We know it’s an incredibly bold claim to say that Ireland is the ultimate destination for pescatarians. But everyone at Overland Ireland has defined ourselves by being bold and by appealing to travellers with boldness in their hearts. We are passionate about Ireland’s seafood offerings and we want to champion what we believe to be the best part of Irish cuisine. We are an island nation, after all, and we have been surviving (and thriving) from the fruits of the sea since time immemorial.
Just as last month we discussed what it’s like to travel through Ireland as a vegan or vegetarian, today we’d like to inform, inspire, and appetise seafood lovers around the world to add Ireland to their travel menu! If you’d like to know more, check out our small group tours of Ireland and please get in touch if you have any questions.
Defining, or at Least Describing, Irish Seafood
The word fresh defines Irish seafood more than any other. Wherever you are in Ireland, you’re rarely more than an hour’s drive from the ocean, and this means that every restaurant has access to fresh fish and shellfish.
Another word that defines Irish seafood is ‘hearty’. While we have all of the delicate dishes in our high-end restaurants, we are a busy, hard-working nation with healthy appetites. You can look forward to fish pies, chowders, smoked kippers, and the legendary fish and chips.
Alongside these kinds of dishes, you can find smaller, more delicate seafood dishes, such as crab cakes, cockles, scallops, mussels cooked in different creative ways, and the freshest oysters imaginable.
We’re a nation obsessed with seafood and we’ve worked out some of the best ways to cook it, although we are never too shy to borrow great recipes from Europe, Asia, and North America.
Some local fish and shellfish you can look forward to trying in Ireland:
- Brown crab
- Dublin Bay prawns
The Best Seafood in Dublin
Dublin is by far the largest city on the entire island of Ireland, and with this comes a significantly higher number of restaurants. Dublin is Ireland’s truly cosmopolitan city, which means that it has people from all over the world. This means that it doesn’t specialise in seafood the way Galway or Kinsale does, but it also means that Dublin has everything a travelling pescatarian could possibly want, from freshly prepared sushi to hearty Irish fare. Some Dublin restaurants to look out for:
Klaw offers American-style crab shack cuisine, with delicious oysters, lobster rolls, and crab mac and cheese.
Catch 22 offers simpler, more refined dishes that really showcase the quality of the fish and shellfish caught in Irish waters.
Cliff Townhouse creates truly breathtaking fine-dining experiences. The quality of food here is partly due to Ireland’s fresh produce and partly due to the menu being overseen by Martijn Kajuiter, a Michelin Star Executive Chef. They do an excellent take on High Tea with their ‘Afternoon Sea’. Prepare to be blown away with three tiers of delicious seafood delights!
The Oar House is a favourite with locals and tourists. It offers a family-friendly atmosphere and it has its own trawler, so you can be absolutely certain of the fish’s freshness and provenance.
Crabby Jos is a scenic Dart (train) journey from Dublin City to the coastal town of Howth. After a ramble around the Hill of Howth, treat yourself to some of the freshest seafood at our favourite spot on the pier.
The Best Seafood in Belfast
While significantly smaller than Dublin, Belfast is the second biggest city in Ireland, and it is an excellent place for seafood lovers.
The capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast has a very different history and culture to Dublin — making it a great place to visit if you’re keen to explore the full breadth of Irish culture, stepping off the beaten path now and then.
Belfast’s history is defined by its industries, primarily linen and the shipyards — after all, history’s most famous ship, The Titanic, was built in Belfast.
Belfast Lough and the northern coast of Ireland have provided the city with fresh seafood for centuries. And while food was never bad in Belfast, in recent years the city’s gastronomy has really flourished.
In Belfast, you can get the usual fare you’d expect in a big city, but you can also enjoy some of the best seafood in Ireland, with particular emphasis on local mussels and oysters. We won’t go into as much detail about the specific restaurants as we did with Dublin, but we highly recommend trying the Mourne family of Belfast seafood restaurants: Mourne Seafood Oyster Bar, Mourne Seafood Street Food, and Mourne Seafood Bar.
All the Seafood Hidden Gems of Ireland
Dunquin Pier on the Dingle Peninsula
While we’ve focused on Dublin and Belfast as they’re Ireland’s biggest cities, for many the best seafood can be found off the beaten path, in Ireland’s charming towns and villages. There are too many places to list without overwhelming you here, so we will just offer a few of our favourite seafood towns and villages in Ireland:
Galway has some of the best seafood in Ireland, but it’s often overlooked by visitors. The locals, however, know exactly how good it is! Galway Bay is especially good for fresh oysters and you can look forward to smoked fish from the local Connemara Smokehouse. If you are lucky enough to be in Galway in September you might be in time for the famous Galway Oyster Festival where the first of the season’s oysters are celebrated.
Dingle is one of our favourite spots in Ireland. We love it for its beaches and stunning views but also for its seafood. The seafood restaurants in Dingle are incredible, but our guests are often most enamoured with the local seafood markets. Dine al-fresco at the pier with some fish and chips with your new and old friends on tour.
Kinsale is just on the southernmost point of Cork. This town is beloved and oddly famous, despite its relatively small size. Idyllic and breathtakingly beautiful, Kinsale is also well known for its seafood. Fishing and sailing go back centuries in Kinsale; it is the quintessential Irish seaside town and it is a must for any pescatarian visiting Ireland. Fishy Fishy restaurant is a big hit with our Overland Ireland guests.
That’s all we have time for today. We very much hope a few readers now have an insatiable appetite for Irish seafood! We also hope we’ve made a decent case for why Ireland is the ultimate destination for pescatarians — whether it beats out the likes of Italy, France, Greece, and Japan is entirely up to you. But you won’t know until you come here and have a taste!
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