If you’re in search of the best restaurants in Kilkenny, you’ve landed in the right place!
With a history stretching back over 1000 years, Kilkenny’s a great spot for learning about Medieval Ireland.
But there’s much more to modern Kilkenny than its (admittedly impressive) castle, cathedrals and ancient tales.
Now boasting some of Ireland’s finest cuisine, here’s 11 of the best places to eat in Kilkenny this year.
The best restaurants in Kilkenny
A couple of quick points before we dive into the guide below: the first, is that there’s no real order to the way in which the eateries below appear.
The second is that you’ll find a mix of expensive spots and cheap and cheerful restaurants in Kilkenny below. Right – let’s dive in!
A restaurant, bar and boutique hotel all in one, Zuni on Patrick Street is a classy place to kick off your culinary adventure in Kilkenny.
Headed up by award-winning head chef and Kilkenny native Michael Thomas, Zuni serves up classic Irish fare using the freshest local ingredients (check out the Slow Cooked Kilkenny Lamb).
If you’re staying here overnight, you can also treat yourself to indulgent breakfast options such as an Eton Mess Buttermilk Pancake. That probably wasn’t on the menu in Medieval Kilkenny.
Related read: Check out our guide to 30 of the best things to do in Kilkenny at any time of the year (historical sites, walks, pubs and more).
2. Ristorante Rinuccini (this is one of the finest places to eat in Kilkenny according to Google reviews)
Italian cooking is all about family and the Cavaliere family have turned Ristorante Rinuccini on The Parade into a Kilkenny institution over the last 30 years.
Interestingly enough, the restaurant is named after Giovanni Battista Rinuccini, a Florentine noble who lived in Kilkenny for four years during the mid-1600s.
Head chef Antonio Cavaliere sources produce locally while importing some of the finest Italian ingredients and wines. The menu’s house specials are a pick your poison of alluring Irish/Italian fusions.
Traveller tip: Ristorante Rinuccini is one of the best restaurants in Kilkenny if you’re in search of a bit of a fine dining treat!
Rearing their own pigs on their own family farm, you know that when Foodworks say they live by a ‘farm to fork’ ethos, they mean it.
Expect some of the freshest cuts of pork found anywhere in Ireland alongside plenty of other great fare at this friendly and casual bistro on Parliament Street.
Set inside a tastefully restored former bank, Foodworks’ dishes are superbly prepared but won’t break your wallet. And you’d be a fool to say no to the pork loin stuffed with black pudding.
Situated just out of the city centre in the shadow of the old railway arches on Gas House Lane, Campagne isn’t where you’d expect to find a Michelin star restaurant.
But then, when the food’s this good, it’s not really worth giving out about the location. Opened in 2008 by owner and head chef Garrett Byrne, Campagne makes tasty and immaculately prepared dishes using high-quality seasonal produce.
Book ahead and sample the three-course Early Bird Menu, which is a bargain and a half at €40.
5. Anocht Restaurant
There are worse ways to end a visit to Kilkenny Castle than by making the short walk over The Parade into the charming Kilkenny Design Centre and enjoying a meal at Anocht.
Taking its name from the Gaelic word for ‘tonight’, chef Paul Cullen has crafted a modern Irish menu alongside the talents of Kilkenny Design kitchen team in an intimate setting.
Dishes such as the Milleeven honey glazed pork belly have been inspired by local producers and are as tasty as they sound, too.
6. La Rivista
A cosy Italian restaurant on busy Parliament street, La Rivista offers great food and exceptional value for money.
It also boasts a few menu quirks that you probably won’t find on many other Italian restaurant menus. Buffalo chicken wings to start? Yes, please.
Crunchie Bar Cheesecake for dessert? Go on then. Perhaps those choices aren’t for everyone, but they certainly stand out and set La Rivista apart from its contemporaries.
Eating at Langtons on John Street Lower is an unapologetically indulgent experience, set in elegant confines.
With three classy bars to choose from and even a tea and wine room, you’re spoilt for choice if you find yourself in this particular part of town.
The award-winning restaurant showcases traditional Irish and international cuisine using premium locally sourced ingredients. Take advantage of the outdoor terrace if the often-temperamental Irish weather happens to be playing ball.
Traveller tip: If you’re in search of the best restaurants in Kilkenny to suit a big group, get yourself to Langtons. You can nip into the bar or the nightclub after.
8. Petronella Restaurant
Hidden away in the charming Butterslip passageway, Petronella’s name actually comes from a gruesome event in Kilkenny from 1324 where one Petronilla de Meath became the first woman in Europe to be burnt at the stake for heresy.
But enough about that. Offering quality Irish and European cuisine, Petronella is a rustic little spot with stone walls, wooden flooring and friendly service.
They also have an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu as well as offering a variety of gluten-free options.
Traveller tip: Rumour has it that Petronella is one of the best restaurants in Kilkenny for vegan meals. Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments section!
Taking inspiration from the traditional cooking of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, the multi-award-winning Aroi offers a cocktail of exciting flavours at its bright restaurant on Friary Street.
Using the freshest ingredients and free from the chemicals and additives often associated with this style of food, the menu veers from curry to stir fry and then a whole host of delectable-sounding dishes under the heading ‘Taste of Asia’.
Allegedly made in a sauce which takes up to four hours to cook, the ‘Legendary Lamb Rending’ is just begging to be ordered.
10. The Fig Tree Restaurant Kilkenny
After a big night out sampling Kilkenny’s many pubs and bars, you’ll be looking for a spot the next morning to bring you back to life and the Fig Tree does just that.
This casual café on High Street cooks up more than just a mean Full Irish Breakfast, however. They’re also expert burger purveyors and all the patties are freshly prepared in the kitchen from scratch using local minced beef.
One of these generously stacked sandwiches (there’s plenty of veggie and gluten-free options too) will set you up perfectly for another evening on the town.
11. Butcher (this tops TripAdvisor’s list to the best restaurants in Kilkenny)
There’s nothing ambiguous or ironic about the name of this place. You want juicy slabs of meat? This is where to come.
Opened in 2018 and situated on the Butterslip, Butcher’s low-lit interior is stylish and all their cuts come from grass-fed cows at Summerhill Farm, only 9 miles away.
They serve all the usual suspects you’d expect to find on a steakhouse menu but everything is impeccably prepared by head chef James Dewberry and they even do a deadly range of cocktails.
What great restaurants in Kilkenny have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant restaurants in Kilkenny in the guide above.
If you’ve eaten out in the city recently and you have a Kilkenny restaurant that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments section below!