National Geographic has praised Belfast’s vibrant food-scene, recommending it on a list of places to travel for food in 2016.

The travel magazine editors scour the globe to tell readers about hot destinations – and they’ve picked out Northern Ireland in its top ten.

It is great timing for Belfast, having recently celebrated the launch of Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink – the tourist board’s drive to promote the province as a foodie destination.

The guide states: “Pub culture has always been strong here, but now residents are learning to appreciate craft beer thanks to the Hilden Brewing Company, while local restaurants Ox and EIPIC were recently awarded Michelin stars.”

Hilden 1

Meanwhile, the guide recommends visitors: “Sample products from across Northern Ireland with the “Taste of Ulster” board at Robinson & Cleaver. It includes Irish ham hock hash, duck liver pâté, homemade Guinness wheaten bread, and Madeira wine jelly.

“Try smoked salmon from nearby the Glenarm Organic Salmon farm at Mourne Seafood Bar and a classic Ulster fry of breakfast meats, egg, tomato, mushrooms, soda bread, and potato bread at Cast & Crew.” Which was recently awarded a spot on our 7 Places For An Epic Breakfast list.

Ulster Fry at Cast & Crew

Not that we need any encouragement, the guide continues: “The Irish maintain that the first whiskey was made in Ireland, not Scotland. Try Irish whiskey at the Old Bushmills Distillery, located about an hour north of Belfast. In operation since 1608, it’s said to be the world’s oldest legal distillery.”

Whilst it also credits hidden gem Arcadia Delicatessen: “Robert Ditty is a second-generation baker and general booster for Northern Ireland’s local foodways. Buy his beloved triangular oat biscuits in flavors like celery and pepper at fine food store Arcadia Delicatessen. They’re the perfect complement to Ireland’s many artisan cheeses.”

It continues, eventually recommending the Belfast Food Tours: “On Saturdays (and some Fridays and Sundays), locals lead groups on tasting tours. Belfast Food Tours includes samples of 20 local foods and drinks, stops at specialty shops, and introductions to food producers at the St. George’s Market.”

St Georges Market

However, sure to cause minor controversy is their claim that: “Many pubs and some restaurants are closed on Sundays in Northern Ireland. Yet Sunday lunch remains popular, so consider making reservations at an open restaurant.” As this hasn’t been the case for a number of decades, with many of Belfast’s leading hotspots including bars, clubs * restaurants, now opening to cater for ever-growing demand.

Read the full guide here.

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