By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
If you come on holiday to Cornwall, you’re going to be dining by the sea. And luckily for you, Cornwall offers the best seaside dining in the UK. Whether you choose to dine in style in a chic restaurant with a view or relax on the sand with a seafood takeaway, you’ll be blown away by the quality on offer.
Any foodie pilgrimage to Cornwall should start in the picturesque harbour town of ‘Padstein’ (aka Padstow) – the place that sparked Cornwall’s foodie revolution when Rick Stein opened his flagship Seafood Restaurant in 1975. While Stein is still a huge name in town and you need to book months ahead to go dining at the famous Seafood Restaurant, these days there’s much more to choose from.
Stein’s Fishmongers & Seafood Bar has a very fitting interiorArguably the best place to go dining in Padstow is Paul Ainsworth at No.6. Here Ainsworth spins bold, seasonal ingredients – think Porthilly oysters from the Camel Estuary or monkfish fresh off the day boats – into mouth-watering, modern British dishes. It’s one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the country, but if you’re looking for something even more affordable, try Ainsworth’s other spin off – Caffé Rojano – where you can tuck into the devilish combo of Italian and Spanish cuisine using Cornish produce. Think seasonal small plates, deli sandwiches, beautiful sourdough pizzas and fresh pasta dishes.
Stein is a huge name in town and you need to book months ahead to bag a table at the famous Seafood Restaurant
Hop over the estuary to The Mariners Public House, and you can sample more of Ainsworth’s classic signature dishes alongside ales from the nearby Sharp’s brewery.
A little further out of town, Trevisker’s Kitchen dishes up fuss-free, quality food that echoes the coastal and country lifestyle of North Cornwall.
North Cornwall’s food scene is by no means relegated to Padstow; the surrounding area is smattered with tasty gems to go dining at. Topping the list is Nathan Outlaw’s duo of Michelin-starred restaurants in pretty Port Isaac. The menus at both Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen (by the harbour) and Outlaw’s New Road (at the top of the hill), are driven by what comes in off the fishing boats.
Also worth a look is the more casual Fresh from the Sea, where you can tuck into crab, lobster and line-caught Cornish fish, all landed by owner Calum Greenhlagh on his day boat.
A short distance from Port Isaac in neighbouring Port Gaverne, you can munch on the likes of mussels and mackerel at the waterside Pilchards Cafe – an offshoot of the stylish Port Gaverne Hotel.
As you cruise down the Atlantic Highway towards Newquay, go dining at Hawksfield and the trendy roadside café that is Strong Adolfos. Here you’ll find a unique mix of motorcycle culture, Cornish ingredients and coastal life. Fuel up with a hearty breakfast before a surf on one of the nearby beaches, tuck into big burgers and sandwiches or keep things healthy with a green smoothie.
Newquay has shed its all-night party image and grown into a gastronomic honey pot. While you can still enjoy fish and chips or ice creams on the beach, you’re more likely to find yourself ordering delicious gluten-free delicacies, vitamin-packed smoothies and dishes showcasing local ingredients from seafood to samphire.
Hipster hangouts include coffee shop Box and Barber and the Pavilion Bakery, which serves artisan breads and pastries as well as English and Sri Lankan brunches. You could also try Jam Jar, where you can enjoy healthy smoothie bowls and a selection of caffeine and dairy-free lattes – think turmeric, beetroot or charcoal.
Go dining a couple of miles north of town to The Beach Hut at Watergate Bay and you can grab a legendary burger, an extreme hot chocolate or seafood-based bistro favourites. It’s just one of a clutch of stylish eateries on this popular surfing beach.
In a unique setting beside lily ponds and water gardens on the outskirts of Truro, the award-winning Penrose Kitchen has picked up quite a following with its pretty plates of local and home-grown produce. In the heart of Truro, where there’s an overwhelming choice of coffee shops, make a pit stop at Bread & Butter, for frittatas, homemade sausage rolls and the café’s famous fluffy American pancakes.
St Ives is a worthy rival to Padstow when it comes to culinary treats. The Porthminster Café boasts a string of accolades, so if you want to soak up the beachside vibes over ingredients plucked from the ocean and the café’s kitchen garden, it’s worth booking ahead.
A relative newbie in town is the intimate One Fish Street, adding to St Ives’ rich seafood repertoire. Here fish from the day boats is the star of small plates brimming with exciting flavours.
Beer & Bird is an independent and family-run business located in Fore Street, St Ives. Specialising in Cornish, free-range fried chicken, the restaurant offers a delicious selection of burgers, Belgian waffles and homemade sides, alongside a range of hearty meat-free dishes including their own-recipe vegan fried chicken.
Vegans can join in dining on seafood favourites with the Tofu Fish ‘n’ Chips at the Rum and Crab Shack. Or, also beside the harbour, watch the boats come and go over a tofu or black bean burger with an ethical twist from the legendary Blas Burger.
If you want fresh Cornish ingredients fused with the global flavours of the Med, head to the Porthgwidden Restaurant, a relaxed and intimate setting hunkered on the edge of a white-sand cove.
Beyond St Ives, pause on a deckchair by the Hayle Estuary and tuck into crab tacos at the Black Lobster, or dine Spanish-style at Harry’s Bodega.
Specialising in Cornish, free-range fried chicken, Beer & Bird offers a delicious selection of burgers, Belgian waffles and homemade sides
To the west, the ends-of-the-earth location of The Gurnard’s Head serves seasonal, sometimes foraged ingredients and fine wines served in a laid-back, rustic venue on the wild coastline of Penwith.
Porthleven is making a name for itself as an emerging foodie enclave. A longstanding classic on the edge of the harbour is Amélie, famous for its Sunday roasts, seafood and music nights. The menu is informal and features light bites, smaller plates and sharing dishes, all with an emphasis on locally sourced seafood.
However, the most lauded restaurant in town is Porthleven’s multi-award-winning Kota, where Jude Kereama combines the best from land and sea in his signature Asian-fused dishes. A few doors away, his Kota Kai, is a little more relaxed, offering the same quality food in a family-friendly setting.
The bigger, more vibrant harbour town of Falmouth is full of waterside eateries, including the unusual Restaurant Four, a stripped-back little bistro making a name for itself with its daily-changing menu of seasonal produce.
One of the town’s other venues causing a stir is INDIdog, a vibrant harbour’s edge restaurant with Michelin-starred chef Paul Ripley behind the menu. From delicious breakfasts to sundowner dinners, it’s proving to be a sociable and popular foodie spot.
If you want the best seafood in town to-go, or tapas-style fish dishes, go dining at the Verdant Seafood Bar. It’s owned by the Verdant Brewing Co, so it goes without saying that you can find a Lambic brew to match every fish dish on the menu.
For sublime harbour views, fish fresh from the day boats and local meats that have been cured and smoked, book a table at the town’s award-winning Star & Garter gastropub. Or for seafood platters with expansive ocean views, try Hooked on the Rocks, which overhangs nearby Swanpool Beach.
Tucked away on an abandoned plant nursery on the outskirts of Falmouth, Potager Garden café has emerged as something of an ethical foodie star, serving inventive vegetarian dishes spotlighting sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.
Fowey and St Austell
St Austell’s Carlyon Bay has transformed from a backwater to a buzzing beach destination, hosting pop-up bars and foodie containers during the summer months. Nearby, family-run Edie’s Kitchen makes ripples all year-round, with its local, seasonal food conjured up by Nigel Brown, who spent two decades working under culinary luminaries such as Raymond Blanc and Bill Granger.
Andy Appleton, one of Fifteen Cornwall’s former head chefs, reopened Appleton’s Bar and Restaurant last March in Fowey, having relocated from the North Coast to an exciting new venue. A trio behind three hyper-hip London restaurants have also opened The Fitzroy, a shaker-style venue serving sharing plates of fish, locally grown and foraged ingredients alongside natural wines.
East Cornwall is the forgotten corner of a foodie tour, but it’s worth making the effort to discover its hidden gems. The Sardine Factory, overlooking the harbour in Looe, has been added to the Michelin Bib Gourmand list, while the Carew Arms, in the small village of Antony near Torpoint, focuses on seasonal ingredients and innovative menus. Graze on simple, modern seafood dishes at The View in Whitsands, as you look out to Eddystone Lighthouse and the Cornish coastline. Currently closed for renovations, it’s reopening in autumn 2022.
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