Galway is a wonderful little harbour city located in the West of Ireland that I visited for the first time in 2015. Well, the overall experience was so pleasant that I went back also the following year and I will quite probably do the same this summer. And, again, I will try to go in July during the Festival of Arts, when the city livens up with cultural events, exhibitions, concerts and performances.
But even without the festival, this town hides precious treasures. I ate some of the best food I had in my entire life, seriously. Especially their wild salad, it was so flavoursome that OMG! Incredible what some leaves can do...
In general the mood is friendly, chilled, slightly hipster, but not too much. Lots of cafeterias and restaurants are beautifully designed and furnished and I must say I was really happy to see how much people care about celebrating local products and taking care of the environment. The territory is kept in great consideration and the life -to me at least- seemed simple yet very conscious.
Along the bay you will see swans, couples walking their dog, kids running and happy families. The view of the ocean is breathtaking and the air is definitely cool.
The best period to visit goes from May to early September, then it can be very cold and windy. If you come all the way from Dublin (a good connection is the Citylink Bus) you might as well go on a tour to the Aran Islands, where life is truly super simple.
I was in Inishmore and found myself eating the catch of the day -a meaty and fat lobster- in a private house. This is what I call an experience! Anyway, returning to us and returning to Galway, here I my recommendations (in random order):
On my TOP LIST of restaurants there are definitely:
1) ARD BIA
Located at the Spanish Arch, Ard bia means good food in Irish and this warm and welcoming spot exceeds expectations. I was there about 8 times and I was never disappointed.
Their menu changes according to the season and is based on local ingredients, enhanced by the creative combinations created in the kitchen. Everything was superb, starting from the location, which is at the same time homey and fancy, in fact what I appreciated was the great attention to details: everything was just right, from the hand crafted crockery to the plating of dishes that were more than just up to standards and, of course, the place itself is incredibly fascinating, with its grey thick stone walls, the wooden tables and the view over Galway's bay.
Among my favourite dishes: the rack of lamb with mint puree and the potatoes with lemon and herbs. The wine list was also quite intriguing.
Another excellent place where I ate both for lunch and dinner is KAI, a cozy spot that really glorifies high quality local ingredients with creativity. The staff is very friendly and the food exquisite. We had a West cost crab salad with avocado mayo (yummy!) and a Cheddar scone. But what I will really never forget is their peach crumble served with goat's milk ice-cream and mint...
If, instead, you just want to snack a good option is Sheridans Cheesemongers. Next to their delicacy store there is a flight of stairs that leads you to the wine bar, where you will be welcomed by a strong scent of cheese. Here you can choose from a wide selection of international wines and delight your palate with mouthwatering platters of cheese and meats accompanied by chutneys, mustards and crackers.
4) GRIFFIN'S BAKERY
For breakfast or for a sweet snack I highly recommend Griffin's Bakery, renown for their cakes and breads, all handmade by artisan bakers. I didn't opt for the traditional Irish breakfast, nor for the other full-breakfast options, to me Griffin is synonym of bread and cakes. So I enjoyed a warm cup of tea with a delightful buttery scone served with raspberry jam and felt immediately happier! Not to mention their breads...let me just say "natural sourdough fermentation", "free of additive and preservatives" and "no added sugar"... whether you like your bread soft or crunchy, this is the place to get it.
5) THE PIE MAKER
This place is tiny, it has only three tables and a few stools, and for some reason it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, I don't know why, maybe it's the dark red and black checked floor or the strange atmosphere. The staff is young and laid back and the pies are made with local organic ingredients and are delicious. Not only the pie, but the salt and the mash and mushy peas were flavourful and satisfying. The portions are big, thus I considered it a great option for lunch.
Well, let me know what you think!