Traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland

When I previously thought of ‘Irish cuisine’ I could never get past the clichéd images of bowls of watery mash and a pint of Guinness in a dark run down pub, populated by ale-soaked, boozy old men. Having spent some time eating my way around Northern Ireland recently, I can happily conclude that there is so much more to Irish cuisine than I had ever imagined, with venues often 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. Here are some dishes you need to try on your next trip over.


Seafood fans will be delighted at the quality and freshness of seafood available across Ireland, as you might expect from an island nation. There are many seafood venues, gastro pubs and bars serving up a deliciously fishy range of Atlantic caught oysters, prawns, mussels and crab. Make sure you feast on the gorgeous crab claws at the family run Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy. Thrones fans can even have a little sit on the Fullerton Arms replica ‘Iron Throne’, after chowing down on some smashing seafood.

Traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland

Ulster fry

Think of an ‘Ulster Fry’ as an English breakfast 2.0, you get your usual combination of bacon, sausage and egg but with the 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.

Traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland

Irish stew

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 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 at Kelly’s Cellars in Belfast? Built in 1720, this is one of the oldest pubs in Belfast and it serves a bloody lovely Irish stew to go with your pint.

Traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland


Barmbrack is a traditional sweetened bread with cinnamon and dried mixed fruit, that is steeped in 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.

Traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland


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.

Traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland

Soda Bread

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.

Traditional dishes you need to eat in Northern Ireland

Irish ales

You can’t talk about Cuisine in Northern Ireland and not mention drinking as well, given its huge social and cultural significance. This is the land of pubs, Guinness and special Irish drinking songs, 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 serving your typical O’Hara’s Celtic Stout, Smithwick’s Irish Ale, Murphy’s Irish Red and the world renowned and iconic Gunniess. If you want to experience a quality Irish ale in a ye old fashioned pub, then head immediately to The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, they have incredible Victorian gothic decor and a brilliant atmosphere to boot.

Irish Coffee

This classic drink is perfect as a wintery drink, created in Limerick in 1943 by chef Joe Sheridan as a way of warming up frozen-to-the-bone disembarking boat passengers. It took off and is now an 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/Londonderry/Legenderry make sure you have an Irish coffee making demonstration with the fabulous ‘Irish coffee connoisseur’ and learn how to pour the perfect Irish Coffee and get a taste for whisky at the same time.

Irish coffee



Pip Jones

Pip Jones is a travel blogger, writer and content creator, she has been shortlisted for a Vuelio blogging award, is a brand ambassador for Euroventure Travel and is a Travelex ‘Top blogger’. She can normally be found drinking wine, typing an article and taking a selfie all at the same time.


  1. August 11, 2017 / 2:17 pm


  2. August 8, 2017 / 11:53 am

    Wow your photos are stunning! And nothing beats an Irish Coffee! My other half is from Ireland and it is such a beautiful place to visit!

  3. Rahat Arora
    August 7, 2017 / 9:33 pm

    Tasty food, mouthwatering

  4. August 7, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Seafood galore – being pescetarian, I love the idea of fresh seafood. In addition to a GOT experience – I’m in!

    • August 7, 2017 / 6:49 pm

      I love seafood as well and I was amazed at the fantastic quality of seafood available there.

  5. August 7, 2017 / 1:19 pm

    Ahh that’s really interesting compared to traditional dishes in England! The barmbrack looks really yummy 😀

  6. Hra
    August 7, 2017 / 9:32 am

    What a lovely dishes!! I want to try them all 🙂 I hope to go in Ireland soon <3

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:12 pm

      Thank you, it really is worth visiting x

  7. DTG
    August 6, 2017 / 10:48 pm

    Really loved reading this post, the food looks incredibly delicious and loved the information and photos you added, make me very hungry seeing all this food, I’m off to the kitchen now lol.

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:12 pm

      Thank you, the food in Northern Ireland really is fabulous x

  8. August 6, 2017 / 7:46 pm

    I am eyeing the Irish stew. It looks healthy.

  9. August 6, 2017 / 7:07 am

    A gorgeous post, tried all,of these in Ireland again this year and I would add lamb shanks cooked in Guinness, heavenly

  10. August 6, 2017 / 6:57 am

    Ulster Fry + Irish Stew is the best! I’m also a huge fan of soda bread but there are a few things on this list I’m yet to try. I’ve got to get back there and get my feast on!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:13 pm

      I am obsessed with Ulter frys now, Northern Ireland has RUINED me lol xx

  11. August 6, 2017 / 6:33 am

    Did someone say food? I had to read this post till the end. 🙂 Having a sweet tooth, I would love to try the Barmbrack, and of course, the Irish stew that looks so delicious. Cheers!!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:13 pm

      Irish stew is amazing, definitely grab a bowl when you visit x

  12. August 6, 2017 / 1:12 am

    This makes me hungry for home
    Proud Irish foodie!!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:26 pm

      Thank you, I really need to get back there asap for some potato bread x

  13. August 5, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    A delicious post i must admit! I loved glazing at all the pics and it was hard picking out my favorite. However, I would pick Irish coffee in the drinks as I have a preference for it even in Indian coffee shops. Soda bread looks yum and delicious! I would love to have it!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:28 pm

      Irish coffee is soooo good, I normally have it at Christmas time back home in wales but I am keen to have it a bit more now I have tasted a proper Irish coffee in Northern Ireland!

  14. August 5, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    Looking at all this photos are so mouth watering! Defos coming to Ireland for this!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:29 pm

      Thanks lovely, I totally recommend it x

  15. August 5, 2017 / 3:07 pm

    Irish Coffee is a must for coffee lovers <3 Absolutely love it. Although I haven't really tried it in Ireland :') I have tried it in other places. Can't wait to visit Ireland and sip the goodness.

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:30 pm

      Honestly, it tastes so much better in Ireland!

  16. August 5, 2017 / 3:02 pm

    My mouth is watering after reading this hahaha. those Barmbrack bread look amazing!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:30 pm

      It is really lovely, I can’t wait to have more xx

  17. August 5, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    Oh yes, I love reading food posts! All the dishes look delicious! I think I need to book a trip to Northern Ireland to try the hearty food!

  18. August 5, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit Northern Ireland and it’s quite high on my bucket list! Awesome list of must try food – it’s well-organized and easy to read! I’ll be referring to this post in the future!

  19. August 5, 2017 / 2:23 pm

    I’ve been a number of times in Ireland and I still haven’t tried an Ulster fry! I bet it’s delicious! The Irish stew was good but it really depends on where you eat it, I didn’t like it everywhere! As for the ales… nothing better than an Irish pint!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:36 pm

      It honestly will change your life, I think every meal should come with a side of potato bread! xx

  20. August 5, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    Super useful! I’m headed to Northern Ireland for a few days in September and I am eager to find posts like yours to get inspired. And I’m also looking forward to sampling the foods and writing my own. Thanks for the inspiration, and beautiful photos!

    • August 7, 2017 / 1:36 pm

      Awww thank you so much, i’m glad I could help x

  21. August 5, 2017 / 1:39 pm

    Yum!! This makes me hungry! I’ve already tried Irish stew. It’s delicious. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. August 5, 2017 / 1:17 pm

    this looks so delicious, one of the most i look upto is the irish coffee though its with alcohol I wanted to try it one day. Ireland has a lot to offer.

  23. Natalia
    August 5, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    Never visited Northern Ireland! At least when we finally get around to visiting we know what to eat, looks like some good choices here!

  24. August 5, 2017 / 12:13 pm

    i would kill for a irish stew right now, looks Delicious!! that soda bread looks interesting might have to find some of that. Thanks for the share 🙂

  25. August 5, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    Yum these look great! We had a hard time in Ireland recently (not Northern) because we are gluten-free (not by choice). It seemed there was very little on menus we could have and things weren’t well marked with allergens. Looks like these dishes though would have been some options had we been up north!

  26. August 5, 2017 / 11:40 am

    All I can say is YUM YUM YUM! I am such a sucker for good food, and these pictures have me craving a trip to Ireland!

  27. August 5, 2017 / 11:26 am

    I love colcannon and that Irish stew looks so good! #hungrynow

  28. August 5, 2017 / 10:01 am

    Wonderful post! I love your photos and the overall vibe of your blog. Following!

    • August 5, 2017 / 10:03 am

      Awww thank you, always great to have nice feedback! xx

  29. Abi
    August 4, 2017 / 11:18 am

    This all looks absolutely amazing!! Potato bread sounds bloody incredible x

    Abi | abistreetx

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