Northern Ireland’s food and drink scene is a testament to our rich culinary history and innovative spirit. From traditional Irish dishes such as Irish stew and wheaten bread to contemporary cuisine influenced by international flavours, the NI food industry has it all!
In this post, we’re going to take you on a gastronomical journey as we explore the vibrant food and drink scene in Northern Ireland. From Michelin Star restaurants to cozy local pubs and food markets, Northern Ireland has something for every taste.
In the first stop on our NI food tour, we’re going to dive into the typical Irish dishes you must try in NI.
Starting off with the legendary Ulster Fry. In case you aren’t familiar with the Ulster Fry (and you’ve really been missing out!), it is comprised of sausages, bacon, eggs, potato bread, soda bread, sometimes pancakes, beans, mushroom and tomato also! It’s a hearty breakfast and a common one found at most breakfast cafes all over Northern Ireland, you could try Maggie Mays in Belfast or Cafolla’s in Newtownards for example. Other Irish dishes essential to any NI Food tour include champ and boxty. You could try the Mourne Seafood Bar for these.
If you’re feeling a little fancy or maybe are celebrating a special occasion, Northern Ireland has an array of Michelin Star restaurants to tickle your taste buds. Deanes EIPIC, OX Belfast and L’Escale are just a few examples of Michelin star restaurants in Belfast offering innovative menus that showcase the very best of NI local produce.
As Northern Ireland is based on an island, it’s fair to guess that seafood is one of our specialities. On an NI food tour, we highly recommend that you try fresh oysters, mussels and Atlantic lobster at restaurants such as Mourne Seafood Bar and Harry’s shack, which overlooks the stunning Portstewart Strand.
Northern Ireland’s drinks industry has just recently exploded onto the global scene!
With the recent opening of the Titanic Distillery, whiskey is finally being distilled in Belfast again after nearly a century! Not only this, but you have a new era of whiskey craft in Northern Ireland with the likes of Bushmills, McConnell’s, Echlinville and Copeland all distilling a new generation of Northern Ireland spirit.
If whiskey isn’t your measure of choice, you can explore the NI craft beer stage with the likes of Whitewater Brewing Co and Boundary Brewing.
If you really want to have a feel for the local products home grow in NI, there is no better place than St George’s Market. Open every Friday – Sunday, the market gives you the opportunity to sample fresh local creations (as well as beautiful local hand-crafted goods). You could also try the Causeway Speciality Market in Coleraine.
If you want something a little different, try the food at Trade Market or Common Market for a more international flavour.
The heart of Northern Ireland’s social scene.
Enjoy a traditional pub with a locally brewed pint of beer, listen to live music and grab some pub grub. Some legendary local Belfast pubs include The Duke of York, Kelly’s Cellars, The Crown or Fibber Magees.
Many restaurants in Northern Ireland pride themselves on offering farm-to-table dining experiences. Restaurants such as James St. and The Poachers Pocket emphasise using local ingredients to create dishes that highlight Northern Ireland’s seasonal produce.
If you want to immerse yourself in the NI food scene, why not head to one of the many food festivals that take place in NI throughout the year. For example, the Hillsborough Oyster Festival, Belfast Restaurant Week, Taste Causeway Food Festival and Balmoral Show are just some of the big food events during the year.
Northern Ireland’s food scene has gone from strength to strength as the traditional dishes and flavours have been influenced by International cuisines. If you fancy trying Asian fusion dishes, you could try Zen or Dumpling Library or Mexican food at Acapulco for example.
Every good meal has to end with something sweet right?
For the final stop on your NI food tour, you could try NI’s own local businesses like Nugelato, Mauds or Morelli’s to fulfil those sweet cravings!
Northern Ireland’s food and drink scene is full of many incredible businesses, with only a few highlighted here. From traditional Irish foods to Michelin Star restaurants and international food stalls at markets, you’ll not be hungry for long in Northern Ireland!
Where’s your favourite place to eat in Northern Ireland? Should we make another must do food list?
Tell us in the comments or get in touch on social media!