While Dublin is Ireland’s leading tourist destination, locals know that Cork is number one when it comes to grub. 

County Cork is home to Cork City, Ireland’s booming food capital, and Kinsale, a coastal town dubbed as the country’s gourmet food capital. Passionate food producers, from local farmers to cheese makers down to the brilliant chefs in restaurants in Cork City, work together to make the most out of the county’s lush and productive farmlands and coasts, and its rich culinary heritage.

Here, you can relish an astounding array of exceptional artisanal produce, including farmhouse cheeses, smoked meats and fishes, craft beers and whiskeys, and chocolates – sometimes even straight from their source. 

Visiting Cork soon? Here are 10 most delicious (and guilt-free) ways to gain weight when exploring the Ireland’s booming food capital.

1. Get your caffeine fix

The city isn’t just for beer lovers – Cork also has a bustling collection of cool cafes and vibrant coffeehouses. Some of Ireland’s finest coffee roasters, like Fermoy’s Badger and Dodo, are situated in the county so you can rest assured that you get “caffeinated” with nothing but the best. 

2. Sip the best hot chocolate in Ireland

If you’re more of a hot chocolate person, then you should not miss O’Connaill’s signature drink, which many folks believe to be Ireland’s best hot chocolate. This sweet café has different takes on hot chocolate – milk, white, and dark – with different taste variations including mint, chili, and praline. 

3. Fill up with the Fry Up

If there’s one thing Britain and Ireland are known for, it’s got to be their love for hearty breakfasts. Living up to their status is the “fry-up”, also called “Full Irish Breakfast”, a staple on Irish menus. 

If you want to eat breakfast like a king, feasting on this huge plate of pork sausages, black and/or white pudding, bacon, baked beans, hash browns, egg, toast, and tomatoes, is the best way to go.

4. Live every locavore’s dream at the English Market

English Market is one of the largest covered market in Europe, which has been delivering high-quality local ingredients since 1788. You can find everything from fresh meat, seafood, fruits, and vegetables, to artisan cheese, gourmet sandwiches, smoked fish, and top-of-the-line chocolates and handcrafted cakes. You’ll also get to pay homage to the best food producers in town.

5. Exotic Foodies: Try Tripes and Drisheen

Situated just above the English Market is a small café serving traditional Cork dishes, including exotic fares that aren’t for the faint of heart. If you love exotic food, locals suggest you try Tripe and Drisheen Irish sausage, made from pig’s blood, suet, and salt. Freshness and quality of the ingredients are guaranteed, as they directly came from the food stalls in the market. 

6. Feast on the best burgers in the country

Don’t listen to the rumors, claiming that Irish diet consists of nothing but cabbages, stews, and potatoes – they make great burgers too. Besides, when it comes to burgers, you can never go wrong in a country renowned for world-class meat. 

Whether you want it hefty and messy, or refined and gourmet, Cork city got you covered with their wide array of burger joints. If you’re not much of a carnivore, you may also find vegetarian-friendly Falafel burgers and the infamous Hillbilly’s chicken-based “breast in a bun.” 

7. Go traditional

Of course you didn’t come all the way to Ireland to eat nothing but your fast food favorite. Whether you’re in fine restaurant in Cork city or in a busy market cafe, don’t let the day pass without trying out traditional Irish foods. Some of the must-tries include Irish stew, Shepherd’s Pie, Coddle, Boxty, Smoked Salmon, Soda Bread, and Irish Coffee, 

8. Never miss their farmhouse cheese selections

Cheese connoisseurs listen up! Irish farmhouse cheeses are worth the trip and you can find the best ones in Cork. 

If you happen to visit a restaurant in Cork city offering a cheese plate, it would be a huge mistake to skip it. One of the reasons why Cork is hailed as the gastronome’s paradise is because of its wealth of artisan cheese producers, including Gubbean smoked cheese, Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese, Durrus, and Milleens. 

9. Take a tour in Jameson Whiskey Distillery

You may have tasted great whiskey in Dublin, but a lot of people didn’t know that they’re actually distilled in Cork. 

The best way to know more about this legendary spirit is by heading to Jameson Whiskey Distillery, a world-famous distillery that’s been operating for 200 years. The historic distillery resembles a medieval castle, which will transport you back in time when farmers would come with their horses and carts to drop the grains for whiskey production. 

10. Sample the best craft beers in Cork 

Your trip to Ireland won’t be complete without sampling their craft beer. Just remember that there’s more to Irish craft beer than the infamous Guinness stout in Dublin – Cork favors its special local brews, along with their classic stouts of Murphy’s and Beamish

For your brewery and pub tours, there are a wide array of breweries you can go including the historic Beamish and Crawford (est. 1792), Murphy’s brewery (est. 1856), Franciscan Well Brewery and Brewpub, and other new micro-breweries like Rising Sons and Elbow Lane. 

Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a resident writer for Greenes Restaurant Cork, a fine restaurant located in Cork Ireland’s historic Victorian Quarter, known for their top-notch local cuisines and talented kitchen team. This self-proclaimed foodie enjoys discovering hidden gems and writing engaging articles about food, travel, and lifestyle.

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