The best restaurants to eat in Oxford
Discover a trendy tapas spot, a range of cool cafés, fine dining restaurants and a host of traditional pubs serving up modern bites in beautiful Oxford.
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Planning a relaxing getaway to the beautiful city of Oxford? What better way is there to explore than through your stomach? We have gathered the best places to eat in Oxford to make finding delicious food simple and easy. If you enjoy this guide, check out our other helpful city guides - we have expert recommendations for the best restaurants to eat in Liverpool, Manchester, York and Newcastle.
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Best restaurants in Oxford at a glance
- The Magdalen Arms - Casual dining
- Arbequina - Casual dining, cheap eats
- The Mason Arms - Casual dining, special occasion
- Old Parsonage Hotel - Casual dining, kid-friendly
- Gee's - Casual dining, kid-friendly
- Brew - Cheap eats
- 2 North Parade - Casual dining
- Branca - Casual dining, kid-friendly
- Cherwell Boathouse - Special occasion
- The Feathers - Casual dining, special occasion, kid-friendly
- Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons - Special occasion
- Rooftop Restaurant at Ashmolean - Casual dining
- The Rusty Bicycle - Casual dining, cheap eats
- Quod - Casual dining, special occasions
The Magdalen Arms
On a Saturday night, it feels like all of Oxford has made a beeline for this rustic yet chic gastropub to feast on generous platters of whole shoulder of lamb. Sister pub to The Anchor & Hope in London, The Magdalen Arms takes a gutsy approach to modern cooking; expect starters such as Cornish mussels marinière, and mains such as Hereford steak and ale suet crust pie and buttered greens for two. The wine list offers plenty of choices around the £30 mark, and the bar staff make a mean mojito. If it's sunny, ask for a table on the terrace. Mains from £13.
Casual dining, cheap eats
This converted chemist’s shop on Oxford’s Cowley Road is where you'll find some of the best tapas in the country. Request a seat at the long, steel-topped counter to watch robustly flavoured plates like sea bass with fennel salad and piquillo peppers come off the plancha. Must-try dishes include crunchy salt cod croquetas with aioli, and slow-roasted pork belly with mojo verde. The first-floor dining room is perfect for larger groups. Tapas from £4.50.
The Mason Arms
Casual dining, special occasion
For a taste of the Oxfordshire countryside, head to this rural thatched pub, where the food is so local and seasonal that you can order roast rump of lamb raised in the adjoining field, served alongside spiced bhajis made with courgettes from the pub’s vegetable garden. Part of the Artist Residence group of boutique hotels, the decor fuses English pub stylings with modern elements, including neon sculptures by artist Andy Doig. Mains from £15.
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Old Parsonage Hotel
Casual dining, kid-friendly
The secluded walled courtyard of this ivy-covered 17th-century parsonage is the perfect, tranquil spot for afternoon tea. The restaurant, featuring charcoal walls hung with numerous artworks and a gentleman’s club feel, is equally popular with diners. The ‘very high tea’ option includes fresh finger sandwiches, featherlight scones with exceptionally good jam and a delightfully squidgy brownie, served with loose leaf tea from a silver pot. Afternoon tea from £33.
Casual dining, kid-friendly
After a Saturday night on the town, a quiet brunch among the greenery of this recently-refurbished Victorian conservatory is a soothing experience. Scrambled eggs get a Mediterranean twist, with morcilla (blood sausage) and Pugliese toast, and the generous serving of avocado with smoked salmon, poached egg and toasted sourdough is always a tempting option. The all-day menu includes the likes of linguine with crab and brown shrimp, and wood-fired guinea fowl. Mains from £19.50.
With its gleaming copper and bronze Elektra espresso machine, retro ’60s-style orange portable record player and collection of dog-eared vintage vinyl, this bijou coffee shop wouldn’t look out of place in hipster Brooklyn. Specialist coffees are freshly ground and expertly prepared, and the range of snacks includes an interesting spinach cake.
2 North Parade
If you’re looking for local, organic produce, head to this modern, stylish grocers. You'll find everything from organic yogurt and cream from North Aston Dairy to wines from Brightwell Vineyards, as well as locally farmed organic fruit and veg.
Casual dining, kid-friendly
This popular contemporary brasserie with an annex deli has been drawing the crowds to Oxford’s fashionable Jericho suburb for the past 22 years with its accessible all-day menu of pizza, pasta, steaks and Mediterranean-inspired dishes, such as chargrilled sea bream with creamed spinach and new potatoes. With a menu for under-12s and a leafy garden terrace, Branca is ideal for family dining. Mains from £14.
There isn’t a more romantic or tranquil setting in the city. Dine al fresco on the banks of the River Cherwell, enjoying crowd-pleasing dishes like rump of lamb and smoked haddock tagliatelle, and watch the punts drift by from this converted Victorian boathouse. The award-winning wine list offers plenty of opportunity to splash out for a special occasion. Mains from £20.25.
Casual dining, special occasion, kid-friendly
Situated close to Blenheim Palace, The Feathers is a 17th-century townhouse hotel with a charming wood-panelled dining room. Sophisticated, modern European dishes might include roast whole plaice, with brown shrimps, cucumber, pea shoots and dill new potatoes or wild mushroom and spinach pie with creamed leeks. A special menu for children under 12 includes spaghetti Bolognese and sticky toffee pudding. Mains from £11.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
Raymond Blanc’s beautifully maintained 15th-century Oxfordshire manor house in the village of Great Milton is a paean to perfectionism. From the manicured lawn where you sip pre-dinner champagne and nibble on delicate canapés to the immaculately turned out waiters who patrol the airy conservatory dining room, everything is in its rightful place. Blanc’s modern haute cuisine draws on Asian influences in dishes like Cornish crab, kaffir lime, coconut and passion fruit. Six-course lunch menu £205 per person.
Rooftop Restaurant at Ashmolean
Get up close and personal with the city’s dreaming spires from the terrace of this landmark museum’s rooftop restaurant. Designed by acclaimed architect Rick Mather, the modern glass-fronted dining room is flooded with light during the day and is a stunning location for any form of refreshment, from a glass of wine to afternoon tea or a three-course meal (which may include such delights as pork belly with porcini mushrooms, smoked pancetta and puy lentils). Mains from £12.50.
The Rusty Bicycle
Casual dining, cheap eats
You’ll be welcomed like a local at this friendly neighbourhood back-street pub and beer garden in east Oxford. The easy-going menu features burgers made with dry-aged prime cuts, wood-fired pizzas and healthier options such as bowls of kale Caesar salad. Craft beers include the pub’s own small-batch-brewed Dodo lager. Mains from £8.50.
Casual dining, special occasions
This contemporary hotel brasserie in the city centre is the perfect pitstop for a light lunch after a morning's sightseeing. The handsome interior, with its exposed brick, flagstone floors, marble-topped bar and large arch windows is flooded with light. Mediterranean-style dishes may include spinach and ricotta ravioli with pine nuts and basil or a spicy Italian sausage and red pepper pizza. On a sunny day, ask for a table on the secluded terrace. Mains from £15.95.
Five foodie places to try
Open daily, this 18th-century market is the place to come for everything from fresh meat and fish to Korean food. Don’t miss the Oxford Cheese Company's jaw-dropping display.
The aesthetics may be cool, but the welcome is warm at this specialist in British and Irish cheeses. Look out for local Rollright, a soft cow’s milk cheese.
Two Saturdays a month, North Parade Avenue transforms into an artisan and organic market, with fresh produce and street food from local traders.
This patisserie is run by Hervé Gatineau, former head of pastry at Maison Blanc. Try the oversized brioche au sucre.
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