What to Eat and Drink in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the culinary scene offers a delightful fusion of traditional and contemporary flavours. Exploring local cuisine is a significant part of travelling, providing a deeper understanding of a region’s culture and history. 

In this blog, we will delve into Northern Ireland’s local specialities, like the famous Ulster Fry, recommend some exciting local producers, and share a few must-visit restaurants and bars.

Get ready to experience Northern Ireland’s food scene! And before you go, be sure to check out our Self-Drive Tour Options in Ireland

(Source: Maggie Mays, Belfast)

Local NI Specialties

The Ulster Fry 

This quintessential Northern Irish breakfast has been enjoyed for generations. This hearty and flavorful meal typically includes bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, black pudding, and potato bread, all accompanied by unique soda farls. 

To experience an authentic Ulster Fry, we recommend visiting Maggie Mays or Harlem Café in Belfast, where the dish is perfectly prepared.

Soda Farls

Soda Farls are a type of soda bread that has been a staple in Northern Irish households for centuries. This soft and fluffy bread is made with flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. The dough is then shaped into triangular pieces (farls) and cooked on a griddle until they turn golden brown on both sides. St. George’s Market and Belfast Baking Company are renowned for their delicious soda farls, so stop by and savour this iconic Northern Irish delight.

(Source: Boundary Brewing)

Local Alcohol Producers, Northern Ireland

Local Beer in Northern Ireland

In recent years, Northern Ireland has seen a resurgence in the craft beer industry, with several local breweries gaining recognition for their unique and flavorful creations. Among them, Boundary Brewing and Hilden Brewery stand out for their consistent quality and innovation. Try Belfast Blonde Lager from Hilden Brewery and Hilden Halt from Boundary Brewing to get a true taste of Northern Ireland’s craft beer scene.

Other breweries we recommend seeking out are the Mourne Mountains Brewery and the award-winning Whitewater Brewing Co., which is based in picturesque Castlewellan.  

Whiskey Making in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has a rich whiskey heritage that can be traced back centuries. Today, the region is home to renowned distilleries like Bushmills (said to be the oldest licensed whiskey distiller in the world) and Echlinville Distillery, which produces exceptional whiskies that reflect the unique character of the land. 

For whisky enthusiasts, visiting Northern Ireland wouldn’t be complete without taking a guided tour of Old Bushmills Distillery or Echlinville Distillery, where you can sample their exquisite spirits and learn about the distillation process.

(If you’re a whiskey lover planning to travel elsewhere in Ireland or the UK, you must visit Scotland! Browse our Self-Guided Tours of Scotland.)

The Growing Gin Scene

The gin scene in Northern Ireland has also experienced a renaissance, with local distilleries like Jawbox Gin gaining prominence for their artisanal spirits. To indulge in the best gin cocktails Northern Ireland offers, head to The Merchant Hotel or Muriel’s Café Bar, where you can enjoy expertly crafted drinks featuring these local gins.

(Source: Made in Belfast)

Restaurants and Bars Worth Checking Out

For a truly memorable fine dining experience in Northern Ireland, look no further than OX Belfast or Deanes EIPIC (a Michelin-starred restaurant). Both restaurants are known for their innovative menus that showcase local ingredients and modern culinary techniques. These establishments provide an unforgettable gastronomic journey, leaving you craving more of Northern Ireland’s culinary delights.

If you prefer a more relaxed dining atmosphere, Made in Belfast and The Barking Dog are excellent choices. These popular eateries offer an array of delicious dishes that highlight the region’s flavours and ingredients. With their cosy ambience and friendly service, you’ll feel right at home as you enjoy the best of Northern Ireland’s casual dining scene.

No trip to Northern Ireland is complete without a visit to a traditional pub. The Crown Liquor Saloon and The Duke of York are two such establishments that embody the essence of Irish hospitality. With their warm atmosphere, live music, and perfectly-poured pints of Guinness, these pubs offer an authentic local experience.

Great Northern Irish Produce

Northern Ireland’s coastal location ensures an abundance of fresh seafood that is both delicious and sustainable. Lough Neagh eels, Strangford Lough mussels, and Atlantic salmon are just a few examples of the region’s exceptional seafood offerings. Be sure to sample these delicacies at local restaurants or seafood markets to taste Northern Ireland’s maritime heritage.

Northern Ireland also boasts a thriving dairy industry, producing world-class cheeses, rich butter, and indulgent ice cream. Local cheese producers have received numerous awards for their artisanal products, showcasing the region’s quality and variety of dairy. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Abernethy Butter, a local favourite, or visit a local ice cream shop to sample their delicious frozen treats.

The farm-to-table movement is alive and well in Northern Ireland, emphasising fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients. Visit farmers’ markets and food festivals during your stay to experience the true essence of Northern Ireland’s culinary landscape.

You can learn more about the exciting food scene found in Northern Ireland by listening to the BBC Food Programme’s Food in Northern Ireland: A Golden Era? episode. 

In conclusion, Northern Ireland boasts a diverse and vibrant culinary scene that is deeply rooted in tradition while embracing innovation. From the hearty Ulster Fry to the growing craft beer and gin industries, there is something for every palate to enjoy. 

As you venture through Northern Ireland, indulge in the local flavours and discover the stories behind these iconic dishes and drinks. Happy eating and drinking in Northern Ireland!

If you have any questions, please get in touch

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