the King’s Head on Shop street. Go down the alley and Vina Mara will be across the street at the end of the alley. It sits next to a converted church. You will probably need a reservation on the weekend. There is a midweek special, €10 per entrée (all entrees). Normally the entrees are €20+.
This is a very good Coffee Shop on the edge of Eyre Square. The Coffee is reasonably priced and the Pastries and desserts are very good. It is also a good and convenient place for breakfast. This is another place to just “hang” and people watch or work on your travel journal or plan your next sight or … either upstairs or from the outside seating. BTW, I’m talking about the Café express at the NW corner of Eyre Square, just off Williamsgate Street … the corner that is on the way to Shop Street from Eyre Square
McDonagh’s Fish and Chips
We are talking fish and chips, and the usual side dishes (onion rings, coleslaw, etc). The restaurant is informal. The seating is on benches and you can sit inside the restaurant or outside. McDonagh’s is the only place I’ve seen that lets you select the type of fish for your fish and chips. You can choose: Cod(the usual), Salmon, Whiting, Ray Wing, Plaice, Hake, and smoked fish. Sausage or chicken and chips is also available. The adventurous can order haggis. A single order of chips is sufficient for two people, unless one is a growing boy or girl. Try the curry or garlic sauce with the chips. It’s a great complement to the chips!
No beer served here, but that's not a problem. Go across the street, get a pint and return. Just return the glass when you are done. McDonagh’s is on Quay Street in the heart of the Latin Quarter. This is a fun bustling restaurant. No relaxed dining here, but great food, large portions, and some conversation. If you go at prime time, the line is likely to be long, but worth the wait. Fish & Chips are about €10.
There is also a full service restaurant with more of a variety of dishes adjacent to the Fish & Chips Bar.
TheSeafood Bar @ Kirwans (locally referred to as Kirwan Lane)
This is an upscale restaurant right off of Quay Street and around the corner from McDonagh’s. And it is located on …. You guessed it … Kirwan Lane, a nice quiet alcove in the Latin Quarter. The food is excellent and upscale. They specialize in fish, but I have been with someone who ordered the lamb, and they were definitely not disappointed. Outdoor seating is available (and heated). You will need reservations on weekends. Expect to pay €15-25 for an entrée.
Quay Street and the Latin Quarter
There are many, many restaurants in the Latin Quarter on Quay street (if you walked from Eyre square on Shop street and always veered left, then you will end up on Quay street and eventually you will be in the Latin Quarter. Walk a few more meters/yards and you will see Galway Bay and the Corrib River). I have at times eaten in several of these and never had a bad meal, and sometimes they’ve been very good. As you walk down the street check out the menus, the special of the day, and the early bird and multi-course pricing. Then go for it!
If your tastes are more on the high end … or maybe more refined, and your pocket book is deep. Galway has two Michelin starred restaurants:
On Lower Dominic Street within sight of Monroe’s
Appears to be between the New Galway train station and the Radisson Blu hotel.
I haven’t eaten at either of these, but I have heard good things … and they do have the rating. Of course, the menu changes daily as well as the pricing, but I’m guessing €60+ each plus wine for a fixed price menu. This is upmarket pricing for Galway, but inexpensive for a restaurant of this quality and style.
I’m waiting for the next time someone offers to buy me dinner …. “Pick anyplace you’d like” …. 😉
See You In The Pub!
Jet Lag Jack