Grocery sales have soared over the last year in Ireland and this hasn't just been good news for the larger supermarket chains. The traditional grocer has made a comeback in a big way with new stores opening all over the country.

During the pandemic, we've seen the food industry pivot to adapt to various restrictions at a time when they're faced with challenges unimaginable a year ago. While restaurant doors remain closed, some chefs and restaurant owners have turned to smaller business models.

These stores may offer a smaller selection of products, but they are local, seasonal and showcase some of the best Irish food and drink products on offer. They're also a really nice way to connect in with your own community at a time when our surrounding 5kms has never been so important.

Below are eight Irish grocers worth visiting in 2021...

Lennox Street Grocer, Portobello 

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Siblings Claire and Christopher Arnold opened the doors of Lennox Street Grocer in November 2020. They both previously worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry and when the opportunity arose to take over this beautiful space in Dublin 8 the Lennox Street Grocer was born.

Their passion and knowledge for food is evident in the carefully curated array of products available. The Ballymakenny potatoes and new season rhubarb are popular, as are the many Irish chilli condiments they sell including Kwanghi Chang Black Garlic Rayu, 137 Chilli Oil and Ger's Hot Honey.

Their mum makes a great apply jelly and they also sell my favourite, sobrasada - a Marjoracan version of 'Ndjua - that helps to make a whopper toastie.

Marlowe & Co, Dublin 8 

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Marlowe & Co is run by Paddy Fagan, his wife Danielle Farrelly, and her sister Lisa. Their product range has expanded greatly over the last year and includes organic bread, coffee, treats, pantry staples, and fresh flowers.

There is no shortage of delicious Irish condiments and Marlowe stock firm favourites like Harry's Nut Butter, White Mausu (honestly, what's the point of eating eggs without it?), Nutshed and Small Batch Sriracha by Savage Sauces.

I love Begley & Bowie's fun range of sweatshirts so was excited to see the Marlowe team had collaborated with the Kenmare-based label on a range of Dublin 8 sweatshirts.

Pudding Row the Grocer, Easky, Sligo 

It was five years to the day since Dervla James had opened her café Pudding Row, that the grocers of the same name opened its doors. She had decided not to reopen the café when restrictions allowed last summer. Instead she focused on take away food and drinks, as well as a range of Irish groceries.

The 'Comfort Kit' is one of the most popular items, a carefully curated box of treats that ships nationwide. Contents change but you can expect fresh seeded bagels, a selection box of cakes, house chutney, jam, granola and loose leaf tea.

There's also an option to 'build a box' with an amazing range of options to put inside. Irish foodie favourites like Mutonics Jamu, Achill Sea Salt and Highbank Orchard Syrup all feature.

Salt Water Grocers, Terenure

SSI's Niall Sabongi, Hang Dai's Karl Whelan, and general manager Aoife O'Dwyer have teamed up to create Salt Water Grocers. Due to open in mid-March the store will have a strong focus on "seafood, sustainability, providence and be very much chef led".

They're aiming to do a range of collaborations with different chefs so you never know whose signature dish you might pick up in the fridge. The immersive fish counter and live shellfish tanks will certainly be the main event but they'll also supply organic vegetables, cheeses, coffee from 3fe, bread from firehouse, wine and a rotisserie. Irish, Spanish and Italian charcuterie will also be available in-store.

Strandfare, Sandymount

Siblings and owners of interior store Strand Interiors, Denis Monaghan and Sarah Jane Mullarney opened Strand Fare in July 2020. It's hugely popular so be prepared to join the socially distanced queue outside. It’s a small space but is packed full of everything you could want from a good grocer. 

The bread and pastries are made by Eoin in Bread 41 who, in my opinion, makes the best almond croissant in Dublin. Fruit and vegetable boxes from Hussey's Farm can be pre-ordered, and Greenville Deli on Tara Street make up their fresh sandwiches.

They also have a butcher/fish counter at the back of the store and the shelves are lined with pantry staples from some wonderful Irish and international producers. 

Forest Avenue, Dublin 4 

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High end restaurant Forest Avenue was one of the first businesses to shift business model when the restaurant became a green grocers in March 2020. Husband and wife team John and Sandy Wyer operate the green grocers with the same ethos as the restaurant – it's seasonal and produce driven.

Almost everything is made in house including condiments, sauces, pastries, desserts, sourdough bread (made by John daily) and fresh cassarecce pasta. They also source organic vegetables, fresh fish and meats. If you want to recreate that restaurant experience at home you can get one of their signature dishes - fresh agnolotti pasta with a parmesan custard.

John and Sandy hope to the run the restaurant alongside the green grocers when indoor dining is permitted again.

The Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny 

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Sisters Sarah and Eleanor Duggan are the duo behind Kilkenny's Little Green Grocer. The siblings are passionate about healthy and nutritious food and the focus is on organic, local and sustainable products.

The vegetarian and vegan sandwich menu changes daily to reflect what's available and in season. The organic veg is grown a few kilometres from the shop, the organic wines are sourced from Europe so as to reduce air-miles, and the organic free range eggs are from Callan.

Animal welfare is a real priority and the sisters ensure that every product they stock containing eggs is made with free-range eggs. Other products include farmhouse cheeses, artisan breads, locally-produced sauces, jams, honey, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and cold-pressed oils.

Little Lockdown, Sutton, Dublin

Michael's in Mount Merrion and Higgin's butchers in Sutton are both renowned Dublin food spots. So only good things could come from owners Rick Higgins and Gaz Smith joining forces to create 'Little Lockdown'.

Based out of Higgin's Butchers in Sutton they use the same producers, growers, pickers and fisherman as they do in the Michael's. They have small, local boats supplying them with crab and fish, coffee that's roasted down the road in Fairview and preserves from small farms in Wexford.

The bread is from the Tartine organic bakery which is just a stone's throw from the shop and the compact wine list is carefully orchestrated by retail manager Emma. Little Lockdown is in Sutton but the produce can also be bought in John O'Reilly's butchers in Mount Merrion.