The visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Cork’s English Market may have brought the quality of food on offer in the city and county of Cork to the attention of the world but for foodies in Ireland, that was no surprise. Cork has become a centre of culinary excellence over the past few years with amazing produce coming in from West Cork and other county areas and being put to delicious use in the kitchens of top quality and innovative chefs in the city.

If you’ve never been to Cork and stayed in a cheap and cheerful hotel like Travelodge Cork, then put your fork down and read on for five of our favourite foodie pleasures in Cork.

1: The English Market

Let’s start with the famous foodie spot in Cork city, the English Market. Nominated by the well-known chef Rick Stein as the best covered market in the entire British Isles and seen to good effect on global TV cameras during the Queen’s visit to Ireland, a visit to the market is the perfect way to experience Cork’s impressive local cuisine. The most exacting foodie will be tempted as you browse through the varied stalls of exotic imported goods and delicious local produce on offer.

It’s been officially trading since 1788 but there was a market there all the way back in 1610 and the success of this market is such that it’ll be there for as long as we can see into the future. And the key to its success is the consistently high standards of the many long-standing family-run stalls of quality meats and fish, fruit and veg and speciality cheeses. Treats to look out for include drisheen, a local blood pudding often served with tripe and the battlebord, dried salted ling that tingles the senses.

2: Kinsale

The seaside town of Kinsale isn’t far from Cork city, only 30 minutes or so, and has been one of the jewels of the Corkonian food scene for many years. In fact, it could have been said to have been ahead of the county capital in its wonderful mixture of fresh, quality local fare, passionate restauranteurs and a town that was vocally proud of its foodie reputation. While in recent years, Kinsale had become a bit jaded and overpriced, there are now a new generation of chefs shaking things up in the local foodie scene. Recent Kinsale foodie arrivals like Bastion, Cantinetta, The Steakhouse and The Black Pig have brought a vibrant modern cuisine back to the town. And they now vie with the existing top class restaurants and cafés that have been there for years like Fishy Fishy, The Bullman and Man Friday and continue to deliver.

3: Italee in Cork

Cork city has become passionate in recent years about its coffee and its cafes and now rivals Dublin for the quality of fare on offer. And no better place to underline that than the Cork home of great coffee and where Italy comes to the Lee, the Italee café. This is a properly authentic Italian café bar situated on Oliver Plunkett Street in central Cork and the perfect spot for a morning coffee on the way to work. Relax before the workday while sipping some of their delicious Giuliano Caffè imported direct from Italy. Or later at lunchtime you can enjoy their baked delicacies or have a light meal accompanied by a cheeky glass of wine and imagine yourself sitting and sunning yourself by the Arno.

4: Liberty Grill for Brunch

If you’re thinking of settling down for brunch in Cork, then Liberty Grill is the place to seek out. You won’t be settling for anything less than consistently good food however, at whatever time you rock up to its doors. If it’s Saturday though, expect queues outside for a table inside, that’s how popular it is in Cork on the weekend. The Liberty does the full range of brunch options from the dainty continental to Mediterranean halloumi on warmed pitta to the fried feast that hungover patrons are positively delirious for.

5: The Workshop Cork

Just 15 minutes’ drive from the hustle and bustle of Cork city centre and you enter a completely different world. These tea and coffee rooms were a workshop before the imagination of two brothers turned it into one of Cork’s top cafés. Thank your lucky stars for their vision and that transformation as you relax by the fire in the calming atmosphere of The Workshop and eat their delicious, exquisitely prepared and locally sourced food. Take your time relaxing, you can even browse the antiques for sale in the Workshop before you have another cup of coffee and sit back down by the fire.