Eating like a Galwegian
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
Although Ireland was not usually regarded as a destination for foodies, the country has actually started to turn that around and now offers world-class options for hungry visitors, from casual eateries to high-end restaurants. In this regard, Galway has been one of the best examples of this recent trend with many excellent restaurants to choose from, from budget options to two Michelin star restaurants.
With so much choice, it can get difficult to actually make a choice. Fortunately, we’ve had plenty of time to make a selection ourselves and even two, depending on what sort of food you are looking for. This list is not intended to present all restaurants in Galway that are worth visiting (that would take waaay too long) but is instead designed to give you an insight into our favourite places. Make sure to ask your guide for more details, as we all have personal recommendations.
Grabbing a quick bite:
Whether you are following our One day visit of Galway guide, you are looking to grab something on the go before or after the Tribes free walking tour, or just want a quick treat, the following places will be a perfect fit. They are presented here in no particular order, all of them being excellent options.
For starters, if you are in Galway at the weekend, do yourself a favour and head to the market for lunch. There you will find multiple choices (the good kind though, where all the answers are right).
Yummy Crêpes offers a generous take on the French crêpes, with a large choice of both savoury and sweet fillings. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Mick, the owner who started it all 24 years ago, in or next to the famous red pop-up truck. In any case you won’t be disappointed, as the crêpes are always packed of flavours.
The Bánh Mì Shop serves exactly what the name says: bánh mìs. What are those you ask? A bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich served in a baguette, usually with a combination of meat and veggies (in particular kimchi).
Last, you cannot (or at least should not) visit the Galway market without getting a doughnut from Boychik. Throughout the years these incredible doughnuts have brought joy to multitudes of parents and kids, tourists and locals, and really anyone who has ever tried them. We would describe the experience, but it would not do it justice. Just trust us and get one, you’ll thank us (did we mention they are only 80 cents each?)
Market days aside, several other places offer consistently good light bites and snacks, and again, there’s choice:
If you like Italian food, and more specifically Sicilian food, U’Liotru is a necessary stop during your stay in Galway. Stop by this small café and order an arancino, a cartocciata or some lasagna and you’ll get to enjoy the authentic taste of some typical Italian dishes. Make sure to also try a cannolo, as you probably never tried a better one. This is also one of the only places in Galway where you’ll get a real espresso.
Feeling like cheese and wine instead? Then head to Sheridans Cheesemongers, by St Nicholas church and take in all the glory of the selection of cheeses, wines and cured meats. You can either buy those downstairs and bring them back home or walk upstairs (use the tiny door left of the shop entrance) and sit down for a spell to enjoy them right there. No matter how much you know about this kind of food and about wine, you can always trust the staff to recommend some of the best products.
If you are instead after something sweet and no Boychick doughnut is in sight, you can visit Le Petit Délice, the French bakery that opened in 2010 on Mainguard Street and has since been sending all its French customers down memory lane and leaves all the others feeling like they’ve taken a quick trip across the channel. This is one of the only places you can get a proper croissant.
Or you could sample some of Murphy’s ice cream and discover flavours you possibly never tasted, such as Blissful Butterscotch, Irish coffee or Baked banana, or never even imagined, like Caramelised Brown bread, Candied chili pepper or the original Murphy’s Dingle sea salt.
Sitting down for a meal:
One should live to eat, not live to eat. Maybe it’s because one of our tour guides is French, but this definitely rings true to our ears. After your Tribes free walking tour or a day of exploring, maybe you be hungry for a proper meal, in a nice setting. Whether you are looking for something easy and cheap, or something fancy and high-end, Galway has got you covered. Some of those picks offer very casual food, but the setting, food and ultimately experience are always great in those places.
If the word “pizza” makes you happy and gives your stomach butterflies, then Dough Bros will delight you. Long gone is the time when the Greaney brothers, Eugene and Ronan, sold pizzas out of their pop-up truck but their food still has the same quality and freshness that I remember waiting for in Knocknacarra parking lot. Since, the Dough Bros have opened a temporary shop and now have a permanent shop on Middle Street. The cat is out of the bag though (and has been for a while), and you might find a queue at the counter, so make sure that you plan ahead for that eventuality. Things move along quickly though so you won’t wait forever, and in any case, it’s worth it.
For budget options, you will be hard pressed to beat one of Galway students’ favorite, Boojum. The Galway branch of this burrito bar Irish chain is always packed and bustling with activity, and if you ask the students, you will see the eyes of many of them light up. Customize your burrito – or bowl – and enjoy some quick and delicious Mexican food. Between the low price and the good food, it’s no surprise people come back for more, and that they are self-proclaimed Boojum addicts.
In the long list of quirky and unique restaurants Galway has to offer, Ard Bia at Nimmo’s holds a special place, both in the city, by the Corrib, and in our hearts. The food there is all prepared in house (you can catch a glimpse of the process at the far end of the restaurant, and the evening menu varies based on every day’s haul from the market and suppliers. To say that food is at the center of the experience would be an understatement, and the price is reasonable, making a great choice that still partly remains a semi-hidden gem. Reservation is a must nonetheless.
Few restaurants in Galway can compete with the atmosphere of Dela, and with the tree that sits in the middle of the dining space, adorned with fairy lights and other ornaments. Most products that end up in your plate are cultivated and produced on the restaurant’s own farm, located a mere 20 minutes away. Self-described as deriving from the Scandinavian of eating, their food offers a wide variety, with each dish including some great vegetables and special notes. Having food at Dela is always great, but maybe particularly for brunch, which attracts dozens of hungry Galwegians every weekend (get there early!).
Once again, this is not an exhaustive list of places to eat at, but a simple taster of some of the best Galway has to offer. For more ideas, ask your tour guide on the Tribes free walking tour!