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Chester is a sparkling gem of a city in the north-west of England, founded by the Romans in 79 AD when they decided it was a perfect place to build a fort. It remains one of the best-preserved examples of a walled city in Britain and, among the historic sights (also spanning medieval and Victorian architecture), it boasts superb independent shops and restaurants.

But where are the best places to eat after browsing the picturesque streets? We have the rundown of the top restaurants, whether you want to eat casually with the family, get the full fine dining experience, or eat on the go between sightseeing.

If you enjoy this, read our other city guides – we have expert recommendations for the best restaurants to eat in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Oxford.

Best restaurants in Chester at a glace

Sticky Walnut
Casual dining, special occasion

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Sticky walnut chef

There’s not much to say about Sticky Walnut that hasn’t already been said by its owner and cult Twitter star Gary Usher. But amid all the entertaining online banter and crowdfunding drives (to launch spin-offs Hispi, Burnt Truffle, Wreckfish and the new Pinion), it’s easy to forget how exceptional this bistro is. Located on the edge of Chester city centre, it’s a model restaurant from its affable staff to its assured, intelligent food. Try the aged sirloin on the bone with truffle and parmesan chips. Three courses are £47, two courses are £39.

Simon Radley
Special occasion

Simon radley main course

This one-Michelin-starred restaurant, headed up by Simon Radley at the grand old Chester Grosvenor is surprisingly modish on the plate. Pin-point dishes – such as turbot with miso and charred octopus or wild garlic gnocchi with morels and langoustines – are complex, light creations. The service, however, is unreconstructed fine dining. Waiters glide to and fro, communicating in whispers, ministering attentively. Even the bread trolley, manned by a white-gloved waiter, is a performance. Dinner's tasting menu costs £99pp on Wednesday and Thursday and £115 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Burger Shed 41
Casual dining, cheap eats, kid-friendly

Calling it a ‘shed’ rather undersells this dimly lit, hard-edged burger restaurant, which is soundtracked by a mixture of Cuban jazz, moody indie rock and the sizzle of hot patties. A blend of locally sourced brisket and skirt, Shed burgers are well seasoned and juicy as hell, and come in unusually creamy brioche buns. The menu extends to hot dogs, various types of ‘dirty’ fries, tacos and salads and an extensive range of shakes. Burgers from £10.

The Chef's Table
Casual dining

Recently reopened after a major renovation, every detail of this restaurant has been carefully considered and there are regular, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan menus to choose from. Chef-owner Liam McKay’s dishes – for example, stuffed courgette flowers with aubergine & miso puree, or wood pigeon with black pudding and air dried ham ballotine – take modern British food on an exhilarating world tour. Two courses £28, three courses £33.

Casual dining, cheap eats

Hidden in Rufus Court, this hip gem does a small number of things well. Fundamentally, it’s a wine bar that serves a tight, ever-changing list of refreshingly different wines (e.g. natural, small producers) with Sticky Walnut breads and French charcuterie, and cheeses from Borough Market’s Une Normande à Londres. Owner Chris Laidler is an enthusiastic guide – and look out for Covino’s supper club events.

The Brewery Tap
Casual dining, cheap eats

Chester brewery Spitting Feathers has turned an atmospheric Jacobean hall into a cracking real ale pub, with beer and food to match – think gutsy dishes such as braised beef and pork & apple sausages with mash and onion gravy, or beer battered haddock with chips. Local ingredients are key.

Koconut Grove
Casual dining

The food at this minimalist south Indian restaurant – judiciously decorated with beautiful flowers and a few oversized ornaments – is as clean and fresh as its decor. From its dosas, sambars and chutneys to a fennel-flavoured lamb curry or beef mappas, Koconut Grove’s sensitively spiced dishes vibrate with vivid, clearly defined flavours. Mains from £4.25.

Casual dining, cheap eats

Porta tapas dishes

Ordinarily, we wouldn't include two venues from the same owners. But, Porta – another Wright brothers’ production, located next to Joseph Benjamin – is so good and different from the latter, it demands its moment. A tiny, bustling no-bookings tapas bar, it serves a clutch of interesting Spanish wines and on-point dishes, from simple croquetas to a revelatory Picos de Europa (blue cheese with caramelised walnuts, sultanas and honey). Dishes £2.50-£34.

Casual dining

From the street, this Georgian townhouse (now hotel) gives a little hint of the design-led complex within, where a light-filled restaurant opens out into a large, quirky 'secret' garden. Try a selection of small plates to create a tapas-style meal, focused on seasonal ingredients and less food waste. Mains from £9.

Atina Kitchen
Casual dining

This idiosyncratic café/restaurant (a riot of bric-a-brac and foodie ephemera), is open day and night. Its menus are extensive and its themed nights delve into everything from artisan gin to Black Sea wine. It's also a brilliant breakfast bolt-hole. Plates of Tabasco scrambled eggs, charred halloumi and avocado, or haggis with poached egg and an English muffin will banish any lingering morning fuzziness. Breakfast from £5.

Chez Jules
Casual dining, kid-friendly

This homage to France (complete with murals of beret-clad pensioners and unsalted Elle et Vire beurre gastronomique on the tables) is renowned in Chester for its great-value menu du jour and prix fixe dishes of two courses for £13.95. You can enjoy a decent goat’s cheese salad, slow-braised steak or roasted root veg gratin. It's nothing flash – the accompanying veg has a farmhouse kitchen feel – but the flavours are sunny and true. Mains from £13.95.

The Yard
Casual dining

Décor-wise, the Yard seems torn between upscale bling and grungy cool – a dilemma Chester wrestles with generally. Luckily, the food (crowd-pleasing, diligently cooked Italian) knows exactly where it’s at. The beef cheek Bolognese with tagliatelle delivers sound, slow-cooked flavours and silky, al dente pasta. The fixed price menu (two courses, £18) is good value. The staff are great, too. Mains from £15.50

Casual dining

This slick bar/diner – a conversion of a former mill on the Shropshire Union canal – does a bit of everything all day long with some aplomb, from breakfast (try the black pudding, colcannon and fried egg; breakfast meals from £6.50) to late-night gin cocktails and craft beers. Artichoke’s broadly Mediterranean evening mains menu might include such dishes as striped sea bass with brown shrimp and caper butter, or courgette, feta, lemon and wild rocket filo pie. Evening mains from £6.50.

Hickory’s Smokehouse
Casual dining, kid-friendly

You would be forgiven for letting out a 'yee-haw!' as you walk into Hickory’s, so loud, lively and authentically American does it feel. Its owners have brought back more than a love of TV sports and country music from their Stateside road trips, too. BBQ meats, done in a variety of regional styles (try the 16-hour smoked Texas brisket), hit the mark, while Hickory’s wings, burgers and soul food dishes, will please both kids… and big kids. Mains from £12.50.

The Old Harkers Arms
Casual dining

A polished and grown-up canalside pub (its ban on small children under 10 is, for some, controversial), Harkers is both a nice spot for a quiet pint (nine cask ales, six guests) and/or a bite to eat. The menu is fairly wide (with dishes such as jalfrezi paneer kebabs and crispy beef salad), but Harkers is also big on the pub classics: choose from steak and all pudding; fish 'n' chips; or ham, egg & chips. Mains from £11.95.

4 foodie places to try

The Cheese Shop

A legendary northern champion of artisan cheeses for over 30 years, with a top selection of mead, too.

The Cellar

This unpretentious hang-out is Chester’s pre-eminent craft beer bar; it's the place to sup delicious imported gems from To Øl, Cigar City Brewing and more.

The Jaunty Goat

Relax, coffee geeks! Chester has you covered. The Jaunty Goat does it all, from V60 pour-overs to cortados and flat whites.

Taste Cheshire

This is the local farmers' market, held every third Saturday outside Chester Town Hall. Also, look out for events from vegan festivals to street food at the Carriage Shed next to the railway station.

Like these suggestions? See other UK foodie travel guides...

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The best restaurants in Nottingham
The best restaurants in Belfast
The best restaurants in Edinburgh
The best restaurants in Glasgow

Or our international travel guides...

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