The countdown is on for our annual FOOD&WINE Awards, so we are highlighting the amazing nominees in some of our most exciting categories ahead of the awards ceremony.
The Local of the Year category is all about those neighbourhood restaurant heroes that welcome you any day of the week with a trusted menu and the comfort of eating in a home-away-from-home.
Consider yourself very lucky if you live down the road from any of these...
East Café, Howth, Co. Dublin
A superb seafood cafe took over the ground floor of Howth's famed King Sitric, one of Ireland’s longest-established seafood restaurants a few years ago and it has fast become a local haunt.
Seafood is fetched daily from Howth's waters and a charming menu consists of only good things to eat; rock oysters, meaty crab claws and Dublin Bay prawns.
Eastern Seaboard, Drogheda, Co. Louth
An industrial-style restaurant located at the top of a housing estate wows as soon as you open the doors - a local joint that's become a destination restaurant thanks to its quirky interior and creative menu.
A true neighbourhood gem with truly lovely staff, plates such as 'Big Meaty Pork Hock' ensures a scramble for seats every weekend.
Hey Donna, Rathmines, Dublin 6
An all-day dining spot, Hey Donna combines flavours from Dublin to Sydney by way of Beirut in its Middle Eastern inspired menu, alongside punchy cocktails and "yadda yadda."
Vegetables earn centre stage while grilled meats, from garlic sausage to bavette, and a range of sauces and sides round out the feast. Come for breakfast, return for lunch and dinner.
Lobstar, Monkstown, Co. Dublin
A casual yet cool lobster and steak bistro located in the heart of Monkstown, Lobstar makes the most of seasonal ingredients, and yes, its namesake crustacean is cooked to perfection here.
The kind of restaurant everyone wishes they had on their doorstep, Lobstar also does a buzzing brunch that's well worth waking up for.
Michael's, Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin
Michael’s in the south Dublin suburb of Mount Merrion has been on local’s lips all year (although the secret is very much out), with half the city raving about chef Gaz Smith’s hearty seafood platters that vary depending on the day’s catch and impeccable service.
A family atmosphere and hearty portions are half its charm; the rest is purely down to incredible food.
Mikey Ryan's, Cashel, Co. Tipperary
A landmark gastropub just a stone's throw away from the Rock of Cashel, Mikey Ryan's is even more deserving of a detour than the historic rock.
Classic pub grub has been elevated to another level since reopening last year, and the pub's original 19th century features add extra cosiness to your pint of local brew. The food philosophy aims to give everyone a 'taste of Tipperary', and Tipp's ingredients shine bright throughout the menu.
Powers Thatch, Oughteraud, Co. Galway
A welcoming pub with open fires and freshly caught seafood, Powers Thatch is a powerhouse of rustic comfort and a food menu that changes daily depending on what's available from local suppliers.
Wild and free-range is the cooking ethos here, and there's trad music several nights a week. An ideal pitstop for a refreshing drink, slurp-worthy bowl of Killary Fjord mussels or a hearty breakfast - Powers Thatch will set you right any time of the day.
The Local at Dunbrody House, New Ross, Co. Wexford
Built from up-cycled materials from when the village's only pub closed down, The Local is an old-school pub nestled in the beautiful grounds of Dunbrody House.
Kevin Dundon's menu boasts beer-batter fish and chips, ideally washed down with a pint of craft beer which is brewed on site in the Arthurstown Brewing Co. Jars of penny sweets behind the bar add sweet nostalgia and a sunny courtyard is the only place to be in Wexford when the sun shines.
The Salty Dog, Bangor, Co. Down
Bangor's cutest bistro has views overlooking Bangor's Marina, Belfast Lough, the Irish Sea, and on to Scotland (on a clear day) and a cracking food (and gin!) menu. Bar nibbles, breakfast, brunch, Sunday lunch and occasional tasting menu evenings mean you'll never be stuck for a reason to call in here.
And yes, it's fantastically dog friendly.
The Tannery, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford
Fine-dining quality food without a hint of pretentiousness, The Tannery goes from strength to strength each year.
The best of Waterford produce, a cosy wine bar and a buzzing restaurant has Dungarvan locals the envy of all. Sunday lunch here is a must, with tender beef and fluffy Yorkshire puddings absolutely essential.
Flagstones and cookery books spilling off shelves make you feel like you're at home, only way, way better.
Want to join your favourite restaurants and chefs at our awards? Tickets are still available here, and include a Champagne reception with five-course menu and matching wines.