Galway is a city well supplied with excellent places to eat well, especially in the mid range and budget categories. It is well known for its excellent pubs, many of which also serve good, and in some cases excellent, food at a very reasonable price.
Partly this is because as a university city there are always plenty of impecunious but hungry students about – use this to your advantage and follow the students if you are on a tight budget!
Visit the Galway Market outside St Nicholas’ Church on Saturday morning and you can buy a picnic fit for a king! Small food producers from the region will be there, with cheese, bread, preserves, cake and oganic fruit and veg. It is feast for the eyes as well as all the other senses.
At the higher end there was a time not long ago where things were a little bleak, but that has changed and there are some very good new restaurants with chofs who are obvious keen to carve out a reputation.
Eating Out in Galway on a Budget
Supermacs, Ireland’s home grown answer to McDonalds, started life in Co Galway. Skip it. Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat rubbish.
Da Tang Noodle House ( 353 91 561443) in Middle St has huge bowls of steaming and tasty noodles at a price to suit the most light pocket and never disappoints. The hot and sour soup is yum.
Cactus Jack’s ( 353 91 563838) on Courthouse Lane (off Quay St) specialises in Tex-Mex food, also has great burgers, and serves good sized portions at a reasonable price. Always busy, so you may need to book at weekends.
Milano on Middle St is a friendly family run Italian serving what many rate as the best pizza in town, alongside a good range of pasta dishes. It’s a very child friendly place, with a fixed price menu for kids that helps to keep budgets on track. Odd that they seem to hide their phone number though – it does not appear anywhere on their website.
McDonagh’s ( 353 91 565001) in Quay St or Conlon’s ( 353 91 562268) on Eglinton Street are both excellent fish restaurants where you can eat in the restaurant or choose a takeaway. Both have particularly fresh and delicious fish and go a little further with choice than your standard chipper.
Couch Potatas on Abbeygate St specialised in baked potatos with a dizzying variety of fillings available. There are also good salads and portions are huge. It’s excellent value.
For good quality but inexpensive pub food it is hard to beat McSwiggans ( 353 91 568917). The restaurant upstairs in a little pricier, but still excellent value.
The Home Plate (091 561475) on Mary St serves up food just like your mother used to make – assuming she was a good cook. It’s wildly popular with students and there are regular discount vouchers available locally which make it even better value than it already is.
No visit to Galway is complete without at least one visit to Goya’s cafe ( 353 91 567010) in Kirwan’s Lane, where good lunches are served but people really come for the range of home baked breads, pastries and cakes will have you returning to indulge, guiltily, far more often than you should!
Middle Range Restaurants in Galway
Martine’s Quay St Winebar on, you guessed it, Quay St,is a bistro with a cosy and friendly atmosphere. The menu isn’t desperately exciting, but it is well prepared food using excellent local ingredients and that is a hard to beat formula. Unusually for Ireland there is a very extensive range of wines available by the glass.
Trattoria Magnette on Quay St is an above average Italian that goes well beyond pizza and pasta, though with dishes like Papardelle in a Lobster and Brandy Cream Sauce among the pastas on offer you may not want to stray too far.
The Asian Teahouse (091 563749) on Mary St, as it’s name suggests, specialises in oriental teas and there is a wide selection available, with wonderful names like ‘Jasmine Fairy’ and ‘Love at First Sight’. The food is Thai, and it’s good, with the delicacy of touch that is should have. It’s a small place and wonderfully athmospheric.
Lovers of Indian food should head to the Kashmir Restaurant on Lower Fairhill Road, where the food is tasty and plentiful, particularly at lunchtime on Sunday when a highly recommended buffet is served.
High End Dining in Galway
Hotel restaurants often leave a lot to be desired, but The Oyster Grill at the Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern) in Eyre Square is an honourable exception. As its name suggests the emphasis here is on fish, with sea bass, lobster, halibut and of course oysters featuring. The chowder is a triumph. Everything is perfectly cooked, served by a friendly staff and in a beautiful room.
Vina Mara ( 353 91 561610) on Middle Abbey St takes locally sourced ingredients and cooks them in a very successful Mediterranean style. The surroundings are cheerful and welcoming and it’s the sort of place that puts you in a good mood. There is an early bird menu that is well within the middle price range, so it’s worth getting there before 7.30pm.
Glenlo Abbey ( 353 91 526666) is just 4km from the City Centre on the Clifden road, and must have one of the most unusual restaurants in any hotel anywhere, The Pullman Restaurant is in 4 old railway coaches including two from the original Orient Express. Remarkably it works, you really do feel as though you are a pampered guest on a luxury train heading for Venice.
It is worth going to just for this experience, but the food is reliably very good too, if neither cutting edge nor desperately exciting.