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Brighton, on the south coast of England, has evolved over the years to become one of the hippest holiday hangouts in the country. Take a weekend away beside the sea for reimagined seafood, sparkling cocktails and unique tasting menus.
Best restaurants to visit in Brighton
A modern Indian brasserie with a bright, contemporary interior that’s perfect for families with adventurous palates. There’s spicy cocktails, authentic regional dishes such as Jaipur Chilli Mutton curry and a great value kids’ menu with a chicken or vegetarian option that includes rice, chapatti, chutney and poppadom for £6. The generously proportioned thalis (£16-18) are one of the best lunchtime deals in the city. Mains from £10.
This smart neighbourhood pizzeria in Hove (there are also branches in the North Laines and on London Road) is the ideal place to bring hungry kids after a day on the beach. They may not notice that the pizzas are Naples-style, soft and billowing, or that they’ve been cooked in a wood-fired oven and topped with quality San Marzano tomatoes. But they’ll love how delicious they are, and you’ll appreciate the list of daily specials that might include Calabrian sausage and chilli pizza. Children under the age of 11 can get a kid’s pizza and a tub of the restaurant’s own Fatto Gelato for £5. Pizzas from £6.50.
The Ginger Pig
Part of Ben McKellar’s Gingerman group, the Ginger Pig is a large bustling gastropub just off the seafront in Hove, serving a mix of pub classics like pies, steaks and burgers, plus modern inventive dishes such as seabass fillet with gnocchi Parisienne and saffron and miso sauce. A Sunday lunch of roast sirloin of beef (£16.50) includes roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, broccoli, braised red cabbage, sunshine mash, cauliflower cheese and gravy. Mains from £13.50.
This is the mom-and-pop local bistro of your dreams – the kind of place that in-the-know Brighton foodies would rather keep for themselves. Orson Whitfield creates a modern British menu of local and seasonal dishes such as the John Dory with broccoli, almonds and fregola, while wife Linda and her team provides the warm welcome. The £26 for two courses Sunday lunch menu includes a choice of roast meats (or vegetarian option) all served with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swede, broccoli and cauliflower cheese purée. £32 for two courses.
At this hugely popular but tiny venue, book in advance to bag a stool at the counter overlooking the open kitchen, where you can watch chef Michael Bremner and his team cook a tasting menu of globally inspired imaginative dishes that might include halibut with mussels, sea kale and lemongrass. You might recognise Michael from his stint on BBC’s Great British Menu – he's also at the helm of Murmur, a casual seafront restaurant close to Brighton's i360 tower. £85 for a 9-course tasting menu.
Masterchef: The Professionals champion Steven Edwards’s fine dining restaurant has proved so popular that he’s recently refurbished it with a new, sleek modernist look and extended into the next-door premises, adding more tables and a smart basement cocktail bar. Monthly-changing tasting menus of 5, 7 or 9 courses of Edwards’s polished, considered and delicious dishes include ‘Halibut/Parsnip’ or ‘Duck/Carrot’, the terse descriptions belying the complexity of the cooking. The signature Marmite bread with seaweed butter that’s included with every meal is a real treat. Tasting menus from £65.
The Gingerman may be more than 20 years old, but the menu at this intimate, neighbourhood fine diner is always bang up to date, ensuring it's as much of a foodie destination as it's ever been. Refined, on-trend dishes might include cured south coast mackerel with mustard, buttermilk, dill and carrot. £40 for two courses.
An enthusiastic team deliver a modern fine dining experience with bags of character and panache. Watch the chefs craft elegant, hyper-local dishes in the open kitchen or on the monitors in the intimate dining room. From £30 for three courses.
Tucked away in a side street just off Hove seafront, former Fat Duck chef Duncan Ray is cooking some of the best modern seafood dishes in the country. The seafood-only tasting menu showcases the day’s local catch, transformed into precisely cooked, elegant dishes such as crab with green Thai curry sauce or an oyster velouté with charred compressed cucumber and beer batter scraps. Desserts are every bit as delicious and refined as the savoury courses. £85 for a ten-course tasting menu.
The roomy terrace at this glamorous seafront fish and steak restaurant offers views of Brighton’s past and present: the remains of the West Pier and the new i360 observation tower. On a sunny day, it’s the ideal spot to share the signature Surf Board of grilled and steam shellfish. Inside, there are fabulous cocktails, and imaginative dishes including octopus and pork belly, daikon, XO bacon broth and mushroom. Mains from £18.
Top Brighton chef Dan Kenny has recently relocated his tasting menu restaurant to the atmospheric and characterful Café Rust near Preston Park where the weekly changing menu of about 16 bite-sized plates focuses on big umami flavours with dishes such as scallop tikka masala and duck with plums and pancakes. The downstairs sister restaurant Cellar run by former Moro and Chez Bruce chef Paul Smith offers an eclectic, modern multi-course tapas menu to a maximum of eight customers with dishes such as Korean fried octopus with chicken gravy and corn. £85 for The Set’s 16 course tasting menu. £55 for Cellar’s tapas menu.
Run by an enthusiastic team who have worked in some of the best places in the city, Wild Flor is a grown up, sophisticated neighbourhood bistro (think banquette seats, exposed brick and wood flooring) set over two floors with modern seasonal food and charming service. Enjoy one of the ever-changing selection of wines, grower’s Champagnes and sherry with a comforting plate of Sticky braised beef cheek with roasted onion and pomme puree. £42 for two courses. Lunch from £30 for two courses.
For the best sea views and people watching opportunities, ask for a window table (or one on the terrace) at this seafront restaurant set in one of the arches that supports Brighton’s seafront promenade and where the focus is firmly on local produce cooked over open fire. Start with snacks of superb puffy sourdough flat breads topped with lardo and dinky lobster crumpets with bearnaise sauce then share a fore rib of Sussex beef. The set lunch Sussex Menu (from £25) is one of the best deals in the city. Mains from £13.
This glamorous restaurant and bar, set in the Lanes in a converted 16th century coaching inn, is from the team behind Brighton stalwarts The Salt Room and The Coal Shed and shares their wood-fired cooking ethos. Take a stool at the bar to watch the chefs in the open kitchen prepare Med-inspired small plates such as fire-roasted chermoula monkfish. Nighthawks will appreciate the drinks-only tables available from 10pm for a well-made cocktail or two including the signature Brunt Orange Martini and a music programme curated by Fat Boy Slim. In good weather, ask for a table on the charming and popular covered terrace. Small plates from £8.50
Chef Diego Ledezma is offering an authentic taste of his native Mexico at this casual and friendly restaurant that’s named after a Mexican rain god and overlooks Brighton’s seafront. The menu features specially imported ingredients as well as plenty of locally sourced produce in addictively spicy and deeply flavoured dishes such as jalapeno and ancho chilli braised duck legs served with freshly made and fragrant corn tortillas. The signature octopus tacos are a must order and don’t miss the potent margaritas, also available as part of the good value Sunday Bottomless Brunch deal. Mains from £12.
National restaurant critics have beaten a path to the door of this recently refurbished wine bar, restaurant and wine shop to praise the regularly changing seasonal menu of wildly inventive small plates and excellent wine list and drinks programme. Take a seat at the bar to chat to co-owner Paul Morgan about his passion for sherry while enjoying ‘nduja croquetas with piquillo ketchup. Book ahead for the seven-course tasting menu (available Fridays and Saturdays only) that highlights chef Sam Pryor’s most sophisticated dishes such as smoked eel with chestnuts, crab-apple mustard and eel dashi. Small plates from £6.
Set in a purpose built two storey building in Brighton’s smart Hanningtons pedestrianised food and retail neighbourhood in the Lanes, The Flint House is part of local celebrity chef Ben McKellar’s Gingerman Restaurant Group. Dine at the counter overlooking the open kitchen to see the chefs prepare creative small plates including barbecued squid with chilli, lime, sesame and crispy shallots. Vegetable dishes that might include Jerusalem artichoke agnolotti with pickled girolles are as enticing as the meat and fish options. Ask for a table on the covered and heated roof terrace where you can graze on sweetcorn fritters with jalapeno mayo while you browse the menu while sipping a well-made peach negroni. Small plates from £5.
The taste of the authentic regional Indian dishes such as food are as Goan chicken xacuti that’s flavoured with coconut, tamarind, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, coriander seeds and mace vivid as the green and orange colour scheme at this casual Brighton Lanes diner (there’s a second branch in Brighton’s boho Kemptown neighbourhood). Mains from £14.50.
Chef Dave Miney spent three years working in Tokyo before opening Bincho Yakitori, an authentic izakaya (Japanese gastropub). You’ll find him behind the counter of this small, atmospheric and always busy restaurant (booking is essential), tending the charcoal grill. Among the many must-order small plates are sweet and crunchy karaage (fried chicken), teriyaki grilled quail, and grilled aubergine with miso. Dishes from £3.50.
Having started out as a pop-up serving prosecco and nibbles from a vintage Fiat van, there are now two branches of former lawyer’s David Toscano’s intimate, stylish modern Italian restaurants including one in Fitzrovia. The Hove restaurant features chef Jamie Halsall’s concise list of seasonal plates and handmade pasta dishes that might include pappardelle verde with smoked haddock, saffron sauce and pickled sultanas. Mains from £16.
Bag one of the prime seats at the counter for a peek into the open kitchen at this lively, stylish modern Spanish tapas restaurant where the menu might include braised oxtail with manzanilla sherry and crushed saffron potatoes. Sussex Angus/Wagyu cross steaks to share are sourced Trenchmore Farm. Small, less than 20 miles away from the restaurant. Tapas from £3.80.
This atmospheric, lively centrally located wine bar and restaurant offers a carefully curated list of organic, biodynamic and natural wines to accompany a daily changing blackboard menu of locally sourced produce in eclectic dishes such as barbecued mackerel with pickled cucumber and dill yoghurt, all served to an eclectic soundtrack of jazz, hip hop and dub. The classic cocktails are among the best in town. Small plates from £4.
This unassuming café near Brighton station is one of the city’s true hidden gems. Yes, there’s the usual hot drinks and sarnies, but they also serve a short menu of authentic and delicious Vietnamese food, including a killer banh mi and top-notch pho. Plates for around £5.
Head to boho Kemptown for a memorable afternoon tea at Metrodeco, a camp and quirky 1930s-style converted Art Deco furniture showroom. Relax into an ornate vintage armchair and choose from two dozen tea blends (the delicate Silver Needle white tea is particularly good), served in mismatched bone china to accompany dainty open sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries. The tea-infused cocktails include Sweet Sunburst made with rum, plus rhubarb and vanilla-flavoured rooibos. Afternoon tea from £23.50.
Hidden away in the North Laine in the booths at the back of one of Brighton’s best loved pubs is this authentic modern Thai street food restaurant, run by Thai-born ‘Bookie’ and her young team. The long menu of small plates, salads, curries, stir fries and noodle dishes is bursting with spicy, aromatic flavour. The somtum salad, made with kohlrabi (rather than the more traditional papaya) green beans, tomatoes and peanuts and dressed with soy, garlic, lime and chilli is as fiery and delicious as any version from a Bangkok street cart. Mains from £9.50.
Charismatic owner Fayaz Amlani describes the food at this tiny, minimalist but welcoming restaurant close to Preston Park as ‘East coast of Africa meets West coast of India’. In practice that means a concise, regularly changing menu of flavour-packed small and larger plates that include addictive dishes such as nihari (slow cooked beef shin with ginger, chilli, lemon and coriander and dudhi batata nu shaak (butternut squash and potato in masala sauce). The vegan signature dish ‘Cauliflowers don’t have wings’ (turmeric batter coated cauliflower florets served with chilli and lemon mayo) are a must order. Plates from £4.
A trip to Brighton isn’t complete without a visit to the beach, and the dog friendly Shelter Hall is a prime location for those wanting a casual meal with a sea view. The city’s first food hall, it features seven different kitchens from Sussex-based chefs and restaurants. The current line-up includes Lost Boys Chicken, Sugardough bakery, VIP Pizza, Hanoi Kitchen, Crab Shack and 2018 MasterChef winner Kenny Tutt. Although the outdoor area is the place to be when the sun is shining, the inside has a great vibe, too, with its high, colourfully decorated ceilings, plenty of well-spaced-out tables, and a buzzy atmosphere. Menu highlights include Kenny Tutt’s beautifully charred, robata-grilled meat flatbreads and Crab Shack’s garlic-laden crispy squid with aïoli and generously crabby loaded fries. Both pair perfectly with a cold beer from local brewery Unbarred, or the bar also has an extensive cocktail and wine list, including several Sussex wines. Main dishes around £7-10. Anna Lawson
This chic but friendly neighbourhood gastropub in Hove is worth a visit for its simple, fresh seafood dishes (check out the chalkboard for specials like whole lobster with garlic butter, £35), and the incredible range of around 100 craft beers. Sunday lunchtime is popular with families and dog owners as well as discerning drinkers. Mains from £12.
This glamorous dog friendly all-day restaurant and bar with roof terrace is set on Hove’s Western Esplanade and is the perfect place for refreshments after walking your pooch along the Brighton and Hove seafront. Make a pit stop for coffee and cake or a cocktail or settle in to share a cote de beouf for two. Mains from £11.