County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands Restaurants

Because the West provinces have a brief high season—from mid-June to early September—and a quiet off-season, it doesn't have as broad a choice of small, owner-operated restaurants as do other parts of Ireland. Often the best place to eat is a local hotel. But some places landmark the region, including Moran's Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan near Galway City, where the fare is simple, served in traditional pub surroundings, but sea-leaping fresh. At the other extreme are more dazzling experiences, like when you splurge to dine in style like the superb formal restaurant at Dromoland Castle. For truly adventurous contemporary Irish cooking, head to happening Galway; the town center is so compact you can meander around and read the menus on display outside before making your choice.

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  • 1. Aniar Restaurant

    $$$$ | Center | Irish

    J. P. McMahon has caused quite a stir in the Galway dining scene with his tapas at Cava Bodega and the recently opened casual spot Tartare,...Read More

  • 2. Kai Cafe and Restaurant

    $$ | Center | Contemporary

    Tucked inside a renovated cottage in the shadow of St. Ignatius's limestone belfry is one of Galway's best restaurants. The bare stone walls...Read More

  • 3. Linnane's Lobster Bar

    $$$ | Irish

    It doesn't get much better than this 300-year-old, slated, whitewashed cottage with a turf fire and full-length windows that open out onto a...Read More

  • 4. Moran's Oyster Cottage

    $$$$ | Seafood

    This small thatched cottage is just upstream from where the Dunkellin River flows into Dunbulcaun Bay, the epicenter of Ireland's fresh oyster...Read More

  • 5. Wild Honey Inn

    $$ | Irish

    Owner-chef Aidan McGrath and wife Kate's modest Victorian premises on the outskirts of Lisdoonvarna have become something of a culinary landmark...Read More

  • 6. Ard Bia at Nimmo's

    $$ | Spanish Arch | European

    Expect to wait in line at this city-center restaurant set in an old stone house, with tables overlooking the Corrib. Ard Bia serves budget-conscious...Read More

  • 7. Cava Bodega

    $ | Spanish

    Tapping into Galway's past as a major trading post for Spain, chef-owners J. P, McMahon and Drigin Gaffeybring all the favorite aspects of authentic...Read More

  • 8. Flanagans on the Lake

    $ | International

    This lakeside restaurant, convenient for a bite before or after a River Shannon cruise, serves international fare with breezy service. Locally...Read More

  • 9. Food Heaven

    $ | Irish

    Commanding a prime location in the town's market, Food Heaven is one of the best places to eat breakfast in Ennis, with standouts including...Read More

  • 10. Gallery Cafe

    $ | Irish

    A chilled-out café in the middle of town, Gallery Cafe has heaps of character with local artist exhibitions and the occasional live performance...Read More

  • 11. Goosers

    $ | Irish

    One of the most famous landmarks in town, complete with thatched roof, turf fire, and stone flooring, this classic Irish pub is a cozy a retreat...Read More

  • 12. McDonagh's Fish and Chips

    $ | Spanish Arch | Seafood

    The humble fish-and-chip is king at this stalwart restaurant, serving deep-fried cod, whiting, haddock, and hake for decades. The reasonably...Read More

  • 13. Monk's Pub

    $ | Irish

    This landmark dining pub a stone's throw from Ballyvaughan Pier has changed hands and fortunes over the past few years, but all you need to...Read More

  • 14. Morrissey's Seafood Bar and Grill

    $ | Irish

    Set on a bend in the river a short drive north of Loop Head Peninsula, this unpretentious town house has gained a national reputation. The key...Read More

  • 15. Murphy Blacks Restaurant

    $ | Seafood

    Set in modest Victorian quarters on the main thoroughfare into Kilkee, Murphy Blacks is operated by a duo with a vast experience in hospitality...Read More

  • 16. Souper Cafe

    $ | Café

    For soup lovers, this modest, brightly painted café on a square in the heart of Ennis will hit all the right notes. With daily changing specials...Read More

  • 17. Teach an Tae (Cafe Aran Tea Rooms)

    $ | Irish

    Michael and Alissa Donoghue do not have to travel far to get the ingredients for their little cottage café that overlooks the pier. Their flock...Read More

  • 18. The Hummingbird Cafe

    $ | Irish

    In the bright, sprawling loft of Blarney Woollen Mills, this daytime restaurant offers good value lunch time dishes like breaded fish, stews...Read More

  • 19. The Long Dock

    $ | Seafood

    Carrigaholt Village, with its crumbling medieval tower house perched on the coast, is home to this almost-200-year-old pub and restaurant, one...Read More

  • 20. The Pier Head

    $$ | Irish

    Once the village pub, the Pier Head is still a bar, but it sells more food than pints these days. The location is idyllic, at the top (head...Read More

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