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The 22 Essential Cork Restaurants

Where to find farmhouse fare, sourdough pizza, and craft beer in Ireland’s original food city

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If you still believe Irish food is solely concerned with potatoes and porter, then it is fitting your re-orientation program should begin in Cork, long dubbed the “food capital of Ireland.” With one of the world’s largest natural harbors, Cork has long been a vital maritime port, trading freely since the 13th century, exporting oats, wheat, beef, pork, fish, hides, and malt, and importing cloth, spices, and wine — four times as much wine, in fact, as neighboring England.

Eventually, the most egregious impacts of colonialism, particularly famine, radically skewed the national cuisine and obliterated much of Cork’s food culture. But the Irish revival began here in the 1960s with Myrtle Allen’s Ballymaloe House, just 20 miles east of Cork city. (Noma co-founder Claus Meyer attributes the genesis of the global locavore movement in fine dining to Allen, with whom he “soldiered” in a pan-European chefs organization in the 1980s.)

Today, with the beloved and ancient English Market as its traditional heart, Cork’s food scene is more diverse and delightful than ever, ranging from Ireland’s best-known date-night vegetarian restaurant to a tiny south Indian ayurvedic cafe, from vegan outposts to sourdough pizza, from Japanese food, both casual and starry, to immigrant-run Middle Eastern places, and from impeccable fish and chips to an almost religious craft beer obsession. Ireland’s original food city, Cork endured something of a culinary slump after the economic crash in 2008, but now it’s back and more vital than ever. Here are the most essential ways to experience it.

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than 20 euros (Less than $22 USD)
$$ = 20 - 50 euros ($22 - $55 USD)
$$$ = 50 - 100 euros ($55 - $109 USD)
$$$$ = 100 euros and up ($109 USD and up)

Joe McNamee is an Irish food writer, author, and journalist based in Cork. He is also founder of @grubcircus, a traveling activist food “roadshow” dedicated to pursuing truly sustainable food systems.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kinsale

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Kinsale
Co. Cork, Ireland

A 30-minute drive from the city, Kinsale was once dubbed Ireland’s gourmet capital. Though it lost its way for a spell, this impossibly pretty little seaside town is once again on an upward epicurean swing. O’Herlihy’s Kinsale (OHK) and Saint Francis Provisions are fine and funky little cafes, injecting youthful spirit into a town that has been at the forefront of Irish dining for more than 40 years. Bastion delivers excellent produce with precision and finesse alongside a smart wine list and fully merits its recently awarded Michelin star, while Fishy Fishy is a gorgeous portside affair offering superior seafood, including an excellent take on traditional fish and chips, from celebrity chef Martin Shanahan and wife Marie. The Black Pig, a gorgeous old wine bar in the tiny backstreets, offers small dishes to complement one of the very best wine lists in the country, as well as a splendid selection of sherries and fine Irish craft beers. [$ - $$$]

Colorful buildings and shops surround an outdoor patio on cobblestone streets, where customers sit in groups and others walk beneath a beautiful blue sky
The streets of Kinsale
Darren McLoughlin

2. Paradiso

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16 Lancaster Quay, Mardyke, Cork
T12 FKE1, Ireland
(021) 427 7939
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This world-renowned vegetarian restaurant has been going for a quarter-century but remains as vital as ever. Chef-owner Denis Cotter’s cookbooks have guided generations of novice vegetarian cooks, and Paradiso and its farm, Gort na Nain, won Collaboration of the Year at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in 2018 for Cotter’s partnership with Gort na Nain’s gifted grower, Ultan Walsh. A seasonal menu, constantly evolving, offers dishes such as stunning ewe’s milk cheese (award-winning Cáis na Tíre) cappelloni with sweetcorn, jalapeno, and lime butter. Grilled cauliflower has been refined to perfection in a big, punchy dish enhanced by cashew korma, spinach, mustard, and pickled raisins. The advent of Walsh’s Crown Prince pumpkins sees the return of one particular winter menu favorite: pumpkin gnocchi with king oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, black kale, lemon thyme butter, walnuts, and Cratloe Hills sheep’s cheese. [$$]

A layered galette with exposed ingredients nearly leaking from the sides sits next to a mound of mashed potato and a pile of chopped, cooked Brussels sprouts all in a dark gravy on a white plate.
Turnip galette with beetroot port gravy
Paradiso [Official Photo]

3. Pompeii Pizza at the Franciscan Well Brewery

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14 N Mall, Sunday's Well, Cork
T23 RHW2, Ireland

During a decade at Cork’s original craft brewery pub, Pompeii Pizza has opted for the progressive approach. As well as turning out great versions of the usual suspects from the wood-fired oven in the beer garden, experimentation is ongoing. A Halloween special featured butternut pumpkin sauce, provolone, O’Mahony’s streaky bacon, and black pepper; the chefs developed an in-house vegan mozzarella for dairy-free pies, and all doughs are made with a combination of house-milled Irish heritage grains combined with Italian tipo 00 flour. Charcuterie and cheese platters are also available at the cocktail bar upstairs. [$]

A full pizza lies on a serving dish on a wooden counter beside a tray of spice jars and an ornate olive oil dispenser, in front of a blurred out kitchen with staff at work
Nduja pizza
Darren McLoughlin

4. Ichigo Ichie

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No5 Sheares St, Centre, Cork, Co. Cork
T12 RY7Y, Ireland
(021) 427 9997
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Having made his name with his eponymous takeaway spot, Miyazaki, Japanese chef Takashi Miyazaki, married to an Irishwoman and now permanently settled in Cork, upped the ante with Ichigo Ichie (“once in a lifetime”), his take on kaiseki served in a spartan yet utterly serene space. Here diners are treated to a seemingly endless procession of jewel-like dishes, combining complex elements and tastes with an air of elemental simplicity. The Michelin star arrived within months of opening. As Miyazaki continues to evolve and grow, the menu is increasingly studded with dishes that could read as haikus of praise to the superlative local produce: sakura-smoked Irish venison, hazelnuts, and Velvet Cloud sheep yogurt; Lough Neagh eel, porcini, Kilbrack organic carrot, and Leamlara Ivan’s nasturtium; Castletownbere black sole, Kilbrack purple kale, Vitabella potato, maitake, and chestnut tuile. The wine list favors organic and natural while the sake list is a hoard of liquid treasures. [$$$$]

A menu written in Japanese is decorated with a small illustration of a flower at the bottom. It sits on a blond wood table lit by a focused pendant light. Chopsticks rest on a stand on top of the menu beside a folded napkin and a small vase
The menu and place setting
Ichigo Ichie [Official Photo]

5. Pigalle

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111 Barrack St, The Lough, Cork
T12 FK75, Ireland
(021) 432 3214
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In a city where daytime dining has long had the upper hand, Pigalle’s radical revision into a major culinary prospect was most welcome indeed. This delightful space off the cobbled streets of “Barracka” (in the local parlance), and right next door to its sister establishment, Tom Barry’s, one of Cork’s most iconic pubs, now offers a full menu of delicious dishes based on superb local produce and chef Mark Ahern’s sharp little flavor twists. Highlights include: fresh mussels with ’nduja and seaweed cream and Carrigcleena duck, currently served with seasonal squash and sauteed kale. [$$]

Various mounds of mashed and sliced vegetables sit in a bright, glossy, colorful bowl with a brilliant floral garnish on top
One of Pigalle’s most colorful dishes
Pigalle [Official Photo]

6. Miyazaki

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1A Evergreen St, Barrack St, Ballyphehane, Cork
T12 E034, Ireland
(021) 431 2716
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Michelin-starred Japanese chef Takashi Miyazaki first introduced himself to Cork with his take on the traditional homestyle cooking of his homeland, offering mighty cooking from a minute location. A handful of stools and a shelf counter are the only seating from which to consume his superb handiwork, using fine local produce that inspires the occasional Hibernian inflection. A bowl of plain noodles in his sublime dashi is a must, while the hearty miso butter tonkotsu ramen is based on pork stock cooked over three days. Though he has gone on to open the Michelin-starred Ichigo Ichie, Miyazaki remains a crucial piece of the local dining scene. [$]

A bowl of ramen on a wooden counter along a neutral wall. A boiled egg, diced greens, fried garnishes, and chopped greens float in the broth along with noodles.
Ramen with lemon, stewed pork, and nitamago
Darren McLoughlin

7. Iyer’s Cafe

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38 Popes Quay, Shandon, Cork
T23 YA07, Ireland

Everything about this micro-venue is as contained and humble as chef Gautham Iyer himself, whose South Indian dishes feature brilliant, vibrant, and often ferociously fiery flavors. Cooking alone from 6 a.m. every morning (including an hour spent kneading dough for the utterly unmissable samosas), he makes every dish from scratch each day. Seek out delicious dosas and rotis while sweet, spicy rasam, a broth of tamarind juice and tomato, will clear the head, literally and metaphorically. Every lunch at Iyer’s should finish with the mango kulfi. [$]

A metal tray with indentations for various colorful sauces and a large center section with a banana leaf cover underneath a long cylindrical dosa and two medu vadas
Dosa with idlis, medu vadas, mango pickles and chutneys
Gautham Iyer

8. Farmgate Café

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The English Market, Princes St, Centre, Cork
T12 NC8Y, Ireland
(021) 427 8134
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An institution within an institution, a visit to Farm Gate — both its al fresco mezzanine cafe and enclosed restaurant — is a quintessential Cork experience, perched over the iconic English Market’s fountain. The cafe does a wide range of excellent sandwiches, hot dishes, soups, and baked desserts while the restaurant menu is largely traditional Irish farmhouse brought into the heart of the city. This is all about good ingredients, cooked well, including the local delicacy tripe and drisheen (an Irish blood pudding), alongside corned beef and spring cabbage or lamb’s liver and bacon, all with discreet contemporary twists, and a short but sharp wine list demanding proper lunching be extended late into the afternoon. [$ - $$]

A man in a suit eats a sandwich while sitting at a counter at a wooden railing in front of an airy atrium, while servers and customers gather in the background at a cafe counter and espresso prep station
The al fresco mezzanine cafe
Darren McLoughlin

9. The Chocolate Shop

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Centre, Cork
Co. Cork, Ireland
(021) 425 4448
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Ireland’s very first specialty chocolate shop was established 19 years ago by husband-and-wife team Niall and Rosemary Daly. In the wake of Niall’s tragic passing several years ago, Rosemary has continued to run what remains the very best chocolate emporium in the country, offering premium chocolate and confectionery from many suppliers, including all the major Irish artisan producers and bean-to-bar manufacturers. The crowning glory is the excellent selection of fine single-origin chocolates from around the globe. [$]

Chocolate-dipped orange slices in a tray inside a deli case beside and above other chocolate sweets with a post-it note reading “vegan choice” attached to the rim of the tray
Chocolate-dipped oranges
Darren McLoughlin

10. My Goodness

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Unit 2 English Market, Princes St, Centre, Cork
T12 W9XP, Ireland
(087) 935 6652
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Virginia O’Gara is a force of nature. Along with husband Donal, the Texan-turned-Corkonian has led the vegan revolution in Cork and, by extension — when they take to the music festival circuit — Ireland. If the sustainability of veganism can sometimes be questionable because of a huge dependence on monoculture crops from around the globe (smashed avocado on sourdough, anyone?), O’Gara continually offers local alternatives in her always-creative culinary caperings. Exquisite kombuchas and kefirs use rainwater from their own gathering and filtration systems, her colossal krauts are made using local cabbages and root vegetables, and her vegan nachos make meat-eaters instant converts. [$]

Customers line up at a colorful market stall with a sign reading My Goodness above the counter and a playful illustration of a woman licking her lips on the exterior
The My Goodness stand inside English Market
Darren McLoughlin

11. The English Market

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Princes St, Centre
Cork, Ireland
(021) 427 4407
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The hallowed halls of this glorious covered market have been serving the people of Cork for centuries and are the envy of the entire country of Ireland, viewed with equal admiration by the multitudes of tourists who pass through each day. Still a daily functioning market, shoppers are supplied with the finest Irish beef, lamb, pork, and seafood along with a trove of world-class Irish Farmhouse cheeses, breads, charcuterie, fruit, vegetables, and other delicatessen specialties from home and abroad — and that’s barely the half of it. [$ - $$]

Rows of market stall inside a high covered atrium recede into the distance with customers walking through the lane, barrels of olives at the most immediate stand along with hand-written chalk signs advertising other wares
Rows of stalls at The English Market
Darren McLoughlin

12. Crawford Gallery Cafe

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Crawford Art Gallery, 1 Emmet Place, Centre
Cork, Ireland
(021) 427 4415
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One of the nicest dining rooms in the country, this is an oasis of serenity in the heart of Cork city in one of the country’s major galleries. The lunch menu remains an immaculate reimagining of the culinary ethos of the doyenne of Irish food, Myrtle Allen, who first opened it as a cafe some 30-odd years ago. The decidedly homey and traditional fare — including eggy quiches, roasted bone marrow, devilled kidneys, and home-baked cakes — nonetheless does not seem remotely out of place in these grand surroundings, but cooking like this is an art form in itself. [$$]

Two hulking lamb chops are propped up on a bed of greens with other mix-ins on a dinner plate beside cutlery and other table settings
Lamp chops
Crawford Gallery Cafe [Official Photo]

13. Good Day Deli

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Nano Nagle Place, Douglas St, Centre, Cork, Co. Cork
T12 PXV1, Ireland
(021) 432 2107
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Clare Condon and her Pacific Cook Islander husband, Kristin Makirere, offer elegant dishes in this gorgeous glass cube secreted away in a little inner-city oasis. Their ethos of sustainability (embracing local, seasonal, organic, and fair-trade foods) is divinely delivered in creative dishes such as hibiscus-poached pear with coconut mascarpone on buttermilk pancakes; or tea-smoked beetroot with sauteed kale, poached eggs, and hazelnut dukkah. Scant seafood elements in a primarily vegetarian/vegan menu — like the Kai Moana fish tacos, battered hake in Irish grown-and-produced corn tortillas — might tempt vegetarians to fall off the wagon. [$]

A low modernist building with floor-to-ceiling windows and dark facade looking out on greens surrounding an 18th century church in the background
Good Day Deli on the grounds of Nano Nagle Place
Darren McLoughlin

14. Filter

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19 George's Quay, Ballintemple
Cork, Ireland
(021) 455 0050
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In a city chock-full of fine coffee houses and a county with the best roasting scene in Ireland, Filter is Cork’s epicenter for serious coffee drinkers. Assembled from recycled materials, it sports the clean, spare lines of a lab with none of the sterility, and an extensive array of coffee-related kit. Filter carries an impressive range of beans from top Irish roasters to titillate the obsessives yet functions equally well as a coffeehouse for the general public. Partner-proprietors Eoin McCarthy and Alex O’Callaghan have established an off-site bakery, supplying the shop (and other coffeehouses) with an inventive range of confections and baked goods. [$]

A frothy glass of espresso and tonic with a thick head and an orange wheel perched on the rim sits on a glossy saucer on a glass counter
Espresso tonic
Alex Bruce

15. Izz Cafe

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14 George's Quay, Ballintemple, Cork
T12 EY24, Ireland
(021) 229 0689
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A couple of years ago, Palestinian couple Izz and Eman Alkerajah and their children were entangled in Ireland’s asylum-seeker system when they began selling Eman’s traditional recipes from a tiny farmer’s market stall. Success was immediate and — asylum status now granted and full Irish citizenship in the pipeline — a year later they established a brick-and-mortar presence in Cork city, centered around their menu of manaeesh, or Palestinian flatbreads. Try the version with chicken, sweet braised red onions, and pine nuts, with sumac and olive oil for seasoning. The mixed plate of dips, pickles, and tabbouleh is highly recommended, in particular for the makdous, a baby aubergine that’s steamed, then stuffed with walnuts, garlic, and chile and left to “pickle” in olive oil for up to two weeks. Eman’s exquisite desserts range from traditional warbat — syrup-drenched phyllo filled with custard — to the utterly nontraditional cinnamon roll. [$]

From above, a dark table with several decorative plates holding flatbreads with different toppings, dips, and other sides
A variety of mana’eesh
Izz Cafe [Official Photo]

16. Da Mirco Osteria

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4 Bridge St, Montenotte, Cork, Co. Cork
T23 H10E, Ireland
(021) 241 9480
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Arriving in Cork from Italy as a teenager, fresh out of catering college, Mirco Fondrini served a 14-year apprenticeship in the English Market’s Farmgate before finally opening Da Mirco, where his impeccable hospitality does more for the ambience than any decor ever could. Food is as it should be in any osteria: homey, hearty, and complemented by a cracking Italian wine list and some good Irish craft beers. The menu ranges from fish to house-made pastas to bites like the pillow-soft focaccia with speck, olives, and salame Valtellinese from near his Italian home village. For dessert, chocolate salami with cream never fails. [$$]

A chef sprinkles cheese onto large pieces of pasta in a bright ceramic bowl on a kitchen counter
Handmade pasta
Da Mirco Osteria [Official Photo]

17. Cork Coffee Roasters

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2 Bridge St, Victorian Quarter
Cork, Ireland
(021) 731 9158
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Cork Coffee Roasters supremo John Gowan is the godfather of the city’s modern coffee scene. Here the coffee is rock-solid and pastries are thoughtfully chosen, but there is equal pleasure to be derived from the ambience in this tiny space that evokes the cluttered wooden intimacy of a Nantucket whaler’s cabin. Situated at one of the city’s major confluences, it affords a perfect post for watching people and the day go by. [$]

A frothy cappuccino dusted with spice sits in a wide branded mug from Cork Coffee Roasters on a saucer
A cappuccino served in a branded mug
Darren McLoughlin

18. Goldie

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128 Oliver Plunkett St, Centre, Cork
T12 X5P8, Ireland
(021) 239 8720
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This comparatively new arrival already promises great things, with head chef and co-owner Aisling Moore and executive chef Stephen Kehoe on board with the “seacuterie” trend, or the nose-to-tail consumption of fish. In one dish, sardines are seared and devilled; head, spine, and tail are deep-fried and served with togarashi to create another course. Crab, langoustines, and scallops are simply grilled to yield sweet-salty hits of marine umami. Less popular species such as megrim and pollock are equally celebrated alongside more traditional favorites, and all can be paired with craft beers from sister restaurant Elbow Lane’s microbrewery across the street. [$$ - $$$]

A plate holds mussels, grilled fish, greens, and more
A fish-centric dish at Goldie
Goldie [Official Photo]

19. Cask

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48 MacCurtain Street, Victorian Quarter, Cork
T23 F104, Ireland
(021) 450 0913
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The glittering steampunk outfit — all brass, glass, and twinkling lights — is appropriate for this opulent 19th-century space in the city’s Victorian Quarter. Equal attention is paid to a seasonal cocktail menu that’s focused on foraged wild ingredients and spirits from local producers, yielding drinks such as the Rosehip (Connemara Irish whiskey, fig leaf, rosehip), the Pear (Bán Poitín, pear, white port, champagne), and the Wood Sorrel (Glendalough Autumn Gin, Banyuls, wood sorrel). The food menu stretches from bites to full dinners, including soft-shell tacos with herring, anchovies, avocado, black beans, and sweetcorn salsa; and Ballyhoura wild mushrooms, smoked sausage, and scamorza cheese. [$$]

A brightly lit gold and bronze bar, with an exposed stone wall in the back decorated with large mirrors, lattice bronze-work below the bar, exposed pendant lights, and lots of bottles on shelves and in fridges
The bar at Cask
Darren McLoughlin

20. Elbow Lane Brew and Smoke House

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4 Oliver Plunkett St, Centre, Cork
T12 YH24, Ireland
(021) 239 0479
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The awkward, narrow little room that makes up Elbow Lane is dominated by an open kitchen with a roaring wood-fired grill. It is here, under the guiding hand of executive chef Stephen Kehoe, chef Harrison Sharpe serves the likes of a starter of sunchokes with hazelnuts in a port-and-coffee sauce, while tasty mains include monkfish with lamb bacon, parsnip crisp, and tomato and horseradish salsa. From the grill, there’s pork neck with rhubarb chutney and Angelica-spiced watercress. A flight of Elbow Lane’s own draught beers makes for nice liquid companionship. [$$]

A bowl of gooey cheese topped with wine-soaked pomegranate seeds sits next to two charred rounds of bread on a wooden board with a cocktail napkin
Bread, roasted blue cheese, lambic-soaked pomegranates
Elbow Lane / Facebook

21. Sonny's Deli

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3 Albert Rd, Marina Terrace, Ballintemple, Cork City
Co. Cork, Ireland

Sited in a 19th-century artisan’s dwelling, in the city’s former Jewish quarter, Rachel McCormack and Jack Sonny Murphy’s tiny little deli punches way above its weight. With an eye to its location and heritage, McCormack employs an old Ashkenazi Jewish recipe for a 10-day salting and spicing of beef for the impeccable Reuben; their banh mi is a tribute to the Vietnamese classic; creative salads include broccoli with mustard dressing and oat and sesame brittle; while wickedly popular salted caramel and walnut banana bread pairs well with excellent coffees from star local roasters Golden Bean. [$]

The entrance to Sonny’s Deli in a traditional Georgian style block of buildings with simple white facade and steeped roof, with the name of the restaurant in red lettering above the door
Outside Sonny’s Deli
Darren McLoughlin

22. Sage Midleton

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The Courtyard, Main St, Midleton
Co. Cork, Ireland
(021) 463 9682
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With a zealot’s commitment to the locavore philosophy, produce for chef-owner Kevin Aherne’s 12-Mile Menu is entirely sourced from within that self-enforced boundary. Just 20 minutes from Cork city by local commuter train, Sage has justly achieved international renown but seasonality means superb producers rather than specific dishes remain the constants on a menu of always innovative, always superbly cooked food. The Greenroom and the Courtyard offer in-house casual dining alternatives, and while in the market town of Midleton, also squeeze in the Jameson Distillery, just down the street. [$$]

Slices purple and golden beets mix with sprouts and other colorful garnishes in a dark sauce on a plane white plate
Beets
Sage [Official Photo]

1. Kinsale

Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland
Colorful buildings and shops surround an outdoor patio on cobblestone streets, where customers sit in groups and others walk beneath a beautiful blue sky
The streets of Kinsale
Darren McLoughlin

A 30-minute drive from the city, Kinsale was once dubbed Ireland’s gourmet capital. Though it lost its way for a spell, this impossibly pretty little seaside town is once again on an upward epicurean swing. O’Herlihy’s Kinsale (OHK) and Saint Francis Provisions are fine and funky little cafes, injecting youthful spirit into a town that has been at the forefront of Irish dining for more than 40 years. Bastion delivers excellent produce with precision and finesse alongside a smart wine list and fully merits its recently awarded Michelin star, while Fishy Fishy is a gorgeous portside affair offering superior seafood, including an excellent take on traditional fish and chips, from celebrity chef Martin Shanahan and wife Marie. The Black Pig, a gorgeous old wine bar in the tiny backstreets, offers small dishes to complement one of the very best wine lists in the country, as well as a splendid selection of sherries and fine Irish craft beers. [$ - $$$]

Kinsale
Co. Cork, Ireland

2. Paradiso

16 Lancaster Quay, Mardyke, Cork, T12 FKE1, Ireland
A layered galette with exposed ingredients nearly leaking from the sides sits next to a mound of mashed potato and a pile of chopped, cooked Brussels sprouts all in a dark gravy on a white plate.
Turnip galette with beetroot port gravy
Paradiso [Official Photo]

This world-renowned vegetarian restaurant has been going for a quarter-century but remains as vital as ever. Chef-owner Denis Cotter’s cookbooks have guided generations of novice vegetarian cooks, and Paradiso and its farm, Gort na Nain, won Collaboration of the Year at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in 2018 for Cotter’s partnership with Gort na Nain’s gifted grower, Ultan Walsh. A seasonal menu, constantly evolving, offers dishes such as stunning ewe’s milk cheese (award-winning Cáis na Tíre) cappelloni with sweetcorn, jalapeno, and lime butter. Grilled cauliflower has been refined to perfection in a big, punchy dish enhanced by cashew korma, spinach, mustard, and pickled raisins. The advent of Walsh’s Crown Prince pumpkins sees the return of one particular winter menu favorite: pumpkin gnocchi with king oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, black kale, lemon thyme butter, walnuts, and Cratloe Hills sheep’s cheese. [$$]

16 Lancaster Quay, Mardyke, Cork
T12 FKE1, Ireland

3. Pompeii Pizza at the Franciscan Well Brewery

14 N Mall, Sunday's Well, Cork, T23 RHW2, Ireland
A full pizza lies on a serving dish on a wooden counter beside a tray of spice jars and an ornate olive oil dispenser, in front of a blurred out kitchen with staff at work
Nduja pizza
Darren McLoughlin

During a decade at Cork’s original craft brewery pub, Pompeii Pizza has opted for the progressive approach. As well as turning out great versions of the usual suspects from the wood-fired oven in the beer garden, experimentation is ongoing. A Halloween special featured butternut pumpkin sauce, provolone, O’Mahony’s streaky bacon, and black pepper; the chefs developed an in-house vegan mozzarella for dairy-free pies, and all doughs are made with a combination of house-milled Irish heritage grains combined with Italian tipo 00 flour. Charcuterie and cheese platters are also available at the cocktail bar upstairs. [$]

14 N Mall, Sunday's Well, Cork
T23 RHW2, Ireland

4. Ichigo Ichie

No5 Sheares St, Centre, Cork, Co. Cork, T12 RY7Y, Ireland
A menu written in Japanese is decorated with a small illustration of a flower at the bottom. It sits on a blond wood table lit by a focused pendant light. Chopsticks rest on a stand on top of the menu beside a folded napkin and a small vase
The menu and place setting
Ichigo Ichie [Official Photo]

Having made his name with his eponymous takeaway spot, Miyazaki, Japanese chef Takashi Miyazaki, married to an Irishwoman and now permanently settled in Cork, upped the ante with Ichigo Ichie (“once in a lifetime”), his take on kaiseki served in a spartan yet utterly serene space. Here diners are treated to a seemingly endless procession of jewel-like dishes, combining complex elements and tastes with an air of elemental simplicity. The Michelin star arrived within months of opening. As Miyazaki continues to evolve and grow, the menu is increasingly studded with dishes that could read as haikus of praise to the superlative local produce: sakura-smoked Irish venison, hazelnuts, and Velvet Cloud sheep yogurt; Lough Neagh eel, porcini, Kilbrack organic carrot, and Leamlara Ivan’s nasturtium; Castletownbere black sole, Kilbrack purple kale, Vitabella potato, maitake, and chestnut tuile. The wine list favors organic and natural while the sake list is a hoard of liquid treasures. [$$$$]

No5 Sheares St, Centre, Cork, Co. Cork
T12 RY7Y, Ireland

5. Pigalle

111 Barrack St, The Lough, Cork, T12 FK75, Ireland
Various mounds of mashed and sliced vegetables sit in a bright, glossy, colorful bowl with a brilliant floral garnish on top
One of Pigalle’s most colorful dishes
Pigalle [Official Photo]

In a city where daytime dining has long had the upper hand, Pigalle’s radical revision into a major culinary prospect was most welcome indeed. This delightful space off the cobbled streets of “Barracka” (in the local parlance), and right next door to its sister establishment, Tom Barry’s, one of Cork’s most iconic pubs, now offers a full menu of delicious dishes based on superb local produce and chef Mark Ahern’s sharp little flavor twists. Highlights include: fresh mussels with ’nduja and seaweed cream and Carrigcleena duck, currently served with seasonal squash and sauteed kale. [$$]

111 Barrack St, The Lough, Cork
T12 FK75, Ireland

6. Miyazaki

1A Evergreen St, Barrack St, Ballyphehane, Cork, T12 E034, Ireland
A bowl of ramen on a wooden counter along a neutral wall. A boiled egg, diced greens, fried garnishes, and chopped greens float in the broth along with noodles.
Ramen with lemon, stewed pork, and nitamago
Darren McLoughlin

Michelin-starred Japanese chef Takashi Miyazaki first introduced himself to Cork with his take on the traditional homestyle cooking of his homeland, offering mighty cooking from a minute location. A handful of stools and a shelf counter are the only seating from which to consume his superb handiwork, using fine local produce that inspires the occasional Hibernian inflection. A bowl of plain noodles in his sublime dashi is a must, while the hearty miso butter tonkotsu ramen is based on pork stock cooked over three days. Though he has gone on to open the Michelin-starred Ichigo Ichie, Miyazaki remains a crucial piece of the local dining scene. [$]

1A Evergreen St, Barrack St, Ballyphehane, Cork
T12 E034, Ireland

7. Iyer’s Cafe

38 Popes Quay, Shandon, Cork, T23 YA07, Ireland
A metal tray with indentations for various colorful sauces and a large center section with a banana leaf cover underneath a long cylindrical dosa and two medu vadas
Dosa with idlis, medu vadas, mango pickles and chutneys
Gautham Iyer

Everything about this micro-venue is as contained and humble as chef Gautham Iyer himself, whose South Indian dishes feature brilliant, vibrant, and often ferociously fiery flavors. Cooking alone from 6 a.m. every morning (including an hour spent kneading dough for the utterly unmissable samosas), he makes every dish from scratch each day. Seek out delicious dosas and rotis while sweet, spicy rasam, a broth of tamarind juice and tomato, will clear the head, literally and metaphorically. Every lunch at Iyer’s should finish with the mango kulfi. [$]

38 Popes Quay, Shandon, Cork
T23 YA07, Ireland

8. Farmgate Café

The English Market, Princes St, Centre, Cork, T12 NC8Y, Ireland
A man in a suit eats a sandwich while sitting at a counter at a wooden railing in front of an airy atrium, while servers and customers gather in the background at a cafe counter and espresso prep station
The al fresco mezzanine cafe
Darren McLoughlin

An institution within an institution, a visit to Farm Gate — both its al fresco mezzanine cafe and enclosed restaurant — is a quintessential Cork experience, perched over the iconic English Market’s fountain. The cafe does a wide range of excellent sandwiches, hot dishes, soups, and baked desserts while the restaurant menu is largely traditional Irish farmhouse brought into the heart of the city. This is all about good ingredients, cooked well, including the local delicacy tripe and drisheen (an Irish blood pudding), alongside corned beef and spring cabbage or lamb’s liver and bacon, all with discreet contemporary twists, and a short but sharp wine list demanding proper lunching be extended late into the afternoon. [$ - $$]

The English Market, Princes St, Centre, Cork
T12 NC8Y, Ireland

9. The Chocolate Shop

Centre, Cork, Co. Cork, Ireland
Chocolate-dipped orange slices in a tray inside a deli case beside and above other chocolate sweets with a post-it note reading “vegan choice” attached to the rim of the tray
Chocolate-dipped oranges
Darren McLoughlin

Ireland’s very first specialty chocolate shop was established 19 years ago by husband-and-wife team Niall and Rosemary Daly. In the wake of Niall’s tragic passing several years ago, Rosemary has continued to run what remains the very best chocolate emporium in the country, offering premium chocolate and confectionery from many suppliers, including all the major Irish artisan producers and bean-to-bar manufacturers. The crowning glory is the excellent selection of fine single-origin chocolates from around the globe. [$]

Centre, Cork
Co. Cork, Ireland

10. My Goodness

Unit 2 English Market, Princes St, Centre, Cork, T12 W9XP, Ireland
Customers line up at a colorful market stall with a sign reading My Goodness above the counter and a playful illustration of a woman licking her lips on the exterior
The My Goodness stand inside English Market
Darren McLoughlin

Virginia O’Gara is a force of nature. Along with husband Donal, the Texan-turned-Corkonian has led the vegan revolution in Cork and, by extension — when they take to the music festival circuit — Ireland. If the sustainability of veganism can sometimes be questionable because of a huge dependence on monoculture crops from around the globe (smashed avocado on sourdough, anyone?), O’Gara continually offers local alternatives in her always-creative culinary caperings. Exquisite kombuchas and kefirs use rainwater from their own gathering and filtration systems, her colossal krauts are made using local cabbages and root vegetables, and her vegan nachos make meat-eaters instant converts. [$]

Unit 2 English Market, Princes St, Centre, Cork
T12 W9XP, Ireland

11. The English Market

Princes St, Centre, Cork, Ireland
Rows of market stall inside a high covered atrium recede into the distance with customers walking through the lane, barrels of olives at the most immediate stand along with hand-written chalk signs advertising other wares
Rows of stalls at The English Market
Darren McLoughlin

The hallowed halls of this glorious covered market have been serving the people of Cork for centuries and are the envy of the entire country of Ireland, viewed with equal admiration by the multitudes of tourists who pass through each day. Still a daily functioning market, shoppers are supplied with the finest Irish beef, lamb, pork, and seafood along with a trove of world-class Irish Farmhouse cheeses, breads, charcuterie, fruit, vegetables, and other delicatessen specialties from home and abroad — and that’s barely the half of it. [$ - $$]

Princes St, Centre
Cork, Ireland

12. Crawford Gallery Cafe

Crawford Art Gallery, 1 Emmet Place, Centre, Cork, Ireland
Two hulking lamb chops are propped up on a bed of greens with other mix-ins on a dinner plate beside cutlery and other table settings
Lamp chops
Crawford Gallery Cafe [Official Photo]

One of the nicest dining rooms in the country, this is an oasis of serenity in the heart of Cork city in one of the country’s major galleries. The lunch menu remains an immaculate reimagining of the culinary ethos of the doyenne of Irish food, Myrtle Allen, who first opened it as a cafe some 30-odd years ago. The decidedly homey and traditional fare — including eggy quiches, roasted bone marrow, devilled kidneys, and home-baked cakes — nonetheless does not seem remotely out of place in these grand surroundings, but cooking like this is an art form in itself. [$$]

Crawford Art Gallery, 1 Emmet Place, Centre
Cork, Ireland

13. Good Day Deli

Nano Nagle Place, Douglas St, Centre, Cork, Co. Cork, T12 PXV1, Ireland
A low modernist building with floor-to-ceiling windows and dark facade looking out on greens surrounding an 18th century church in the background
Good Day Deli on the grounds of Nano Nagle Place
Darren McLoughlin

Clare Condon and her Pacific Cook Islander husband, Kristin Makirere, offer elegant dishes in this gorgeous glass cube secreted away in a little inner-city oasis. Their ethos of sustainability (embracing local, seasonal, organic, and fair-trade foods) is divinely delivered in creative dishes such as hibiscus-poached pear with coconut mascarpone on buttermilk pancakes; or tea-smoked beetroot with sauteed kale, poached eggs, and hazelnut dukkah. Scant seafood elements in a primarily vegetarian/vegan menu — like the Kai Moana fish tacos, battered hake in Irish grown-and-produced corn tortillas — might tempt vegetarians to fall off the wagon. [$]

Nano Nagle Place, Douglas St, Centre, Cork, Co. Cork
T12 PXV1, Ireland

14. Filter

19 George's Quay, Ballintemple, Cork, Ireland
A frothy glass of espresso and tonic with a thick head and an orange wheel perched on the rim sits on a glossy saucer on a glass counter
Espresso tonic
Alex Bruce

In a city chock-full of fine coffee houses and a county with the best roasting scene in Ireland, Filter is Cork’s epicenter for serious coffee drinkers. Assembled from recycled materials, it sports the clean, spare lines of a lab with none of the sterility, and an extensive array of coffee-related kit. Filter carries an impressive range of beans from top Irish roasters to titillate the obsessives yet functions equally well as a coffeehouse for the general public. Partner-proprietors Eoin McCarthy and Alex O’Callaghan have established an off-site bakery, supplying the shop (and other coffeehouses) with an inventive range of confections and baked goods. [$]

19 George's Quay, Ballintemple
Cork, Ireland

15. Izz Cafe

14 George's Quay, Ballintemple, Cork, T12 EY24, Ireland
From above, a dark table with several decorative plates holding flatbreads with different toppings, dips, and other sides
A variety of mana’eesh
Izz Cafe [Official Photo]

A couple of years ago, Palestinian couple Izz and Eman Alkerajah and their children were entangled in Ireland’s asylum-seeker system when they began selling Eman’s traditional recipes from a tiny farmer’s market stall. Success was immediate and — asylum status now granted and full Irish citizenship in the pipeline — a year later they established a brick-and-mortar presence in Cork city, centered around their menu of manaeesh, or Palestinian flatbreads. Try the version with chicken, sweet braised red onions, and pine nuts, with sumac and olive oil for seasoning. The mixed plate of dips, pickles, and tabbouleh is highly recommended, in particular for the makdous, a baby aubergine that’s steamed, then stuffed with walnuts, garlic, and chile and left to “pickle” in olive oil for up to two weeks. Eman’s exquisite desserts range from traditional warbat — syrup-drenched phyllo filled with custard — to the utterly nontraditional cinnamon roll. [$]

14 George's Quay, Ballintemple, Cork
T12 EY24, Ireland

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16. Da Mirco Osteria

4 Bridge St, Montenotte, Cork, Co. Cork, T23 H10E, Ireland
A chef sprinkles cheese onto large pieces of pasta in a bright ceramic bowl on a kitchen counter
Handmade pasta
Da Mirco Osteria [Official Photo]

Arriving in Cork from Italy as a teenager, fresh out of catering college, Mirco Fondrini served a 14-year apprenticeship in the English Market’s Farmgate before finally opening Da Mirco, where his impeccable hospitality does more for the ambience than any decor ever could. Food is as it should be in any osteria: homey, hearty, and complemented by a cracking Italian wine list and some good Irish craft beers. The menu ranges from fish to house-made pastas to bites like the pillow-soft focaccia with speck, olives, and salame Valtellinese from near his Italian home village. For dessert, chocolate salami with cream never fails. [$$]

4 Bridge St, Montenotte, Cork, Co. Cork
T23 H10E, Ireland

17. Cork Coffee Roasters

2 Bridge St, Victorian Quarter, Cork, Ireland
A frothy cappuccino dusted with spice sits in a wide branded mug from Cork Coffee Roasters on a saucer
A cappuccino served in a branded mug
Darren McLoughlin

Cork Coffee Roasters supremo John Gowan is the godfather of the city’s modern coffee scene. Here the coffee is rock-solid and pastries are thoughtfully chosen, but there is equal pleasure to be derived from the ambience in this tiny space that evokes the cluttered wooden intimacy of a Nantucket whaler’s cabin. Situated at one of the city’s major confluences, it affords a perfect post for watching people and the day go by. [$]

2 Bridge St, Victorian Quarter
Cork, Ireland

18. Goldie

128 Oliver Plunkett St, Centre, Cork, T12 X5P8, Ireland
A plate holds mussels, grilled fish, greens, and more
A fish-centric dish at Goldie
Goldie [Official Photo]

This comparatively new arrival already promises great things, with head chef and co-owner Aisling Moore and executive chef Stephen Kehoe on board with the “seacuterie” trend, or the nose-to-tail consumption of fish. In one dish, sardines are seared and devilled; head, spine, and tail are deep-fried and served with togarashi to create another course. Crab, langoustines, and scallops are simply grilled to yield sweet-salty hits of marine umami. Less popular species such as megrim and pollock are equally celebrated alongside more traditional favorites, and all can be paired with craft beers from sister restaurant Elbow Lane’s microbrewery across the street. [$$ - $$$]

128 Oliver Plunkett St, Centre, Cork
T12 X5P8, Ireland

19. Cask

48 MacCurtain Street, Victorian Quarter, Cork, T23 F104, Ireland
A brightly lit gold and bronze bar, with an exposed stone wall in the back decorated with large mirrors, lattice bronze-work below the bar, exposed pendant lights, and lots of bottles on shelves and in fridges
The bar at Cask
Darren McLoughlin

The glittering steampunk outfit — all brass, glass, and twinkling lights — is appropriate for this opulent 19th-century space in the city’s Victorian Quarter. Equal attention is paid to a seasonal cocktail menu that’s focused on foraged wild ingredients and spirits from local producers, yielding drinks such as the Rosehip (Connemara Irish whiskey, fig leaf, rosehip), the Pear (Bán Poitín, pear, white port, champagne), and the Wood Sorrel (Glendalough Autumn Gin, Banyuls, wood sorrel). The food menu stretches from bites to full dinners, including soft-shell tacos with herring, anchovies, avocado, black beans, and sweetcorn salsa; and Ballyhoura wild mushrooms, smoked sausage, and scamorza cheese. [$$]

48 MacCurtain Street, Victorian Quarter, Cork
T23 F104, Ireland

20. Elbow Lane Brew and Smoke House

4 Oliver Plunkett St, Centre, Cork, T12 YH24, Ireland
A bowl of gooey cheese topped with wine-soaked pomegranate seeds sits next to two charred rounds of bread on a wooden board with a cocktail napkin
Bread, roasted blue cheese, lambic-soaked pomegranates
Elbow Lane / Facebook

The awkward, narrow little room that makes up Elbow Lane is dominated by an open kitchen with a roaring wood-fired grill. It is here, under the guiding hand of executive chef Stephen Kehoe, chef Harrison Sharpe serves the likes of a starter of sunchokes with hazelnuts in a port-and-coffee sauce, while tasty mains include monkfish with lamb bacon, parsnip crisp, and tomato and horseradish salsa. From the grill, there’s pork neck with rhubarb chutney and Angelica-spiced watercress. A flight of Elbow Lane’s own draught beers makes for nice liquid companionship. [$$]

4 Oliver Plunkett St, Centre, Cork
T12 YH24, Ireland

21. Sonny's Deli

3 Albert Rd, Marina Terrace, Ballintemple, Cork City, Co. Cork, Ireland
The entrance to Sonny’s Deli in a traditional Georgian style block of buildings with simple white facade and steeped roof, with the name of the restaurant in red lettering above the door
Outside Sonny’s Deli
Darren McLoughlin

Sited in a 19th-century artisan’s dwelling, in the city’s former Jewish quarter, Rachel McCormack and Jack Sonny Murphy’s tiny little deli punches way above its weight. With an eye to its location and heritage, McCormack employs an old Ashkenazi Jewish recipe for a 10-day salting and spicing of beef for the impeccable Reuben; their banh mi is a tribute to the Vietnamese classic; creative salads include broccoli with mustard dressing and oat and sesame brittle; while wickedly popular salted caramel and walnut banana bread pairs well with excellent coffees from star local roasters Golden Bean. [$]

3 Albert Rd, Marina Terrace, Ballintemple, Cork City
Co. Cork, Ireland

22. Sage Midleton

The Courtyard, Main St, Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland
Slices purple and golden beets mix with sprouts and other colorful garnishes in a dark sauce on a plane white plate
Beets
Sage [Official Photo]

With a zealot’s commitment to the locavore philosophy, produce for chef-owner Kevin Aherne’s 12-Mile Menu is entirely sourced from within that self-enforced boundary. Just 20 minutes from Cork city by local commuter train, Sage has justly achieved international renown but seasonality means superb producers rather than specific dishes remain the constants on a menu of always innovative, always superbly cooked food. The Greenroom and the Courtyard offer in-house casual dining alternatives, and while in the market town of Midleton, also squeeze in the Jameson Distillery, just down the street. [$$]

The Courtyard, Main St, Midleton
Co. Cork, Ireland

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