Established by pioneering chef and cookery writer Dennis Cotter in 1993, Paradiso revolutionised vegetarian food in Ireland, proving the gastronomic potential of seasonal fresh vegetables. Over three decades on, this fine-dining institution continues to earn its place in Irish food lovers’ hearts. Their modern small plates menu features the likes of cucumber and cashew rayu with pickled fennel alongside Knockalara aubergine parcels with miso gravy, beluga lentils and a walnut crumb.
At sustainable café-restaurant Sonflour, two forward-thinking Italian chefs bring an innovative plant-based take on traditional Italian street food to their adopted home of Cork city. Think pizza-style flatbreads featuring melted vegan butter with marinated cherry tomatoes and caramelised onion, or lesser-spotted Italian street food stars like ‘socca farinata’ savoury vegan pancakes made with chickpea flour, plus vegan takes on affogato, cheesecake and Belgian chocolate mousse.
Japanese-born Takashi Miyazaki is chef-proprietor of Cork’s Michelin-starred Ichigo Ichie and of the eponymous Miyazaki, a beloved take-away where he first won locals over to his skilful cooking. Vegans and vegetarians are well catered for at Miyazaki with dishes such as Donburi rice bowls with vegetable tempura, hot noodle soups, yasia gyoza or okura and aubergine curry. Grab a stool to eat in, or take away to eat al fresco at the nearby Elizabeth Fort, with views over the city.
Carolanne Rushe is the can-do chef-owner of Sligo town’s Sweet Beat Cafe, a thoroughly modern plant-based wholefood cafe with zero-waste aspirations and a warm welcome in a bright space. Regulars love her vegan super salads and ferments, fresh nut milks, wheatgrass-ginger shots, and raw sweet treats. Plenty of dishes will set you up for a Sligo adventure, including bircher porridge or homemade beans on toast at breakfast and a ‘daily warmer’ hot dish for lunch.
As one of Ireland’s buzziest student cities, Galway has always served vegetarians well, but its vegan game is particularly strong thanks to leading lights such as the pioneering kitchen at The Lighthouse Cafe, where the largely plant-based menu features the likes of a vegan chorizo and feta sandwich with celeriac-apple slaw; Moroccan courgette, lemon and chickpea burger; and daily plant-based hotpots, all served up in a cosy tea room setting.
Just inland from the gloriously wild Clare coastline, Ennistymon’s Pot Duggans is an old pub given new energy. At its heart is a vegan-friendly casual dining menu from chef Ashley Gribben, who applies skills learned at Ballymaloe Cookery School and Ottolenghi’s London kitchens to dishes like Moy Hill Farm like courgette and chickpea fritters with homemade dukkah and pickles, or baked polenta with roast aubergine and confit tandoori chickpeas. Don’t miss the Friday night music bingo.
Husband and wife team Ray and Mags O’Connor were head chefs at The Old Stone House Restaurant in Ballinlough before they bought the place in 2019, and they are justifiably proud of their special three course vegan set menu, which features a broad choice of seasonal options like Thai curry soup to start, with crispy rice noodles, broad beans, tofu and chilli, and a vegan caramel apple pie to finish.
Dine in or drive through at Honestly Farm Kitchen in Carrick-on-Shannon for the freshest of local, seasonal and organic food, much of it from their own Drumanilra Organic Farm. While menus are not exclusively vegetarian, their breakfast menu includes vegan pancakes, breakfast wraps and a Gardener’s full Irish breakfast; and the lunchtime burger grill includes vegetarian and vegan options like a panko-fried tofu burger with soy-sesame dressed herb, leaves and apple.
Chef-proprietor Neven Maguire of County Cavan’s MacNean House & Restaurant is a household name in Ireland, beloved for his cookbooks and TV shows that share his generous approach to food. That generosity extends to his fine dining vegetarian tasting menus (available for vegans also) featuring dishes like red pepper orzo with a courgette and lemongrass velouté. Set in the foothills of the wild Cuilcagh Mountains, his luxury restaurant and guesthouse is a treasure of Irish hospitality at its finest.
This family-run business is a stalwart of Dublin city’s whole food, vegetarian and vegan food scene. Blazing Salads has morphed over several decades of business from a beloved cafe to its current incarnation as a take-out deli on buzzy Drury Street with one of the best self-service salad box selections in town – perfect for impromptu picnics, along with an unmissable veggie samosa, or you can eat at a windowside pew with some of the best people watching in town.
The long-reigning queen of Dublin’s vegetarian and vegan restaurant scene is Wicklow Street’s Cornucopia, once a 1980’s whole food store and vegetarian cafe, today a casual dining vegan restaurant set over two lovingly restored floors in an elegant Georgian building, where a second-generation of McCaffertys continue to foster family vibes amongst long-standing staff and regulars alike. With vegetarian and vegan breakfasts served until noon; vibrant salads, warming treats and vegan cakes served all day; freshly pressed juices and fair-trade wines; and live music on weekend evenings, this is somewhere that never stops evolving.
What’s rare is wonderful – and with some of the city’s most creative cooking, this Dublin 8 lifestyle-gallery-café hangout sure is special, as are the regular guest chef pop-ups that it runs. What’s less rare is that Hen’s Teeth boasts one of many contemporary Irish kitchens who are focussing their creativity on a healthy proportion of plant-based dishes on their menu, from mighty vegan sambos to ras el hanout roast cauliflower main course.
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