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Burger Masters – Handsome Burger, Galway

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Is it something in the water? Is it an instruction carried by the west coast winds?
We’re not sure what causes it, but what we do know is this: no one sells Galway better than Galway’s food people.
At every point where you eat, drink and interact with foodie folk in Galway, they are not just selling you what you are buying, they are also selling you what is, in fact, the secret of the city: to get to the heart of Galway, start by eating, drinking, shopping.
Galway works by stoking its belly, and the guys in Handsome Burger know this as well as everyone else. The crew here, on the rapidly-evolving Dominick Street, are not like a bunch of employees. Instead, they are like a team.
To see them working reminds us of the first time we ever saw the Greatest Generation of Spanish chefs all together at the San Sebastian food festival. Captained by Ferran Adria, their unity of purpose was stupendous.
So it is in Handsome Burger: their unity of purpose, in cooking and looking after you in this crowded room, is only brilliant.
This matters, because making and serving burgers is a pretty straight-ahead thing to do. What makes ordering and enjoying a burger and fries and a beer special is how the staff treat you.
And in Handsome Burger, the staff treat you royally. They don’t pay for your drinks, but they do pretty much everything else they possibly can to make your visit special.
This begins with the greeting, and the queue management strategy. Do you mind waiting? It won’t take too long... some of these people are getting takeaway...
In short, they solve the most difficult conundrum: how to make queueing for food into an advantage.
And the burgers themselves, of course, are whizzo. Rory McCormack and Cathal O’Connor have done their sourcing carefully as they have evolved from market stalls and pop-ups to their hip bricks-and-mortar base. The signature Handsome Burger is bang on, and the house fries with rosemary and sea salt are pretty perfect. Great beers from White Hag and Galway Bay pair up just so.
As we were leaving, the greetings maestro bid us good evening, and said, almost confidentially: “Enjoy Galway!” Sell a burger, sell a city. The secret of Galway is in the eating.

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