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.
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 head chef Dave Mothersill on board, this intimate, neighbourhood fine diner is as much as a foodie destination as ever. Refined, on-trend dishes might include Galician octopus with shitake mushrooms, white radish, bonito and dashi.
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
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.
Arissy Kitchen are serving up some delicious Med-influenced small plates cooked by a former Ottolenghi chef.
The three-strong Bison Beer craft beer bar group have some great resident pop-ups including Asian barbecue Drunk Monk at their North Laine bar, Slam Tacos from former 64 Degree chef Sam Lambert and, until January, Wood X Coal barbecue at their Sea Lanes beach bar.
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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