County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands Restaurants

Because the West provinces have a brief high season—from mid-June to early September—and a quiet off-season, it doesn't have as broad a choice of small, owner-operated restaurants as do other parts of Ireland. Often the best place to eat is a local hotel. But some places landmark the region, including Moran's Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan near Galway City, where the fare is simple, served in traditional pub surroundings, but sea-leaping fresh. At the other extreme are more dazzling experiences, like when you splurge to dine in style like the superb formal restaurant at Dromoland Castle. For truly adventurous contemporary Irish cooking, head to happening Galway; the town center is so compact you can meander around and read the menus on display outside before making your choice.

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  • 1. Aniar Restaurant

    $$$$ | Center

    JP McMahon has caused quite a stir in the Galway dining scene with his tapas at Cava Bodega and the recently opened casual spot Tartare,...Read More

  • 2. Linnane's Lobster Bar

    $$$

    It doesn't get much better than this 300-year-old, slated, whitewashed cottage with a turf fire and full-length windows that open out onto a terrace overlooking...Read More

  • 3. Moran's Oyster Cottage

    $$$$

    This small thatched cottage is just upstream from where the Dunkellin River flows into Dunbulcaun Bay, the epicenter of Ireland's fresh oyster trade. The local...Read More

  • 4. Wild Honey Inn

    $$

    Owner-chef Aidan McGrath and Kate Sweeney's modest Victorian premises on the outskirts of Lisdoonvarna have become something of a culinary landmark by being Ireland's first...Read More

  • 5. Ard Bia at Nimmo's

    $$$ | Spanish Arch

    Expect to wait in line at this city-center restaurant set in an old stone house, with tables overlooking the Corrib. Ard Bia serves budget-conscious, freshly...Read More

  • 6. Café Linnalla

    $

    Set in a peninsula on Galway Bay's Flaggy Shore, the enterprising Brid Fahy opened this farm-to-wafer parlor experience back in 2006. Made with milk from...Read More

  • 7. Cava Bodega

    $

    Tapping into Galway's past as a major trading post for Spain, chef--owners JP McMahon and Drigin Gaffey bring all the favorite aspects of authentic Spanish...Read More

  • 8. Eva's Cafe

    $

    For soup lovers, this modest, brightly painted café on a square in the heart of Ennis will hit all the right notes. With daily changing...Read More

  • 9. Flanagan's on the Lake

    $

    This lakeside restaurant, convenient for a bite before or after a River Shannon cruise, serves international fare with a breezy service. Locally produced standard fare...Read More

  • 10. Gallery Cafe

    $

    A chilled-out café in the middle of town, Gallery Cafe has heaps of character with local artist exhibitions and the occasional live performance providing an...Read More

  • 11. Goosers

    $

    One of the most famous landmarks in town, complete with thatched roof, turf fire, and stone flooring, this classic Irish pub is a cozy retreat...Read More

  • 12. Jilly and Joe's

    $

    Located in a courtyard outside of Bunratty Mills and spread out over a number of food trucks and kiosks, Jilly and Joe's was created to...Read More

  • 13. JP Clarke's Country Pub

    $$

    Adjoining the village's only thatched cottage that isn't in the folk park, gastropub JP Clarke's has an airy, mountain-lodge style interior with a brightly painted,...Read More

  • 14. Kai Restaurant

    $$ | Center

    Tucked inside a renovated cottage in the shadow of St. Ignatius's limestone belfry is one of Galway's best restaurants. The bare stone walls and floors...Read More

  • 15. McDonagh's Fish and Chips

    $ | Spanish Arch

    The humble fish-and-chip is king at this stalwart restaurant, serving deep-fried cod, whiting, haddock, and hake for decades. The reasonably priced fish is served with...Read More

  • 16. Monk's Pub

    $

    This landmark dining pub a stone's throw from Ballyvaughan Pier has changed hands and fortunes over the past few years, but all you need to...Read More

  • 17. Morrissey's Seafood Bar and Grill

    $

    Set on a bend in the river a short drive north of Loop Head Peninsula, this unpretentious town house has gained a national reputation. The...Read More

  • 18. Teach an Tae

    $

    Michael and Alissa Donoghue do not have to travel far to get the ingredients for their little cottage café that overlooks the pier. Their flock...Read More

  • 19. The Long Dock

    $

    Carrigaholt Village, with its crumbling medieval tower house perched on the coast, is home to this 200-year-old pub and restaurant, one of County Clare's great...Read More

  • 20. The Pier Head

    $$

    Once the village pub, the Pier Head is still a bar, but it sells more food than pints these days. The location is idyllic, at...Read More

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