Best places to eat in Bath

Traditionally a city of genteel Georgian tearooms, Bath's lively new dining scene offers innovative vegetarian eats, craft beer and plenty of creative young chefs

Best places to eat in Bath

Take a weekend away in the West Country's most elegant city, for fine dining, hip cocktails and reimagined pub grub, at these top gourmet spots.

The Scallop Shell

The Scallop Shell
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

A favourite of local chefs and civvies alike, this was nominated independent fish & chip restaurant of the year in the 2016 National Fish & Chip Awards. Come here for brilliantly fresh fish, including some of the best haddock & chips I've eaten. Look out for deliciously plump Elberry Cove mussels too. Haddock & chips, £12.95; mussels, £5.

The Scallop Shell website

Corkage

Corkage
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

This cosy wine bar, run by local Richard Knighting and endearingly eccentric former acrobat Marty Grant, is a great place to try interesting wines - many of which they import themselves. With 50ml tasting samples on offer, you can try several, fortified by a regularly changing menu of substantial small plates, such as crab on toast. Booking essential. Plates, £7-8; small glasses of wine, £4-6.

Corkage website 

Menu Gordon Jones

Best for: Special occasions

Bath currently finds itself in a perilous position whereby three of its top restaurants - Allium, Bath Priory, and The Olive Tree - have recently changed chef, hence their surprising omission from this list. But Menu Gordon Jones, whose chef used to cook at Bath's landmark Royal Crescent Hotel, is a worthy alternative if you're after innovative food. The no-choice menu won't be for everyone, but it's a real gastronomic experience. Surprise menu, £55. 

Menu Gordon Jones website

Yen Sushi

Yen sushi
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

Sit at the counter of this conveyor-belt sushi bar and watch the chefs skilfully wielding their razor-sharp knives. The freshly made maki rolls are particularly good, as is the refreshing seaweed salad. Deep-fried dishes, such as octopus and gyoza, are slightly less successful. Dishes from £1.80.

Yen Sushi website 

Hunter & Sons

Best for: Casual dining

Worth visiting for the craft beer and coffee alone (they do a perfect flat white), the food here is now an equal draw, thanks to a new chef, who used to work at Silo in Brighton. The menu makes the most of West Country ingredients, with standout dishes such as tomato salad with Westcombe ricotta, basil oil & puffed barley. Open for breakfast and lunch only, but look out for special beer dinners. Dishes from £8.

Hunter & Sons website

Woods

Best for: Child-friendly

A Bath institution, Woods has been going for 36 years and has a loyal following among locals who love its retro food and decor. Ideal for a light lunch, including an impressive armesan omelette & salad, or for cosy get-togethers with family. Mains from £12; two-course lunch/early dinner, £18.95. 

Woods website

Henry's 

Henry's
Best for: Special occasions

This stylish restaurant, named after its young chef, Henry Scott, offers beautifully presented, imaginative food, including a full vegan menu. Clever combinations of flavours and textures include a ravioli starter filled with confit chicken or Jerusalem artichoke. A great deal on champagne by the glass (£7.50) makes this ideal for a romantic evening out. Mains from £17; four-course tasting menu, £42.

Henry's website

Sam's Kitchen Deli

Sam's Kitchen Deli
Best for: Cheap eats

This bustling little café is a favourite weekend brunch spot, with comforting dishes like wild mushrooms on toast, and a range of healthy juices and imaginative hot drinks. There are also servings of honey, Marmite and peanut butter on the tables - almost like being at home. Plates for two from £16.50. 

Sam's Kitchen Deli website 

Dough

Dough
Best for: Casual dining, child-friendly

Friendly, Italian-run Dough would be nice enough as a standard pizzeria but delivers far more, including alternative crusts, which range from hemp to nutty Italian grano arso (scorched grain). Not cheap, but four people could easily share three pizzas. Sit near the front to watch the pizzaioli expertly spin the dough. Pizzas from £8.95. 

Dough website

The Pulteney Arms

Best for: Child-friendly, cheap eats, casual dining

There are more beautiful pubs in Bath, but the slightly scruffy Pulteney is a favourite with locals. Sunday roasts are a particular bargain, with hearty portions of roast beef & Yorkshire pudding. Skip the starters and leave room for old-fashioned puds such as apple crumble & cream. Roasts from £12.

The Pulteney Arms website

Noya's Vietnamese Supper Club

Noya Pawlyn

Best for: Casual dining

You’ll need to book well ahead for this hugely popular Vietnamese supper club run by the diminutive, bubbly Noya Pawlyn, held at the Bear Pad Café, in the Bear Flat area of the city. For £35 you get five generous, beautifully cooked courses of vibrant, spicy food. The chicken salad with fish sauce chicken wing is to die for. It’s also BYO - order your wine ahead from nearby Great Western Wine and they’ll deliver. 

Bear Pad Café website

Noya's Vietnamese website

The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse

Best for: Casual dining

A dark atmospheric cocktail bar of the kind you’d be more likely to find in Shoreditch than Bath. Everything about the place from the decor to drinks, is sourced from West Country producers, materials and workmen. Cocktails change seasonally, with notables including Orange Grove (Beefeater gin, clementine liqueur, apricot, fresh lemon, Wild Beer ‘Pogo’, lemon tonic), and Ten Cent Pistol (Wild Turkey Bourbon, banana, lapsang-infused honey, fresh lemon, bitters), both at £8.50. Add to this a super-cool soundtrack and it’s clear why Dark Horse was listed among the best new UK bars of 2016. Conveniently central too. 

The Dark Horse website

Chez Dominique

Chez Dominique

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Not quite as French as the name would suggest but there’s some good bistro cooking at this cosy little family-run bistro on Argyle Street. While starters such as venison terrine with quince chutney acknowledge the French influence, others such as lamb rump with borlotti beans & salsa verde, and tagliatelle with butternut squash & goat's cheese have more of an Italian vibe. Great value set lunch/early evening supper at just £13. 

The Chez Dominique website

Same Same But Different

Same Same But Different

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

One of Bath’s many institutions this endearingly retro café is a cheap and friendly place to grab a bite from a hearty English breakfast to a tapas menu later in the day. There are more authentic tapas bars but at £4.50/£5 for a generous dish, this place offers terrifically good value. Try the sole goujons if they’re on. 

The Same Same But Different website

Chai Walla

Chai Walla. Photo credit, Philip Field

Best for: Cheap eats

Ex-street food trader Niraj Gadher, offers delicious vegetarian takeaway food from what is basically a hole in the wall in Monmouth Street. Try his onion bhaji roti wrap, which comes with crisp little bhajis, a crunchy salad, tangy tamarind and mint sauce and a samosa on the side - all for £5. Understandably there are always queues. 

The Chai Walla website

The Circus

The Circus

Best for: Casual dining

Seated over two floors (upstairs is jollier), this popular local restaurant occupies a Georgian house between two great Bath landmarks, the Circus and the Royal Crescent, and offers home-style English dinner party cooking at reasonable prices. Fillet of beef with Portobello mushrooms for just £14.95; hearty smoked fish & prawn chowder, £6.90. Good value house wine at £4.90 a glass, and they source direct from small producers as much as possible. 

The Circus website

Society

Society

Best for: Cheap eats

Bath is spoilt for good coffee places (rivals speak of the trailblazer Colonna & Small’s with reverence), but this cool little coffee shop on Kingsmead Square offering a carefully sourced range of coffees and indulgent hot chocolate is worth a shout out as a good central meeting place. There are outdoor tables during fine weather.

The Society website

King William

Best for: Casual dining

Quintessential gastropub, the King William has been going for over nine years and ticks all the boxes when it comes to modern British food. There are hearty plates of sausage & mash (£10 with a pint on match day), and more elaborate Michelin-style dishes (they did a gin tasting menu during last year’s Great Bath Feast food festival), plus good craft beers and a decent wine list. The two-course lunch at £13.50 (£20 on Sundays) is great value. 

The King William website

Bar 15, No 15 Great Pulteney

Bar 15

Best for: Special occasions

Even if you’re not staying at this stylish new boutique hotel, find time to drop in for a drink. It’s quite an experience. The cocktail menu, which ranges from the classic to the quirky is printed on playing cards. Try the Lobster Fashion, comprising lobster bisque, vodka and champagne (£17), it tastes like a boozy, chilled lobster soup. If you don’t feel quite strong enough, there’s a good wine list, too.

The Bar 15 website

Hudson's Steakhouse

Hudson's Steakhouse

Best for: Casual dining, child-friendly

This popular London Street steakhouse is the place to go in Bath if you’re craving a large hunk of meat. Steaks, which range from flatiron (£18) to fillet (£35), are aged for a minimum of 35 days. There’s also a towering burger & chips (£14), which should please hungry teens. Leave room for the chocolate & hazelnut brownie sundae (£6). 

The Hudson's Steakhouse website

5 foodie places to try

Bath Farmer's Market 
One of the best in the South-West, this Saturday morning market has a great range of produce (don't miss smoked fish from Felce Foods).
Bath Farmer's Market website

The Fine Cheese Co.
Bath has two top-notch cheese shops (the other is Paxton & Whitfield), but Fine Cheese has a more wide-ranging selection, along with fabulous condiments and prepared plates.
The Fine Cheese Co.

Bertinet Bakery
Lately downsized from a café to a tiny bakery, Bertinet still remains the place to buy sourdough. 
Bertinet bakery website

The Foodie Bugle Shop
A beautifully styled small shop and tea room, packed with gorgeous buys: preserves, chocolates, antique cutlery and beeswax candles.
The Foodie Bugle website

Comins Tea House
A cool, comtemporary tea shop offering an astonishing range of authentic Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese teas. Enjoy dumplings at lunchtime and cakes in the afternoon.
Comins Tea House website

Is there anywhere we've missed? Let us know in the comments below...

All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of the 01 March 2017 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out of date information in this guide please email us at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com.

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