West Cork Foodie Guide
Today, I’m so excited to bring you a guest post written by Grace Austin of Extreme Nomads on Must Eat Foods in West Cork, Ireland!
Must Eat in Cork Ireland
Without a flicker of shame, I’ll easily admit that eating is my favourite of all the incredible things to do in West Cork.
A far cry from the bog standard bacon and cabbage that’s traditional to Ireland, the area is foodie heaven by all accounts.
Slow food market stalls, organic eateries, fresh seafood restaurants, satisfying pub grub, and even a Michelin star thrown in for good measure; no matter what your tastes or dietary preferences are, there’s always plenty to choose from.
But first, a little background on the area:
Cork is one of Ireland’s southerly provinces — and the largest one at that.
The capital city stands in stark contrast to the endless farmland and small, colourful towns that characterise the rest of the county.
Stretching from the town of Kinsale in the east all the way to the borders of County Kerry, West Cork constitutes dozens of tiny villages and several large towns, including Bantry, Skibbereen, Castletownbere, Kinsale, and Baltimore.
Much of West Cork is situated on the coast; as such, fresh seafood is a staple both in the markets and supermarkets, restaurants, and in most locals’ kitchens.
Haddock, hake, cod, mackerel, plaice, sole, salmon, and mussels are amongst the most popular of West Cork’s catch (Bantry Bay mussels are practically famous, and they’re even exported by the truckload throughout Europe).
There’s nothing more satisfying than a pub lunch of beer battered fish with a heaping bowl of salty chips (drenched in malt vinegar, if you’re me!).
For sure, the place to go for fish & chips is L’escale, the French run chip shop in the pier in Schull.
That said if you’re feeling like something a little more refined, the Fish Kitchen in Bantry never fails to disappoint. The tiny restaurant is tucked up above the fishmonger, so you’re always guaranteed the freshest of the fresh (just make sure you book in advance, the few tables they have fill up fast!).
While the above used to be favourites of mine, I’ve been vegetarian for a few years now so my eating habits have changed pretty dramatically.
Thankfully, West Cork is phenomenal for veggies and vegans alike, particularly at the regular farmer’s markets held throughout the area. Bantry market on a Friday or Skibbereen market on a Saturday both play host to dozens of delectable food stalls, serving up grab-and-go yummies like falafel wraps, portobello mushroom burgers, Jamaican jerk chickpea stews, Thai curries, and Itialian street food.
But if street food isn’t your bag, West Cork is home to a handful of seriously amazing (and award winning, might we add) restaurants.
Dinner at Blair’s Cove in Durrus always promises a decadent evening.
Their restaurant is located in a stylishly renovated barn overlooking Dunmanus Bay, and with a fancy waiting area for drinking aperitifs, an extravagant buffet for entrees, and a thoughtfully curated menu of local specialties, an evening here is an experience — not just a meal.
Then there’s Ballydehob’s newly opened Restaurant Chestnut, recipient of a Michelin star in 2019 thanks to the inspired menu created and executed by chef Rob Krawczyk.
The restaurant only seats 18 diners, which makes it a super intimate experience in itself. Rob’s menu is the epitome of farm-to-table dining, with each dish making the most of West Cork’s fragrant herbs, fresh produce, and world-class meats and fish.
But this is Ireland after all, and sometimes the weather calls for a good ol’ fashioned pub lunch with a side serving of pints (you’re in Cork now, so you better be drinking Murphy’s!).
Most pubs serving food offer a carvery (the roast of the day typically alternates between chicken, beef, lamb, and pork) with creamy mashed spuds and a selection of steamed veg — simple but satisfying. If you’re on for something a bit lighter, you can’t ever go wrong with a piping hot soup of the day served with a wedge of homemade brown bread that’s been slathered in butter.
Pin this Post for your West Cork Foodie Adventures:
Have a question about eating in West Cork? Drop a comment below!
Kitesurfer, outdoor addict, and adventure travel blogger at Extreme Nomads, Grace has been eating and drinking her way around the world since she was old enough to be allowed into bars (err, okay, actually way before that). These days you can find her back in her home country of Ireland, exploring the country’s best hiking trails and eating all the cheese. All of it.
For more family-friendly foodie guides, check out our Best Restaurants in Charleston, SC or our 10 More Chicago Restaurants for Foodies with Kids!