The Northwest Restaurants

Donegal mountain spring lamb, Glen Bay crab, Donegal Bay oysters and mussels, Lough Swilly wild salmon, Enniscrone lobster, freshly baked scones, crusty homemade brown bread, and Guinness cake are just some of the delicious reasons why you will not go hungry traveling through the Northwest. Sligo Town has established itself as a sort of last stop for food lovers, with a number of tempting shops promoting local produce that are well worth a visit. The Sligo Food and Cultural Festival, held each May, is brimful of activities. You're likely to find the finest food at the higher-quality country houses, where chefs elegantly prepare local meat, fish, and produce in a hybrid Irish-French haute cuisine. In Donegal Town, be sure to ask for what are officially Europe’s top sausages, made by McGettigan’s butchers.

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  • 1. Bistro Bianconi

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    In the heart of Sligo's busy Italian Quarter, Bistro Bianconi has built on its long-established reputation for top-class pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven. Inventive...

    In the heart of Sligo's busy Italian Quarter, Bistro Bianconi has built on its long-established reputation for top-class pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven. Inventive gourmet pizzas include the Michelangelo (goat cheese, caramelized onions, pepperoni, and a sprinkling of Parmesan), the Vegetariano, and the perennial favorite, Quatro Formaggi. The menu is heavy on classic fresh pasta and lasagna, while the signature dish, chicken bocconcini (with glazed ham and cheese), is as popular as ever. Steaks, burgers, and Mediterranean king prawns are also on the menu. If you fancy a cocktail, try the Wild Atlantic Way martini.

    Tobergal La., Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
    071-914–1744

    Known For

    • Irresistible pizzas
    • Affordable prices
    • Chicken bocconcini (with glazed ham and cheese)
  • 2. Coach Lane Restaurant

    $$$

    This bustling eatery—deservedly one of Sligo's most popular and established since 1994—divides itself into two culinary halves: a relaxed downstairs bar (from 2 pm daily)...

    This bustling eatery—deservedly one of Sligo's most popular and established since 1994—divides itself into two culinary halves: a relaxed downstairs bar (from 2 pm daily) with red-checkered tablecloths, serving fish pie and steaming bowls of beef-and-Guinness stew; and a more formal (and expensive) upstairs dining room (5:30–9 pm), where lamb, salmon, and steak, including fillet, strip loin, and tomahawk (all the restaurant's beef is air-dried for 45 days), share space on the menu with pasta, trout, scallops, seafood platters, or fine herb gnocchi with wild earth mushrooms. Reservations are required for both bar food and the dining room.

    1–2 Lord Edward St., Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
    071-916–2417

    Known For

    • Fresh fish
    • Monster tomahawk steaks
    • Relaxed bar
  • 3. Ahoy Café

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    Catch a sunny day and it's hard to beat an outside table at this small family-run whitewashed café on the waterfront overlooking the busy harbor....

    Catch a sunny day and it's hard to beat an outside table at this small family-run whitewashed café on the waterfront overlooking the busy harbor. The breakfast menu runs until midday while lunchtime sandwiches with soup and salad are served all afternoon. Daily seafood specials may include mussels, haddock, monkfish, calamari, and a delectable chowder, followed by cheesecake and washed down with a choice of wine, craft beer, tea, or coffee as you watch the river of life float by.

    Shore Rd., Killybegs, Co. Donegal, Ireland
    074-913--1952

    Known For

    • Nourishing soups
    • Local mussels
    • Scenic setting
  • 4. Blueberry Tea Room and Restaurant

    $ | Coffee

    Proprietors Brian and Ruperta Gallagher serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and a light early evening meal—always using homegrown herbs in this congenial but unassuming tearoom....

    Proprietors Brian and Ruperta Gallagher serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and a light early evening meal—always using homegrown herbs in this congenial but unassuming tearoom. Daily specials—Irish lamb stew, pasta dishes, and turkey or corn-fed chicken—are served from 9 am to 7 pm. Haddock chowder and beer-battered fish are Friday specials. Soups, quiche, sandwiches, salads, and fruit are on the regular menu, along with homemade desserts, breads, scones, sticky cakes, and jams. Get there early for lunch, as the lines stretch out onto the street on busy days.

    Donegal Town, Co. Donegal, Ireland
    074-972–2933

    Known For

    • Pasta specials
    • Fresh sandwiches
    • Chocolate steam pudding

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun.
  • 5. Eala Bhán

    $$$

    Preening swans (the name means "White Swan") are visible from the dining room window of this modern, comfortable restaurant, serving Irish food starring local produce....

    Preening swans (the name means "White Swan") are visible from the dining room window of this modern, comfortable restaurant, serving Irish food starring local produce. Steak and seafood are prominent on the evening dinner menu, as well as vegetarian dishes. Highlights include Tobercurry lamb or beef and trio of fish made up of scallops, hake, and sea trout. The early-bird menu (5–6:20) is a good value with three courses, including, for mains, "posh" fish-and-chips (cooked in tempura and with pea puree), beef burgers, or a vegetarian option. Afternoon tea (€24.95) is served Thursday through Sunday from noon to 3 (and to 4:30 on Sunday) and includes gourmet sandwiches, pastries, and macaroons.

    Rockwood Parade, Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
    071-914–5823

    Known For

    • Seafood and meats
    • Luxurious riverside dining
    • Afternoon tea
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  • 6. Flipside

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    Opened in 2018, Flipside burger joint has quickly become a triumph across Sligo with its "Serious Burgers," served with flamin' fries or garlic butter and...

    Opened in 2018, Flipside burger joint has quickly become a triumph across Sligo with its "Serious Burgers," served with flamin' fries or garlic butter and Parmesan fries. The modern corner building, heavy with glass, steel, and dark wood tables, hums with happy diners. Irish Angus beef from William Clarke butchers in town are used along with other local produce. Cider, lager, and pale ales—try the local brew from White Hag—alongside a large wine selection or milkshakes are on the drinks menu.

    Rockwood Pde, Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
    071-932–6928

    Known For

    • Best burgers in town
    • Local produce and brews
    • River views

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch weekdays
  • 7. Mellys Café

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    With more than 65 years in business—it opened in 1956 and you get the impression that very little has changed since then—Mellys is a family-run...

    With more than 65 years in business—it opened in 1956 and you get the impression that very little has changed since then—Mellys is a family-run Killybegs institution with a focus on consistently superb fish. Haddock, plaice, hake, and calamari are all staples served with generous portions of tasty chips (fries). Other comfortingly basic dishes served in this authentic, good-value café include burgers, kebabs, chicken curry, and salads. Walls are filled with fishy charts, maps, and moody photographs. Takeaway meals are also available, but stay if you can; the friendly local banter involving fishermen and farmers adds flavor to an already tasty experience.

    Main St., Killybegs, Co. Donegal, Ireland
    074-973–1093

    Known For

    • Simple, well-done seafood
    • Local banter
    • Enduring warmth
  • 8. Osta Café & Wine Bar

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    Osta Café's philosophy is straightforward: serve locally sourced food, preferably organic, simply prepared. Come for light bites, lunch, or Sunday brunch; the "30-km breakfast" is...

    Osta Café's philosophy is straightforward: serve locally sourced food, preferably organic, simply prepared. Come for light bites, lunch, or Sunday brunch; the "30-km breakfast" is named for the proud fact that all ingredients are from within that distance—with the exception of the fair-trade, organic Mexican and Peruvian arabica coffee (ethically sourced). The eggs Benedict and ham or bacon at brunch (9 am to 3 pm) is the most popular dish of all. Lunch is the main reason to come here, but there's also occasional music and poetry evenings, which are advertised on social media.

    Stephen St., Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
    071-914–4639

    Known For

    • Local produce
    • Crowd-pleasing brunches
    • Victoria sponge cake
  • 9. Quay West

    $$

    Take a seat upstairs overlooking the serene waters of Donegal Bay and feast on some of the area's best produce. The early-bird (5--6:30 pm) is...

    Take a seat upstairs overlooking the serene waters of Donegal Bay and feast on some of the area's best produce. The early-bird (5--6:30 pm) is the best value with two courses for €19.95. Although there's a crossover between the menus, a much wider selection is on offer for dinner where you'll find steak, chicken, Guinness-braised shank of Donegal mountain lamb, or fisherman's pie made up of a robust combination of cod, hake, shellfish, and smokies (smoked haddock) straight from the boats. Round off your meal with a Boozy Bailey's: an espresso coffee and a shot of Bailey's Irish cream liqueur with a vanilla ice cream float, all topped by a dollop of softly whipped cream.

    Quay St, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal, Ireland
    074-972–1590

    Known For

    • Local fresh fish
    • Donegal mountain lamb
    • Pier-side views

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Oct.–Mar. closed Mon.–Tues.
  • 10. Ramblers Restaurant

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    Huge steaks and fresh, locally sourced fish dominate the dinner menu in the renovated upstairs restaurant in the Nesbitt Arms Hotel. Decor still harks back...

    Huge steaks and fresh, locally sourced fish dominate the dinner menu in the renovated upstairs restaurant in the Nesbitt Arms Hotel. Decor still harks back to the days when Ardara was Donegal's foremost weaving and wool center; tweed throws and blankets will keep you warm on a night of wild Atlantic weather. Ask for a "lunch on the go" package if you wish to keep moving, or settle in with a creamy and smoky Donegal Coffee, made with Silkie whiskey and blended at the Slieve League Distillery. The whiskey's name was inspired by the Gaeltacht legend of the silkies, or selkie seals, which came ashore as beautiful sea maidens with long dark hair and soulful brown eyes. There's music in the bar every Saturday night.

    Ardara, Co. Donegal, Ireland
    074-954–1103

    Known For

    • Great steaks
    • Quality lunch on the go
    • Local whiskeys
  • 11. The Cottage Restaurant

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    A refreshing blend of European and Asian-influenced food with a friendly Leitrim flourish makes this whitewashed restaurant in the tiny village of Jamestown, just 4...

    A refreshing blend of European and Asian-influenced food with a friendly Leitrim flourish makes this whitewashed restaurant in the tiny village of Jamestown, just 4 km (2½ miles) from Carrick-on-Shannon, an extremely popular evening venue. Situated across from the river, some diners arrive straight from the quayside to sample dishes such as Thai-style beef carpaccio, spiced monkfish with lemongrass, or Tandoori-style quail with plum and onion chutney. The Cottage—with a traditional half-door entrance—is also renowned for the range of the Malaysian born chef-owner Shamzuri Hanifa's exotic spices, sauces and dips; many feature his special balsamic jelly, chilli and coconut prawn bisque, acar pickle, or sundried tomato paste and basil pesto.

    Jamestown, Co. Leitrim, Ireland
    071-962–5933

    Known For

    • Irish twist to Malaysian flavors
    • Chef's spices and sauces
    • Delightful riverside location

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Wed.
  • 12. The Oarsman Bar & Restaurant

    $$

    A Carrick institution, this gastropub is very popular, so advance reservations for dinner are usually needed. Main-course dishes may include glazed pork belly, Hereford beef...

    A Carrick institution, this gastropub is very popular, so advance reservations for dinner are usually needed. Main-course dishes may include glazed pork belly, Hereford beef burger, 12-hour slow-cooked beef daube, or sustainable fish such as ling. Try some of the craft beers or ciders, including its own Oarsman lager, Galway Hooker, or Anderson's red ale. Save room for the lemon posset, or cotton-candy dessert. There's a resident guitarist Tuesday through Saturday evenings.

    Bridge St., Co. Leitrim, Ireland
    071-962–1733

    Known For

    • Mussels
    • Superb range of craft beers
    • Live music
  • 13. The Quiet Moment Tea Rooms

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    This delightful, old-fashioned tearoom with granite tables and mahogany paneling serves light bites and more substantial fare for breakfast and lunch. Breakfasts may be the...

    This delightful, old-fashioned tearoom with granite tables and mahogany paneling serves light bites and more substantial fare for breakfast and lunch. Breakfasts may be the full Irish (€8.95, served until noon), waffles, or pancakes with a multiplicity of fillings. For lunch, beef lasagna, quiche, or a wide selection of salads, sandwiches, and croissants are on the menu.

    94--96 Upper Main St., Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland
    074-912–8382

    Known For

    • Awesome breakfasts
    • Sweet chili deluxe triple sandwich
    • Flavored lattes
  • 14. St. George's Terrace

    $$$
    Closed Permanently

    An unlikely find in a small country town, this sophisticated newcomer to the Carrick culinary scene is set in a handsome Victorian redbrick building that...

    An unlikely find in a small country town, this sophisticated newcomer to the Carrick culinary scene is set in a handsome Victorian redbrick building that was formerly the National Irish Bank. The elegant dining room has abstract artwork on the denim blue, forest green, and gray walls; a huge chandelier; sash windows; linen on the tables; and superb service. Starters may be fresh soup poured from a Japanese teapot or octopus with celery, melon, and coriander. Main courses—delicately prepared with locally sourced ingredients—include highlights such as flavored Thornhill duck with rhubarb and parsnip, rump of lamb, and braised pork-neck fillet. There's a set Sunday lunch all afternoon for €36.50, and if you feel like an evening splurge, the 10-course sample tasting menu is €75.

    St. George's Terrace, Co. Leitrim, Ireland
    071-961–6546

    Known For

    • Locally sourced food
    • Thornhill duck with rhubarb and parsnip
    • Sunday lunch has become an institution

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 15. A Casa Mia

    $
    Closed Permanently

    With its long communal table that seats 36, this is the place to get the lowdown on what's happening around town. If you don't feel...

    With its long communal table that seats 36, this is the place to get the lowdown on what's happening around town. If you don't feel like getting to know your neighbor and prefer a more intimate experience, you can opt for an individual table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Rural Italian dishes steal the show—the delightful piattini menu features small taste explosions of ravioli, calamari, spiced meatballs, and prawns pil-pil, as well as tapas dishes that include patatas bravas. To accompany these, try their tempting ciabatta bread or panini with warm or mixed-leaf salads.

    Tobergal La., Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
    071-914–1690
  • 16. Cafe Nation

    $
    Closed Permanently

    Hot steak baguettes are the favored dish at this cozy café, the ideal place for a snack. But you can also choose from club sandwiches,...

    Hot steak baguettes are the favored dish at this cozy café, the ideal place for a snack. But you can also choose from club sandwiches, panini, lasagna, or homemade scones and cakes, all washed down with fine Bewely's coffee or flavored lattes and teas.

    95 Lower Main St., Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland
    074-912–7401

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun.
  • 17. Victoria Hall Restaurant

    $$
    Closed Permanently

    Set in a former church hall near the waterfront, this place is stylish and soothing. For starters, choose from such delights as sushi and smoked...

    Set in a former church hall near the waterfront, this place is stylish and soothing. For starters, choose from such delights as sushi and smoked salmon or duck spring roll with homemade barbecue sauce. Main courses include such classics as sea-bass fillet with king prawns, a delicious green chicken curry, or mouthwatering Thai-style stir-fried beef with garlic. Table settings are minimalist, service is prompt and friendly, and you can bring your own wine for a corkage charge.

    Quay Rd., Co. Leitrim, Ireland
    071-962–0320

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted

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