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Where To Eat On Your Holidays In West Cork

Yes it's a long drive. Yes you could go somewhere closer and not spend half a day in the car. Yes it's ANOTHER hour and half from Cork City. But it's all good, because West Cork is Ireland's answer to Mecca for us urban food lovers, worthy of a yearly (bi-yearly if we had our way) pilgrimage to feast, frolic and fantasize about winning the lotto and mooring your new yacht in Crookhaven Bay, only popping off for a pint and a crab sandwich in O'Sullivan's.

Part of us wants to keep this magical place to ourselves, and not make it even more impossible to find decent accommodation every summer, but the other part of us knows we have a civic duty to spread the good food gospel, so read on for all the wonderful places to eat in this beautiful part of the country... (Please note that this is not a comprehensive guide to West Cork restaurants - there are hundreds. This is just where we would send you if you asked nicely)


The small coastal village of Ballydehob somehow feels like the culinary centre of the West Cork universe, and that's in no small part to the fact that it's home to one of Cork's three Michelin-starred restaurants - Restaurant Chestnut, run by chef Rob Krawczyk and partner Elaine Fleming. Between a lack of bookings and covid lockdowns we've sadly never made it through the doors, but it's on the all-Ireland bucket list. The seasonal tasting menu (currently €100 pp) is "designed around nature", and there's an optional wine pairing. We've yet to hear of anyone who left disappointed. Bookings are released every two months and you can try your luck getting one here.

On the more casual side of things, Budd's on Main Street offers, breakfast, lunch and takeaway, and is a cut above your average café (in usual times they also offer dinner but they've chosen to keep indoor dining shut for the time being). The sandwiches and salads change daily, the cakes are top tier, and if they have the crispy potato skins with balsamic and caper berry mayo on when you visit, be warned that one portion will never be enough.

Also on the not-to-be-missed list is toastie truck Ron D's, and even if toasties don't get you excited, these ones will. Their three cheese toastie (all from Cork) comes stuffed with with sour cream and charred scallions, and a side of bread and butter pickles, that you will definitely want a jar of to take home, and their potato doughnuts are the perfect follow up. You can currently find them outside the Ballydehob Community Centre on Wednesdays from 12:30 - 15:00, and they're doing sporadic taco nights. Follow them on Instagram for up to date info.

For something casual, Yay Burger have just opened on Stabal Hill serving burgers, salads and sides, and Kitchen Stories is a brand new food and wine shop on Main Street, which looks like the perfect pitstop for picnic or holiday home provisions, as well as beautiful kitchenware and tablescaping.

No trip to Ballydehob is complete without a few pints in Levis' Public House, and it's always worth checking in advance whether there's a pop up happening - over the past few years they've hosted Belfast's Bia Rebel, Caitlin Ruth, and even Restaurant Chestnut during a lockdown. This summer, during periods when they didn't have their own food on, they were allowing customers to bring food in from other restaurants/takeaways, which is very sound. The large outdoor area at the back is the ideal place for summer pints.