Embark on a whirlwind tour through an exciting food town right on the water, with the very best of local and international dishes
In the streets of Athlone, a food renaissance is underway. This lively town is upping its foodie credentials with a wave of excellent eateries, from chic fine dining to gorgeous little cafés. After a day cycling the Old Rail Trail or cruising around the mystical islands of Lough Ree, Athlone is a joy to return to… Sip a pint of porter in the oldest pub in Ireland, taste the delights of local artisan luminaries in friendly delis, and tuck into seriously good Irish, Lebanese, Thai and Italian food. Prepare to be impressed.
You'll be greeted with big smiles and a waft of fragrant coffee in this gorgeous little foodie enclave on Church Street. It's tiny, yes, but it's a little pocket of pleasure with super-friendly staff who welcome you like a friend. Pull up a chair at one of the small wooden tables, grab a newspaper and treat yourself to a platter of Irish cheese.
Serving creative modern Irish dishes, you'll be planning your second visit to Thyme before you've even finished your first. This is a great, local fine-dining favourite with a focus on provenance and seasonality. Dishes are impeccably presented and full of flavour, and a great value evening menu keeps the dining room busy right through the week.
The Corner House Bistro
Not many restaurants give teenagers a nod when thinking about menus, but Corner House is that kind of place. Both children and teens are catered for with specific menus while adults will be kept happy with a stream of tasty dishes from hot breakfasts to excellent lunch options.
Clad in wood and exuding a modern-rustic style, Wineport Lodge feels utterly at ease with the natural landscape that envelops it. And when it comes to a dinner on the lake, there's no better place: the views are enchanting, the atmosphere is relaxing and carefully selected dishes are done to perfection.
This epically atmospheric pub is best enjoyed in the quiet of late afternoon when the soft hum of chatter and the flicker and crackle of the open fire are the only sounds. In those moments, the history of this place seems to wrap itself around you, from the slope of the sawdust-flecked floors to the low beams. Dating back to 900AD, and with a claim to be the oldest pub in Ireland, Sean's is one of those rare places that really does live up to the hype.
The Left Bank Bistro
Restaurants may come and go but the Left Bank has proved its credentials over the years and remains as popular today as it did when it first opened. Established in 1995, this joyous spot has been keeping both locals and visitors happy with an exciting menu featuring everything from mezze platters to chargrilled pork fillet.
The Villager, Glasson
Two-time winner of Westmeath's Best Gastropub at the Irish Restaurant Awards – The Villager is just the ticket for a tasty lunch. Sit in the cosy pub area in winter or feast on wood-fired pizzas in the Pizza Garden that extends out over the back lawn in summer. Expect a menu that goes above and beyond standard pub fare with sophisticated seabass, lamb and beef dishes and gourmet sandwiches for lunch. Sunday lunch is perfection, and there's a children's menu available too.
Lowe & Co
It's all charm at Lowe & Co, and if you're the kind of person that likes you enjoy your coffee or tea surrounded by books then this is the place for you. The upstairs room is decked out library-style with a very relaxed ambiance and the kind of sofas you could get stuck in. The deli also serves ethical, organic and community produce making it a great place to stock up for picnics, too.
Grogan's of Glasson
A quintessential traditional Irish pub, time moves slowly in Grogan's with its open turf fires, wood-interior and picture-lined walls. There are lots of cosy corners to snuggle down into here but the front bar is definitely the most atmospheric. Lunch is popular with locals, and the Irish stew will set you up for an afternoon's sightseeing.