Located on the banks of the River Lee, and at the top of one of the world`s largest natural harbor Cork is known for its own unique Irish delicacies such as drisheen and tripe, Cork is also renowned for its vibrant and inimitable restaurant culture. Beef, lamb, bacon and poultry are raised to a very high standard. The dairy produce is as good as any in the world. The sea is full of fish and shellfish. These products are served up in both traditional and innovative ways throughout the county, and are complemented by dozens of ethnic restaurants cooking food from all over the world. Ireland`s second city, tucked away in the southwestern corner of the country, revels in its reputation as a champion of fine food and drink.

Country markets and farmers` markets can be visited throughout the city and county. Cork is enjoying something of a renaissance in artisan foods. Farmers` markets routinely present the most glorious fresh products, and with more shopper-friendly rules than farmers` markets the UK, you`ll find more variety through the year. Look out for heroic modern Irish food brands like Gubbeen for cheeses and charcuterie, Caherbeg for pork, Arbutus for bread and Ummera and Belvelly for smoked products.

Where to Eat

Midleton Farmer`s Market
County Cork is blessed with around two dozen farmers` markets, one of the best of which is at Midleton, just to the east of Cork and well worth a visit on Saturdays, when it is open from 10-2 pm.

If Cork is the food capital of Ireland, the pretty yachting and fishing harbor of Kinsale is its seafood capital. Just 17 miles south of Cork, Kinsale`s cute cobbled streets are lined with art galleries, craft shops, artisan bakeries and cafes, and a small square that hosts a weekly farmers market (10 am to 2:30 pm Wednesday, except January). There are a dozen or so seafood restaurants here, of which Fishy Fishy Café is the undisputed king. Again the emphasis is on local produce – much of the restaurant`s fish is landed at the jetty just along the road. Typical dishes include local oysters, pan-roasted cod, and seared scallops with Clonakilty black pudding and parsnip puree.

Other Local Favorites In and Around Cork Include:

Ballymaloe House
Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork
20 miles from Cork is the legendary Ballymaloe House, owned and operated by Darina Allen, doyenne of Irish cooking. With her family, she runs a farm, gardens, shop, café, cookery school and stalls at farmers` markets.

Cafe Paradiso
16 Lancaster Quay, Cork
Cork`s outstanding Café Paradiso is situated near the historical University College Cork. Opening its doors in 1993, the ground-breaking Café Paradiso has since revolutionized Cork dining and Irish attitudes towards meat-free cooking and healthy eating. Owned and run by Denis Cotter, who himself has published four cookbooks, this restaurant`s menu is an innovative cocktail of fresh and local ingredients, which changes frequently, guaranteeing a new experience every time diners step through the door. After your unforgettable dining experience, you can rest in the spacious and luxurious accommodation located over the restaurant, which boasts scenic views of the Lee. It is no surprise, therefore, that Café Paradiso has been showered in awards and accolades over the years.

41 South Mall, Cork
Relatively new to the Cork restaurant circuit, Electric served its first diners in 2011 and has since become a firm favorite of Corkonians. Describing itself as a `Theatre of Life`, the venue is housed in a rejuvenated art deco style building that used to be a bank. The restaurant also boasts outstanding views of the River Lee, the boardwalk, the spire of St Fin Barre`s and the historic rooftops of Cork`s main street buildings. The restaurant`s menu consists of classic dishes but with a contemporary twist. The house beef burger and the West Cork chicken supreme are worth the wait. Electric also features a fish bar, with the menu inspired by Portuguese and Spanish taverns. When the sun does shine in Cork, diners can eat al fresco by the banks of the river, and when evening sets in, visitors can enjoy a drink at the bar and listen to some soulful sounds mixed by local, and legendary, DJs.

Farmgate Café
English Market, Cork
Housed on the mezzanine of Cork`s celebrated English Market, the Farmgate Café is the perfect venue for your morning coffee, afternoon tea and everything in between. Quality ingredients and preparation are at the core of the Farmgate Café`s beliefs, with the menu featuring local dishes, such as tripe and onions with drisheen. Kay Harte has created a perfect lunchtime café/diner in a beautiful building that enhance the retailing of traditional and modern food that goes on below. Sausages, oysters and soups all appear on the menu, as well as one of her signature dishes, home corned beef. Their breakfasts, lunches and desserts are all delicious and freshly prepared. Diners can choose between sitting overlooking the hustle and bustle of the market below, or in the dining room. The walls are also a gallery of original artworks by artists such as Billy Foley, Tom Climent, sculptor Michael Quane and photographer John Minehan. In the dining room is also a poetry wall, inaugurated in 2005, which features a unique collection of poems by Irish and International poets, specially commissioned by the Farmgate Café. There is also a sister restaurant in Midleton on the outskirts of Cork City, and both venues have received numerous awards. For truly innovative cuisine, look no further than the Farmgate Café.

Franciscan Well Brewery
14 North Mall, Cork
Founded in 1998 on the North Mall and within earshot of the famous Shandon Bells is one of Cork`s most celebrated pubs, the Franciscan Well Brewery. Built on the site of an old Franciscan Monastery and Well from 1219, the venue now boasts three serving vessels that brew craft beers and ales. Rebel Red, Blarney Blonde and Shandon Stout are popular favorites among locals and tourists. Mixing modern technology with age-old tradition, punters can enjoy their natural and tasty beers in the Franciscan Well beer garden, while savoring wood fired pizza. With drawing evenings, beer festivals and other cultural events, this brew-pub is a must visit for a real taste of Cork.

Idaho Cafe
19 Caroline Street, Cork
A friendly and tiny café serving Mairead Jacob`s first class freshly prepared home cooking from an international menu throughout the day. Conveniently situated behind Brown Thomas department store.

Jackie Lennox`s
137 Bandon Road, Cork
Cork`s best chipper: the chips are a must.

Jacobs on the Mall
30A South Mall, Cork
Jacobs On The Mall is one of Cork`s most popular restaurants. It is large and modern and located in an old Turkish bath building in the financial district next to the Bank of Ireland. The international menu has a strong streak of local produce that is beautifully prepared.

Market Lane Restaurant
5-6 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork City
With its menu ingredients sourced from the English Market and local artisan producers, it is no wonder that Market Lane is consistently praised for its culinary creativity and ingenuity. The menu changes frequently, and is celebrated for its more unusual combinations of ingredients. Dishes such as baked Ardsallagh goats cheese, caramelized pear and spinach on a quinoa and walnut cake with beetroot, orange and rocket salad, and pan-fried prawns and salmon with a coconut, spinach and basmati pilaf, pine nuts and miso-roasted butternut have diners returning again and again. For dessert, visitors can enjoy orange and vanilla bread and butter pudding, peach and raspberry crumble, or a bag of local handmade fudge and boiled sugar sweets. With outstanding service and an energetic atmosphere, Market Lane is a dining experience that is hard to beat.

Max`s Wine Bar
48 Main Street, Kinsale
Despite the name, Max`s, run by husband and wife team Olivier and Anne Marie Queva, is one of the finest French restaurants in Ireland. Kinsale is a seaside holiday village near Cork, with plenty of fishing and the restaurant`s shellfish and prime fish are super fresh and prepared in mainly French tradition with some inevitable modern Irish touches thrown in. The wine list is terrific.

Nash 19
19 Princes St, Cork
A well-established restaurant just off Cork`s Oliver Plunkett Street, Nash 19 has been serving the people of Cork for nearly 20 years. Using both local ingredients and international spices in their dishes, Nash 19 is renowned for their delicious breakfasts, which feature their delectable potato cakes made from a family recipe. Their sandwiches made with Arbutus homemade bread are also popular favorites, particularly among those popping in to grab a working lunch. They also have delicious cakes and scones, which perfectly accompany a quiet cup of tea and a good book. A recent edition to Nash 19 is a contemporary art gallery space that is housed towards the back of the premises, which features works from local artists. Over the past two decades, Nash 19 has truly become a venue for cultural dining.

Perrott`s Garden Bistro
Hayfield Manor, Perrott Avenue, College Road, Cork
A little more upmarket, but definitely worth the extra expense is Perrott`s Garden Bistro at Hayfield Manor Hotel. This bistro is located in the conservatory area of the hotel, with airy interiors brightened by luxurious décor and exotic plants. The atmosphere is serene and relaxed, as food is served by impeccable staff. The bistro became a part of the hotel in 2005, and serves a critically acclaimed menu of Mediterranean and international specialty dishes. Starters can include dishes such as a rarebit salad with marinated grapes, pickled wild mushrooms, endive and honey mustard dressing. Main courses such as the Hayfield house dried beef with garlic and herb potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes, smoked onions, blue cheese and cracked black pepper butter are delicious. There is also a twilight menu available for later dining, which features highlights from the a la carte. The list of wines and mocktails finish off an extraordinary and memorable evening at this bistro.

Quay Co-op
24 Sullivan`s Quay, Cork City
Situated near to the famous St Fin Barre`s Cathedral, the Quay Co-op is a long-standing tradition in Cork. On the ground floor of its Cork City premises is an organic and health food shop, while the first floor features the renowned restaurant. A proactive and radical workers co-operative since 1982, the Quay Co-op was one of the first venues in Cork to promote gluten- and meat-free cuisine with flair and creativity. Since its birth the Quay Co-op has grown, and now boasts an in-house bakery and two other sister shops in Ballincollig and Carrigaline. Around the walls of this quirky restaurant, with tables dotted around the creaky wooden floors, are local art works which are available to purchase. Diners can enjoy their fresh organic salads while gazing out of large sash windows over the Lee and bustling Grand Parade. The atmosphere in the Quay Co-op is always friendly and energetic, and is a culinary experience not to be missed.

The Bodega
St Peter`s Market, Cornmarket Street, Cork
Street and indoor markets form a significant part of Cork`s social and economic history, with the Coal Quay and Cornmarket Street among the most renowned market venues in the city. Originally St Peter`s Market or the Irish Market, which ran from 1843 to 1955, and was steeped in Irish war-time history, the Bodega is now a calm café and elegant restaurant by day, and a buzzing and electric nightclub when the sun sets. The menu features soups and small bites, vegan and super foods, and Cork inspired main dishes, such as the beef and Mi Daza stout stew. Despite its new purpose, the Bodega still retains its old marketplace roots with the original Spanish style architectural arches and features still on show, which contributes to the Bodega`s character. The cathedral-like space provides a unique dining and nightlife experience. Whether it`s a quiet coffee and catch-up with friends, an intimate meal with family, or a wild night out on the town, the Bodega caters for it.

The Ivory Tower
The Exchange Buildings, 35 Princes Street, Cork
One of the most eccentric and extraordinary restaurants in Cork is The Ivory Tower. The restaurant in owned and run by celebrity chef Seamus O`Connell, who was raised in Arizona, and has worked in kitchens around the world, which contribute to his globally themed menus. He settled in Ireland during the 1980s and opened the iconic Ivory Tower in 1993. With his expert knowledge in the art of Japanese cooking, diners can opt for an Asian-infused tasting menu, a summer eight course traditional Irish selection or Brazilian fare. What makes the Ivory Tower unique is the daily changing menus, composed from whatever ingredients chef O`Connell sources that day. Spontaneity and open-mindedness are the real order of the day. There will always be something different to sample every time diners visit this restaurant.

Pubs & Drinks

Irish pubs are an important part of Irish life and Cork has lots of them. There is at least one in every little village, and sometimes they don`t even need a village, they`re just there. Cork city has a selection worthy of the second city, and they tend to be more intimate and friendly than those you might find in bigger cities. Do try Murphy`s and Beamish at least once each.

Cork`s independent turn of mind extends to its choice of drink. Dubliners love their Guinness, but when it comes to stout, Corkonians prefer Murphy`s or Beamish, both brewed in the city since 1792 and 1856 respectively (though both brands are now owned by Heineken).

The takeover of beloved Cork brands by multinational megabrewers has seen the emergence of local craft breweries, such as the Franciscan Well, which has a cracking pub and beer garden a short walk northwest of the city center; order a pint of their mellow, toasty Shandon Stout and Guinness will never taste as good again. Newer microbrewing ventures include Cork`s Elbow Lane Brewhouse, an offshoot of the Market Lane restaurant that opened in 2012 (try their refreshingly light and hoppy Elbow Lager); and Eight Degrees Brewing at Mitchelstown in north County Cork, which launched in 2011 and is famed for its dark and chocolatey Knockmealdown Porter. There is also Stonewell Cider founded at nearby Kinsale in 2010, which produces a delightfully dry craft apple cider with no added sugar.