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Looking for great food in Ireland

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Hi,
I'm looking for great food in Ireland (casual, nicer, local specialities, we're up for whatever), but we're traveling with a 6 yr old and a 2.5 yr old. We travel quite a bit and do take them out for nice meals so they are decently behaved. But I've read that people in Ireland don't really tolerate children at restaurants and pubs (we wouldn't want to take them to pubs anyway). So that leaves me to wonder where we'll be eating on our 2.5 week trip. I won't be able to take McDonald's or chain restaurants for that long. Please help!

We'll be staying in Dublin, Kilkenny, Galway, Dingle, Belfast and visiting other places in between. We're pretty adventurous diners and love great food. We just have to bring the kids along.

Also, are there any Irish specialities that are not to be missed? An Irish friend told me that the food in Ireland wasn't that exciting. But I don't believe that there isn't even 1 thing that I need to try.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

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  1. Hiya,
    Living in Canada but only left galway 6 months ago. Well alll i have to say on irish not liking children is just as long as theyre not goin around screaming at the tops of their lungs or throwing food, things etc....we dont mind, lol!I'm trying to think of some good places for you to eat in the city.......i cant think of anywhere specifically that would be great for kids?More adults but there are a few casual eats like La Salsa, its is a mexican little place but you can get fries and burgers and that for the kids and they have seating upstairs and the kids mite like the brightly coloured walls. This is at the bottom of shop street, thats the main shopping street in galway!There is Supermacs, in the eyre square (i.e irish version of MacDonalds) , and Eddie Rockets (diner) on Abbeygate street just down from the Main post office in the city!Thats nice there, lovely food and lovely desserts and you can have a booth to yourselves!!Thats all i can think of .....if you going somewhere specifically in galway let me know and i can be more precise but i hope you get on ok and enjoy you holiday!!

    1. "An Irish friend told me that the food in Ireland wasn't that exciting."

      Depends on their definition of "exciting". Great meat, good seafood, superb range of cheese.

      1. hi there,

        i'm an american who has lived in dublin for 10 years, and wouldn't say that irish people resent having children in restaurants as long as they're well behaved. that said, kids would be out of place at very high-end restaurants, so you might want to go to more casual places. also, going for earlier dinners (around 6) means restaurants won't be super busy, so you won't have to feel as self-conscious about having kids. when in doubt, ring the restaurant and tell them you've two children and ask if it will be an issue.

        for lunches, avoca cafes are all around the country, do very nice food, and are very child friendly. they're always attached to an avoca shop, which sell lots of lovely things, including their woven goods (blankets, scarves, etc.). also, don't rule out pubs as good lunch spots. you'll get some very good food in a nice atmosphere if you look around - i would say this is especially the case outside of dublin, where i recall having lovely, simple lunches of smoked salmon and brown bread in seaside towns when i was travelling with my parents here when i was 17.

        when you're in dublin, a couple places that come to mind to try:
        the winding stair - i love this place and always take my visiting american friends there. they do really nice food with irish ingredients, so you'll see things like black pudding on the menu.
        brasserie 66 - i don't eat here often but it's central and i always see people going in and out with baby buggies! the food i've had there has been very nice.
        market bar - yes, a bar, but they do a big menu of tapas, and it's a very child-friendly place. a good place for lunch or a weeknight dinner (it'll start to get crowded in the evenings at the weekend). one of the menu items is nachos, which kids will enjoy.

        good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: babyraccoon

          Thank you so much for the great suggestions! I was just reading a review of WInding Stair that sounded interesting so we'll try to check it out. Sounds like we can get a good meal if we eat on the early side which works for us.

        2. Can't help with the other places I'm afraid but in Belfast you are spoilt for choice. In most places, quiet / well-behaved children are more than welcome. Check out these links and see if anything takes your fancy:

          Cayenne - http://www.cayenne-restaurant.co.uk/
          Ginger Bistro - http://www.gingerbistro.com/
          Made in Belfast - http://www.madeinbelfastni.com/
          Tedfords - http://www.tedfordsrestaurant.com/
          Beatrice Kennedy - http://www.beatricekennedy.co.uk/
          Mourne Seafood Bar - http://www.mourneseafood.com/page/14/...
          Molly's Yard - http://www.mollysyard.co.uk/

          Cayenne and Tedfords are the 'fanciest' places; the rest are pretty low-key / informal brasseries. Ginger Bistro would be my personal recommendation - very relaxed, great food and you can eat early if the kids need to be in bed. (The pre-theatre / early evening menu is great value and varied).

          Make sure you have an Ulster Fry for breakfast - you won't need lunch afterwards!

          2 Replies
          1. re: DollyDagger

            Thanks for these great suggestions!
            What is an Ulster Fry or do I not want to know?

            1. re: ciaotuffy

              The Ulster Fry is similar to the Full English breakfast, also affectionately called the 'heart attack on a plate'. It's not the healthiest start to the day but it is delicious!

              It varies but you'll usually get sausages, bacon, fried eggs, tomato, mushrooms, soda bread and potato bread. Most / all of the ingredients are fried. Indecently good.

          2. Hi
            You might find this article useful: http://www.cheapeats.ie/2009/10/22/ea...
            Enjoy your travels!

            1. McDonaghs in Galway city is pretty good, it's on Quay Street.

              Just a fish and chip shop in the day then one half stays as a fish and chip shop with benches to sit on and the other half becomes a proper fish restaurant in the evening.

              Very good fish and chips, has been for years.

              3 Replies
              1. re: scooby99

                Oh yeah, forgot about McDonaghs, lovely on a summers evening, defo the best fish and chips in Galway, and they do mushy peas too and cajun sauce, yum yum!

                1. re: Lisaleathers

                  another thumbs up for McDonaghs here

                  1. re: THEBADGER

                    Yum, fish n chips at McDonaghs sounds great. The kids (and I) will love that. We have reservations at Winding Stair in Dublin and Cayenne in Belfast. We're leaving tonight and looking forward to some good eating.

                    Thanks for your help!