Irish Restaurant Awards

The Restaurants Association of Ireland is delighted to welcome back the Irish Restaurant Awards for 2018.

This will be the 10th annual awards since its humble beginnings back in 2009, where 70 restaurateurs gathered in Dublin for lunch to celebrate each other’s successes. In 2017 the Irish Restaurant Awards consisted of a roadshow of 4 regional events – Galway, Fermanagh, Limerick and Dublin – with over 2,000 guests in total. The final event was held in The Clayton Burlington Road Dublin and saw almost 1000 guests sit down for a five course gala dinner cooked by 5 renowned chefs (Award winners from the previous year). The awards have grown year upon year and help showcase the true talent that Ireland’s hospitality industry has to offer.

How it works:

There are a number of stages in the awards process. It begins with the public nominating their favourite restaurants across a range of categories – Best Chef, Best Cafe, Best Casual Dining and so on. A restaurant needs only one nomination to be considered by our judges but the more nominations the better, as they account for 25% of the total score. The nominations are hosted online by the Irish Times and the results are audited by BDO. The next stage is a meeting among our judges – a panel of experts from all areas of the industry, from all across the country. They will choose their top restaurants in each category and that will be combined with the public votes to determine the county winners for 2018.

The next stage of the awards is the Regional Awards – the RAI team will travel around the country to 4 locations (Ulster, Munster, Connaught and Leinster) to award the county winners. Each of these county winners will receive a mystery guest inspection in the weeks that follow. This is what makes the Irish Restaurant Awards really stand out – they are the only awards in the country to send independently conducted mystery guest inspections to each and every restaurant who wins at the county level. Mystery guest inspections will count for 55% of the final score in choosing the ultimate winners in each category. Menus will be judged (10%) and our panel of experts will choose their top restaurants in this round (35%). The rigorous process behind the Irish Restaurant Awards makes it the most coveted and credible restaurant awards in the country.

Who else benefits?

Restaurateurs are not the only people who benefit from the awards – Thanks to our generous guests at the final event in May, over €7,600 was raised for charity. These proceeds were split evenly between the De Paul and the RAI Benevolent Fund. Throughout the process, we also like to reward local food producers by inviting them to display their wares at no charge at each of the regional events (to enquire about this please contact We like to thank the public too for getting involved – after all, they are at the heart of the hospitality industry! A number of competitions will be running throughout the awards period, including during online nominations.

How to get involved:

Restaurants, Cafes, Gastropubs, Hotels, Food Heroes, Pubs, and our new Free From Category – you do not need to be a member of the RAI to be nominated or to take part in the awards. All you need to do is encourage your customers to vote for you via Voting opened on Wednesday 10th of January 2018 and will close on Wednesday 24th of January 2018 at 12 noon.

If you have any questions or queries, the RAI Events Team will be happy to help. Just call us on 00353 (0)1 677 9901 or email