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Lucinda's 20 BEST Seafood Spots 2019

 Lucinda's 20 BEST Seafood Spots 2019

Wednesday 07 August 2019


There are any number of excellent casual seafood spots along Howth Pier, but, if you want the grand experience of feeling you are setting sail on a luxury liner, it has to be Aqua, which celebrates its 20th birthday this year. It's set in the old Howth Sailing Club, jutting out over the water. Think lobster and prawn salad followed by classic Dover Sole Meuniere.

Having started selling fish and chips from a converted unit six years ago at the back of the Blackrock Market, Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola headed north of the Liffey, anchoring in not one but two neighbouring locations, Benburb Street with a fish & chip shop, and Queen Street where they serve a daily changing no-choice dinner menu at €49, showcasing seasonal Irish seafood. Two cool spots for fishophiles under the one banner.

Having wowed SoCoDu and Instagram with ginormous seafood platters at Michael’s of Mount Merrion, Gareth ‘Gaz’ Smith, cast his net a couple of doors down from the mothership to open Little Mike’s, a sleek sophisticated wine bar with knock ‘em dead small plates. Try Lambay Island Whelks (sea snails) – no like, no pay! Again, two cool spots under the one umbrella.

Niall Sabongi is a charismatic revolutionary who brought seafood to the people with his crabshack style Klaw on Crown Alley and Seafood Cafe on Fownes Street. He wiped the smile off the faces of few prohibitively expensive seafood joints fleecing American tourists and the legal fraternity – who are now all lining up for his lobster rolls, crabs, and whatever swims in that morning.

Sole, on South William Street is the sort of sophisticated seafood restaurant that every city needs, a meal at Sole won't be cheap but it’ll definitely be good. Try the Sole Seafood Tower at €75 as an appetiser for four, or as an entree at €115 for two. Get cracking.


The French coastal towns from Marseille to Cannes are lined with waterside restaurants. Chef patron Paul Hynes and his wife Edwina have added a flavour of this to Wexford’s quayside, while showcasing their love of great seafood. Think John Dory; squid ink Bulgar risotto; caper and raisin cabbage.

Fergal and Jodie Dempsey’s Wild & Native at Rosslare Strand is just what you want in a holiday spot – a relaxed nautical setting with denizens of the deep from Mediterranean style monkfish with a tomato, black olive and caper sauce to scallops, prawns, lobster et al.  

With stunning sea views, the Foyle family's chic Strand Inn in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, ticks all the boxes for fishophiles who love style, funky music and great food. Choose the Strand Bar or terrace for casual but sublime seafood bouillabaisse. As to the restaurant – you’ll want it all. Try the spicy hot devilled crab au gratin. The Foyle family are masters of the art of hospitality. Stay the night, stay the week!

Established in 1983, Marog and Sally O’Brien’s Farmgate in Midleton has long been the hub of local fine food served in the coolest setting in Midleton, east Cork. Their super seafood, which is landed daily at nearby Ballycotton Pier includes calamari to crunch on; grilled turbot with hollandaise; and scallops the size of a golf balls. A great place for people watching, too.

With old stone walls and Irish artwork, check out the popular Ocean Wild in Castletownbere, Co. Cork. It's owned and operated by local sisters Mairead and Eileen O’Driscoll, and is perfect for some fishy bites while exploring the beauty of the Beara Peninsula.

Over the Central Fish Market in Bantry, The Fish Kitchen has been hooking diners with its simple fresh fare. They say “we do our best not to interfere with the fish we are serving”, and their menu is largely made up of fresh locally caught fish, served skin side up with a variety of butter or sauces. Great daily specials.

They’re beating a path to The Fish Basket on Long Strand, Castlefreke, Co. Cork, for the crispy fresh fish & chips, prawns, crab, and great chowder. Everything tastes better in the invigorating sea air, so chow down at the garden tables.

Chef patron Marin Bealin and his wife Nuala Cassidy are synonymous with excellence and the dedicated development of Dingle’s food arena. Their buzzy busy restaurant is a joy – Bealin is a man who ‘gets’ flavour. You won’t find better than his Ventry lobster, or a massive sole on the bone. And, they grow their own veggies.

People seem to go wild for the take away fish n’ chips from REEL Dingle Fish on Bridge Street in Dingle, Co. Kerry. From plaice to monkfish to calamari, all the fishy faves are fresh and flavoursome at this long standing local mainstay.

With a giant lobster claw clutching a pint of Guinness outside its door, The Lobster in Waterville is a great shout, if you’re out and about exploring the Ring of Kerry. There's a warm welcome and lots of tasty fresh seafood to enjoy.

Quinlan is a name that has long been associated with seafood in Kerry, and, at the family's stylish QC's in Cahirsiveen, your poisson will be perfect. Grab a table in the Garden Courtyard for a a great seafood platter, succulent Dingle bay prawns, pan-seared baby squid and more.

Situated in the heart of the Burren Food Trail, Monk’s Restaurant and Bar in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, has a well earned reputation for its top-notch seafood, as well as the host of other local produce. Think Kelly’s oysters in a garlic herb crumb; mussel & crab linguine; or whole fresh poached Doonbeg Bay lobster.

This is where the crowd congregates when they all head West for August. Legal eagles and bankers galore going casual! Keep your eyes and ears open for the goss. There's lots of Irish craft beer and Champagne to match the oysters and the delicious hot buttered Roundstone Lobster.

Located next to the Harbour Bar in Downings, Co. Donegal, Fisk Seafood Bar has quickly gained a following since it opened its doors last year. No bookings, walk-ins only.

A family owned fish and chip restaurant, Fish City in Belfast, provides its customers with fresh sustainable seafood in a setting that’s warm and friendly. Fully licensed, with a great takeaway menu of seafood favourites, all expertly prepared, it’s easy to see why this one’s a winner.

First Published In The Sunday Independent