We're always looking for new parts of Ireland to discover, with food and drink top of our agenda, and somewhere that's been slowly creeping up our wish list is Tramore - mainly thanks to chef Holly Dalton's (Conbini Condiments) envy-inducing Instagram posts every time she's home. So there was only one person we wanted to compile a guide on where to eat and drink there...
We all love a day trip to a picturesque Irish town - some of us plan our weekends around it. When it comes to day trips though, I normally organise them based around a café or restaurant that’s caught my eye. If the town offers more than one food hot spot it moves dramatically up the list. There are already some big hitters here: Connemara, Kinsale, Ennistymon, but there’s a new member of the club. If you had asked me when I left Tramore for Dublin to train as a chef twelve years ago if I could ever see it becoming a food destination, I’d have politely laughed in your face. Thankfully I was very, very wrong, and Tramore’s burgeoning food scene has me loading up the car or booking a train down every other weekend. Here's where I head for.
First order of the day is coffee, preferably good coffee. Molly’s Café is about as close to the sea as you can get. Situated in an old surf school (which has moved next door), Molly’s has an unobscured view of the ocean, and the queue is constantly out the door - another thing I thought I’d never see in Tramore, unless it was for chips. The service is excellent with the staff knowing most of the returning customers by name, and they are numerous. The reason I keep coming back here though is, of course, the coffee. I’ve worked alongside specialty coffee for years, and Molly’s definiely ranks amongst the best of them.
If there’s one place I’d have to give credit for starting Tramore’s culinary rebirth, it’s Seagull Bakery. Sarah and her team run it like a well-oiled machine, and recently expanded to open two more bakeries in Waterford City and Dunmore East. I’m a fool for their seasonal cruffins, and I rarely walk out of here without at least one loaf of sourdough and a bag of pastries under my arm. They’ve recently added a pantry and wine section teeming with Irish, artisan producers and low intervention wine. Pick up one of their tote bags to bring back to all of your extremely jealous friends.
Crane your head around the corner from Seagull Bakery and you’ll probably be greeted with the sight of people enjoying mezze platters in the sun, alongside a sizeable queue. I slept on Mezze for a long time and it was my loss. They make the best falafel I’ve had in Ireland, which I realise is a bold statement but you'll have to trust me on this one. On walking in you’re met with a confectionary cabinet of Middle Eastern treats flanked by a grocery and wall of wine. It’s very easy to spend money here with the staff often complimenting you on your ordering, offering tidbits of information to make you feel even more smug about your purchase. Last time I was in here I walked out with an enamel lunchbox, socks, wine, and lunch for four, my card sufficiently tapped out. Mezze is my newest obsession and I would eat lunch there every day if I could. There’s also a sun trap of a terrace out the back.
Dooley's & Fancy Chips
We can’t talk about Tramore without talking about chips. Chips are synonymous with Tramore, and who doesn’t love chips? If you’re talking old school then Dooley’s is your one stop shop. They do everything that a good chipper should do and special praise go to their chunky chips. New to the game is Fancy Chips, a restaurant focusing on chipper inspired food that also does takeaway. The calamari and monkfish scampi are a standout, and their homemade pepper sauce with twice cooked chips made me sing on a recent visit. There's plenty of room in Tramore for Dooley’s old school classic chips, and Fancy Chips bringing something new to the party.
When I heard that the folks behind Fish Shop in Smithfield were going to open a sister restaurant in Tramore I couldn’t believe my luck. Fish Shop has a fantastic, well deserved reputation, and I’m happy to say that Beach House is much more than a sister restaurant. Peter and Jumoke have a style that oozes hospitality. A menu written on a huge blackboard in beautiful, cursive writing changes regularly with the seasons, much of the vegetables coming from their garden at the back of the restaurant. The food here provides comfort in a refined way, and there’s always plenty of seafood on the menu and at least one stew or braised meat dish. Beach House had some pretty rough timing with Covid but they really made it work, pivoting with style as restrictions changed. Their at home offering single handedly kept my parents fed throughout the pandemic and soon became a hot ticket item in Dublin too thanks to nationwide delivery. Beach House has changed the food landscape of Tramore, and you can't come here and not pay them a visit.
Tramore is the kind of town that was made for picnics. A walk to the sand hills on a sunny day carrying deli food and drinks on your back has got to be one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in Ireland. Cove Stores have you covered for all of your picnic supplies, as well as maybe the best selection of specialty food I’ve ever seen in a corner shop. Their 99 machine has become an icon in Tramore, and they've managed to perfectly blend Tramore’s old food identity with its new one. Do yourself a favour and ask for bueno sauce on your ice cream.
Sea Brew Coffee Van
You can hardly come to Tramore without a dip at Newtown Cove, and you’re going to want to warm yourself up afterwards (it is Ireland after all). Sea Brew Coffee Van offers specialty coffee as well as treats, breakfast and toasties to warm you up after your swim. It’s worth noting that they're only operating on weekends at the moment, but they normally expand their hours once the days get longer and the water gets warmer.
Everyone loves pizza, that’s just a fact. Sourdough pizza is something a bit different and more special though, and Bardoe Pizza offers just that. Their dough proves slowly over time so all those funky, sour notes can develop, with big air bubbles rising to the top and crisping up wonderfully in their brick pizza oven. I like a little kick to my pizza and the Diavolo at Bardoe is a hard Diavolo to top.
It wouldn’t be Ireland without rounding off your evening with a pint in your local. The Vic (the sign outside might say Victoria House but don’t be fooled) offers everything that’s great about an Irish pub.Creamy pints, live music, cocktails and a roaring fire are always on the menu here. You could easily find yourself comfortably wiling away the hours, and the sea view upstairs makes it all the harder to leave this gem of a pub. The Phat Cow are often seen popping up here, slinging their loaded fries, burgers and specials like bourguignon. Quite simply, The Vic offers everything that you’d ever want from a Sunday afternoon in Tramore.
Holly Dalton is the creator and chef behind Conbini Condiments, with her Japanese inspired range including Sunday Sauce, Katsu Ketchup and Onsen Hot Sauce. Try them in rice bowls, with eggs, or however else your heart desires. They're stocked across Dublin in stores and cafés including Lotts & Co, Hen's Teeth and Daddy's, and in Tramore you'll find them in Seagull Bakery. See a full list of nationwide stockists here.