Ireland is famous for its beautiful landscapes, rich mythology, and annual Saint Patrick’s celebrations. In addition to traditional Irish folk music and its literary icons, the Emerald Isle is known for hearty food and frothy pints of Guinness – making it a delicious visit for travellers.
Since the neolithic era, farming has always been a key part of Irish culture. Over time, Irish food has evolved into the traditional dishes we know and love. The country’s seasonal foods will sate your hunger throughout the year, from warming winter dishes to day-to-day staples.
At Bye by Car, we know how important it is to explore a country your way. Whether you want to head to smaller seaside towns to try local seafood or stick to Dublin’s vibrant streets and discover its specialities, our Self-Guided Tours of Ireland have got you covered.
Keep reading to discover our favourite traditional Irish foods that will help you decide what to eat as you explore Ireland!
Try a Slice of Irish Soda Bread
Every Irish family has their own recipe for soda bread. This traditional cupboard staple is great to mop up gravy from hearty stews or to serve simply with soft Irish butter, making soda bread a must-try on your holiday.
Bakeries all over the country will claim theirs is the best soda bread, so put your tastebuds to the test and discover your favourite version. Soda bread can be savoury or sweet; whichever you prefer, there will be plenty of opportunities to try it!
Warm Yourself with Irish Stew
Even if you’ve never been to Ireland, you will have heard of Irish stew. This hearty meal is made with root vegetables and either lamb, mutton, or beef. This flavourful dish is not only part of your five a day, but its regional variations mean you’ll never get bored of Irish stew’s rich flavours.
Enjoy a Bowl of Creamy Colcannon
This traditional Irish dish is made of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. This side dish is classic Irish pub food, often served with beef and ham, or with sausages as Irish bangers and mash.
Colcannon is also associated with Samhain, the pagan festival that takes place near Halloween. According to folkloric rituals, the Irish used to offer the fairies a bowl of it at the foot of a Hawthorn tree for good luck.
A Traditional Full Irish Breakfast Fry Up
If you’re a UK native or have visited before, it’s likely that you’ve had a fry-up. Whether soaking up the night before or filling your stomach for a busy day of sightseeing, a traditional full Irish breakfast is like no other.
Unlike the English version, a robust Irish fry-up includes soda bread, potato bread, and black and white pudding. Our favourite is Clonakilty black and white pudding – served in Eddie Rocket’s diner chain across Ireland.
As you explore Ireland’s counties, see if you can spot any regional differences on the full Irish breakfast menu!
Native to the capital city, this delicious Dublin dish has working-class roots that have spread into kitchens across the country. ‘Coddle’ describes the one-pot cooking process of slowly simmering or ‘coddling’ the ingredients.
Made of weekly leftovers, including slice potatoes, onions, and bacon rashers or pork sausage slices Dublin Coddle is slowly stewed in the oven. This dish can be found on the menu of many establishments and is essential Irish pub food.
From Donegal down to Galway and Country Cork, Ireland’s west coast yields some of the best shellfish in the world. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, these destinations offer an abundance of oysters and muscles.
The rich and nutrient-filled ocean is ideal for farming these sea creatures. Both Donegal and County Cork are home to two of the best family-run muscle farms. The families at Mulroy Bay Mussels and Roaring Water Bay Rope Mussels ensure their farms are sustainable and organic.
The capital has named its own crustacean! The Dublin Bay Prawn is a member of the lobster family, which – when freshly caught – is delicious with white wine, garlic, and creamy Irish butter.
While this is more of a snack than a full meal, Tayto has been Ireland’s number-one crisp brand for over 60 years!
Head to any local supermarket or traditional Irish pub to pick up a packet of Tayto’s, which pairs perfectly with a cup of Irish breakfast tea for elevenses or a pint of Guinness.
Tayto’s crunchy golden crisps are perfect to flesh out sandwich fillings, too. This Irish staple is so popular, Deliveroo temporary offered a Tayto crisp sandwich on demand!
These are just some of the Emerald Isle’s culinary highlights, but there are still many variations between north and south. If you’d like to explore Northern Ireland’s food scene as well as take in some epic locations, check out our Game of Thrones – Northern Ireland tour.
We hope this list has got your mouth watering! If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Ireland and want to check out the traditional Irish food in Dublin and beyond, get in touch. We know this charming Celtic island like the back of our hand and would love to help you plan a tasty trip.