Galway is fairly hippie-leaning as quaint, colourful cities go. With a laid-back lifestyle, notoriously great nightlife, and penchant for the outdoors, a progressive stroll into vegetarianism is simply a natural extension of the Atlantic city’s general feel: Ireland’s lovable, mellow heartland. Unsurprisingly, then, there are plenty of vegetarian options to pick from in the city (you’ll find something in almost every eatery you care to walk into). However, we can do a little better than the vegetarian option as an afterthought. Here are the restaurants that truly excel at veggie fare.
An almost exclusively vegan (and 100% vegetarian) restaurant that’s spectacularly undersold as a ‘falafel store’, TGO is in some senses high-end fast food, but it’s so exquisitely done, beautifully presented and healthy that it doesn’t feel like it. The varied menu includes a vegan salad bar and a variety of gorgeous ‘what it says on the tin’ falafel options, but it peaks with the ‘Spicebag’. That particular Irish favourite is typically an absolute meat feast, but not here: they’ve kept all the main attributes of the popular takeout in veggie form.
Tucked out of the way outside of Galway’s heart, Delight Health Cafe is very much a specialist offering, where the buzzwords are ‘nutritious’ and ‘delicious’. Based around fresh, locally produced foodstuffs served indoors or out, this spot in Renmore isn’t spectacularly elaborate (much of the menu is just sandwiches, juices and salads), but it does what it does exceptionally well. Fresh, colourful and packed with flavour, there is some meat, but much of the menu is veggie. Pictured is the mezze plate and avocado smoothie.
Inspired by his charitable experiences with poverty alleviation-focused charity SERVE, local graduate Sebastian Taylor created Café Temple, a real feel-good, socially conscious, not-for-profit spot that donates all of its profits to local charities, with SERVE being one of the café’s main beneficiaries. They’re home to ample vegetarian and vegan options in their rugged, largely upcycled home, and have become particularly known for their beetroot burger. They also boast ‘roughies’ (the oat-filled version of smoothies), a vast array of imaginative (often veggie) burgers and salads, and a creative coffee menu.
Arguably Galway’s most impressive foodie outlet, Kai Cafe + Restaurant morphs through the day from café to a locally led, high-end organic restaurant. The pastries alone are worth a stop, but if you dig deep into the menu and uncover Jessica Murphy’s creations, you’ll find taste-explosions galore. Think plenty of local seafood (including monkfish and crab, if you’re that kind of vegetarian), and on the more strictly vegetarian side, dishes such as millet cakes and chickpea and herb salad. There’s also an imaginatively named dessert called ‘Game of Cones’. Dinner is on the pricey end for the city (and justifiably so, in our view), but there are some real bargains to be had at lunchtime.
A heavily seasonal, continent-hopping offering that’s wonderfully multicultural in its outlook, Ard Bia at Nimmos is a consistently exceptional spot overlooking the Spanish Arch and the River Corrib, with a varied menu and breezy feel. Expect Irish, Lebanese, Indian and Australasian influences to cross your palate, with ample vegetarian and vegan options. Think lentil cakes, funky-flavoured gnocchi, an abundance of local cheeses and a lovely little side project in donating profits on their water to youngsters at the local sea scouts. It’s not cheap, but you quite definitely get what you pay for, and more.