Eating vegan in Ireland was way easier than we imagined. Happy Cow, Facebook Groups, Irish Vegan sites, and these cool Irish folks sharing tips all helped us compile a great list of spots to try along our road trip through Belfast, Donegal, Bundoran, Sligo, Strandhill and Dublin. While there were many more potential spots on our list, we’re thrifty folks and made a lot of sandwiches and bagels to save money. These are the places we researched and planned to try, as well as our opinions on those we did.
Food in Flight
On our first leg we flew American from Dallas to Heathrow, transferred from Terminal 3 to 5, then flew into Dublin International. I called the airline customer service number 24 hours before our flight and let them know we wanted vegan meals. They brought us our specially marked boxes and while for the life of me I can’t remember what was in that first meal, Daniel and I both recall that they gave us non-vegan butter and a roll that clearly said parmesan on it. BOO! We remember the bulk of it was marginally edible and we were glad we had brought chips & chex mix to supplement.
On the return trip, the food was fantastic. British Airways operated and we were given a delicious green curry! We were also served “tea” sandwiches later on which I believe were tomato and hummus on whole wheat. Five stars for British Airways!
Sidenote – on our way back through Heathrow we actually had time in the terminal between flights and had a delightful pad thai at Wagamama. Highly recommend!
Summary: Call ahead and BRING SNACKS!
Plan: We mapped out several potential places along the way to Belfast depending on how hungry we were after landing. Belfast had several fully vegan restaurants and lots of other spots with several vegan options, so planning there was pretty easy. Our key goals here: a great dinner, breakfast if possible and afternoon tea.
The Brick Room Cafe / Website (Balbriggan)
Vegan Quesadilla and Vegan Mini Burgers – in case we needed to stop along the way to Belfast
Reality: We ended up not needing to stop along the way from the Airport to Dublin. We just worked on our “no calories on vacation” snacks: popcorn, chips and Chex. We were ready for real food once we got to Belfast, and needed to kill time before our check in. We decided afternoon tea was the ticket, so Souls Restaurant it was.
I was really looking forward to experiencing a full on afternoon tea at Souls, but apparently it’s a call-ahead 24 hours situation so instead we shared several dishes and green tea. (I wasn’t awake enough to remember to photograph the food) but we had the vegetable biryani, pinwheel samosas and the tofu kofta.
After Souls we went to Tesco hoping to find their Wicked Kitchen entrees but didn’t see them so we grabbed some stuff to make breakfast at our listing and snacks for the next day’s road trip.
We went to Eat Street for dinner, as that was the place we were the most excited about trying overall. It did not disappoint. We went with the specials, which we devoured, and then topped it off with a cupcake for the drive home. Super cozy little place with great folks. Wish we could have tried the whole menu!
Summary: Eat Street is can’t miss, and again – calling ahead is your friend.
Northern Ireland & Donegal
Plan: Boring snacks / sandwiches, maybe a cafe for lunch and WHISKEY.
Old Bushmills Distillery / Website (Bushmills)
Stopped here for a tasting flight
Wholegreen Health Food / Website (Letterkenny)
Planned to eat here and grab groceries as they have a cafe with vegan options, but did not.
Dunnes Grocery / Website (Letterkenny)
Last minute grocery decision
Blas / Website (Donegal)
“Restaurant now has a separate vegan menu. Reviewer says: “AMAZING meal last night in Blas, Donegal town. Quinoa & crushed avocado to start, followed by char-grilled vegetables on polenta with carrot salad and pistachio fruit crumble for dessert – all for €25! So well looked after too – the staff were able to say how everything was made and they also especially provided vegan sourdough and olive tapenade to begin, mash and veg on the side made with soy butter, and had stocked up on vegan wine and soy milk for coffee – couldn’t recommend enough!”
Simple Simon’s / Website (Donegal)
Fantastic little cafe with vegan options and an attached specialty health food store.
Lough Eske Castle / Website (Donegal)
Meant to go here for a drink but didn’t make it
Reality: We were no where near plan on the day we drove from Belfast up to the North Coast and back down through Letterkenny to Donegal. I would advise trying to find somewhere to get a real meal somewhere near Bushmills, we just didn’t see anything. This was the day our jetlag caught up with us and we tried to push through without eating lunch after going to the distillery (NOPE!). We didn’t end up eating in Letterkenny as planned either because it was crazy trying to find parking at lunch rush hour and I was too hangry to walk half a mile on those hilly roads. We instead grabbed more groceries at Dunnes and finished up our car snacks on the way to our Donegal listing. There we made sandwiches for dinner and became humans again.
The next couple of days we explored Donegal and Glenveagh National Park, with really only one more eat out. The highlight was our trip to Donegal town & lunch in Simple Simon’s. After splitting a wrap and soup in the cafe, we picked up some Violife parmesan from their attached grocery and GIRL. Honestly to me it tasted exactly like cave-aged gruyere. No joke. Violife needs to be a thing in DFW because I’m dying without it. After the cafe we ducked out of the rain into Mc Cafferty’s for a pint, then headed back to our listing. That night we snacked on cheese and toasted bread on the stove top & read by the fire.
Summary: Don’t get hangry, and Simple Simon’s forever.
Bundoran, Sligo & Strandhill
Plan: Pre-trip scouting had me following Sweet Beat Cafe in Sligo for the months leading up to our trip, and while I think they were our official favorite, we had quite a few delicious options in this area! We stayed in Bundoran for the second part of our trip, and planned to eat out a few times as we explored the Wild Atlantic Way.
Blue Leaf Restaurant / Website (Bundoran)
Pizza with no cheese and some great veganizable pasta dishes made this one of our favorite spots – didn’t even know it was there until we walked up!
Sweet Beat Cafe / Website (Sligo)
Plant-based, vegan-friendly food including fresh super salads, cold pressed juices, wheatgrass shots, and probiotic drinks.
The Draft House / Website (Strandhill)
A few steps from the water, great menu with vegan options and a huge list of draft beers.
Reality: After Donegal, we were ready to get back into some cities. In Bundoran we kept with our goal of breakfasts at home, but ventured out to Blue Leaf Restaurant our first night purely by chance. We hunted on foot up and down Main St. after trying to walk to a nearby highly rated spot to dinner and finding most of the restaurants on Yelp were either closed for the season or simply no longer there. We took a chance on this Italian spot because a) it was open and b) we figured we could do spaghetti and red sauce at a minimum. We were blown away by the romantic atmosphere, extensive menu and delicious entrees. My pasta was chock full of fresh veggies and Daniel’s pizza was so good he ate the whole thing! We shared a bottle of wine and left feeling really thankful Yelp was so out of date. We would have missed out on one of our favorite dinners in Ireland.
The next day we drove to Sligo for lunch, stopping in Sweet Beat and devouring their daily specials. Amazing food – we couldn’t decide which dish was our favorite and kept passing them back and forth. After that we took a cookie to go, wandered the city and then made our way over to Strandhill. We split some super fancy dishes and then splurged on the most delectable basket of mixed chips (fries) we’ve ever tasted.
Summary: This was the best area for food!
Plan: Grab lunch and dinner (maybe even a snack) while seeing the sights, then head out bright and early the next morning to the airport.
Vish.Shop / Website (Dublin – Eatyard)
Tucked into the vibrant food truck utopia that is Eatyard and adjacent to The Bernard Shaw, Vish is Dublin’s first vegan fish and chip takeaway spot.
Sova Vegan Butcher / Website (Dublin)
On a quiet side street, this is fine vegan dining at its best.
Cornucopia / Website (Dublin)
Counter-service spot with home-cooked vegetarian and vegan friendly breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, juices, breads, cakes and desserts seven days per week.
Brother Hubbard South / Website (Dublin)
Indoor/outdoor seating counter-service spot with vegan options.
Reality: Our original plan was to start our Dublin day with lunch at Vish.Shop. I had eaten fish & chips in London in my omnivorous youth and wanted Daniel to have a similar, but cruelty-free, experience. As luck would have it, they were closed up when we arrived. A neighboring cart informed us they were having power troubles but that we should reach out to the shop on Facebook as they were planning to reopen later in the day.
Hungry and now unsure of what to do (we had a whole route starting here and working our way up to dinner near at Cornucopia), we started checking menus on the street and Yelp for something to eat before everyone closed at 3pm. We landed a few blocks north at Brother Hubbard and split a vegan wrap just before they closed for the afternoon. After walking North up to Trinity College, we decided Sova Vegan Butcher would be our dinner spot right when it opened at 5, and then after that we’d go back for Vish as a later evening snack. Happily, Vish responded on Facebook and let us know they were reopening soon.
Sova was gorgeous inside (we noted the Iconeo prints on the walls to look up later), and the dish presentations were pure art. I can’t recommend this place enough. We tried the Soya Schnitzels and split an appetizer, trying to save our stomachs for Vish.
After Sova, we walked back down to Eat Yard and grabbed a couple pints at the Bernard Shaw. People watching there is fantastic – it reminded us so much of Denton’s Austin Street Food Truck Stop. After a while we decided we were ready for round two and placed our Vish orders. To be honest, it was really delicious but I wouldn’t say it was super close to fish, or at least my distant memories of fish. Very glad we had the chance to try it either way. Heading out, we grabbed a delicious hot dark chocolate from the cart next door, Kale + Coco.
Summary: Dublin is a vegan dream – just wish we’d had time to try more!