People often ask me to recommend great local restaurants in Brighton – especially those independent neighbourhood favourites. So today, I’m sharing my 10 all-time favourites we go back to time and again that I highly recommend, not a chain in sight!
1. Semolina Bistro
Tucked down a little side street, is this local gem is perfect for relaxing mid-week catch ups, weekend dates or get togethers with friends. The husband and wife team owners are so welcoming, and I’ve had some lovely evenings here. The food is a mix of French and English, each dish presented beautifully and they do the most amazing cocktails (try the Brighton negroni).
Find Semolina at 15 Baker Street, Brighton BN1 4JN.
A night out at this postage-stamp sized restaurant makes you feel like you’re in New York, it’s always packed with a fun atmosphere – even on a drab Wednesday night. Food wise, it serves creative tapas with a twist (think chorizo and plaice with mango salad, macademia and miso chicken, asparagus and manchego with miso dressing), every bite a taste sensation. Pricewise, it’s not cheap but worth the splurge.
Find Circo at 9 Preston Road, Brighton BN1 4QE.
Update: This place had a revamp even though it didn’t need one and went downhill fast and is now closed.
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), 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.
Find Bardsley’s at 22/23 Baker Street, Brighton BN1 4JN.
This quirky restaurant 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.
Find Mediterraneo Deli at 2a Clyde Road, Brighton BN1 4NP.
Update: This place moved to Hove, heartbreak! But at least it still exists. 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 margaritas. It’s a great cheap date-night spot, or place to meet a friend for a cosy catch-up dinner. It’s also highly instagrammable!
Find Carlito Burrito at 12 York Place, Brighton BN1 4GU.
This sophisticated French cafe-bistro-wine-bar not far from the seafront is perfect for so many occasions – power-lunches, laid-back lunches, mid-shopping-spree pitstop, cocktails before a night out, dinner with friends, date night…The food is simple and modern French and there’s a big list of ‘natural’ wines. They also do killer cocktails.
Find Plateau at Mange Tout at 81 Trafalgar St, Brighton BN1 4EB.
7. Busby and Wilds.
Dan and I live near Preston Circus, but it’s worth heading across the city to eat Sunday roast at Busby and Wilds, a cosy neighbourhood 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.
Find Busby and Wilds at 8-9 Rock Street, Kemptown, BN2 1NF.
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. 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.
Find Bincho Yakitori at 63 Preston St, Brighton BN1 2HE.
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.
Find Unithai at 10 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2FL.
10. Little Fish Market.
Duncan Ray’s Little Fish Market 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 and quiet and the service is exceptional – you walk in, sit down and immediately feel transported. The menu is written on a blackboard and every dish a fun surprise, beautifully presented and a taste explosion. You can pay extra to have a different wine with each course.
Find The Little Fish Market at 10 Upper Market St, Hove BN3 1AS.
BONUS RESTAURANT – Wild Flor
Brighton’s newest local gem restaurant, serving beautifully classic dishes for lunch and dinner, in a relaxed but sophisticated dining room. Their wine list is epic and they now do a £25 set lunch menu of favourite dishes, including their famous Madeleines to finish.
Find Wild Flor at 42 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2FN.
Psst. Brighton’s secret cocktail bar ; the Brighton hotel you’ll want to move into; my Brighton like a local guide (so far) and 9 small, cosy, romantic restaurants in Brighton.