The south coast city of Brighton is many different things to many different people. A place for Pride, pebble skimming, thrift shopping, heavy partying, eccentricity, environmentalism, and a traditional British seaside holiday, all rolled into one, you can be anyone you want to be in this so-called London By Sea.
When it comes to the best restaurants in Brighton and Hove, they are thrilling places full of eclectic tastes, with just about every cuisine, price point and sense of occasion catered for. That said, with cafes and restaurants on just about every corner, separating the good from the great can be tough.
Well, we’ve done the hard work, traversed the lanes and the beaches, and gained several (and lost hundreds of) pounds in the process, to bring you this; our guide on where to eat in Brighton.
Bincho Yakitori, Preston Street
Ideal for some of the best yakitori this side of Okinawa…
A bright and lively Brighton road leading down to a pebble beach isn’t exactly the first place you’d expect to find a properly dark and grungy, backstreet Japanese izakaya. But then, this city never ceases to surprise you.
So, here we are; perched at a bar, sipping warm sake, and taking down plate after plate of grilled, skewers. Whether the latter is Bincho’s moreish crispy chicken skins, the restaurant’s delectable cubes of pork belly, their chicken hearts, or a simple half cob of sweetcorn, you can be assured that everything off the yakitori section of the menu will have been kissed by coals.
In fact, the restaurant’s name comes from the type of coals used here and in izakayas all over Japan, binchō-tan, which is famed for its ability to burn long and bright, keep temperatures consistent, and not give off any unwanted smoke or odours.
Should you be keen to get stuck into some bits not off the grill, mind, then the specials board can always be relied upon for some treats; the tempura fried sea bream with a dollop of pert seaweed mayo is particularly good.
And once you’re done, the good news is that just opposite Bincho you’ll find one of Brighton’s best cocktail bars, Gung Ho. Kanpai!
64 Degrees, Meeting House Lane
Ideal for fantastic fine-dining without the frippery…
Arguably Brighton’s most acclaimed restaurant, 64 Degrees treads the line between fine-dining and frivolous, between refined and rakish perfectly, which feels fitting for the city it calls home.
The restaurant is from chef Michael Bremner, who you may recognise from the BBC’s Great British Menu, on which he achieved great success in 2016. To say that this brought more custom would be flippant though, as it was consistently rammed to the rafters before his two stints on prime time television, and remains just as much so after.
Fitting in just 20 covers and offering a tasting menu-only format (except on Sundays and Mondays, when a ‘greatest hits’ of smaller plates is currently being offered), there’s both a precision and a playfulness to the cooking here, whether that’s in the savoury ‘ice cream’ cones given as an amuse bouche, the guinea fowl bao bun from a recent lunch menu – a snip at £55 – or in the restaurant’s fabulous desserts.
Finish everything off with a 64 Degrees signature, a whisky bottle gummy, then totter off into The Lanes feeling very well-fed and watered.
Baby Bao, Gloucester Road
Ideal for playful, peripatetic bao buns and perfectly poured pints…
Bao buns have proliferated Britain perhaps more than any other street food staple in recent years. It should come as no surprise, then, that Brighton has a dedicated bao restaurant, Baby Bao. What may be a surprise, though, is that it’s housed in a Gloucester Road pub, The Pond, meaning you can enjoy some perfectly poured pints with your light as-you-like bao.
Purists, look away now. Though the menu is a nominally Tawainese affair, the menu does a fair amount of globe-trotting. So, that’s bao bun brimming with Thai coconut chicken, strands of papaya in a som tam salad-style dressing, and some satay sauce for good measure. Or, a bao with Japanese inflections; miso roasted cod beds down with seaweed slaw and a sesame and miso mayo in the signature pillowy buns, leading to a salty, sticky mess. Kimchi appears regularly.
It’s lovely stuff, with the loaded chips section of the menu veering off to South Korea, and the snacks even taking in the deep south of the US with some excellent bread and butter pickles.
Where the restaurant excels, though, is in its most simple, signature dish. The pork belly and hoisin bao is a textural delight; rich, fatty and unctuous in all the right places. Yep, squeezing this one between thumb and forefinger is as pleasurable as it sounds. Eating it, even more so…
On Mondays, the menu goes totally meat free.
Kokedama, East Street (***Now Closed***)
Ideal for creative, often luxurious, vegan small plates…
Speaking of meat free, vegan restaurant Kokedama is an excellent recent addition to Brighton’s ever-burgeoning food scene, and very much worth your time whether you’re a herbivore or not.
Here, plant-based sharing plates arrive full of invention and flavour, given heft and mouthfeel with the smart use of various nuts, whilst pickled notes appear in the majority of dishes for that much-needed lightness and lift. Purees feature prominently, adding a lusciousness that is sometimes missing from vegan focused cuisine.
With plenty of outdoor seating in bustling East Street, Kokedama is a restaurant that feels light on its feet, and leaves you feeling lucent and well-looked after as you leave. All in all, it’s certainly one of the best new restaurants in Brighton and Hove, and one we look forward to visiting again and again to as it develops and refines.
The Chilli Pickle, Jubilee Street
Ideal for inventive takes on the food of the Indian sub-continent…
Not your average neighbourhood curry house, that’s for certain, The Chilli Pickle certainly raises the bar when it comes to British interpretations of street food from the Indian sub-continent.
The cooking here is precise and assertive, with the manipulating of sharp notes (from, amongst others, that namesake pickle) bringing real freshness and vivacity. This is perhaps most apparent in the superb gol gapa from the starters and small plates section, which is lifted to dizzy heights by both tamarind and coriander chutneys.
If you eat meat, you’d be a fool not to order the Nepali Chicken Wings; a cumin and salt rub gives the dish texture, Szechuan pepper creates a lingering, intriguing backnote, and the accompanying chilli sambal is nuanced and complex.
The menu here changes regularly, but if it’s on, a recent addition of beef keema is another must-order; the roasted bone marrow that arrives alongside (scoop, mix and groan) makes it impossibly hard to resist. The tandoori butter chicken, admittedly a safe bet, is, here, pleasingly nimble, with a good dose of lemon juice lightening things up.
We love this place, and judging by the queues, Brighton does too, as do the restaurant inspectors at Michelin, who have awarded The Chilli Pickle a Bib Gourmand for several years on the bounce.
Little Fish Market, Upper Market Street
Ideal for upmarket eats on Upper Market street…
Consistently named as Brighton’s best restaurant in local and national lists, though actually in Hove, chef and owner Duncan Ray has created a glorious homage to everything seafood in this small but sophisticated 20 cover restaurant. Be warned; it’s purely a dinner affair, Tuesday to Saturday, and you’ll need to book well in advance to secure a coveted seat, but the effort is well worth it.
That’s because it’s only the finest, freshest fish, sourced as locally as possible and cooked with the respect it deserves. It’s a no choice tasting at around the £95 mark, but the price tag is fair; this is a set-menu, several hour affair offering a tour of some of Britain’s very finest seafood. Already the proud owner of 3 AA rosettes, a Michelin star surely isn’t far away.
And though the restaurant specialises in fish, do keep your eye out for the occasional ‘Little Meat Market’ events, where chef Ray cooks a menu of – you guessed it – meat dishes with his usual elegance and precision. The next one is happening over four nights, from the 1st to the 5th November, and seats sell out fast.
Wild Flor, Church Road
Ideal for confident, classic French cookery in the heart of Hove…
Wild Flor is one of the most acclaimed recent additions to Brighton and Hove’s thriving culinary scene. Settling into an evening with their confident, classic French cookery and superb wine list is one of Brighton’s biggest treats; you’ll always leave squiffy and extremely well-fed.
It’s a price-fix affair with Michelin ambitions, which is no bad thing for a city somewhat in thrall to ‘casual’ dining. Lunches are a flexible, a la carte affairs, whilst on Thursday and Friday evenings, between 6 and 7pm, it’s just £35 for three courses. For dinner proper, it’s two for £42 or a third for £48. It’s well worth it for the faultless, flavoursome cooking.
Though the last vestiges of summer remain on the menu, with mackerel tartare and veal sweetbreads (the latter appearing in a delectable stuffed vol au vent) making an appearance, the current menu is a true celebration of autumn and game season. We were particularly enamoured with roast partridge, damson jelly and celeriac on our last visit, and for an extra fiver, a shaving of autumn truffle certainly doesn’t go a miss.
For the vegetarians in the group, a delicia squash risotto with hen of the woods mushroom (the finest funghi around, in our humble opinion) is as autumnal as it gets.
Though you can have just two courses for six quid less, it would be criminal to miss out on the restaurant’s pastry work, the section cooking with a breezy conviction and generosity more in tune with a Paris patisserie or the bouchons of Lyon than a Hove thoroughfare. Emblematic of this sensibility and keeping with the seasonality of Wild Flor’s cooking, a set custard of malted barley with preserved figs and an oat biscuit is as heady and intoxicating as it sounds.
Murmur, Kings Road Arches
Ideal for stunning seafood with a view to match…
The restaurant with the best location in all of Brighton and Hove? In our humble opinion, yes. Sitting just a few yards back from the beach and directly in front of the old pier’s iconic 24-pillar Golden Spiral, Murmur is the second restaurant from chef Michael Bremner, who is chef/owner of the aforementioned 64 Degrees.
Named after Brighton’s famous starling murmurations, the food here is more down-to-earth and hearty than its older sibling, with a signature dish of lobster croquettes always a winner and the market fish of the day, grilled simply with greens and French fries, representing great value for a little over £20 (weight dependent, of course). There’s even a kid’s menu and space out front for them to play. Idyllic scenes, indeed.
Best of all? The beachfront, outdoor seating is walk-ins only; simply leave your name and number if there’s no tables, have a wander along the promenade or a beer at one of the nearby pubs, and the call always seems to come in promptly. Cheers
Cin Cin, Western Road
Ideal for the best pasta in the city…
Though you can’t walk for more than the length of a fettuccine in London without stumbling into a pasta bar, in Brighton & Hove you’ll be much harder pressed to find a place slinging freshly rolled strands of the good stuff.
In fact, to our mind, Cin Cin are the premier pasta purveyors here, and a more than capable match for any of London’s top pasta restaurants (in 2021, Cin Cin decided to test this theory, and their Fitzrovia branch opened to immediate national acclaim).
Though the restaurant’s original location in Brighton’s North Laines has now closed, the newer, larger branch on Western Road, just seconds before you reach Church Road, is just as delicious.
Here, a horseshoe counter and a handful of barstools overlook Cin Cin’s open kitchen, where seasonal small plates, fresh pasta dishes, and a couple of grilled bits are lovingly prepared in full view of the diners. This is dinner and a show, Hove style, and if your dinner starts with an order of the restaurant’s ever-changing, always-popular arancino (brown crab on our last visit), followed by a pasta dish from the special’s blackboard, you’re sure to be calling for an encore.
Fortunately, Cin Cin’s desserts are respondent to the seasons and always stellar – whether it’s a festive panettone bread and butter pudding with marmalade ice cream or a summery Amalfi lemon tart, there’s no chance you’re leaving disappointed.
Ideal for natural wine, good times, and small plates of poise and precision…
Another belter with a blackboard, Plateau is all about pouring up the city’s best and most thoughtful selection of low-intervention wines. They just happen to serve some pretty special sharing plates made with seasonal ingredients from in and around Sussex of a largely French persuasion to complement their natty juice.
Their bread, pâté, rillettes, cheeses and pickles are particularly fine with a glass of the good stuff, but Plateau also have a light touch with fish, which is always welcome so close to the coast. On our last visit, a dish of hake, barbecued until the skin was pockmarked, came served austerely with leeks and hazelnuts; it was beautiful.
For something a little heartier but with a sense of playfulness in its soul, wild venison pierogi with fermented chilli is technically pitch-perfect, the dumplings having the much-sought after bounce, and the iron-rich venison’s flavour shining through. You also can’t go wrong with the unctuous beef tartare which is always on their ever changing seasonal menu for good reason.
All in all, Plateau is an effortlessly stylish and hip place to hang out, and with the recent addition of a few tables spilling out onto the street, is now even closer in style to a classic Parisian wine bar.
Burnt Orange, Middle Street
Ideal for savouring the flavour of the grill in every bite…
Pitched as a ‘a new grownup hangout for Brighton’, Burnt Orange is the third restaurant from local restaurateur Razak Helala, who also presides over the Coal Shed and the Salt Room (also on this list).
Though Burnt Orange has only been open for just over a year, it’s already garnered plaudits in the form of a glowing review from a national newspaper, and more recently, receiving a Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin Guide.
The latter indicates ‘good value and good quality’, and in terms of Burnt Orange, these rather prosaic, automated descriptors do the restaurant a disservice. The quality of the output, led by a huge wood fired oven and grill, is fantastic, with the menu taking on a vaguely Middle Eastern bent. Charred flatbreads, grilled prawns with herb Zhug, fire-roasted chermoula monkfish, smoked lamb shoulder cigars…. If there’s a word that indicates the wood-fired grill has been used, it’s on this menu.
The restaurant has recently announced a weekend brunch, too, further extending their welcome to the people of the city. And as everyone knows, the way to a Brightonian’s heart is through brunch. Oh, and they do a darn good cocktail, too…
The Salt Room, Kings Road
Ideal for a taste of the sea in spirited, sophisticated surrounds…
The Salt Room’s website claims it as ‘Brighton’s best seafood restaurant’; a bold claim, indeed, but it’s not far off. Part of a group of four – The Coal Shed in Brighton and one of the same name in London, as well as the aforementioned Burnt Orange – this is a place which ticks all the boxes for great fish cookery; sustainable sourcing and simplicity. The menu resists the urge to globe-trot, and, this time, we think that’s welcome.
It’s a surprisingly cavernous space with a good buzz and young, enthusiastic staff. The restaurant is compartmentalised neatly and cleverly, with lots of different spaces and areas helping the buzz carry through the restaurant without being acoustically intrusive.
Anyway, we’re here to talk about fish, right? The grill is used liberally and it’s all the better for it; good news for the whole fish destined to be blistered and burnished on it. Saying that, perhaps the best thing on the menu is the fish tempura with a tartare sauce flecked with seaweed; as saline and savoury as it sounds. A shared surfboard comes brimming with grilled and steamed prawns, squid, scallops and more, and the aioli alongside, whilst a little loose, is seriously good.
Interestingly, The Salt Room are now doing ‘bring your own’ Mondays, with corkage just £5. A fine excuse to indulge in some superb seafood cookery, we think!
Nanninella, Preston Street
Ideal for ridiculously good Neapolitan pizza and the warmest of welcomes…
The new kid on the block, on a street of already fine places to eat, is already making big noises in the city. Yep, though Nanninella is one of Brighton’s newest pizzerias, they’ve already gained a sterling reputation for fantastic pizzas, blistered, burnished and traditional, just as it should be.
The vibe inside, all brightly coloured tiles and a view into the hot glow of the pizza oven, frames a hospitable, enjoyable place to spend time. What’s more, the staff are lovely. Our favourite pizza here – and in the whole of Brighton, in fact – is the provola e pepe, which uses smoked mozzarella and freshly ground black pepper to great effect. Any pizza featuring their fresh burrata is equally wonderful. Already, Nanninella is our favourite pizza restaurant in Brighton.
Tlaloc, Kings Road (***Temporarily Closed***)
Ideal for modern Mexican food and the best hibiscus margaritas
From popular Brighton pop-up on the edge of the North Laines to fully-fledged restaurant overlooking the sea in just three years, it’s been quite the journey for Tlaloc since they made the city their home in 2018.
Now in residency at the Selina Hotel on King’s Road (at the foot of Preston Street), Tlaloc makes modern Mexican food using locally sourced ingredients, with the menu full of intrigue and excitement.
This means there’s plenty of fish and seafood caught just off the Sussex coast on the menu. The octopus tacos with pineapple butter were a mainstay at Tlaloc’s previous incarnation as a pop-up, and the dish remains a must-order here. Even better is the raw monkfish aguachile; refreshing and piquant, but also refined enough to let the fish sing.
Lately, a bowl of crisp totopos, served with two tasty salsas (a smooth-as-silk carrot affair was on the menu when we last visited) and refried beans, has arrived on the menu, and it’s already a must-order in our book.
It would be remiss of us to move on without mentioning the cocktails; the hibiscus margarita, in particular, is a thing of beauty and one of the finest drinks in the whole city.
All in all, if you’re looking for the best Mexican restaurant in Brighton, with excellent food and a grown-up atmosphere stipped of the tedious cliches of Lucha libre, sombreros and the rest, then Tlaloc is your guy. Or rather, your god…
The Shelter Hall, Kings Road Arches
Ideal for seafront dining and an array of global eats…
Seven restaurants in one? With ample outdoor seating right next to the beach? What, and live music you say?
Sorry, what did you say? We can’t hear you over the music.
Anyway, count us in!
The global pandemic meant Brighton’s first food hall had a stop-start opening, with Shelter Hall Raw popping up last summer to fill the gap before the real thing opened in April 2021.
A year and a half in, and it’s well and truly hit its stride, with various restaurants and chefs trying out their concepts, some short-stay and some more permanent. At the end of September, chef Angelo Sato (of acclaimed London yakitori restaurant Humble Chicken) set up shop here with his Yatai concept; essentially a katsu curry restaurant, and a real treat.
Under the same roof, local favourite Lost Boys Chicken are doing what they do best; fried chicken slathered in hot sauce – just don’t wear your best white t-shirt for this one. There’s also Amalfi, a concept from the guys behind VIP Pizza, Sear by Salt Shed, and Sussex’s very own Kenny Tutt, winner of Masterchef 2018, slinging out smash burgers for the hungry punters.
There’s also a dedicated bar doing local craft beers and a new addition on the first floor, an exclusive cocktail bar named Skylark.
The vibe here is reliably, resolutely boisterous and the service prompt and efficient. What’s not to love? Make sure you book in advance if you’re looking for the best seats (first floor balcony, if you’re asking) at the weekend, but during the week, it’s easy enough to simply rock up and enjoy yourself.
Petit Pois, The Lanes
Ideal for a Gallic gastronomic getaway in Brighton…
Unashamedly Gallic, Petit Pois is arguably the number one purveyor of traditional French fare in the city.
Expect, then, to be wowed by snails swimming in a pungent pool of garlic and parsley butter, followed by the famous fisherman’s stew bouillabaisse, here replete with fish, shellfish and even sea lettuce from surrounding Sussex waters.
Whilst seafood certainly feels like the right thing to do considering Petit Pois is just a pebble’s skim away from Brighton beach, our favourite dish here comes from the ‘Légumes’ section of the menu, in the form of baked Crottin du Perigord. This mini-wheel of goat’s cheese is baked until gooey and served with a salad of beetroot and candied walnuts high on the sweet notes as a perfect counterpoint to the potent cheese. It’s a smartly judged, confident salad in keeping with the poise of the restaurant as a whole.
With a popular Sunday lunch menu and an extensive wine list, no wonder Petit Pois is one of Brighton’s best-loved neighbourhood French restaurants.
Palmito, Western Road
Ideal for spice driven, continent spanning food…
To say that the opening of Palmito felt brave would be something of an understatement. Not content with setting up shop in the tough economic climate of mid-2022, the restaurant opted to do so in a space that estate agents would charitably call ‘cosy’, on a nondescript stretch of Brighton and Hove’s Western Road. They also elected to serve a menu not much tried and tested in this part of town; a kind of fusion between the coastal cuisines of India and Ecuador.
To say the risk paid off would be something of an understatement. That shoebox dining room is packed out from the moment the doors swing open at 5pm on Tuesday until Saturday’s last orders at 11pm.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Palmito has been a roaring success, the chef-owners here have both spent time at revered Brighton restaurants the Chilli Pickle (also on this list, of course) and Easy Tiger, and there’s a similar breezy charm to proceedings here, with the shellfish dishes particularly good.
For such a small restaurant, Palmito is already making big waves on the Brighton shore; the restaurant has already earned a glowing national review in The Times, and an entry in both the Good Food and Michelin guides.
Ideal for expertly cooked Italian food from everyone’s favourite Brighton restaurant group…
Tutto, the modern Italian restaurant that’s part of Brighton’s all conquering Black Rock restaurant group (Burnt Orange and the Salt Room from this list are also in that roster) felt like a sho-in for success from the start.
But things didn’t quite go according to plan, with building delays and issues with the overall vision of the restaurant leading to an opening that was more fits-and-starts than firing-on-all-cylinders.
Fortunately for the pasta-loving throngs of Brighton and Hove, things have picked up considerably since those early jitters, with Tutto now cooking a freshly configured menu with confidence and precision, a fact that was recently recognised by an early inclusion in the upcoming Michelin Guide.
Unsurprisingly for a place in such close proximity to the sea, the restaurant has a wicked way with fish, the woodfired gamberi rossi with paprika the kind of dish that feels so right in late summer, ditto the grilled sardines with fried bread and salsa verde.
The theme continues into the pasta courses; a bowl of pert agnolotti filled with a keenly diced mix of lobster, crab and scallop, served swimming in a rusty bisque, is spectacularly good.
Finish with Tutto’s chocolate and hazelnut torte, served with maraschino cherries and vanilla ice cream, which has become something of a signature dish here, and, in our view, is the ideal end to this – or any – meal.
Taquitos Casa Azul
For great independent vibes in a city some fear is losing its soul to chains, a visit to Brighton’s Open Market, tucked away off London Road, is a must.
While you’re here, it’s pretty much obligatory to duck into Taquitos Casa Azul, a family-run joint led by local hero Gabriel Gutierrez, and tuck into some truly superlative tacos, freshly pressed and adorned with delicately spiced, deliciously spicy shredded pork cochinita or chicken tinga. Pull up a pew at their sole table outside the shopfront and get stuck in.
Oh, and before you settle that bill, do not miss out on Gutierrez’s Salsa Chipotle which is sold on the shelves directly to the left of the till. Heady with hibiscus and dried apricot – you’ll be hooked. We add it to everything now; incredible stuff, indeed.
And with that, we’re done exploring Brighton and Hove’s best restaurants. It might be time for a sit down after all that! Or, maybe an ice cream, seeing as we’re by the sea. Here’s a guide to the best ice cream in Brighton and Hove. Mine’s a blueberry and ricotta!