Three of the 10 best restaurants in all of Ireland are located in Galway City according to the latest McKenna Guide.
The annual 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland from Sally and John McKenna was published recently, and the foodie capital of the west came out looking well.
There is a big difference between this year’s 100 Best Restaurants guide and previous entries, with merit based ranking for the very best of the best.
Previous year’s grouped the top 100 by region, without singling out which were better than others.
But for 2022, Sally and John McKenna have put together a “definitive, merit-weighted list” of the 10 best restaurants in all of Ireland.
Galway performed well on this list, with Kai coming in 4th place, followed by Aniar in 7th, and finally Éan bakery & restaurant placed 9th in the country.
Aniar recently retained its Michelin Star in the latest guide, while both Kai and Éan are Michelin Bib Gourmand eateries, for providing world class food at affordable prices.
This list also highlights how women have stormed the restaurant scene in Ireland, both as chefs and owners of some of the country’s best establishments.
Many voices have sang the praises of Kai and its chef/co-owner Jess Murphy, both of which have won too many awards to list in one article entry.
The McKenna Guide calls Jess “a symbol of generosity” among the restaurant community, for her willingness to experiment, and share the results with her colleagues.
“She is a model for other female chefs, proof that talent and amiability will succeed in a male-dominated business. She is the new Myrtle Allen, someone who always has an eye on the greater good.”
“In short, she’s a star, one of the great restaurateurs. And Kai is one of the most beloved restaurants in the country, the home of wonderful west-coast cooking by a truly talented crew.”
After a decade of blowing minds and taste buds, JP McMahon is still wringing new flavours out of local ingredients, and keeping the restaurant experience fresh.
The McKenna praises Aniar for turning simple ingredients into “marquee performers”, leaving diners with an unforgettable experience.
“McMahon’s particular signature is his coastal cooking, and no one expresses better the glory of wracks, kelps, oysters, scallops, sea buckthorn and eels, and does so in such a particularly Irish way: the dish of oysters with sea lettuce is a defining modern Irish creation.
“Choosing the wine pairings allows the finesse of each course to stand out, and service from the kitchen brigade and the front of house team is exemplary.”
Christine Walsh, an alum of the Michelin Starred Loam restaurant, heads the kitchen at Éan, which is also owned by Loam’s Enda McEvoy and Sinead Meacle.
But Éan is no knock-off experience, as Walsh has made the kitchen her own, with completely unexpected, but always welcome, original plates.
“Walsh is taking McEvoy’s terroir palette in new directions, and right from the first gush of Lissadell oyster with frozen kimchi, the cooking has an electrifying energy, girded by ley lines of interlinking flavours that transmit an intense experience straight to the nervous system.”
“Walsh’s flavour conduits are unexpected: katsuobushi with squid toast, smoked bone marrow with raw beef, preserved lemon with farm salad, raw honey with cheese, and the conduits slam the flavours and textures right into your consciousness.”
Best of the Rest
These three were far from the only places in Galway to make the cut in the 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland.
Among the rest of the McKenna Guide, also singled out as unmissable dining experiences were the casual but breathtaking Ard Bia at Nimmos; the farm-to-plate Basilico in Oranmore; the easy to miss, but impossible to overlook Lignum; and the much feted Loam.
Going outside of traditional Irish fare, Wa Sushi takes fish and shellfish from Galway Bay to create an experience new to most local palettes; and the renowned West restaurant located in Barna’s Twelve Hotel