A Foodie Wannabe’s Look at Cork City’s Healthy Eats

Recommended for holistic, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free eaters

Blog and Photos by UCC Student Ambassador Christine Kannapel

I was raised on Cooking Light ( recipes. The lunches my mother packed for me in elementary school consisted of whole-wheat bread for sandwiches, vegetables, and dark chocolate or Fig Newtons as a treat. Naturally, I was shaped into a holistic eater from a young age and have grown into a complete health nut.Also, being lactose intolerant, I am a bit of an undeclared vegan. 

As I was packing for my study abroad in Ireland, one of the questions rolling in my mind was, what will I eat? There were so many stereotypes about a meat-based diet in Ireland—from fish and chips to blood pudding served with a traditional breakfast to other pub food favorites. I was worried that I would be unable to easily and affordably pursue my vegan tendencies while in Ireland.

I have never been more pleasantly surprised. Not only is Cork City a foodie’s hot spot, but also the number of restaurants that are vegan, vegetarian, and holistic-eater friendly is unbelievable.

Below, I have compiled a list of my favorite vegan, vegetarian, and holistic eater friendly restaurants and cafes, and believe me…I don’t think I’m covering all of them.

The Quay Co-op Shop and Restaurant
24 Sullivan’s Quay, Ballintemple, Cork, T12 X867

The first and most obvious hot spot for vegetarians is The Quay Co-op grocery store and restaurant. Aesthetically the shop and restaurant are distant relatives of the Wild Oates of my generation’s childhood. Grocery shopping at the Quay can get a bit pricey for the average student, but whether in search for organic products or a filling veggie meal, the Quay will satisfy. Not to mention the restaurant has an early bird special from 11:00 to 4:00, which has made me an all too familiar face there.

Also…for my adventurous friends, the Quay offers “sugar-free” treats that are fruit and dark chocolate based and even…avocado based.

The Quay shop and restaurant also offers some great selections for my gluten-free friends.

Loving Salads

15, 16 Academy St, Cork / Washington House, 32 Washington St, Centre, Cork, T12 T880

If you don’t have the heart for salads already, you certainly will when you sit down for your daily dose of veg at Loving Salads. There are two locations. The location on Academy Street is like a buffet with three bowl options, amongst which, you select a number of freshly made salads and protein dishes.

The Washington Street location is has fewer salad bowl options, but like its sister store, carries curry lunches and plant-based treats. It also has a delectable smoothie bar.

Like the Quay, Loving Salads on Washington Street has a meal deal. For nine euros, you can snag a bottle of water, salad, and protein ball. It’s a great option for a healthy lunch and hungry student on the go.

The Natural Foods Bakery

 26 Paul St, Centre, Cork, T12 E020

My favorite Natural Foods Bakery location is in Fitzgerald Park. Surrounded by the beautiful park, it is an ideal place to grab a sandwich or almond milk latte on your way home from the Mardyke Arena.

If you’re in a more urban mood, the city center location offers more room and cozy benches to read a book in over an oat-and-date square. 

Malay Kitchen

Paradise Place, S Main St, Centre, Cork

Malay Kitchen is THE place to go or order from with Deliveroo on a study night. My favorite dish is their Dalca curry with fried tofu. Their vegan/vegetarian menu is full of tasty dishes to try.

Soma Coffee Company  

Tuckey St, Centre, Cork

Right down the street from Three Fools in the city center, Soma Coffee Co. is a place for hipsters and lovers of alternative milk-based espresso drinks. They have a consistent supply of oat, almond, and soya milk for your beverage of choice.Not to mention, their vegan peanut butter and dark chocolate slices are a perfect study bribe.

Speaking of studying, Soma is my favorite coffee and study spot. The warm and moody lightening is perfect for focusing. Not to mention, they have a great playlist.

Earth Café

Centre, Cork

Across the river from The Quay Co-op, Earth Café  is 100% vegan. The vibe is as wild and fun as their creative vegan meals. From kefir to jack fruit, their menu offers playful and tasty concoctions.  


34 Pope’s Quay, Shandon, Cork

Myo is the perfect spot for a coffee with a friend. Across the river from Vibes and Scribes, you might as well sit down after a book-shopping spree and enjoy another sugar free, diary free, and/or gluten free treat.

Ali’s Kitchen

Rory Gallagher Place, Paul Street, Cork

The first place I’m taking my mom to brunch when she visits me from the States, is Ali’s kitchen. The restaurant uses locally-based produce and for meat eaters, well, meat. Be warned! Their servings are filling, so maybe skip breakfast and go straight for brunch. Also, the staff is incredibly friendly and may offer you a sample of one of their freshly baked brownies…is it obvious that I have a sweet tooth? 

A Word on Health Shops

As for grocery shopping, Cork has an uncountable amount of health food shops in the city center, whether it’s Holland & Barrett, where one can find supplements and protein powders, or the whole foods shop (not to be confused with Whole Foods) above Tesco. Tesco itself has organic produce, though it is not always consistent.

So, there you have it. Those are my favorite places to shop, eat, and grab a coffee. If you don’t like them, I will be heartbroken, but I have a word of encouragement: there are definitely more places to choose from. I’ve included another list of restaurants below. They are wonderful too!

Other Places to Try  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s