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At first thought, Ireland might not immediately come to mind as the land of burgers. America, sure, given that they invented the things, or Germany, because Hamburg is there, but Ireland? We're the land of the spice burger, and while there's a time and a place for one (the time, obviously, being 3am), they're hardly going to pick up any Michelin stars any time soon.
Well, let me sell you the idea of Ireland as a burger destination. It's pretty well known that we produce some of the best beef in the world, and if you don't believe me, then look in the supermarket next time you go abroad (whenever we're allowed out the country again), because the most expensive beef they sell is probably Irish beef. If, like me, you live in a world where if something is dear then it must be good, that's a seal of quality.
Our cheese is amazing too. And our veg. And our bread. It's underrated that, as a small, largely rural island, we're really never that far away from the person who produced whatever we're eating. Other countries fetishise farm-to-table eating, but in Ireland that's just called going to the supermarket. You could buy that shite plastic cheese, but why would you when Irish cheddar is a thing?
Given that we produce all the bits that make a great burger, it shouldn't surprise you that there's plenty of great burgers to be found in Ireland. As restaurants reopen across the country, there's never been a better time to get out into the world and fill your face with ground beef between bread - yes, there are veggie and vegan options too! - so here's a few places where you can discover the best burgers that Ireland has to offer.
As anyone from Cork will tell you, Cork is great, and when it comes to burgers, they're not wrong. West Cork Burger Company is a burger company from West Cork, and what they lack in inventive naming, they make up in burgers. When lockdown began, they started doing mega-boxes that delivered straight to your door - think Angus beef, brioche buns, house burger sauce and streaky rashers - and now that they've reopened to hungry punters, they're doing the whole menu. The standout is the Rebelvis, a burger that features peanut butter, raspberry & jalapeno jelly, bacon jam, Irish cheddar and more. Just don't eat it in the jacks.
Further up the coast, you can find Handsome Burgers in Galway. They were founded by two mates, Rory and Cathal, who bemoaned the lack of good burgers in a place that had such exceptional beef everywhere around it. They put in the hard yards at Farmer's Markets and food festivals across Ireland before opening up on Dominick Street Lower in their hometown. Given their veneration of Irish produce, you could do a lot worse than take them up on their B.O.B burger, featuring beef, cheddar and bacon from local suppliers - with, of course, fries made from Irish spuds.
Keep going up and you'll find yourself in Sligo, where Flipside can be found on Rockwood Parade. They've been given a shedload of awards over the years - Best Gourmet Burger in Connaught 2019 being the most recent - and it's easy to see why. The Rebel is unmissable, with 100% Irish beef from a local farm, plus Ballymaloe relish and smoked Irish cheese, but don't think that's just local fare: there's also the Dictator, named for a certain East Asian bowl cut enthusiast, which features fried chicken, gochujang mayo and kimchi slaw.
It's impossible to leave Dublin out, and in the capital, it's hard to see past BuJo Burger in Sandymount. They've gone for a short and sweet menu - do what you do best, and little else is a maxim more restaurants should pick up on - that features a BuJo burger with two patties and Irish cheese or a Beyond Meat burger with cheese or, for vegans, garlic veganaise. Throw in a bag of double-cooked chips and you've got yourself a gourmet version of a chipper classic.
We're not saying that you can't still have your spice burger. If you want a deep-fried hockey puck coated in onion bits and spices, go for it. But there's a big world of burgers out there, and after a few months of eating at home, there's no better time to get out and try to eat them all.
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