Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Scroll to top


The Judging Process – How The Winners Are Chosen

The Judging Process – How The Winners Are Chosen

Main Awards & Nominations

Online nominations open from 1pm on Wednesday, January 10th until 1pm on Wednesday, January 24th via There are 12 Main Awards in which the public and RAI members can nominate. Both members and non-members of the RAI are eligible to be nominated. Descriptions of the below categories can be found here.

  • Best Restaurant – Sponsored by
  • Best Chef – Sponsored by
  • Best Restaurant Manager
  • Best Hotel Restaurant
  • Best Casual Dining – Sponsored by
  • Best Gastro Pub – Sponsored by
  • Best Emerging Irish Cuisine – Sponsored by
  • Best Newcomer – Sponsored by
  • Best Wine Experience – Sponsored by
  • Best Customer Service – Sponsored by
  • Best Kids Size Me – Sponsored by
  • Food Hero – Sponsored by

Judging Process

Online Nominations – 20%

Firstly, a Chef/Restaurant/Cafe/Gastro Pub/Restaurant Manager must be nominated online by a member of the public or a member of The Restaurants Association of Ireland. Nominations are then audited by our independent adjudicator, BDO.

Regional Judging – 80%

Throughout March our Regional judging panels, made up of industry experts across 5 regions (Connaught, Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Dublin) meet to assess and evaluate the nominees.

Judging Process – Regional and All-Ireland Selection

All county winners and Dublin shortlists go forward to compete for the Regional and All-Ireland titles.  There are 3 elements to this stage in the process:

Mystery Guest Inspection – 40%

All County Winners are visited by independent Mystery Guests carefully selected by Prism Consulting and headed up by Hugo Arnold, an independent Food Writer and Consultant, to give an unbiased and independent review of their experience. The Irish Restaurant Awards are the only awards in the Industry where each restaurant receives a visit from an Independent Mystery Guest who assesses the dining experience in terms of food quality, menu, customer service, premises and overall experience.

National Awards Academy – 60%

Our National Awards Academy is made up of judges from each of the five regions and they meet in May to assess and evaluate each of the finalists. The Academy members include food writers, journalists, academics and hospitality magazine editors.

Menu Judging 

The Best Gastro Pub and Best Wine Experience finalists must submit their food menus for judging. Menu judging is based on the information provided for customers regarding the restaurants’ support of artisan suppliers and the origins of their meat.

Regional Awards Events & All Ireland Awards Gala

County winners will be announced at our regional events throughout the month of April.  Event details will be sent to all nominees via post following the close of nominations.

Regional and All Ireland Winners are then revealed at the All Ireland Awards Gala Dinner on Monday, May 14th in The Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road.

If you have any questions or queries in relation to the Irish Restaurant Awards 2018, please do not hesitate to contact us in the RAI Office on 01 677 9901 or by email to

Our thanks to

This carousel is empty, please add some logos.