It is a lovely town to walk in, seems to have better weather than Dublin, and Honan Chapel is to my mind Ireland’s single greatest sight. Most of the time, you can look around in any direction — not just the best direction — and see pleasing sights. So I can heartily recommend a visit.
But I am puzzled by the near-complete absence of restaurant food, at least in the city centre. You can walk for half an hour and maybe see only one or two places you would even consider eating in. Especially at lunch time. So many places open at five. Other places close at three. I’ve not been looking for “a standard mid-level pizzeria,” but at times I would have settled for one but I never saw one. Not once. There are a reasonable number of coffee places that serve some sandwiches. Only a small number of pubs serve much food. I saw two Chinese restaurants, neither of which seemed appealing. I walked for at least ten minutes from the main cinema down a main street — nothing, not one place to eat. Many neighborhoods, whether residential or commercial, seem to have zero restaurants whatsoever. No fish and chips takeaways either.
I looked for Indian food, and was pleased to walk by Eastern Tandoori across from the opera house. The wooden sign out on the street says they open at 5 p.m. But they don’t, and if you dig deep enough on the web you will find they are closed until July 1. I didn’t find any other (actually open) Indian restaurant to eat at. I ate at Ignite (Pakistani, and quite excellent). Their Facebook page says they open at noon, but alas no they open at 5 p.m. Many other restaurants exist on paper but seem to never open, and this is in a prosperous and bustling town. It is easier to find a barbershop here, or a book store.
The English Market, the main place to buy raw ingredients in town, is excellent. It has one OK cafe upstairs, and that closes well before dinner time. It is fine for a chowder and some smoked trout spread, but not too much more.
Nor is the city inundated with American fast food. Nor does Dublin have this problem.
Within an hour of Cork city centre, there are numerous excellent restaurants, including with Michelin stars. Cork is set in the heart of Irish food country, believe it or not. Breads and cheeses are excellent.
So what gives? Why are the corporate entities here so reluctant to sell me cooked food?