Cork City is compact, very walkable and full of inviting and innovative cafes, restaurants, markets, stores and producers to visit.
It is a city that rewards exploring, taking your time to chat and interact with the locals. You will find we are passionate about food and passionate about sharing and celebrating what makes us famous.
At the heart of it all is the English market – our busy, slightly eccentric and colourful indoor food market, serving the city for over 200 years.
But you will find something to delight on every street – and even if you only have a day or two to explore, you can quickly plug into the best of Cork’s Food Culture.
A two-day food trail around the city and harbour will bring you to:
...at the Crawford Art Gallery Cafe – this charming, bright and airy café is at the heart of the city’s main visual arts museum, close by the river on Emmet Place. The café has been serving up breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas for over 30 years and has been named amongst the 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland by the respected McKenna’s Guides. It’s a gorgeous space and the food is award-winning. A warm, welcoming and visually intriguing place to start your morning (or take afternoon tea).
...at Ali's Kitchen – close by the Crawford on Rory Gallagher Place, Ali’s Kitchen & Bakehouse has a very warm, bright, contemporary atmosphere and dishes that take in classic influences from all over Europe. Chef/owner Ali Honour travelled far and wide before settling in Cork, her brunch menu is filled with classics with a contemporary twist and she says her aim is to “make people smile with my food”.
...at the Farmgate Café, English Market– From 9am. From the kitchen for more substantial breakfasts or at the counter and with a seat on the balcony. We would recommend the latter, coffee and croissants or tea, porridge and fresh-baked scones, enjoyed while sitting high up above the morning market, watching as the traders set out their produce for the day. It is, as we say, pure Cork.
Stroll the English Market, the 200 year old indoor food market that perfectly reflects our city and our native food culture.
This is a working, vibrant, urban food market with a lot going on in a relatively compact, city-centre space. It can get very busy at the weekends, so mornings are great if you want to take your time. Many of the bigger stalls, such as On The Pig's Back (which specialises in craft cheeses and charcuterie, mostly local to Cork) can vacuum-pack their delicacies for you to bring home. Hederman’s smoked fish stall, The Real Olive Company, O'Connell's Fish Merchants and Tom Durcan's Meats are just some of the many stalls where you can either select produce to take home or ask about ordering online. If you want to stop for a light bite on the go, sit up at the counter at the The Sandwich Stall and watch the market rush around you.
This is where generations of Cork people, from family cooks to gourmet chefs, have come to get the very best. It’s a place for browsing, grazing, buying and chatting. Take your time, talk to the stall-holders, ask about the produce on show. And make sure to get a little sample!
The well-worn, always busy English Market is quintessential Cork. Lively, friendly, surprising and simply obsessed about food. It is who we are - our great pride and joy.
From the English Market, cross over the pedestrian bridge to Sullivan’s Quay, turn right and then walk 300 yards up the hill to find Miyazaki Japanese Kitchen – a little Tokyo-style take-out on one of the oldest streets in Cork. Chef Takeshi Miyazaki is a relatively recent arrival to Cork but has built a big reputation thanks to his classic Japanese street-food. It’s small and can get very busy, lunchtime is great to find one of the stools at the counter and enjoy some amazing Japanese food. It’s been voted Ireland’s Best Asian Take Out for 2017.
Nash 19 – Just a stone’s throw from the English Market, on Princes Street, you will find this very popular café & restaurant. Nash 19 has always been very popular with locals and for breakfasts, lunches and everything in between, it offers consistently high quality in a bright, welcoming space.
L’Attitude 51 - Cork lies on the 51st line of Latitude, hence the name for this charming Cafe & Winebar on Union Quay by the river. Serving quality light(ish) bites from breakfast to dinner, with Tapas and an adventurous wine list.
Or – On Saturdays until 2pm, exit the market on the Grand Parade, turn left and a five minute walk will bring you to the Coal Quay Farmer's Market – small in scale but great for locally produced fruit, veg, organic snacks and juices, sweet-treats, cheeses and cured meats. It’s a fun place to get a close-up look at (and chat to) the artisan growers and makers from all over Cork.
Then – From the Coal Quay – cross over the pedestrian bridge to Pope’s Quay and Iyer's Café - a fabulous little kitchen-diner serving up classic, all-vegetarian South Indian street food. Masala dosa with fresh chutneys and sambar, samosas, poppadum or pistachio and rosewater cake with a cappuccino – Iyer’s draws devotees of all things Southern Indian from far and wide. Chef Gautham Iyer is a true star of the Cork scene, passionate about the food of his homeland and very much at home here by the river.
Stroll up to Shandon Sweets where Father and son team Dan & Tony run the last of Cork’s traditional sweet workshops, hand-making bull’s eyes, bon-bons, clove rocks and apple drops. They are happy for people to call in, see them at work and sample and buy their old-fashioned candies, sweets & toffees. Just find their little workshop and ring the bell.
Then Go Around the Corner To …The Cork Butter Musuem – it may seem a quirky foodstuff to warrant an entire museum – but Butter was once to Cork what wine is still today for Bordeaux – an internationally traded commodity which went all over the world. Learn the history of Cork as the merchant city which once traded its best butter, beef, pork, whiskeys and beers across the sea-lanes of the globe. And at the museum, you are right under the famous Shandon Bells, the iconic Cork bell-tower which you can climb to enjoy 360 degree views of the city and even ring the legendary bells.
For vegetarians – the acclaimed, multi-award winning Cafe Paradiso on Lancaster Quay. Paradiso takes the best of local ingredients and produce and creates gourmet vegetarian dishes. Passionate about vegetarian food, passionate about local produce- a Cork institution since the early ‘90s.
For Carnivores – Elbow Lane Brew & Smokehouse – a recent arrival, but the Elbow Lane Smokehouse is already building a big reputation for BBQ ribs, stunning steaks and grilled fish – big, meaty, satisfying and using only the best from local fields and seas. They also have great craft beers, cocktails and small-batch Irish whiskeys. A place for indulgence.
For Fine French Dining - Les Gourmandises on Cook Street, City Centre– An elegant, romantic dining room, fine French cooking and a menu that makes the best of local produce. As a port, Cork has traded food and drink with France since the 14th Century. Les Gourmandises keeps up a fine tradition of Cork-French co-operation.
Cocktails in the very lively Cask on busy McCurtain Street (they also do bar food and have their sister restaurant Greene’s next door). Or for something more traditional, visit one of Cork’s many fine Heritage Pubs, most within easy walking distance our main thoroughfare, Patrick Street. Have a whiskey, a pint of local beer or a small-batch gin to finish off your evening. If you are looking for some live, traditional Irish music to end your night, check out the homepage for local trad collective, The Lee Sessions.
Take a short road-trip, from Cork, south around the harbour to Kinsale.
On the way to Kinsale, stop off for Breakfast/Brunch at The Workshop – tucked in behind Cork Airport, you will find this former country carpentry workshop, now converted into a charming café, tearooms and antique store. It’s an easy 15 minute drive from the city centre, a real hidden gem and much-loved by locals who appreciate a great brunch in quirky, charming surroundings with the chance to pick up some souvenirs.
Or – Visit Diva's Boutique Bakery & Cafe in the tiny village of Ballinspittle about five miles from Kinsale (and a 45 minute drive through gorgeous countryside from the city). Enjoy brunch here and continue on to the surfing beach at Garretstown for a stroll or even a swim.
Then continue on to Kinsale.
A fishing town and the strategic key to Cork since medieval times (there’s a reason why Kinsale is surrounded by castles and fearsome bastions such as Charles Fort) – Kinsale is today better known for being a foodie paradise. Home to gastropubs, gourmet restaurants, cafes and artisan breweries and distilleries. For lunch, try the “Posh fish n’Chips” in the famous Fishy Fishy seafood restaurant. Or take to Scilly Walk, 40 minutes along a coastal path, to The Bulman gastropub, an award-winning bar & restaurant set in its own little harbour.
Kinsale is great to stroll around, throughout the year, with lots of local crafts shops, galleries, cafes, coffee-shops and traditional pubs. To get closer to the food & drink culture, you can tour Blacks Brewery (Tuesday to Saturday), on Wednesdays there is the Kinsale Farmers Market and throughout the week you can take a Kinsale Food Tour – three hours or more of exploring the very best of this gourmet harbour town.
...and try one of Kinsale's many exceptional restaurants. Some of the most popular include -
...and try one of the following for some casual late-evening dining -
The Iberian Way on Douglas Street – For something very different, an unassuming Tapas bar run by two young Spanish chefs on Douglas Street, a short stroll across the bridge from the South Mall, by day, the Iberian way is a shop and deli, in the evenings, it serves up fab tapas in very modest but pleasant surroundings – a real hidden jewel, for the adventurous.
Arthur Mayne’s Pharmacy on Pembroke Street – From the street, this looks like an old-fashioned chemist (or drugstore) – but push through the door and you are in Maynes Pharmacy – a late night tapas and wine bar which serves food into the wee small hours. Lively, very busy at the weekends, a good option for night owls who are feeling a little peckish.