People often ask me to recommend great local restaurants in Brighton – especially those independent neighbourhood favourites. I’ve already written about my favourite smallest and most romantic ones in Brighton. Today, I’m sharing my 10 all-time favourite restaurants in Brighton and Hove we go back to time and again that I highly recommend, not a chain in sight!
1. Semolina Bistro. Tucked up a side street close to Preston Circus with an eclectic mix of businesses, is this smart, laid-back cafe-bistro. It’s as perfect for relaxing mid-week catch ups, as it is for weekend dates, family celebrations or get togethers with friends. The husband and wife team owners are so welcoming, and I’ve had some lovely evenings here. Dishes sound as beautiful as they taste. Think black bream, saffron fregola, ink sauce and spring veg; roasted hispi cabbage, feta, pine nuts; coconut and lime tart, tarragon granita. They also do amazing cocktails (try the Brighton negroni).
2. Wild Flor. This is the city’s newest small neighbourhood gem restaurant, which has been the talk of the city since they opened, and just keeps getting better. They have a beautiful relaxed candlelit upstairs dining room, perfect for date night. The food is classic and sometimes decadent (pappardelle of glazed pig cheek, peas and aged parmesan; rhubarb and cardamom custard mille feuille), yet light and lively at the same time (Cornish crab, pink grapefruit and celery; Saddlescombe lamb, apricot, saffron and lambs lettuce). The wine list is epic and they now do a £25 set lunch menu of favourite dishes, including their famous Madeleines to finish.
3. Bardsley’s Fish and Chips. Where to get the best fish and chips in Brighton is obviously a hot debate. My favourite is, hands down, Bardsley’s (a few doors down from Semolina), what I call Brighton’s ‘back-street chippy’ with a quirky dining room filled with old music hall memorabilia. The secret is in the freshness. Everything is cooked to order, served crispy, golden and piping hot – and you can order wine! What’s special about it is that it’s been run by the same family since 1926, and the owners are SO friendly and welcoming you’ll feel relaxed as soon as you walk in.
4. Mediterraneo Deli. This isn’t actually a deli; it’s a quirky restaurant that serves inexpensive homemade Sicilian comfort food – try the stuffed aubergine rolls and the lasagne, followed by the cannoli! Its dining room is cosy, candle-lit and filled with artwork painted by one of the owners. Insider tip: it’s only open on Friday and Saturday nights for dinner, by reservation only. Update: This place moved to Hove, noooo! Find new address details here.
5. Carlito Burrito. This is the perfect ‘dive style’ Mexican street food restaurant with a colourful dining room and vibrant, buzzy atmosphere. The food is delicious and soooo filling – the fish tacos and burritos are gigantic and the best in the world. They also do the most amazing hibiscus margaritas. It’s a great cheap, lively date-night spot, or place to meet a friend for a fun catch-up dinner. It’s also highly instagrammable!
6. Plateau. This is a sophisticated French cafe-bistro-wine-bar not far from the seafront. It has a sleek yet informal dining room, and a quieter one upstairs. It’s another good options that works for lots of occasions – power-lunches, laid-back lunches, mid-shopping-spree pitstop, cocktails before a night out, dinner with friends, date night… The food is modern French. They do little dishes to share, like shishito peppers which go well with a cocktail. Or bigger ones, like seared buvette steak with pomme frites and rocket, which I recommend.
7. Busby and Wilds. Dan and I live near Preston Circus, but it’s worth heading across the city to eat a burger at Busby and Wilds, a gastro pub in Kemp Town. It has a relaxed atmosphere and the food is traditional English with a modern edge (think potted Sussex crab with fennel, apple puree and toast, steak and chunky chips, sticky toffee pudding). Insider tip: They also have pretty courtyard garden open in good weather. Take peek here.
8. Bincho Yakitori. This perma-packed tiny inexpensive Japanese tapas restaurant makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Toyko. It serves delicious and inexpensive small plates made for sharing, cooked as ordered and served when they’re ready. It also does the world’s best fried chicken and plum wine. The vibe is cosy, yet buzzy and fun and it’s a great place for date night or dinner with friends. Insider tip: It’s best to reserve ahead for a table here.
9. Unithai. I like to call this Brighton’s ‘secret Thai restaurant‘. You only really discover it by word of mouth since the restaurant is hidden inside a Thai supermarket. If you go inside, walk through to the back of the shop is a no-frills place serving up delicious and huge platefuls of homemade Thai food. The service is efficient and fast; it’s a good place for a mid-week night dinner. The stir-fried pak choi in garlic is delicious.
10. Little Fish Market. This is my favourite place for one of those fancy, splurgy nights out. It serves exceptional five-course creative tasting menus for dinner – I took Dan for his birthday and it was mindblowing. The dining room is relaxed, quiet and the service exceptional – you walk in, sit down and immediately feel transported. The menu is written on a blackboard and every dish a fun surprise, and a taste explosion. You can pay extra to have a different wine with each course.