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Please see below for some frequently asked questions about the awards. If your query is not answered here, please feel free to contact us.

  • What are the Irish Restaurant Awards?

The Irish Restaurant Awards are organised by the Restaurants Association of Ireland. This is the 15th year of the Awards which have grown exponentially since its humble beginnings in 2009. Our aim is to recognise excellence in the restaurant and wider hospitality industry from Best Customer Service Experience to Best Chef, and Best Café to Best World Cuisine and Best Sustainable Practices. We have a rigorous process of nominations and  judging.

  • What is the Restaurants Association of Ireland?

We are a representative body for restaurants/hotel restaurants/cafes/gastro pubs established in 1970. Our main aim is to defend the interests of the restaurant sector in Ireland. We run various lobbying campaigns, events, training and saving schemes for members across a wide variety of services. Please see for more information or contact us on 01 677 9901 and select the option for membership.


  • How do I get nominated for an award?

Nominations are made by the general public, so if you would like to be nominated for an award, encourage your customers, family and friends to nominate you via the Irish Times website between the 17th and 31st of January 2024.

  • Do I have to register to be nominated for an award?

No, if you receive a nomination from the public then we will contact you after the nominations have closed.

  • How can I better my chances of being nominated?

Besides encouraging your customers to nominate you (social media, tent cards on tables etc.), you can also make sure your restaurant/cafe/gastro pub is listed properly on Google. What you should do is ensure that your business listing on Google is correct. This is completely free to do and is how the nominations platform on The Irish Times fills data. By updating your business listing on google this will help people to easily find and nominate you for the Irish Restaurant Awards from 17th January . You can find further information on Google Business Listings here.

  • Do I have to be a member of the RAI to win an award?

Absolutely not – the Irish Restaurant Awards are open to every hospitality business in the country regardless of whether or not you are a member. However, you do receive some benefits as a member such as a discount on ticket prices for all awards events and direct updates.

  • We received a letter to say we have been nominated, what does this mean?

For two weeks in January, the public were able to nominate their favourite restaurants, cafes, gastro pubs, chefs and food heroes through You received a letter because they chose you as their favourite establishment which means you now have the chance to win an award. You will be sent further information about your Regional Event / Online Shortlist also.


  • What happens next?

Nominees are invited to come along to the regional awards event in your province. See here for more details on venues, dates and how to buy tickets. Winners will be announced by category and by county, i.e. Best chef in Louth, Best Chef in Meath etc.

  • What are my chances of winning? How can I improve them?

At this stage, your only competition is your own county (or province if it is a regional award category). There is nothing you can do now as the nominations are closed, so you will have to wait and see if you have won.

  • Do I have to attend the awards to win?

No you do not have to attend and it will not affect the results. If you have won an award but cannot attend the awards event, you will be notified the following day and a certificate will be couriered out to you.

  • Someone was nominated who no longer works here, can I change the name?

If a chef for example no longer works in an establishment, the nomination will not be counted. Unfortunately we are also not able to change a nomination to the correct/ current chef. Nominations must be whole (e.g. Chef name and restaurant name) and correct to be counted as valid. The results are audited immediately after the nominations close, and a wrong name is simply an invalid nomination.


How does the judging panel work – how do they know my establishment?

The judging panel is made up of food critics, bloggers, academics, people in the food and hospitality industry and more. Every county is represented and they research the nominees beforehand. They have a round-table discussion to determine the winners based on how many nominations they received and their own professional opinions. We choose five regional panels of judges so that there is good geographical representation (judges from Connaught will judge the nominees in Connaught and so on).

Judging Process  – County Winner Selection

This year there are two stages to the Irish Restaurant Awards Judging.

Stage 1: Choosing county/provincial winners

Once the online nominations (worth 20%) are closed, they are independently audited by BDO and then passed on to our regional judging panels. The nominees are reviewed by the judges (worth 80%).

The county and provincial winners are then announced at the Regional Awards in March. Dublin nominees are shortlisted at this stage and will be announced separately online.

Stage 2: National Academy Judging

The final stage sees selected judges from the regional panels join together to form the National Academy. They will review each finalist, and they will also review the National Category nominees and decide the overall winners*.

Judges will review all finalists and choose a winner based on a collective / majority decision. Winners must have completed the Mystery Guest Inspection.

Judges decision is final.

The overall winners in all categories will then be announced at the highly anticipated Irish Restaurant Awards Final in May 2024.

*Prior to this stage, the following categories will receive a mystery guest inspection**, the result of which will be considered during the National Academy Judging: Best Restaurant, Best Casual Dining, Best Chef, Best Gastro Pub & Best Hotel Restaurant

**Each county winning establishment in the above categories will be contacted for consent purposes prior to the mystery inspection taking place. At this stage, the venue will have the option to opt out should they chose.


  • How can I attend the Regional Awards Events?

About 2 weeks before each event, we will provide a link to buy tickets online here

  • How much are tickets to the Regional Events

All ticket information can be found here

  • Will I get actual tickets for the Regional Event?

No actual tickets are being issued – your restaurant name & main POC details will be on the door.

  • Is there a limit on how many people I can bring to the Regional Awards Event?

No, but the Irish Restaurant Awards Team have the right to refuse large groups (15+) if there are limited numbers of tickets left available (we want every nominee to have the chance to attend)

  • Can I pay by bank transfer or cheque?

All events will be online purchase only in advance and tickets will be available here

  • Can I buy tickets on the door?

No, tickets must be purchased before the event. Payment will not be accepted on the night.

  • Can I bring children to the event?

Unfortunately, children under 18 years of age are not allowed to attend the awards events as alcohol will be served openly.

  • Will it be a seated event?

No – this is a standing, reception style event. If you have a accessibility needs we are more than happy to accommodate you at the event. Please do let us know in advance if possible so we can inform the venue.

  • What is the dress code?

Smart casual.

  • What is included in the ticket price?

Your ticket will cover entry to the event, canapes and a drinks reception on arrival, followed by the Awards ceremony itself. There will also be a collection of local food producers at each event sampling their goods and products and our sponsors stands with information on goods and services.

  • How long does it go on for?

The actual ceremony will last around 1.5 – 2 hours. The Leinster awards can be a bit longer. Doors will open at 6:30pm for a drinks and canapes reception and the ceremony will commence at 7:00pm.


  • How can I attend the All Ireland Final awards ceremony?

If you have won a County/Regional award or if you have been shortlisted in Dublin or nominated in National Categories and competed in the Cocktail Competition then you are invited to attend the All Ireland Irish Restaurant Awards in the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road on the 20th May 2024. You can buy tickets online here.

  • How much do tickets cost?

RAI Member:

All ticket information can be found here

  • How many people can you fit at one table?

The tables seat no more than 12 people, we cannot add an extra seat to a table

  • We want more than 12 tickets, how can we all sit together?

You can either take one full table of 12 and have the remaining people on the next table, or split it however you like between two tables. Note that you will be sharing with other guests.

  • Can I buy tickets on the door?

Tickets MUST be paid for in full in advance without exception. We will not accept payment on the night and all seats are allocated in advance. You will be refused entry if you have not bought a ticket in advance.

  • What is the dress code?

Please note this is strictly a BLACK TIE event – tuxedos are recommended for men and evening gowns for women.

  • Will tickets be posted in advance?

No, there will be no paper tickets. You will receive an email confirmation as your proof of purchase and there will be a guest list at the door.

  • Is there a limit on how many tickets I can buy?

This is dependent on availability. Book early to avoid disappointment if you have a large group. Again, the Irish Restaurants Awards Team can refuse large groups if there is limited seats left – we want every finalist to have a chance to attend the awards (this policy is the same for external third party industry suppliers). 

  • How long is the event?

The drinks/canape reception starts at 6:30pm, then all guests must be seated by 7pm. Dinner and the awards ceremony will start at 7:15pm sharp, and go on until 11:30pm, followed by entertainment into the early hours.

  • Can I bring children to the event?

This is strictly an over 18’s only event. Alcohol will be served openly and it is a late night event.

  • Can I choose where our table/seats are?

We can take requests and always try our best to cater to them, but there are no guarantees due to the large number of attendees. Once you are allocated a seat on the table plan, that is final and there will be no swapping permitted on the night.

  • Do you cater to dietary requests?

We will have a vegetarian menu available on the night, and all allergens will be listed on both menus (we cannot reveal the menus until the night itself). Unfortunately we are unable to cater for specific dietary needs (coeliac, lactose intolerant etc.) due to the large number of guests in attendance.

  • When will I know my table number?

There will be a table/seating plan at the drinks reception on the night and we will have staff on hand to guide you to your seat

If you have a question that is not answered here, please let us know by emailing

Our thanks to