Galway, Ireland—The lively streets of Galway City—filled with pubs, restaurants, and specialty food shops—are beacons of hospitality in the rugged landscape of western Ireland. It’s no surprise that some of the best eats in town are crafted from local ingredients: seafood, meat, cheese, potatoes, butter. Don’t forget to order a pint of Guinness.
1. Ard Bia at Nimmos—Walk along the water at the Claddagh Basin to find this café, restaurant and wine bar housed within a small stone customs house beside the Spanish Arch. The intimate space, comprised of several small rooms, has the comfy feel of an old Irish farmhouse. Brunch, available all day, includes tempting choices like blackberry buttermilk pancakes (with orange zest), fried egg and sausage sandwiches, and organic granola. In-house baked pastries and tarts compliment a wide selection of coffees and teas. Their signature lunch, a creamy chowder of smoked cod, seatrout, mussels, and clams, arrives with a slice of brown soda bread. Dinner, served by candlelight upstairs, features eclectic seasonal menus such as pan-fried hake with chorizo, and goat cheese and lovage gnocchi. Brunch: $7-$15, Dinner entrees: $21-$29 Spanish Arch, 091-561114, www.ardbia.com
2. McDonaghs—For a perfect serving of fish and chips look no further than this 4th-generation family-run establishment on the pedestrian-only Quay Street. McDonaghs keeps things simple by using only three ingredients: potatoes, fish and batter. Seafood is purchased from managed sustainable stocks in Ireland, UK and Iceland, including salmon, cod, and whiting. Locally grown fresh potatoes for the thick cut chips are peeled and cooked on site. For side dishes, try beans, mushy peas, onion rings, and coleslaw. Order at the counter for fast service dining and take out, or sit for a full-service meal in the adjoining restaurant where the menu expands to include native Clarenbridge oysters, grilled salmon with tarragon butter, seared scallops with black pudding, and Irish Angus rib eye steak with horseradish mashed potatoes. Fish and chips: $6.75- $7.50, Entrees: $15.75- $23.50. 22 Quay St., 091-565001, http://mcdonaghs.net/
3. Sheridans Cheesemongers—Located on St. Nicholas’s Church square in the centre of the city, this shop is stocked with locally made Irish farmhouse cheeses (Durrus, Clonmore, Coolea and Cooleeney raw milk) European cheeses, and other artisan foods including olive oils, cured meats, rye and linseed crackers, duck confit, and chutney. Head upstairs to the wine bar where you can order a cheese board and sample area specialties while sipping a glass of old-world wine, particularly Italian vintners. Soup, charcuterie platters, humus and tapenade are also available. On Saturdays, enjoy the farmers market in the square. Cheese boards: $12-$17, Wine: $7.50-$8.50. 14-16 Churchyard St., 091-564829, http://www.sheridanscheesemongers.com/