Ummm Galway. Slow down being so great for food and drink. There we were thinking we could fit all the best spots into a weekend but how wrong were we? Very. We did our best and ate very, very well, but clearly a return trip is on the cards based on this lot. Here are six places you do not want to miss on your next trip to Galway, and if you haven't got one planned we would advise doing so as soon as financially possible.
Éan Bakery + Wine Bar
We had originally planned to eat in Michelin-starred Loam, but a covid case caused the restaurant to close so we ended up in their new wine bar (and weekend bakery) Éan, which was quite the consolation prize. It's headed up by Christine Walsh, formerly of Allta and before that Loam, and the industrial style space is unlike anywhere in the capital - lucky Galway. The menu is small plates heavy with one sharing dish for two, and you'll want all of it. The tomatoes with preserved lemon, basil and burrata is one of the best things we've eaten this year, and their squid toast with blond miso and bonito is an illustration of how they're doing things differently. Don't even think about missing their weekend pastries and sourdough, but get there early as there can be queues.
It's a pub, but with really good food, and the natural wine list of your spontaneous fermentation dreams. Is this heaven? No it's The Universal, and if we could clone it and pop one in every country we wouldn't think twice. All the vibes, all the delicious plates (like whole roast turbot in caper brown butter; and shallot, fennel and goat's cheese tart with a citrus salad), all the brilliant, fairly priced wines. You could just go here every night and return home very, very content.
Barely a day goes by where one of you bemoans of the lack of exciting sushi in Dublin to us. We hear you, it's not the capital's strong point, but turns out it's Galway's, and Wa Café is worth getting in the car for. At the moment they're takeaway only so take your salmon katsu roll, spicy tuna roll and teriyaki chicken roll to Spanish Arch around the corner. We're hoping they're back open properly the next time we visit so we can try their omakase menu, prepared by Japanese chef/owner Yoshimi Hayakawa.
Ard Bia @ Nimmos
Ard Bia @ Nimmos is one of Galway's go to brunch spots, but they're open for dinner too (there's no outside seating at night though). The menu is creative and fun, with dishes like sour ale aubergine fritters with harissa and pickles; lamb with broad beans, feta, buckwheat and salsa verde; and roast tomato and chard risotto with fior di latté, olive and hazelnuts. It's on the more expensive side of dining options so watch your ordering exuberance as the bill adds up quickly, or go for brunch which is far more pocket friendly.
Chef JP McMahon's Tartare is wine and small plate central, with an evening menu you'll want everything from. During the day it's a simplified menu of a few plates and sandwiches, but the lovely, natural-focused wine list goes all day. We loved the beef tartare with smoked egg, pickled onions and sourdough toast, and a steak sandwich with wild garlic pesto, Hegarty's cheddar and leaves was impeccably cooked.
There are two major reasons to go to casual Sicilian spot 'U Liotru - arancini and cannoli, and you should order copious amounts of both. You'll find at least 10 different types of arancini, with ragu, with sausage and broccoli, with blue cheese and walnuts, and they're all fresh and made for eating out of one hand as you walk the city's streets, pretending you're in Palermo. The cannoli might not look as Instagrammable as some of the new kids on the block, but it does Sicily proud.
Do you have a favourite place in Galway we should know about? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.