Galway City has some of the best restaurants in Ireland, with options for every palate. Unfortunately the return to Level 5 Covid restrictions has forced businesses to close their doors once again, but many are now offering take-away meals. For those of us who desperately miss eating out, or not having to cook, having your favourite restaurant offer an alternative, makes the current situation a little easier. A decent homemade soup and sandwich won’t cure the virus, but it could massively cheer you up and help you see out the lockdown, with a smidge of your sanity intact. This is more of a reflection on how much I love a good soup and sandwich, but I honestly believe that good food and not having to cook all the time will boost morale. Aside from that, it is important for us to support those businesses we cherish, so that they too can see out the lockdown intact. The following is a guide to some of Galway’s fabulous restaurants currently offering take-away food.
Java’s is a personal favourite of mine. Back before Covid struck, I would go to Java’s, a niche, French-inspired cafe, in the heart of Galway City. I would order a crepe or a salad, a large pot of tea and literally sit for hours writing, people-watching or reading a book. The old-fashioned stylish decor and melodic French music would transport you miles across the Atlantic and you could find yourself day-dreaming into your food. Now that things have changed it has been encouraging to discover that much at Java’s has stayed the same. The staff are as welcoming as ever and the food, absolutely delicious. Typically they offer crepes of all kinds, in either sweet or savoury, but they also make warm, hearty soups and salads with seasonal ingredients and a delicious roll. Also available to takeaway are home-made desserts, a variety of teas, coffees and soft-drinks. It is a truly magical little place that should be supported during these tough times and I would recommend you pay a sit-in visit when all of this is over.
McCambridges is a decades old family-run business and a staple of Galway City. I doubt there is a man, woman or child in Galway who hasn’t heard of McCambridges and there is good reason for that. Downstairs, the business offers a medley of local and artisanal products, such as delicious cheeses, alcohol, chocolates and cold meats. There are also craft beverages, fruit and veg and specialty hot drinks. Upstairs the restaurant also showcases many unique, local and artisanal foods, with an emphasis on a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Though of course the restaurant is not currently operational, downstairs you can avail of a widely stocked sandwich bar, olive bar, salad bar and a full deli counter, offering the very best of the store. Often you go into McCambridges knowing what you want and then something odd but intriguing catches your eye and you leave with something delicious but not what you were expecting to buy. But be warned, it is a popular spot, so be prepared to join a socially-distanced queue.
More than once a burrito bowl from Tucos Taqueria on Abbeygate Street has got me through the day. If you are craving fresh, authentic, flavorful Mexican food, at a fair price, then look no further. Tucos offers everything you would expect, from crispy hard-shell tacos, to burritos brimming over with fillings and all the guacamole you could desire. Back when we lived normally, I would often meet friends or my sisters for a meal in town. Now, as that is no longer an option, an alternative would be to grab something filling from Tucos, like a burrito bowl or tacos and sit together in a local park. Their take-aways are always nice and warm and as tasty as if you were sitting in. The portion size of main meals are generous and it all tends to be conveniently packaged if you do choose to sit outside and enjoy your meal. It is also worth noting that Tucos won the Best Mexican Award at The Food Awards Ireland, in 2019.
This second-level cafe offers Mediterranean and Moroccan cuisine and a comfy seat from which to watch the world go by. And if you aren’t in the mood for Mediterranean or Moroccan food, High Cafe also offers pizza and Indian food. They frequently have gluten-free and vegetarian options also. Currently they are offering take-aways and if you can you should avail of this, as much like McCambridges, you can choose something run-of-the-mill or a slightly more adventurous and exciting dish and either way there is an emphasis on quality.
Okay, so, you might think this does not actually count, as KFC has always offered take-away and is a fast-food restaurant but my God they do the best fried chicken on the planet. I ordered a gluttonous amount of food from their Briarhill location recently and it was incredibly tasty and piping hot when I got it. If I am in the mood for something that is a little on the unhealthy side, but don’t feel like going the traditional route of Supermacs or McDonalds, KFC is always a fantastic option. There is a seriously lengthy menu to choose from, their secret recipe chicken is incredible and if you haven’t tried their gravy then you are missing out. I would recommend you give KFC a try the next time you want some unhealthy comfort food. And in the current climate, who doesn’t?
The cellar, located on Eglinton St, is another personal favourite of mine. In another lifetime, before Covid, it was the place to go for cocktails or to watch a match. Its menu is varied with options ranging from light bites to larger, hearty dinners, with sides, desserts and daily specials. I also think they offer one of the best full Irish breakfasts in Galway City, (perhaps that’s an article idea for another day). Their prices too tend to be very fair, especially given the generous portion sizes. Of course they are currently not running a sit in service due to Covid, however, they are offering take-away lunches and dinners from a slightly reduced but delicious looking menu, that everyone should avail of. This is another business that understands that quality food will keep customers coming back for years to come.
Temple Cafe is another little place that knows how to engage consumers of all tastes, vegan, vegetarian or otherwise. They view the human body as a temple and certainly their food is worthy of such a title, with everything and anything on offer, from a full Irish fry, to wholesome vegan desserts. Mostly a breakfast/lunch kind of place, they know their market and they do it right, even supporting the local community and beyond by using local, organic and fair-trade products. Furthermore it is a social business, meaning a portion of the cafe’s profits go directly to local charities such as the Galway Simon Community and COPE. It really is special to know that by supporting your local cafe, they in turn support your community. Temple Cafe’s food is tempting enough without this added bonus but it really does make delicious food, that bit more delectable.
So there you go, seven places in Galway City you need to try a take-away from, to stave off lockdown madness. Keep in mind, there are thousands of businesses in the city and even though I eat like a horse I have not tried everywhere and this is a handful of my favourites. And remember to support local where you can, it may make all the difference when the economy re-opens and we want to go back to our old haunts.