Ireland's Top Chefs Share Their Local Dining Hangouts

By Publications Checkout
Ireland's Top Chefs Share Their Local Dining Hangouts

Ireland’s leading chefs and restaurateurs produce some of the best gourmet food in the world. But which are the local restaurants they keep going back to on their day off? Hospitality Ireland polled a number of them, and here's what they had to say.


Garrett Byrne, Campagne, Kilkenny

The reason I like to dine at the Residence (Dublin) is because they cook impeccable seasonal ingredients elegantly and simply presented, and the chef Graham Neville makes the best sauces in the country.

Kevin Thornton, Thornton’s Restaurant, Dublin


It can be hard to find the time to eat out, but one place that myself, my wife Muriel and my son Conor like to frequent is Salt Café in Avoca, Monkstown. They serve a great free range rotisserie chicken with a Caesar salad. It’s simple but delicious.

Enda McEvoy, Loam, Galway

On my day off, I like to go to Kai Café. As we have a young family we don’t eat out much but love Kai for Sunday brunch. The kids adore the pancakes and there is always something great for the grown ups too. Jess and Dave are old friends and always look after us.

Rory Carville, Manor House Hotel, Fermanagh

I tend to head away quite often to London etc to treat myself for some good grub. Some of my favourite spots would be The Ledbury in London, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, The Green House in Dublin and Ananda in Dublin.


Pierre Heyraud, The Blackboard Bistro, Dublin

That would be Octopussy's Seafood Restaurant, on the West Pier in Howth, Co Dublin. One of the main reasons I like this restaurant is the location. It's on the West Pier in Howth overlooking the fishing boats in the harbour. I always book the window seat, with high stools looking out. It's beautiful. One of my favourite dishes is the hake a larRossa. A very simple dish is hake steamed in sherry, fish stock, mussels and garlic. Also, Dublin Bay prawns are a real favourite when accompanied with a nice glass of white wine, it’s like being on holidays on my day off.

Garrett Bradshaw, The Pig’s Tale, Gorey

L’Ecrivain. Derry and Sally-Anne are an inspiration to restaurant owners throughout the country, personally and professionally. I have been to the restaurant on many occasions and never been disappointed.
They always use an array of quality Irish ingredients and promote Irish producers from Lambay Island Beef to Connamara Lamb. Also, the Pigeon House Café. This is a great informal restaurant that uses local, seasonal ingredients cooked simply without being fussy or complicated. Brian Walsh and Paul Foley have put a great menu together, along with a casual atmosphere and great interior.


Denis Cotter, Cafe Paradiso, Cork

That's an easy one! Forest Avenue in Dublin. John and Sandy Wyer’s restaurant is that very rare thing… brilliant food in a warm, sincerely friendly dining room. John’s food is a hugely pleasurable combination of soul, technique and imagination, while Sandy runs the room as though she likes having you round for dinner. I’d eat there every week if I could.

Dermot Gannon, The Old Convent, Cahir

My favourite lunch spot on a day off is Cafe Hans in Cashel, Co. Tipperary. The service there is excellent and the food is consistently delicious. I love their spaghetti, lamb burgers and homemade ice cream. My favourite dinner out this year was The Lodge at Ashford, where chef Jonathan Keane wowed with every incredible course.

Jonathan Keane, Lisloughrey Lodge, Cong, Co Mayo


In Dublin, it’d have to be The Greenhouse. Mike’s cooking is still the best in the country. Many others may try to match his innovation and creativity but none can deliver so well on flavour. In Cong, the Hungry Monk does brilliant, simple cooking by husband-and wife team John and Aisling. At Thyme in Athlone, John Coffey uses the best local produce brilliantly, with really fabulous presentation. While at Ballmaloe House, you always get perfect food every time.

Conor Dempsey, Amuse, Dublin

In Dublin, we mostly go to Milano in the IFSC. It’s family friendly, which is important when you have a three and four year old in tow! They love the dough balls as a treat. Great pizza too.

John Farrell, Restaurateur Dublin

When I’m off, ETTO (pictured below) is usually one of my “go-to” places to eat. Dublin is a small city and the restaurant scene is even smaller. One of the positives of this is that most places you go, there is a familiar face. This is especially true in Simon Barrett and Liz Matthew’s Italian gem on Merrion Row. They have made a fantastic use of the space (something I always notice).


Domini Kemp, Director, Itsa

For a very casual night out with kids in tow, we love Junior's in Dublin. It's my favourite local restaurant. The staff are gorgeous and the food is honest and tasty. No messing around and we are usually in and out in 90 minutes before it becomes jammers! Lock's, ETTO and Forest Avenue are my favourite places to eat - not too fancy, but perfect for a date night and really excellent food.

Ronan Ryan, Counter Culture, Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin

Locally in Clontarf we go to Kinara. Closer to town, in Dublin it would have to be Chapter One for birthday lunches, which really is amazing value. Outside of Dublin, Campagne in Kilkenny or The Tannery in Dungarvan would be favourites.

Derry Clarke, l’Ecrivain Restaurant, Dublin

My favourite restaurant is China Sichuan, one of the best Chinese restaurants in Ireland. It is located in the Beacon Quarter on Ballymoss Road in Sandyford and just off the M50. It’s a great place for a Sunday lunch or dinner, birthday celebrations or just a catch up with friends and family. Kevin Hui is the ultimate host and the food is amazing and with great teamwork in the front-of-house and the kitchen, this place should be on everyone’s list.