Whether you’re travelling from near or far – choosing a restaurant in Northern Ireland can be a challenge.
With so many cuisines, menus and locations on offer, it’s hard to know where you’re going to get the best meal. No matter how much you plan to spend, you want your experience to be both delicious and memorable.
So, to save you spending time researching – we’ve compiled a list of our top favourite restaurants in Northern Ireland for you to try.
Balloo House, Newtownards
Located on the Comber Road, Balloo House is well-known for its fine selection of locally sourced dishes. From fresh fish, dry-aged steaks to classic pub grub – there’s something for everyone at this charming and historic little country pub and restaurant.
In the establishment, you can expect nothing less than cosy open fires and a warm welcome. The interiors boast a unique balance of authenticity and luxury, complete with quilted leather seats, dark woodwork, exposed stone, dimmed lighting and frosted glass windows.
This rustic yet regal place makes the perfect dining experience for any visitor: whether it be friends, couples or families. It has also achieved some top-level awards in its time, including:
- AA Restaurant Guide 2012-2021
- Lonely Planet ‘Top Choice’ 2020-2021
- McKenna’s Guide Recommended 2007-2021
- Georgina Campbell Ireland Guide 2006-2021
- Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand 2020 & 2021
Booking is essential, and can be done via the website or telephone.
Molly’s Yard, Botanic
For something a bit different, Molly’s Yard offers a quaint yet quality dining experience in converted Victorian stables on Botanic Avenue.
If you’re looking for good food in a relaxed yet buzzing atmosphere – Molly’s Yard ticks all the boxes. It’s interiors succeed in creating a homely, no-frills feeling – yet with a fresh, contemporary twist. There’s also an enclosed courtyard just outside, which offers a great spot to sit in peace or snuggle up away from the bustling city centre.
In the restaurant, diners have the choice between a laid-back downstairs bistro, or the elegant upstairs restaurant. An Irish-inspired menu featuring beef, sea bream and venison has long been a hit with visitors past and present, which its reviews can attest to.
Molly’s Yard is also the site of Belfast’s first (and Ireland’s smallest) micro-brewery. It serves an array of interesting drinks, from fine wines to homebrewed tipples including Belfast Blonde, Molly’s Chocolate Stout and Headless Dog.
You can easily make a reservation through the official website.
Il Pirata, East Belfast
If you love Italian – then Il Pirata is the perfect place for you. Located in the buzzing area of Ballyhackamore, it prides itself on serving authentic ‘rustic Italian’ in a large, warm, bright and friendly setting.
The kitchen at Il Pirata serves a wide range of simple yet fresh Italian dishes, from pizza to pasta and everything in between. The restaurant is best-known for its hearty duck ragu served with homemade gnocchi, spinach and parmesan – as well as the Portavogie prawn and tarragon tortellini with lemon and basil butter.
To compliment the mains, Il Pirata is not shy in the drinks department. Whether you enjoy wine, beer or would rather something hot – its drinks menu is almost as long as the food menu! With over 25 wines (spread across red, white, rose and dessert), an impressive cocktail list and a mix of Italian and local beers available – it’s no wonder why Il Pirata is on our favourites list!
Table reservations can be made through the restaurant’s website.
Sleepy Hollow, Newtownabbey
Sleepy Hollow offers a cosy yet contemporary environment, with a menu that’s bursting with locally sourced seasonal food. It makes for a great alternative to the city centre, with its interiors accurately reflecting the small town charm of Newtownabbey.
The restaurant embraces a modern approach to traditional Irish cuisine, serving a wide range of classic dishes with a difference. Notable options include the ‘gammon, egg and chip’, comprising crisp pork belly, gammon, ham hock and quail scotch egg accompanied with potato fondant, scallion, hollandaise sauce and fermented pineapple.
Others succeed in tempting the taste buds, such as: best end of Mounthill lamb with braised shank, sprouting broccoli, parmesan custard, onion crumb and lamb fat hasselback potatoes.
If you’re looking for a fresh perspective when it comes to local food, then Sleepy Hollow is one place that won’t disappoint.
To book, you can do so through the restaurant’s website.
Noble is an intimate yet buzzing neighbourhood restaurant in the heart of Holywood, situated just outside of Belfast and right by the sea.
Noble features a changing, seasonal menu and an evolving, exciting wine list. The a la carte menu consists of mostly steaks, along with other meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, each with their own unique spin. We in particular love the Andarl farm porchetta with roscoff onion, celeriac and Boulangere potatoes.
Or, if you want something a little more simple – Noble serves a fantastic new season Fermanagh lamb with peas, beans and shepherd’s pie.
The restaurant offers both a sit in and takeaway menu – meaning if you choose to stay in Ninety Seven, our self-catering accommodation located in Holywood – you have the choice to eat out or at home.
No matter where you’re travelling from – we can assure you that these restaurants in Northern Ireland are definitely worth the hype. What’s more, is that all of them are either within walking distance, a short train journey or drive away from Coach Road Cottages.
If you’re staying in The Annex, Comber – Balloo House restaurant is only a 10 minute drive from the apartment. Ninety Seven in Holywood is located right by the train station – meaning all you have to do is simply hop on and hop off to enjoy your next meal.