With the Atlantic on its doorstep, Galway has access to a veritable bounty of fresh seafood. Here, Culture Trip tours the best places in the west of Ireland’s capital to sample maritime delicacies, such as shellfish from the Clarenbridge oyster beds and locally caught wild salmon.
Oscar’s has long been a favourite of those who truly love seafood. The inventive creations of Head Chef Michael O’Meara – a bona fide connoisseur of all things edible that come from the ocean – have earned this restaurant a place in the Bridgestone Guide Top 100 Restaurants in Ireland list no less than six times. Just in case you need any additional reassurance of O’Meara’s culinary genius, consider the fact that his book Sea Gastronomy: Fish and Shellfish of the North Atlantic was crowned the best cookbook in the world at the 2016 Gourmand World Cookery Book Awards.
Grilled salmon fillet | Courtesy of The Fisherman, Salthill
This Salthill gem is owned and run by Pat O’Malley and his wife Lisa Creaven, members of a local family that have been fishing off the Galway shores for more than four decades. Not only does the youthful Fisherman have a view across the bay and a cool, contemporary interior, but it also features a menu full of ‘the freshest shellfish and seafood on offer’ in the vicinity. Try the Aran Islands shellfish and seafood platter, which comes with a whole crab, oysters, prawns and mussels.
The Seafood Bar @ Kirwan’s was one of the first restaurants to open on the newly restored Kirwan’s Lane – one of Galway’s oldest streets – in the mid-1990s, and today, it’s still one of the city’s most popular restaurants. Both locals and tourists flock here for the ambience, live music and especially the food, which revolves around the sea. Between Galway Bay rock oysters, linguine of gambas prawns and palourde clams, and their own signature fish and chips with tartare sauce, pescatarians will be spoiled for choice.
Grilled gamba prawns | Courtesy of Brasserie on the Corner
Found at the intersection of Eglinton Street and Mary Street, not far from Eyre Square, Brasserie on the Corner is a chic restaurant supplied daily by Gannet Fishmongers, one of the most respected in the city and winner of Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) Supplier of the Year in 2013. Fish specials change daily, but staples include pan-fried west coast hake with black pudding croquettes and roast monkfish with sticky coconut rice. Alternatively, try their west coast seafood Brasserie board – a spread of Connemara smoked salmon, Burren spiced mackerel, cod tempura and more.
Already one of the best spots for brunch in Galway, farm-to-table restaurant Dela has also been open for evening meals, having launched Dela By Night, since autumn of last year. The new initiative was part of their pattern of going from strength to strength, having been named one of the Hot Press Top 100 Restaurants in 2016. Although not limited to seafood, the à la carte evening menu at Dela features some incredibly tasty maritime cuisine, such as crab croquettes and monkfish with Connemara mussels and clams.
Part-restaurant, part-chipper, part-café – Hooked on Henry Street is a casual, family-run seafood eatery on Galway’s west-side. Hooked has built up a strong reputation for serving unbelievably fresh, tasty fish dishes daily, and it certainly helps that their supplier, the renowned Ali’s Fish Market – in operation since 1987 – is just across the street. From starters of fish tacos and panko-crumbed fish cake to mains like coconut, polenta and chilli-coated calamari, the offerings at this down-to-earth joint shouldn’t be underestimated.
A feed from McDonagh’s fish and chip bar is a high point for many a visitor to Galway, and their Quay Street seafood restaurant is equally satisfying. You’ll struggle to choose between specialities such as fish soup, native oysters farmed nearby in Kilcolgan village, and wild Clarenbridge mussels steamed in a garlic-chilli-coconut milk sauce. Their two-course set menu, served daily, is an excellent value at €19.95, complete with a glass of house wine.
Situated just outside the city, White Gables is housed inside a 1920s cottage, ideally suited to serving what owners Kevin and Ann Dunne refer to as their ‘time-warp classics’, such as seafood cocktail Marie Rose and scallops mornay. For more than 20 years, the Dunnes have been bringing their seafood-centric menus to the people of Galway at White Gables and providing a relaxed and elegant setting in which to enjoy them. A set dinner menu of three courses is available here for €39.50, as well as a three-course Sunday lunch for €28.50.