Irish food is known for being hearty, delicious, and full of flavor. I spent two weeks exploring the entire island of Ireland, from the lively city of Dublin to the western side in County Clare (think: Cliffs of Moher where Harry Potter and Dumbledore went into the cave in the sixth movie) to top of Northern Ireland. During my travels I spent most of my money on traditional Irish food. Let me tell you, it is life changing. Here are just a few of the unforgettable food items that exist in Emerald Isle.

1. Irish Stew

One of the first things that pops into my mind when I think of Irish food is a simple Irish Stew. This classic, hearty meal can be found on restaurant menus throughout the island. Ingredients include heavy meats like lamb, beef, or pork, combined with traditional Irish root vegetables. Don't forget a splash of Guinness stout (or two).

2. Barmbrack 

A cross between cake and bread, Ireland's fruit filled pastry of choice is known as Barmbrack. This yeasted bread is filled with raisins and usually eaten with butter and a cup of tea.

3. Potato Bread

Irish potato bread is a savory quick bread that's filled with mashed potatoes. Just when you think potatoes couldn't get any better, the Irish thought to add them to bread, which allows for a moist and tender dough. Many people add butter and Parmesan cheese to the bread, but it's delicious by itself. 

4. Irish Pork Stew 

This dish is closely related to the traditional Irish Stew, but with a slight twist of pork. Typical ingredients for this dish include pork shoulder, carrots, onions, potatoes, and a flavorful broth that frequently includes Guinness beer. Irish Pork Stew makes for the perfect warm meal during the cool months.  

5. Shepherd's Pie

A staple of Ireland for hundreds of years, shepherd's pie can't be beat. This hodgepodge of classic Irish foods include beef, onions, carrots, peas, herbs, potatoes, and a warm, flavorful broth. Countries from all over the world now serve a rendition of this hearty dish, as the versatility and flavors are unmatched.

6. Pub Style Reuben Nachos

A clever take on a reuben sandwich, Irish reuben nachos feature crispy potatoes instead of chips and the dish is topped with tender beef, cheese, and sauerkraut. 

7. Boxty

Don't mind the strange name. Boxty is the holy grail for those who love both pancakes AND potatoes. This traditional Irish potato pancake is not only heavenly, but a very common dish served around the country of Ireland. With simple ingredients and loads of potatoes, this dish is sure to win over your potato-loving friends. 

8. White Pudding 

White pudding isn't what you think it is. Unfortunately, there's no creamy, sweet, pudding-like feel to this dish. White Pudding is a popular meat dish found over in the UK and Ireland. Ingredients include oatmeal, pork meat/liver, breadcrumbs, and seasoning.

9. Irish Coffee

One of my favorite traditional Irish foods is Irish coffee. A romantic blend of coffee, Irish whiskey, and sweet whipped cream, this breakfast drink is basically expected when you dine anywhere in Ireland. Drink up!

#SpoonTip: I recommend using Jameson Irish Whiskey in your Irish coffee. I toured the Jameson Distillery in County Cork, and there's a lot of history and work that goes into each glass of Irish whiskey. 

10. Bangers and Mash

A classic in Irish cuisine, this sausage and mashed potato dish is about as Irish as it gets. The versatile meal can also feature lamb, pork, or beef sausages.

11. Irish Oatmeal

Irish oatmeal is a common breakfast staple in Ireland, and we Americans know this dish as steel cut oats. Sound familiar? Steel cut oats are the natural oat grain and remain unrefined throughout manufacturing, while rolled oats are merely oat groats that are steamed and rolled. Steel cut oats are the perfect complex carbohydrate meal, and will keep you full for hours on end. 

12. Mushy Peas

Although the name doesn't sound appealing, mushy peas are a traditional Irish favorite to pair with entrees, primarily fish and chips. Ingredients include Marrowfat peas, or matured green peas, sugar, and salt. The consistency is achieved by soaking the peas in a sodium bicarbonate mixture overnight.

13. Guinness Marinated Steak

What better way to combine two Irish classics than to use Guinness stout and steak? Agriculture plays a large role in Irish culture, with farming being one of the most common occupations. Beef and dairy cows roam the endless green fields, and Irish beef is known worldwide to be outstanding. The steak is marinated in a Guinness blend overnight for a rich, flavorful bite.

14. Drisheen (Blood Pudding)

Similar to white pudding, drisheen (or black pudding) features animal blood (usually pork or sheep blood), breadcrumbs, and spices. The dish is common in Cork and Dublin, Ireland. While it doesn't look or sound appetizing, I recommend trying it at least once, just to say you did. 

15. Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is a quick bread that features a combination of buttermilk and baking soda instead of yeast to allow the dough to rise. Similar to the Barmbrack, raisins and caraway seeds are added for extra flavor.

16. Dublin Coddle

As with most Irish entrees, there are a blend of potatoes, spices, and anything else that fits in this dish. There's no specific recipe for a coddle, as it's usually a blend of leftovers. Coddle was created as a one-pot recipe, commonly featuring potatoes, onions, bacon, sausage, and spices.

17. Colcannon

Another potato recipe? Yes, the Irish love their potatoes. Their culture was centered around potatoes, which is why so many people struggled during the Irish Potato Famine, or the Great Famine, in the 1840's. Potato crops were hit with a toxic blight, killing their primary source of food. 1 million people died and over 1 million people emigrated to surrounding countries to find a better life. Potato dishes are still just as common today, and I'm certainly not complaining.

Colcannon is essentially mashed potatoes with greens, such as kale or cabbage, along with heavy cream or milk. This warm, buttery comfort food can be found almost anywhere along the streets of Ireland, and for good reason.

18. Irish Corned Beef

There's an ongoing debate on whether "corned beef" is really an Irish dish, but we do know that the British coined the term centuries ago to describe the salt used to cure the beef. Featuring ingredients such as beef brisket, Guinness, root vegetables, and a variety of spices, Irish corned beef is a delicacy to anyone, anywhere.

19. Galway Oysters

The Galway Oyster Festival, established in 1954, has drawn over half a million visitors to the city of Galway, Ireland. The festival boasts on over 3 million oysters consumed, and features live Irish bands, family activities, and cooking demonstrations for participants to enjoy. Ireland is a large seafood country, serving exceptional oysters, salmon, and cod. 

20. Irish Smoked Salmon

As mentioned above, the salmon is absolutely amazing in Ireland. Topped with greens, mashed potatoes, or freshly baked bread, this meal is probably one of my favorites that I had a chance to try.

21. Guinness Cake

The name says it all. This is the king of all cakes. I'm 110% sure this is probably the moistest, richest cake to ever exist. Ladies and gentleman, a Guinness cake. A classic chocolate cake recipe + a hint of Guinness flavor + black cocoa to deepen the flavor = a complete success. Don't forget the Bailey's Irish cream!

22. Irish Champ

If you look at the #Irishchamp hashtag, you may pull up thousands of images of Conor McGregor. However, this potato dish is incredibly rich in flavor, with ingredients such as mashed potatoes, scallions, butter, milk, cheese, and a dash of salt and pepper.

23. Roasted Cabbage

A traditional European side dish, roasted cabbage can be paired with pretty much anything. On the other hand, Irish cabbage features boiled and shredded cabbage with the addition of melted butter. Mmmm, which one to choose?

24. Fruit Scones

Just when you think that we're done with fruit inside pastries... we aren't. Fruit scones are a delicacy in Ireland, and with staple ingredients such as flour, eggs, butter, and raisins, they're a quick and easy way to feel like a local. Top the scones with jam or butter for the ultimate snack or breakfast.

25. Irish Shortbread Cookies

Last but not least, the teatime dessert I had to include is an Irish shortbread cookie. Cookie makers, you know the drill: butter, sugar, eggs? Ireland's rendition of shortbread cookies usually contain only four ingredients. Odds are, you already have them. Time to whip up a sweet taste of Ireland!

Now that you have a deeper knowledge of traditional Irish foods, book a plane ticket to Ireland (or make reservations at your nearest Irish pub) for an unforgettable dining experience filled with meat, potatoes, and lots of stout. If you're feeling like a master in the kitchen, try a few of the Irish recipes included in this article. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.