I'm living in Galway for a few months from the US and so far have had some disappointing dining experiences. Vina Mara is expensive and only okay. Kirwin's Lane is even more expensive and even less impressive -- with clueless service to boot (oily fried fish for 24 dollars??? that's your lemon sole??). Ard Bia seems up-and-coming, but I haven't tried there for dinner yet. Mustard has a SUPER waiter -- just such a lovely person -- but the individual pizzas had dough that was truly cardboard-like (salt free? yeast free?), though the arugula and bacon salad had some serious flavor (though a bit heavy on the bacon for my taste). Had fantastic "tandoori mackerel" at Tulsi Indian restaurant -- really really delicious--that went perfectly with the carroty flavored rice, but the food was quite oily and the nan was heavy and cold. Ta Dang serves Chinese -- nothing incredible, but has potential; they have such a long menu that I'm convinced that if you just find the right thing you might be pretty satisfied (I liked the barbequed pork in a stir-fry; the vegetables in the main dishes seem to be uniformly well-treated ie NOT overdone but flavorful and crunchy).
Meanwhile, for cheese it's fun to hit Sheridan's (though they'd be on the expensive side); and for wine and cheese, upstairs in Sheridan's is just delightful -- enjoy a glass of wine for 4-6 euros and various cheese board options. The Saturday market right outside Sheridan's is great for the BEST FALAFEL sandwich in Ireland (full of freshly made salads, like pickled cabbage or aubergine) for just 5 euros from a stand, and the amazing olive merchant for marvelous varieties of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and some kinds of fish I haven't tried yet. As for other prepared foods at the market, I haven't yet tried the crepes or the samosas. Nor have I tried the cheese stand there yet.
As for Dublin, did anyone mention EDEN in Temple Bar? SUCH a lovely, lovely restaurant. Also, for the crunchy-granola/vegetarian/vegan option, see CORNUCOPIA on Wicklow St. (off Grafton St. to the W, sort of behind Brown Thomas) and get the mix of 3 salads (they usually have about 8 or 10 to choose from), with my all-time favorite: garlicky potato salad made with roasted hazelnuts. MM, mmm. Every time I go there I wish we had one such place in the town where I live, far far from gourmet anything.
I haven't spent any time in Doolin, Co. Clare, in a while, but I did think they did awfully well with pub grub and that the cafes and restaurants were pretty good there too (Bruach na hAille was pretty good).
Does anyone have hints for Cork? For elsewhere in Co. Galway? And elsewhere in Ireland?