A combination of artisan goods and a landscape of sweet grasslands and clear waters make this stop a haven for foodies.
Northern Ireland has been crowned the top food destination of the year.
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Part of discovering a destination is through the local produces and specialties it offers in its cuisine, and one destination stands out above the rest right when it comes to its food scene.

Northern Ireland has been dubbed the world’s best food destination at this year’s International Travel and Tourism Awards in London, which celebrated the best in travel with judges made up of noted travel community members voting on categories that include the worlds best food destinations, best wellness destinations, best luxury destinations and more.

Northern Ireland took top place thanks to the Year of Food and Drink 2016 initiative led by Food NI, which focused on promoting the area’s local gems ranging from dairy products to craft beers and quality meats in food tours, visitor attractions, restaurants and specialty food and drink events.

With access to clear lakes, the waters of the Atlantic and Irish Sea, sweet grass pastures and local producers that have often used recipes passed down in families for generations, Northern Ireland is renowned its seafood, dairy products, meat scene and its whiskey, craft beer and cider offerings.

Visitors will find some of these delicacies tied to their home base, from pan fried eels that come from Lough Neagh to theorganic salmon found in Glenarm Bay and Red Bay off of the Antrim coast and the now famous black bacon (a robust cured bacon) created at Fermanagh.

Dairy specialties travelers can enjoy include Abernethy butter, a hand-churned butter made with cream from cows that graze in in the Lagan Valley in County Antrim and found across restaurants and delis in the area, and cheeses like the Ballylisk Triple Rose, a salty and lemon-flavored white cheese found in various delis and markets.

One such market is St. George’s Market in Belfast, which has been operating since 1604 and is home to products 23 fish stalls in the seafood section, fresh fruits and homemade soda bread.

St. George's market offers a variety of local staples.
One of the stalls at St. George's Market.
| Credit: Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Beyond its top-notch seafood offerings, which can also be enjoyed at annual events like the Flavours of the Foyle seafood festival, travelers will find an increasing number of Michelin-starred restaurants focused on local goods.

These include Ox, where tourism representatives recommend tasting the beef and venison, and Dean's Eipic, where diners can enjoy sea buckthorn ice cream, spiced venison, black bacon and baked comber potato (a potato grown in sheltered soil and noted for its nutty flavor) with onion truffle and parmesan.

Visitors don’t have to go to high-end dining establishments to enjoy Northern Ireland’s finest staples though: Harry’s Shack offers delectable seafood selections while the Glastry Farm serves creamy ice creams that range in flavors from whiskey and Christmas pudding ice cream to ice cream with Yellowman (a chewy toffee textured honeycomb produced in Northern Ireland).

For those looking to craft a trip to Northern Ireland to taste its range of food offerings, Ireland's tourism board representatives have even put together a customized food itinerary to make sure you don't miss any of the must-try foods and restaurants.