Best places to eat in Nottingham

From south Indian and Spanish to fish & chips and fine dining, Nottingham is undergoing a foodie revolution. Tony Naylor reveals the city’s culinary highlights.

Nottingham town hall and square

Explore Nottingham’s eclectic range of restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs, showcasing both classic dishes and international cuisines. Whether you’re looking for decadent desserts, trendy delis or a world-class dining experience, this city has it all.

Alchemilla
Best for: Special occasions

Alchemilla restaurant interior with vaulted stone ceilings

A table at Restaurant Sat Bains may be the dream booking for any foodie visiting Notts (see below), but chef Alex Bond’s Alchemilla, opened last summer, is a similarly singular experience – and more affordable, too. Even the building is special. A 19th-century garage for horse-drawn carriages, all vaulted ceilings and exposed brick, it’s an unusual and chic cocoon, now augmented with living moss walls and a large open kitchen.

Beef cheek topped with nasturtium leaves and flowers

A veteran of Michelin-star kitchens, Bond established his name locally at supper clubs which showcased his fondness for creating intense, compelling plant-based dishes. These are announced with typical brevity (cauliflower, roasted yeast, almond) on Alchemilla’s tasting menus and are punctuated by contemporary meat and fish courses – for instance, an outrageously savoury dish of beef cheek, Jerusalem artichokes and miso hollandaise – that are bold and beautiful. Alchemilla is one to watch. Menus from £35.    

The Cod’s Scallops
Best for: Cheap eats, child-friendly, casual dining

Interior of Cod's Scallops with colourful, stripy seating and bright decor

With its sticks of rock and lobster-pot light fittings, this Mansfield Road fish and chip restaurant may seem like fun – and it is. But its owner, chef-restaurateur John Molnar, is also a stickler for quality and sustainability. Cooked to order in beef dripping, meaty, MSC-certified cod arrives in a peerlessly crisp, unusually tasty batter and with stellar chips scattered (winningly!) in scraps. There’s also a branch in Wollaton. From £4.20.   

Breaded fish and chips with a pot of mushy peas, on a plate

Restaurant Sat Bains 
Best for: Special occasions

The location is unpromising (beneath a flyover a good few minutes outside the city centre), but RSB is a truly world-class restaurant with rooms. Sat Bains still serves his famous 62C duck egg, pea and ham dish from 2007’s Great British Menu, but since then – underpinned by a complex kitchen garden operation – his two-Michelin-star food has evolved in a more natural direction. A kohlrabi tagliatelli, dressed tableside with a freshly pounded pesto, encapsulates his current trajectory. Menus from £95.  

The Larder on Goosegate
Best for: Casual dining, special occasions

Restaurant interior with luxurious red sofa, table and chairs by a window

Part of an architecturally fascinating, Grade II-listed building (it was the first branch of Boots in the 1880s), the Larder enjoys floor-to-ceiling views over Goose Gate. You may be too busy to look up from your plate, though. Dishes such as roast salmon with salsify, Brussels tops and miso, or ham hock croquettes with sauce gribiche and pickled pear, confidently work global influences into modern British cooking. Mains from £12.95. 

Smoked salmon, peeled vegetables and salad leaves on a plate

Kayal 
Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining

Compared to a typical British curry, south Indian food is a revelation. Kayal is a great place to explore this sensitively spiced world of lacy dosas and fresh coconut chutneys, fragrant Keralan fish curries, and vegetable dishes of remarkable depth and nuance. Priced from £3.95, the express lunch thalis are an absolute steal. Mains from £7.

Hart’s
Best for: Casual dining, special occasions

Wild mushroom and truffle risotto on a plate

This hotel-restaurant has heavyweight provenance. Owners Tim and Stefa Hart are best known for Rutland’s Michelin-starred Hambleton Hall, while their sons, Sam and Eddie, run London’s Quo Vadis and Barrafina. Located in a Georgian avenue near Nottingham Castle, the dining room’s décor is a little dated, but its modern British dishes – for instance, ox cheek with creamed potato, confit onion and braised carrot – certainly deliver. Dinner from £25.  

Quince souffle in a pot with a jug of sauce

Marrakesh
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Awash with beaten copper, ornate lamps and canopies evoking nomadic desert camps, this friendly Moroccan restaurant certainly looks the part. Its menu roves from harira soup to fatta (an Egyptian lamb dish), but at lunchtime, GF particularly likes its flatbread sandwiches (£5). Dressed in tahini and served with pickled veg, Marrakesh’s lamb kofta are juicy as hell and persuasively seasoned with chilli and cumin. Mains from £12.95.

Delilah Fine Foods
Best for: Casual dining

Delicatessen interior with customers

This food hall (‘deli’ is insufficient to describe its breadth and quality) contains a mezzanine café, which showcases the ingredients available below. Platters, Italian salads and upmarket sandwiches are forefront at lunch, but Delilah really shines as a weekend brunch spot. Linger over eggs Benedict, salt beef hash, and a fantastic mature cheddar and real ale rarebit with poached eggs and ham. Breakfast mains from £5.50. 

The Pudding Pantry
Best for: Child-friendly, cheap eats, casual dining

American-style pancakes topped with ice cream and honeycomb

It does top-notch savoury pancakes and brunches, but this coffee shop and diner, complete with vintage ice cream cart, is known for its deft baking and desserts. Do not miss the salted caramel brownie or plum frangipane tart. At afternoon tea (from £11.95 per person for adults), the choices include a kids’ menu with homemade biscuits and milkshakes. Eat-in puddings from £4.25. 

Ibérico
Best for: Casual dining

The Moorish-styled Ibérico has broadened its scope in recent years. Its high-quality cured meats and modern interpretations of Andalusian tapas are now served alongside global small plates, such as chicken wings with yuzu sweet chilli. Sister restaurant Bar Ibérico is similarly creative but stays close to the Iberian peninsula, with dishes such as chorizo in red wine and braised oxtail with sherry and lentils. Plates from £3.95. 

Edin’s Deli Café 
Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining

Scallops and veg served on two clam shells

In Hockley, Nottingham’s hip, independent enclave, restaurateur Edin Gondzic is a legend, providing home-cooked food at startling prices – £7 for a two-course lunch, £10 for rump steak with chips and salad. As well as Edin’s Deli Café (15 Broad Street, 0115 924 1112), Gondzic also runs Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti (3 Heathcoat Street; mains from £10.50) and Edin’s Kitchen (15 Carlton Street), both brilliantly quirky, with a focus on Italian food. Mains from £8.  

French Living
Best for: Casual dining

Interior of French Living bistro with tables, chairs and a cabinet of jars

In France, every provincial town has its timeless bistro, and so does Nottingham. Opened by Corsican Stephane Luiggi in 1994, French Living is a bright space full of Gallic bric-a-brac, with an interesting deli section of unpasteurised cheeses and organic wines. Regulars swear by its escargots, moules, steak frites and Saint Jacques scallops, which can be snapped up for a snip on its set lunch and pre-theatre menus. Mains from £9.95.

Annie’s Burger Shack
Best for: Casual dining

Giant cheeseburger with crispy crumb topping, served with chips on paper

This big, family-friendly joint may perturb burger purists. Where the modern burger is often about streamlined, meaty minimalism, US-born Anmarie Spaziano tops her New England burgers with some pretty crazy ingredients: grilled pineapple, peanut butter and raspberry jam, or Scottish square sausage. GF’s go-to is the simple German (sauerkraut, American mustard), washed down with a tipple from the Shack’s excellent selection of real ales and craft beers. Burger meals from £8.90.

Malt Cross
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Malt Cross downstairs view of Victorian music hall converted pub

Originally a Victorian music hall, and retaining much of its period detail, this extraordinary building is now a café bar, arts centre and independent business hub. It’s run by a coalition of church charities, but the well-stocked bar will allay any fears of piety. The well-executed food menu runs from burgers, wings and loaded fries to traditional pub dishes such as a fish finger sandwich and steak and ale pie. Meals from £7.50.

Square pie with roast potatoes and vegetables, on a plate

Suede Bar
Best for: Casual dining 

In Nottingham, the argument rages long and hard about who makes the city’s best pizza. For GF, the Neapolitan-style Suede – gloriously sweet and fresh tomato sauce, thin and digestible sourdough bases – just edges it over Oscar & Rosie’s American-inspired pies with their brasher, jazzier toppings (8 Stoney Street). Why not settle this to your own satisfaction and try both? From £7.

Yamas
Best for: Casual dining

Prawns and seafood in two bowls with handles

The name translates as “cheers!”, which sums up the breezy atmosphere at this modish Greek restaurant. It’s an informal affair of sharing meze, generous portions and big, freshly cooked flavours. Try the soutzoukakia (pork and beef meatballs) and the stifado (cinnamon-spiced tomato and beef stew). At £7.95 for three meze, lunch here is excellent value. Dishes £3 – £9. 

Kean’s Head
Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining

Vegetable strew topped with a pile of salad leaves, in a bowl

Nottingham’s Castle Rock brewery embraced the craft beer revolution with unusual zeal – no more so than at Kean’s Head, the brewery’s simple, single-roomed pub with a glittering array of hoppy gems behind the bar. It also does a sound line in gutsy, rib-sticking beer food, such as black pudding and chorizo hash with poached egg, sausage and mash, or brined pork belly with mustard mash, crispy sage and cider gravy. Mains from £6.95.

Doughnotts 
Best for: Cheap eats, child-friendly

Box of doughnuts with colourful toppings

Do you see what they’ve done there? Hidden in a cute basement off Nottingham’s main shopping drag, this takeaway and café dispenses elaborately-topped, handmade doughnuts – light, moist, clear in their flavours – that will convert any doughnut doubter. Creations such as the toffee-filled Billionaire (topped with shortbread and caramel) or Blue Velvet (blueberry cake crumb and vanilla fudge) will please big and little kids alike. £2 each.

Larwood & Voce
Best for: Casual dining, child-friendly

Roast cauliflower in sauce on a black plate

Like its outlying sister venues, the Wollaton and the Lord Nelson, this West Bridgford gastropub – which abuts Trent Bridge cricket ground – has a formidable rep for its Sunday roasts. Local meats are the foundation for a menu that takes in roast rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings, or pork belly with roasties, clapshot, buttered greens and apple sauce. If you’re celebrating, the kitchen can roast a whole suckling pig for eight to 10 people if given 48 hours’ notice. Sunday lunch mains from £12.

Junkyard
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Glasses of beer, breaded snacks in box and chips on table

Nottingham’s pre-eminent craft beer bar (its taps will thrill even the geekiest hop-head), Junkyard also serves perky street food. Beef cheek and mojo marinade tacos and bao buns, perhaps filled with gochujang pork belly, green chilli relish and candied cashews, are newer additions to a menu of burgers, dogs and IPA mac ‘n’ cheese balls. Note: Junkyard still serves its legendary Cuban sandwich of ham, roast pork, salami and Emmental. Meals from £6.50. 


5 foodie places to try

Brew Cavern

Line of bottle fridges

A tiny, magical bottle shop, stacked with hoppy wonders including beers from local rising stars Black Iris.  

Small Food Bakery

Local foodies rave about Small Food’s exceptional, super-slow fermented breads. Open Fridays and Saturdays. 

Hockley Arts Club

Pink cocktail in long glass topped with a Twister ice lolly

Hidden down an alley off Carlton Street, this cool three-storey venue has all your late-night cocktail needs covered. 

Outpost Coffee 

Exterior frontage of Outpost coffee shop with two customers

Painstakingly sourced, small-batch roasted, single-origin beans power Outpost’s superlative pour-over, cold brew coffees. It serves a knockout flat white, too. 

Nottingham Street Food Club

Open Friday to Sunday, upstairs in the Victoria Centre, NSFC is home to Homeboys and Smoqued, joined each week by the finest pop-ups such as Taste of Korea and Smiffy’s Smoke Shack. 

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All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of April 2018 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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