Top 11 Foodie Experiences

Beautiful scenery complemented by innovative food producers, award-winning restaurants, creative cafés, curious-minded distillers and diverse farmers markets – Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands has all the ingredients for a great foodie visit.

Inspired menus served up in great locations are just for starters. Throughout the heart of rural Ireland, restaurants are sourcing local produce to inspire their menus so you can really get a taste for this unspoilt region.

Farmers' markets and food festivals can be found throughout this heart of Ireland and many farmers have diversified into making cheese and other dairy products. In many cases the distance between farm and fork is no more than a few kilometres.

Whether you're a consummate carnivore or a vegan, you'll find something in the foodie delights in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands. Here are our top 10 foodie experiences to try on your next visit.

1. Gleeson’s Townhouse, County Roscommon

“Handmade, homemade and every plate prepared with passion” is what husband and wife team, Eamonn and Mary Gleeson promise at Gleeson's Townhouse and restaurant. Their 19th century house has recently been restored and is the backdrop to some seriously good homemade delicacies. The emphasis on the menu is organic and the townhouse is open from breakfast through to evening.

2. MacNean House Restaurant and Cookery School, County Cavan

Enjoy planning ahead for culinary experiences? Then don't miss award-winning chef Neven Maguire's MacNean House, Restaurant and Cookery School, Blacklion, Cavan. As one of Ireland's best-loved chefs, this renowned restaurant in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands books up fast. Keep an eye on MacNean House for cancellations to enjoy a feast at one of Ireland’s ultimate dining destinations.

3. Oarsman Pub, County Leitrim

Check out The Oarsman in Carrick-on-Shannon, an Irish Gastro Pub of the Year and a real hidden gem. The quality and flavours on offer make you wonder whether it’s a pub in a restaurant or a restaurant in a pub. The owners, brothers Conor and Ronan Maher, have created a great dining destination which is a must-visit for lunch or dinner.

4. Rogue and Co, County Roscommon

Rogue and Co, is modern café on the Roscommon town’s Main Street with dark charcoal walls and plush armchairs; the perfect place to wrap your hands around a steaming coffee cup. The lunch menu invites you to stay longer with high-end flavour combos in their sandwiches and salads as well as an extensive wine selection.

Smoked Salmon with Crab
Smoked Salmon with Crab

5. Thyme, County Westmeath

Nestled right on the banks of the River Shannon in the heart of historic Athlone, Thyme has built a reputation for crafting exciting, modern Irish cuisine. Owner and chef John Coffey and his wife Tara set out to showcase the talent and passion of the Midland’s fabulous producers. His ever-changing menu is a real ode to the diversity of the local food artisans.

6. Cottage Restaurant, County Leitrim

Just five minutes outside Carrick-on-Shannon you’ll find the quaint village of Jamestown and the friendly, traditional Cottage Restaurant. Sham Hanifa fuses wholesome Irish flavours with his Malaysian roots with beautifully presented meals. The restaurant’s garden is filled with plum trees and polytunnels showing the restaurant values high quality, local ingredients.

7. Les Petites Tartres, County Roscommon

You can’t miss Les Petites Tartres in Athleague, as its purple façade sets the tone for a welcoming meal in lovely surroundings. The tasty homemade desserts are worth the trip alone and their organic, fairtrade coffee is the perfect way to top off your visit to Roscommon.

8. Drumanilra Farm Kitchen, County Roscommon

Liam and Justina Gavin of Drumanilra Farm left the UK in 2012 to farm in Boyle, County Roscommon. They now run an award-winning day-time restaurant, The Drumanilra Farm Kitchen, in Boyle with every dish containing ingredients from their organic mixed farm just ten minutes' drive away. All the Dexter beef, pork, lamb and salad leaves are produced on the farm. They also serve organic chicken, Angus beef and other seasonal ingredients.

Burger served at The Drumanilra Farm Kitchen
Burger served at The Drumanilra Farm Kitchen

9. Dead Centre Brewing, Athlone, Co Westmeath

An engaging and interactive introduction to the exciting world of Irish craft beer, nestled right on the banks of the majestic River Shannon, the Dead Centre Brewing offers a hands-on craft beer-tasting session as well as interactive brewery tours of their on-site brewery. Stone-baked pizzas are freshly made on-site (including gluten-free options). (Brewery tour starting Summer 2019.)

10. Wilde Irish Chocolates, County Clare

If you like chocolate you simply have to make time to visit Wilde Irish Chocolates in Tuamgraney, County Clare. Over 80 chocolates are handmade in the small artisan factory. There's an open plan production area where you can see the chocolates being made and packed. You can taste what's in production and make suggestions for your own favourite flavours.

Chocolate delights from Wilde Irish Chocolates
Chocolate delights from Wilde Irish Chocolates

11. Wake up and smell the coffee County Tipperary

For coffee fans, Old Barracks Coffee Roastery, is an over-18s coffee bar that does roastery tours, Irish coffee demos, Irish coffee-making classes and Baileys lattes. The owners import directly from specialty coffee-grade farms and roast in Birdhill.

you may also like

9 Scenic Walking Trails

There are many ways to experience everything that Ireland's Hidden Heartlands has to offer, but perhaps the most satisfying is to do so is on foot.

Read more