A decade ago, you could have counted Brighton and Hove’s recommendable restaurants on the fingers of one hand. Now, the city has been transformed by talented local and incoming entrepreneurs and chefs. Resident food writer Andy Lynes reveals how this seaside city now has a distinctive dining identity that’s well worth taking the train from London to experience.
15 Baker Street, Brighton, BN1 4JN
This charming husband and wife-run bistro is hidden away down a side street near to Brighton’s famous Open Market. It’s the kind of reliably great, good value place (£40 for three courses including bread and marinated olives) that the locals would rather keep for themselves. Chef Orson Whitfield creates a monthly changing modern British menu of local and seasonal dishes such as rump of lamb, shoulder croquette, leek purée and pressed potato while Linda makes sure there’s a warm welcome in the intimate dining room.
3 Hove Street, Hove, BN3 2TR
Local celebrity chef and restaurateur Ben McKellar’s gastropub with rooms that’s set just off the seafront on Hove is part of a four-strong group that includes The Gingerman and The Flint House in the city plus the out-of-town The Ginger Fox pub. Start with a spiced margarita at the marble topped bar then move through to the spacious and stylish dining room with its charcoal painted walls, exposed ducting and polished wood floor for the appealing menu that mixes elevated pub classics such as rabbit scotch egg with modern British dishes that might include Confit duck with
60 Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AE
The green and orange colour scheme of the interior of this perennially popular Brighton Lanes diner is as vibrant as the flavours of the authentic South Indians treet food on the menu. Many of the dishes such as kadai vegetable curry made with cauliflower, peppers and okra spiced with ginger, coriander and fenugreek are vegan friendly but meat and fish eaters will not be disappointed with the likes of Peshwari lamb seekh kebab or Alleppey seabass and king prawn curry. The list of craft beers that includes the locally brewed Brighton Bier Pale Ale has won awards, so why not book the restaurant’s three-bedroom apartment and make a night of it.
25 Gloucester Road, Brighton BN1 4AQ (and two other locations)
Brighton’s home-grown Neapolitan-style artisan pizza group has been so successful that it now boasts two London branches located in the Croydon and Shoreditch Boxparks. In its home city, whether you’re in the fashionable North Laine, in the Boho London Road area or have ventured into upmarket Hove, you are never far from a branch of this friendly and always busy pizzeria with its distinctive blue and white striped awningand showpiece woodfired oven. A recent menu refresh is a great excuse (as if you needed one) to visit to try one of the range of ‘Pizza Moderna’ that includes a pie topped with ‘nduja, gorgonzola and tapenade.
42 Western Road, Hove, BN3 1JD
Bag one of the comfortable leather stools at the counter for a peek into the open kitchen at this lively, stylish modern Spanish tapas restaurant that’s decorated with glazed green tiled walls and Spanish hams hanging from the ceiling. Along with traditional dishes such as ham croquetas and salt cod fritters, the menu also celebrates the best of local produce with sharing steaks of wagyu/Anerdeen Angus crossbreed beef from Trenchmore Farm that less than 20 miles from the restaurant. The pavement terrace is the perfect place to watch the world go by on a sunny day.
1 Bartholomews, Brighton, BN1 1HB
You’ll find one of the best lists of organic, biodynamic and natural wines in the city at this lively centrally wine bar and restaurant in the Lanes. Exposed brickwork, bare wood tables and feature stained glass create a casual setting for the daily changing blackboard menu of eclectic small plates that might include wild venison pierogi with fermented chilli, all served to an eclectic soundtrack of jazz, hip hop and dub. The classic cocktails are among the best in town.
88-91 Preston Street, Brighton, BN1 2HG
This 40-year-old stalwart serves Chinese and Cantonese dishes that will be immediately recognisable to anyone craving crispy aromatic duck pancakes or steamed whole sea bass with ginger and spring onion in a familiar upmarket monochromatic setting. But a new generation of local foodies are seeking out the restaurant, that’s set just off Brighton’s sea front attracted by the dim sum menu (served daily between 12-4pm) that includes ox tripe, curried whelks and chicken feet in black bean sauce as well as more mainstream items including char sui buns.
8 Boyce's Street,Brighton,BN1 1AN
For some of the best steak in the city, look no further than Raz Helalat’s stylish and modern diner hidden away on a side street close to the seafront. An impressively stocked bar makes a focal point for the ground floor dining room (there’s a second, more intimate space on the first floor) with its glass pendant lamps, dark painted wainscotting and bare wood tables. Big chunks of meat (and fish) cooked over flames is the speciality here but don’t skip enticing starters such as grilled octopus with romesco and chorizo and hazelnut crumb.
57 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FH
Chef Kanthi Kiran Thamma is something of a local culinary legend having worked at The Chilli Pickle and launched Curry Leaf Café before opening this long-term resident kitchen at the boho Hampton Pub in a back street close to Brighton’s Churchill Square shopping hub. Thamma’s menu is inspired by family recipes and his extensive travels around India and might include Goan-style slow cooked pork xacuti flavoured with coconut, cardamom, star anise and chilli, perfect with one of the pub’s many craft beers.
70 Ship Street, Brighton, BN1 1AE
This husband-and-wife sharing plates restaurant is a little piece of France transplanted to Brighton’s Lanes. Chef David works in the open kitchen, rustling up platters of snails with garlic and parsley and bowls of bouillabaisse made with local seafood while Ivana makes sure everyone is happy in the intimate and simply decorated dining room. Atrue family-friendly affair, kids eat for £7 and there’s a traditional roast made with French flair on Sundays.
174 Portland Road, Hove, BN3 5QN
Former Cin Cin operations manager Ciaran Jones run this informal 20 seat café/restaurant with chef Ciaran Nugent whose CV includes Trinity in Clapham as well as Cin Cin. The local fooderati flock to deepest Hove (a 10-minute taxi ride from the city centre) for the Wednesday night BYOB supper club of simple seasonal dishes that might include crisped duck leg with blood orange and caramelised endive. The £26 Sunday lunchthat includes snacks, dessert and a traditional roast is a real bargain
53 Meeting House Ln, Brighton BN1 1HB
Chef Michael Bremner’s intimate Lanes destination was one of the first innovative small plates restaurants in the city. A new tasting menu concept has ensured 64 Degrees remains one of the city’s hottest tickets. Request a table at the open kitchen counter so you can watch the chefs prepare sophisticated, creative dishes such as guinea fowl with miatake, yeast, yolk and broth.
63 Preston St, Brighton BN1 2HE
There are always tables for walk-ins at David Miney’s authentic Japanese izakaya-style restaurant. But, as one of the most popular restaurants in the city (and deservedly so), it’s probably best to book to ensure you can enjoy the legendary pork belly skewers and teriyaki quail among many other delights. Look out for the daily chalkboard specials which are always worth ordering.
59 Middle St, Brighton BN1 1AL
From the team behind The Salt Room as wel as the Brighton and London branches of The Coal Shed comes this chic new bar and restaurant in the Lanes. The menu of wood-fired Med-inspired small plates might include flamed sea bream with basil yoghurt and mango dressing. It's a good late night spot for some of the best cocktails in the city and a music programme curated by Fat Boy Slim.
17 Jubilee St, Brighton BN1 1GE
Husband and wife team Alun and Dawn Sperring have been wowing Brighton with their carefully researched interpretation of regional Indian cuisine for over a decade. Take a seat in their bright and lively city centre brasserie where the must orders include spicy firecracker chicken wings and the Jaipur chilli mutton curry. The lunchtime-only king thalis are things of local legend.
60 Western Road, Hove BN3 1JD
Restaurateur David Toscano and chef Jamie Halsall opened their casual Italian counter dining concept in Fitzrovia earlier this year to critical acclaim but Brighton and Hove is where it all started. Come for the reliably delicious pasta dishes such as rigatoni all'Amatriciana and tagliatelle with ragu of wild mushroom and mascarpone.
139 Kings Road Arches, Brighton BN1 2FN
From the owners of Riddle & Finns comes this Brat-influenced sea-front restaurant with a focus on local produce cooked over open fire. Ask for a table by the window or on the terrace for the best sea views. Make sure you get the superb wood fired sourdough bread and local scallops in buttermilk and chive oil.
216 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2DJ
Masterchef: The Professionals champion Steven Edwards (who also runs the Bingham Riverhouse restaurant in Richmond is currently extending his acclaimed modern fine dining restaurant into the next-door premises. When it re-opens in late October, etch will have a new bar area and extra tables where Edwards will continue to serve his polished, considered and delicious dishes that he tersely describes with just two words such as ‘monkfish, leek’.
13 Hanningtons Lane, Brighton BN1 1GS
The most recent opening from chef Ben McKeller is the first of his five-strong group not to include the word ‘ginger’ in its name, perhaps indicative of the restaurant’s different style. This is the first to focus on small plates and cocktails which it does brilliantly. Ask for a table on the covered and heated roof terrace and graze on sweetcorn fritters with jalapeno mayo while you browse the menu. Order the good value chef’s menu for a selection of bestselling dishes.
84 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2EB
This wine bar, restaurant and wine shop has garnered a clutch of national reviews for its regularly changing menu of small plates and excellent wine list and drinks programme (Grace Dent called it ‘one of the greatest restaurants I’ve been to in the past few years’ in her Guardian review). Don’t miss the silky duck liver and Madeira parfait or the list of sherries, a particular passion of co-owner Paul Morgan.
21a Norfolk Square, Brighton BN1 2PD
The Gingerman may be more than 20 years old, but local celebrity chef Ben McKellar has never rested on his laurels. With new head chef Sophie Fenlon (formerly of The Ritz) on board, this intimate, neighbourhood fine diner is as much as a foodie destination as ever. Refined, on-trend dishes might include Loin of South Downs Lamb with Aubergine, Black Tea and Grape.
9 Preston Rd, Brighton BN1 4QE
Unique East African meets Indian cuisine is the hook at this casual and cosy neighbourhood restaurant with warm, personal service and delicious food that’s worth seeking out on the city centre’s northern edge (make an afternoon or evening of it with a visit to the nearby Unbarred brewery). The menu changes regularly but might include Nihari, a Pakistani dish of slow cooked beef shin with bone marrow, ginger, coriander, lime and green chilli.
10 Upper Market St, Hove BN3 1AS
Chef Duncan Ray’s intimate seafood restaurant, tucked away off the seafront, offers one of the best fine dining experiences in the city. A recent refurbishment has breathed new life into the place and the food is better than ever. Highlights of a recent meal included crab with green Thai curry sauce and an oyster velouté with charred compressed cucumber and beer batter scraps. Order the wine pairing curated by Noble Rot.
1d St James's St, Kemptown, Brighton BN2 1RE
Set just off the Old Steine, close to the famous Palace Pier you’ll find this stylish, lively restaurant and bar that specialises in northern Thai-style barbecue cooking. Come for cocktails, music and local mutton massamam curry with hogget chop, cassia bark, toasted peanuts, jersey royals and coconut broth.
2-3 Little East Street, Brighton BN1 1HT
A recent and welcome addition to the Brighton restaurant scene from local street food entrepreneurs Will Dennard and Jack Southan of Wolfsmouth fame, Med offers modern Mediterranean-inspired small plates in smart surroundings. The menu of simple but delicious dishes might include grilled sardines with mojo verde and tuna ceviche with kumquat and salty fingers.
The Beach, 65 Kings Road, Brighton BN1 1NA
This recently-opened, glamorous seafood restaurant and champagne bar is the sister of the long-established original Riddle & Finns in the Lanes and offers some of the best sea views in the city. Come for a glass of Sussex fizz or grower champagne and a towering fruits de mer platter or a more creative dish of braised octopus with confit egg yolk, miso yoghurt and pine nuts.
106 Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2FU
This is Brighton’s biggest and most glamorous seafood restaurant. Arrive early for a well made cocktail such as a signature Salt Room Daquiri made with rum, strawberry, basil and citrus then head into the spacious buzzing dining room for seafood (and meat) cooked over fire including charred scallops with Café de Paris butter, pickled lemon and edamame.
50 Preston Road, Brighton BN1 4QF
Chef Dan Kenny has relocated his long-running restaurant from the Artist’s Residence hotel to a long-term residency at the bohemian Café Rust, north of the city centre. The move has galvanised the chef’s cooking with a new weekly-changing 14-16 course tasting menu centred around ‘big flavours, fat and umami’ and might include a wagyu and truffle lasagna. Look out for the new Cellar bar opening beneath The Set in October with tapas and drinks from chef Paul Smith, formerly of Moro, Chez Bruce and The Set.
Kings Road Arches, Shelter Hall, Brighton BN1 1NB
This once derelict Victorian shelter on Brighton’s seafront has been beautifully restored and now houses a stylish food market and bar. Order via an app from a changing line-up of seven independent chef-led kitchens that currently include Masterchef champion Kenny Tutt’s Ox Block serving robata grilled meats.
135 Kings Rd, Brighton. BN1 2HX
You’ll find some of the most authentic regional Mexican food anywhere in the UK prepared by a Mexican team at this seafront restaurant and bar. Launched as a weekly pop up three years ago, Tlaloc went permanent earlier this year with a thrilling menu that includes a deeply flavoured pressed pork belly mole. Don’t miss the bargain brunch and lunch deals (see their website for details).
5-17 Belfast St, Hove BN3 3YS
Hidden away on a side road in deepest Hove, this neighbourhood gastropub is well worth seeking out for its top-notch seafood and wide selection of craft beers all served in relaxed but stylish surroundings. Feast on whole crab with lovage and wild garlic butter and a glass of Larrakin beer, made in the pub’s own on-site microbrewery. In good weather ask for a seat in the secluded courtyard.
42 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2FN
Wild Flor is to Brighton as Arbutus and Racine were to London; a great neighbourhood place that over-delivers on the food and wine front. Enjoy carefully selected aged wines at reasonable prices (and much else besides on the regularly updated wine list) with a comforting plate of Braised beef short rib with blackberry and cornichon. Sunday lunch is particularly good value.
Bars and pubs
49 Gloucester Rd, Brighton BN1 4AQ
This independently run craft beer pub in the North Laine and close to Brighton railway station underwent a smart designer makeover a few years ago with a dark blue colour scheme but still retains the original woodwork from when it first opened over a century ago, giving it a timelessly elegant but inviting feel. In Baby Bao, the pub boasts one of the longest running and most popular resident kitchens in the city. As well as the selection of signature bao buns with fillings such as Thai coconut chicken with som tam and satay sauce, there’s a range of sharing plates that include five spice chicken wings
North Laine, Seven Dials, Q Square
This group of three prohibition-style cocktail and wine bars not only offers atmospheric surroundings and delicious well made classic and modern cocktails but also one of the finest wine lists in the city, packed full of gems such as Sassicaia Tentua San Guido 2009.
14 Ship St, Brighton BN1 1AD
An intimate bar in the Lanes offering a list of modern takes on classic cocktails such as a refreshing Would You Guava made with gin, ginger passionfruit guava and lime. Pair that with eclectic small plates from Espina kitchen that might include seafood empanadas or an Hawaiian pizza grilled cheese sandwich.
Queensbury Mews, Brighton BN1 2FE
A tiny historic back street pub recently renovated by local landlord legend Jim Paine who has a strong following in the foodie/hospitality world. There's a regularly updated chalkboard of artisan craft beers and ales.
19-23 Elder Place, Brighton BN1 8UJ
Hidden away in an unloved urban corner of Brighton behind London Road is one of the city’s hippest craft beer bars. In good weather, sit on the open-air terrace and sample some UnBarred brews that are only served at the taproom.
Also see in Brighton...
For the best breakfast and brunch rolls head to Fika
Track down some of the best coffee in the city at Black Rain
Lickle More food truck offers some highly rated Jamaican street food.
The three-strong Bison Beer craft beer bar group have some great resident pop-ups including The Original Toby's NY-style pizza at their North Laine bar and Slam Tacos from former 64 Degree chef Sam Lambert.
For modern Thai street food in a much-loved back street Brighton pub, head to Namo Thai at The Eagle Pub
Slow and Low Smoke House at The Bronze in Kemptown offers modern smokehouse food from an ex-64 Degrees chef.
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