The Southwest Restaurants

The Southwest can almost be described as one big culinary hot spot. Kenmare, Dingle, and Killarney all have a high density of restaurants and gastropubs serving locally raised meat, artisanal cheeses, and local seafood. Kerry mountain lamb has a unique flavor imparted by the wild herbs and grasses that those sheep you see on every hillside are busy munching. Adare also has an array of tempting restaurants: choose between the low-ceilinged charm of the tiny rooms in the thatched-cottage restaurant, the Wild Geese, and the genuine old-world hospitality at the blissfully comfortable Dunraven Arms, an old coaching inn still with some of its original antiques, which is now one of Ireland's leading hotels.

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  • 1. 1826 Adare

    $$$

    Bringing his classical training to County Limerick, critically acclaimed chef Wade Murphy opened 1826 Adare with his wife, Elaine, in 2013. Since then, his elegant comfort food has been in high demand, served in a pretty thatched cottage with whitewashed walls and cozy decor. Menus change with the seasons and are filled with the best ingredients from Ireland’s top farmers and producers. Wade’s 12-hour treacle braised beef short rib with Roscoff onions and Boulangere potatoes is one of his most popular dishes, though you’ll find delicious and creative seafood and vegetable dishes too, all accompanied by a great drinks offering.

    Main St., Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland
    061-396--004

    Known For

    • Clever, accomplished Irish cooking
    • Legendary late Sunday lunches
    • Excellent service

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch Mon.--Sat.
  • 2. Chart House

    $$$

    Host Jim McCarthy is often found in the early evening leaning over the red half door of this low, cabinlike stone building. The atmosphere is pleasantly informal (nautical artifacts complement the rusty-red walls and matching tablecloths), but both food and service are polished and professional. Top choices include pan-roasted monkfish with chana masala, toasted almonds, mango and red onion salsa or rack of Kerry mountain lamb. Finish the meal with a selection of Irish cheeses, served with a glass of port, or choose from a range of homemade desserts.

    The Mall, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-915–2255

    Known For

    • Warm, attentive staff and atmosphere
    • Annascaul black pudding
    • Perfect spot for a romantic dinner

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Jan. 2–mid-Feb. and Mon.--Wed., Dec.--Apr. (call to confirm). No lunch
  • 3. Mulcahy's

    $$

    Previously a pub, the wood-clad restaurant is intimate and contemporary chic with brown leather seats at small wooden tables, and a menu starring fresh Irish produce and Asian influence. Start with sushi and sashimi, or wild-mushroom pearl-barley risotto with aged Parmesan, and follow with roast halibut with mussel, bacon, and clam cream or veal cheek ravioli. The food is plated with flamboyance and highly Instagrammable. Chef Bruce Mulcahy runs a tight ship, and many people in the know reckon he is one of Ireland's most talented chefs.

    Main St., Kenmare, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    064-664–2383

    Known For

    • Delicious homemade Guinness bread
    • Warm, welcoming staff
    • Friendly, widely traveled owner--chef

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Wed. Oct.–May and last 2 wks in Jan. No lunch
  • 4. No. 35

    $

    Innovative, exciting, and original, No. 35 is a laid-back little restaurant with big ambition. Proprietor Dermot Brennan is a pig breeder of note, whose rare-breed free-range pedigree saddlebacks are the stars of Tony Schwartz’s menu, which is spangled with the best of Irish ingredients. Pork collar, Stonewell Cider--braised cabbage, apple purée, and a savory pickled mustard jus might follow a starter of Dingle Gin--cured Goatsbridge trout with coriander, lime, and apple or maybe a vegetable dish of wild and cultivated mushroom lasagna with St. Tola goats’ curd.

    Kenmare, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    064-664–1559

    Known For

    • Good choice of craft beers and well-priced wine list
    • Premium Irish ingredients
    • Delicious desserts

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Wed. and Thurs.
  • 5. Out of the Blue

    $$$

    Every fishing port should have a simple waterfront bistro like this one, serving the best seafood (the owner won't open up if there's no fresh-caught seafood available—which is almost never). Lobster, scallops, and crayfish are specialties, but also expect turbot, black sole, plaice, brill, monkfish, and even the humble pollack on the daily blackboard menu of this unpretentious shack. There's a short but well-chosen wine list, and basic dessert selection.

    The Pier, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-915–0811

    Known For

    • No chips or deep-fried seafood
    • Tasty chowder
    • The bargain "Fish Deal" set menu

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed mid-Nov.–mid-Mar. No lunch Mon.–Sat., Reservations essential
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  • 6. The Curragower Bar and Restaurant

    $

    It's not just the food that's made this restaurant the most popular in town: guests also like to drink in the views of King John's Castle (particularly when lit up in the evening) from under the heated terrace over sea bass served with crab beignets, salsa verde, and baby potatoes. Scampi comes with big planks of chips and lemon sole arrives in a bed of leek and onion. Burgers, steaks, and vegetarian option are aplenty on the menu, along with a good selection of beers on draft. Before or after dining, wander around the corner to see the Treaty Stone, the site where the Williamite-Jacobite war ended.

    Clancy Strand, Limerick City, Co. Limerick, Ireland
    087-701--4723

    Known For

    • Vegetarian options
    • Excellent views
    • Good selection of beers on draft

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Booking advisable
  • 7. The East Room

    $$$$

    Chef Derek Fitzpatrick creates a refined and concise menu from local ingredients that have been foraged, or grown by local artisanal suppliers or on the restaurant's rooftop garden. There's a choice between an evening tasting menu (sensibly priced at €60 given the options) with six courses that could include scallops, beef, or fresh catch. Top-notch à la carte menu choices include venison loin with maple squash, spiced lentils and sausage, or wild halibut with crubbeen chorizo, peas, and mussel sauce. The setting is full-on white linen in one of Ireland's finest country mansions, with views through sash windows across the wooded countryside or over the tumbling waters of the Shannon. Allow time to view the Visual Art Collection at Plassey House, which includes the works of Jack B. Yeats and Paul Henry.

    University of Limerick, Limerick City, Co. Limerick, Ireland
    061-202--186

    Known For

    • Elegant ambience
    • à la carte menu options as well
    • Views of the waters of the Shannon River

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.--Tue., no dinner Sun.
  • 8. The Moorings-Bridge Bar

    $

    The dramatic location of this simple bar on the windswept waterfront of the tiny fishing village of Portmagee has led the Bridge to feature in ads as "the quintessential Irish pub." A simple menu with the emphasis on local seafood, fish-and-chips, and lamb is served in the low-beamed bar's rustic pine interior. From May to September the pretty, adjoining Moorings restaurant serves a more ambitious, pricier menu most evenings. There are also 17 rooms overhead and an ace craft shop next door, as well as set dancing every Tuesday and Friday evening during summer and live music on weekends. Call to confirm availability of bar food between October and April, as the kitchen closes some days during the off-season, depending on how many visitors are around.

    Main St., Portmagee, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-947–7108

    Known For

    • Local seafood chowder
    • Unpretentious hospitality
    • Popularity with locals
  • 9. 10 Bridge Street

    $

    Located in a former church, 10 Bridge Street is a spacious and atmospheric restaurant and wine bar with beautiful stained-glass windows illuminating the room. The menu is split into nibbles, small plates, and larger portion sizes and features quality Irish produce like hake, braised beef, and Glenbeigh mussels---and mixes contemporary regulars such as skewers with old Irish favorites like colcannon or Guinness bread. An exciting wine offering includes stars from lesser-known Spanish varietals.

    Lower Bridge St., Killorglin, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-976--2347

    Known For

    • Atmospheric setting
    • Exciting wine list
    • Flavorsome traditional cooking

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Jan., Feb., and Sun.--Wed.
  • 10. Ashe's

    $$$

    This pub has been sitting here since it opened in 1849 as a drapery with a liquor license, and its history over the years has included its location as the unofficial base for the cast of Ryan's Daughter, which filmed in the town in 1968. In fact, it was for this crew that Ashe's first started serving food, and while the bar has expanded to accommodate more visitors with two additional cozy, no-frills rooms, the fare served on the plain wooden tables remains the freshest seafood, cooked to order, and a small selection of meat and vegetarian dishes---all hearty and good. Reservations are advised.

    6 Main St., Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-915--0989

    Known For

    • Good-value early menu from 5:30--6:30 (booking advised)
    • Blasket Island lobster, steamed with lemon or garlic butter
    • Glenbeigh mussels in Thai-style broth

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Dec. 1--14 and Jan. 6--31
  • 11. Bricín

    $$

    Candles and an open fire cast a warm light on Persian-style rugs and dark red walls hung with antique engravings of Killarney at this cozy little eatery set above a ground-floor craft emporium on the main street, while simple country-style wooden tables and stick-back chairs are set within "snug" areas created by stained-glass panels. The good-value menu features boxty (Irish potato pancake) with a choice of fillings, including vegetarian. Other options include baked salmon stuffed with crabmeat, char-grilled beef fillet, and roast rack of lamb. And, in the unlikely event you didn't hit a craft shop in Killarney, you can browse the shelves before making your way to the restaurant.

    26 High St., Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    064-663–4902

    Known For

    • Warm and friendly staff
    • Offers a great €40 set menu
    • Amazing dessert selection

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Jan. 7–early-Mar., Sun. and Mon. Mar.–Nov., and Sun.–Wed. Nov.–Jan
  • 12. Canteen

    $ | Contemporary

    Paul William's smart, low-key restaurant in a pretty part of Georgian Limerick is all about good food, sustainability, and coffee. Flahavan's porridge with organic yogurt and fruit, organic eggs, and locally sourced onion sausage and bagels feature in the breakfast menu, while wraps, salads, freshly made soups, and vegetarian dishes are some of the other options available. 

    26 Catherine St., Limerick, Co. Limerick, Ireland
    085-215--3212

    Known For

    • Refreshing change from fried foods
    • Local ingredients
    • Gobi vegetable curry lunchbox
  • 13. Lime Tree

    $$$

    An open fire, stone walls, and a minstrel's gallery above the main room lend considerable character to this restaurant, while the chef--owner’s imaginative ways with local produce result in memorable fare. Built in 1823 as a schoolhouse, it is located in its own leafy gardens near the Park Hotel (where many of its staff trained). The food is elegantly plated and served on plain wooden tables set with white Irish-linen napkins. In the long summer evenings light streams in from tall windows. Try one of the creative vegetarian options, such as goat's cheese croquettes with beetroot chutney, or roast rack of Kerry lamb, with warm crepes with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce to finish. 

    Shelburne St., Kenmare, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    064-664–1225

    Known For

    • Delicious seafood chowder
    • Healthy options on the children's menu
    • Inventive desserts such as upside down lemon-and-lime cheesecake

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.--Thurs. Nov.–early Mar. No lunch, Reservations recommended.
  • 14. Mortells Delicatessen and Seafood Restaurant

    $

    Whether you buy from the deli or restaurant, the focus here is freshness---as in cut out the middle man and go straight to the table. All dishes have been sourced locally and whipped up on the premises from scratch, displaying the culinary legacy that's lasted over 60 years. 

    49 Roches St., Limerick City, Co. Limerick, Ireland
    087-797--3419

    Known For

    • Contemporary recipes
    • Baked goods and pastries
    • Fresh-caught seafood

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun.
  • 15. Murphy's Ice Cream

    $

    One of Ireland's more unusual culinary success stories, Murphy's has won international awards for its delightfully creamy ice cream, including flavors like Dingle sea salt and Irish brown bread. Grab a scoop or two at this flagship parlor.

    Strand St., Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-915–2644

    Known For

    • Tasty Aztec hot chocolate
    • You can sample flavors before you buy
    • Unexpected flavors such as Irish gin, or fennel
  • 16. Quinlans' Seafood Bar

    $

    Cutting the supply chain to the minimum, Quinlan’s fleet of vessels transports its catch from ocean to plate on the same day. The cod, squid, and scampi are fresh and cooked to order with light panfry options. Exposed brick premises and wine-barrel tables set the casual tone.

    Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-712--3998
  • 17. Spa Seafoods Deli and Café

    $

    A fishmongers, deli, and seafood café all rolled into one, Spa Seafoods is a short trip out of town, on the road to Fenit. One of the area's best restaurants, it's a casual, buzzy spot with a thriving deli and fish shop and a restaurant upstairs. Daily specials are determined by the local catch, but you'll always find excellent seafood chowder, fish cakes, fish pie, and fish and chips, alongside a great little wine list.

    Spa Rd., Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-713--6901

    Known For

    • Seafood chowder
    • Seafood platter
    • Fresh fish-and-chips

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues., May--June and Sept.--Oct.
  • 18. The Bianconi

    $$

    This busy Victorian-style pub (with guest rooms) was once the coaching inn for the national network of horse-drawn coaches known as Bianconis; today, it serves local seafood and traditional Irish food. Its dark-wood interior has a rambling barroom with a tile floor, leatherette banquettes, and ancient stuffed animals above the booths. The menu includes such favorites as Dingle Bay prawns, local oak-smoked salmon, a steaming pot of garlic mussels in white wine broth, and braised shank of Kerry lamb. Advance booking is advisable in summer and on weekends.

    Lower Bridge St., Killorglin, Co. Kerry, Ireland
    066-976–1146

    Known For

    • Hearty portions of bistro-style food
    • Warm, friendly atmosphere
    • Divine desserts

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch Sun., Reservations recommended.
  • 19. The Buttery

    $

    This eatery is very popular, with a predominantly local clientele, so book ahead or arrive early before the queues. Sensible pricing, fresh organic food, and a social buzz come with good service and a quick turnover of guests. The all-day weekend brunch is particularly popular; the wording and presentation may be fancy, but the old-fashioned full Irish breakfast is there, along with trendier choices, and freshly squeezed orange juice and strong coffee. The Buttery café was once known as The Independent Chapel, and on November 21, 1845, Frederick Douglass, the famous African American statesman, civil rights campaigner, and social reformer, delivered a stirring antislavery talk to rapturous applause from a large audience at the end of a visit to Ireland.

    10 Bedford Row, Limerick City, Co. Limerick, Ireland
    061-597--668

    Known For

    • All-day weekend brunch
    • Full Irish breakfast
    • Fresh juices
  • 20. The Maigue Restaurant

    $$$

    If you like good, old-fashioned country service from a bygone era, with a tried and tested traditional menu that pleases guests across the generational divide, the Maigue Restaurant fits the bill. It offers some of the finest local ingredients in a short but crowd-pleasing menu. Rib of beef, a speciality, arrives on its own time upon a trolley (of course!) for carving, along with other local favorites such as in-season game, like pheasant or wild salmon. Similar to its home setting in the Dunraven Arms Hotel, the Maigue is stuffed with antiques and other paraphernalia and has retained the very essence of a provincial village inn.  

    Main St., Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland
    61-605--900

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