Interested in choosing a smaller town in Ireland as your study abroad destination? Consider Carlow and don’t think for a second that it has less to offer… especially when it comes to food! Ryan, our Canadian and IT Carlow Ambassador shares his favourite spots around town…

Carlow, as a town, offers its residents a plethora of opportunities to see, explore, and learn about the history that lives and breathes life into the town on a daily basis. The architecture, the stories written on the walls, the museums and exhibits that capture life in a time almost forgotten, they all come together to create something wonderful. Something that truly feels like a home away from home. But if you thought this was a blog about that, you were oh-so-mistaken.

No, this is in fact a blog written to appeal to something very dear to me. Something that not only has driven me through life with a fiery passion not unlike the one that drives the great leaders of tomorrow. The one thing that transcends all other tangible experiences in life and leaves not just me, but all human beings around the world wanting more after it disappears into the sweet, sweet bliss of unforgotten memory.

You guessed it, this blog is about food.

But not just any food. No, this blog will guide you through the generally accepted (and by that, I mean my whole-hearted opinion) best of the best of food in Carlow. I have obtained a number of photos for the occasion but unfortunately was not able to retrieve photos of all locations and items. For that, you will just have to take my word. Let’s begin.

Brooks Café Bar & Restaurant: Bread (and Soup, too)

First up is Brooks, located in the heart of the Dinn Ri Hotel, Restaurant & Bar. This comfortable location is accessible by a unique ‘underground’ walkway that really sets itself apart. The seating is plentiful and far too comfortable, I can (and have) spend an entire afternoon in there.

I know what you’re thinking, “Why is there an entry on bread on here Ryan, bread is a side, it shouldn’t steal the show from the REAL food”. Well, please, sit down and don’t talk anymore because Brooks’ homemade brown bread IS the food. It is so fresh, so flavourful and surprisingly sweet that eating any other bread after it feels like breaking faith. It is my reason for abstaining from a gluten-free life (as well as tons of other, obvious reasons). This bread is so good that it doesn’t even need butter. It doesn’t need a compliment, really, but they serve it with a side of soup anyways.

And it’s a damn good thing they do, too, because it is the best soup in town. Always go for the vegetable soup, there is nothing like it here in Carlow. If you can’t, the broccoli or chicken options are just as good. The soup in the photo is chicken, and it made me question why I ever ate Campbells.

Bake Café & Tearoom: Cupcakes

I did a business management project for this business, if not simply because the owner and the staff were as pleasant as pleasant gets. Seriously, just go in and see for yourself.

LOOK. Look at those. Bake Café is famous locally for its cupcakes and this is why. Have a craving? Need a quiet escape from your stresses of everyday life? Grab one of these bad boys and be on your way. Look at how happy they look.

“How can cupcakes be happy?” You ask, almost certainly with a concerned look on your face.

“Don’t worry about it” I say, changing the subject.

Bake Café offers cupcakes anytime they are open, and are always changing and designing new flavours based on the season, holiday or just because. This insane level of creativity and dedication has resulted in many happy memories on my end.

Shapla: Indian

This is unfortunately one of the two occasions in this blog where I was unable to retrieve photos of the food. But my word is good and my word is this: This is the best Indian food available in Carlow Town.

Located upstairs next to the Turkish Barber’s in a wide, open room with plenty of seating, I am amazed and saddened that I never see it at capacity. Somehow, this place manages to provide a quantity of food that justifies at least one day of leftovers, for a reasonably low price (half-off on Tuesdays).

“Quality over quantity” you say, arrogantly.

“Stop talking during my blog” I respond.

Quality is a non-issue for Shapla. In fact, it is so good, that after comparing it to three other Indian locations in town Shapla continues to remain my number one choice every Tuesday. My personal favourite, the Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken) is my recommendation to you all. You can thank me later.

Neighbourhood Espresso: Brownie

If it is not already apparent, you should know that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. And by a bit, I mean the rest of my teeth have actually just been replaced with more sweet teeth.  It was a delicious operation.

Because of this, it is hard to describe my delight upon finding Carlow’s and, probably the world’s, best brownie. Put simply, I was so euphoric that I actually forgot to take a photo of the brownie for this blog until it was too late:

There really is not much to say. This is the best brownie that I have ever had in my entire life and if you come to Carlow and don’t try it, you will have profoundly missed out on an experience like no other.

Bella Vita: Italian

Bella Vita offers a three-course early bird dinner special for €20 that includes house wine, and is authentically Italian in its food preparation. Enough said. Though I was unable to get a photo because of redesign work being done, I would love for you to take comfort in this photo of the storefront. Look at the people in the window enjoying themselves. That could be you, random reader.

Cibo: Pizza

Also Italian, Cibo offers Carlow residents the best pizza in town. Everything is made from scratch and delicately crafted to provide a combination of the softest crust with the most flavourful toppings, with garlic oil drizzle on top for good measure. This location is small, but that is not such a bad thing when you can actually view the owner, an elderly Italian man, putting together your pizza.

“Well what’s it look like then?” you ask, once again interrupting my blog.

“Like this…” I say with a smile:

“What is th-“ you begin to say before I cut you off.

Oh, you may have noticed that I have also included a photo of Cibo’s famous dessert…the NUTELLA RING. That’s right, it’s a ring filled with and topped with Nutella and baked, served with cream. Can you handle that? Because I couldn’t and now here we are, with a stomach ache and a blog about food. I really hope you enjoyed this, and let me know your favourite foods from wherever you are from! (with pictures please).