One of my favorite ways to enjoy a new culture is by partaking in local cuisine. Whether it’s Escargot in France, Poutine in Canada, or Wurst in Germany, food is a delicious way to learn more about the country and its people. Ireland is no exception.
While Ireland has undergone a culinary revamp in the past decade – a delicious revamp, if I may add – some traditional items have stayed in the spotlight.
Now, you won’t find corned beef and cabbage on this list – that’s an Irish American thing. The closest thing to corned beef and cabbage you will find is bacon with cabbage. It’s not the same, and there are MANY better food options on the little green island.
Champ – This s a quintessential Irish dish and is absolutely one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. To put it very simply, it’s pumped up mashed potatoes. It is mashed potatoes with buttermilk, onions, cheese, salt and pepper. It’s incredibly simple, but a must-try for anyone visiting Ireland. It’s rich, creamy, and super filling. Honestly, the best place to get authentic champ would be at a bed and breakfast.
Brown bread with Irish butter – Irish brown bread is a staple for just about every meal. It’s thick, hearty bread. Top it with real Irish butter (made from happy Irish cows) and you have a “stick to your ribs” delight. While you can get this at any number of local establishments, I enjoyed the brown bread at Number 31. The recipe is a family recipe with a slight modern twist (they incorporate Guinness and some molasses). Perfection. * important to note – this was a stock photo and does not represent the product offered at Number 31*
Fish and Chips – Most people think of England for traditional fish and chips – and they aren’t wrong. But Ireland makes some delightful fish and chips, also. My favorite spot is Leo Burdock (fairly close to Christ Church Cathedral). It’s a walk-in only spot (no seating available), but they have the best fish and chips I have ever had. Better still, a massive bit of fried cod with fries and dipping sauce will only set you back about 11 euro. (please note, I took the below picture half way through the meal. Life happened.)
Boxty – Another potato dish (no surprise there), boxty comes in several styles. I enjoyed the variety that is basically a potato pancake. Depending on where you go, it is normally topped with or wrapped around something a bit more substantial (especially if you are having one for lunch or dinner). My favorite boxty is at Gallagher’s Boxty House in Temple Bar. I normally suggest folks stay out of the Temple Bar area in Dublin. It’s filled with tourists and everything is overpriced. That being said, there are two places I wouldn’t miss, and one of them is Gallagher’s Boxty House.
Irish Stew – An absolute delight on a chilly Irish evening, Irish stew is filled with lamb, carrots, onions, and some special seasonings. Sometimes this is served over mashed potatoes for little extra nutrients. I would suggest enjoying this treat at the oldest pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head (also spot number two in Temple Bar not to miss) at a Folklore Dinner.
Guinness – not technically food, but a must have while actually in Ireland. It is true what they say – Guinness tastes better in Ireland. While there are a seemingly infinite amount of places to grab a pint, I would suggest the Long Hall Pub. No TV’s, partitioned bar with mirrors, locals, and a pint of the black stuff – what could be better?