There are so many traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland on your next visit.
Whilst Northern Irish cuisine shares many similarities with Irish food, there are a few unique Northern Irish dishes and specialities.
When you imagine traditional Northern Irish cuisine, it can be tricky to get past clichéd food images.
You might well imagine bowls of watery mash and a dusty pint of stout.
There is, however, so much more to traditional Northern Irish Food than you might expect.
Northern Ireland food and drink
Traditional Irish food
Venues across Northern Ireland are now adding their own creative twists to traditional dishes.
This once unfashionable food is back with a culinary vengeance, with chefs using quality Irish produce to reimagine classic dishes.
There is a whole host of innovative eateries, microbreweries and hipster joints serving exciting food across Northern Ireland.
Best food Northern Ireland
I’ve put together a list of some of the best dishes you have to eat in Northern Ireland, as well as a few of the best dishes in the Republic of Ireland.
Make sure to try some of these Irish dishes when you are exploring foodie travel in Ireland.
Think of an ‘Ulster Fry’ as a traditional English breakfast 2.0. You get your usual combination of bacon, sausage and egg.
But you also get an added bonus of white and black pudding, soda bread and my new food obsession, potato bread.
I cannot begin to describe how wonderfully simple, yet delicious breakfast addition.
Made using mashed potatoes, butter, flour and salt and served piping hot from the griddle or pan. I would sell my own grandmother for a plate of the potatoey good stuff.
Why not try a ‘wee Ulster fry’ [hint ‘wee’ in Northern Ireland generally means ginormous], in the lovely Portrush Atlantic Hotel? Their black puddings are frankly exquisite.
Champ is mashed potatoes 2.0. It’s typically made with potatoes, milk, butter and scallions.
It even had a few hidden knobs of butter in the middle for extra deliciousness.
There’s a great debate on the best champ in Northern Ireland with many pubs and restaurants claiming they make the best champ.
I recommend you have a little mash potato tour around the bars and see who really makes the best Champ in Ireland!
Experts claim that the best oysters in the world are grown on the west coast of Ireland.
Their superb quality comes from the perfect environmental conditions from the cold waters of the raging Atlantic ocean.
If you are an oyster fan, Why not check out DK Oysters in Connemara’s Ballinakill Bay?
This oyster farm in County Galway dates all the way back to 1893.
You can even take a tour of their oyster farm and find out more about how oysters are grown.
You can’t possibly come to Northern Ireland and not have a bowl of steaming, traditional Irish stew.
Especially if you are visiting during the colder, winter months. You will need some hearty food before you brave an Irish gale!
Many venues will have their own particular take on this popular dish but typically a stew will consist of Irish lamb, onions, carrots and of course, potatoes.
Why not try a warming bowl of Irish stew at Kelly’s Cellars in Belfast Built in 1720, this is one of the oldest pubs in Belfast. It serves a bloody lovely Irish stew to go with your pint.
Barmbrack is a traditional sweetened bread with cinnamon and dried mixed fruit, that is steeped in the holiday tradition.
It is customary during Halloween for the Barmbrack maker to bake objects to the barmbrack, such as a small piece of cloth, a ring or coins, that acted as a kind of fortune-telling game.
It should be noted that adding potential choking hazards is more of a ‘home baking’ Irish tradition.
So you don’t have to be wary of accidentally ingesting a quid if you buy one in a cake shop.
Why not book a foodie tour in Ireland?
Black and white pudding
Most Irish breakfasts come with white and black pudding. The white pudding normally consists of pork, oatmeal and spice and is shapes into a sausage.
Black pudding is more or less the same thing except with some blood added, which is what gives it the dark colouring and flavour.
You can’t really get more Irish than a big bowl of colcannon, a creamy mixture of mashed potatoes, cabbage, cream and butter, commonly served with bacon.
Whilst it sounds like a rather bland staple to have as a dinner dish, it’s the ultimate in tasty comfort food to warm your cockles on a drizzly evening.
It is also a rather wonderful accompaniment to traditional Irish pork sausages.
Make sure you grab a plate at the family-run Plough Inn, found in the pretty village of Hillsborough.
Soda bread type of ‘quick bread’ made by using baking soda instead of yeast and is a classic of Irish baking.
It’s quick to make, no fuss type of break that can go from oven-to-mouth in under an hour.
Meaning you can pick up super fresh bread in bakeries and cafes around Nothern Ireland.
Make sure you sample some soda bread at the popular Thyme & Co, an award-winning cafe in Ballycastle.
A coddle is a simmering one-pot stew that is traditionally made with leftovers from the fridge.
Typical coddle ingredients can include onions, bacon, sausages and potatoes.
This rustic dish is very popular in Dublin and is also enjoyed all over Ireland. It is even reported to have several literary connections.
Seafood fans will be delighted at the quality and freshness of seafood available across Northern Ireland.
As you might expect from an island nation, there are many seafood venues, gastropubs and bars serving up fresh Irish seafood.
Think delicious Atlantic caught oysters, prawns, mussels and crab.
Make sure you feast on the gorgeous crab claws at the family-run Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy, on the North Coast.
Game of Thrones fans who are looking for Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland will also find a replica ‘Iron Throne’ at the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy.
You can’t talk about cuisine in Northern Ireland and not mention drinking, given its huge social and cultural significance.
This is the land of pubs, Guinness and special Irish drinking songs. All happy slurred over an ale, my favourite being “All for me Grog”.
There is a marvellous mixture of trendy bars, hipster joints and traditional Irish pubs in Northern Ireland.
Many of these establishments will serve ales such as O’Hara’s Celtic Stout, Smithwick’s Irish Ale, Murphy’s Irish Red and iconic Guinness.
Northern Ireland Micro-breweries
Beer and cider microbreweries are flourishing in Northern Ireland producing an exciting range of craft ales.
There are now many craft breweries supplying local pubs with small batches of niche beers.
If you want to experience a quality Irish ale in a ‘ye old fashioned Irish pub’, then head immediately to The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast.
These guys have incredible Victorian gothic decor and a brilliant atmosphere to boot.
This classic drink is perfect as a wintery drink, created in Limerick in 1943 by chef Joe Sheridan. Irish coffee was made and consumed as a way of warming up frozen-to-the-bone, disembarking boat passengers.
It took off and is now ingrained into Irish culture. It is made with hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar, with a layer of thick cream poured ever so carefully over the top.
When visiting Derry make sure you have an ‘Irish coffee making demonstration’ with the fabulous team at ‘Irish coffee connoisseur‘.
Learn how to pour the perfect Irish Coffee and get a taste for local whisky at the same time.
What do you think of my guide to traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland?