The Best Restaurants In Brighton: The IDEAL 22

Date:

Share:

Jump To

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 IDEAL 22 rundown of the best restaurants 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!

Address: 63 Preston St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 2HE

Website: binchoyakitori.com

☎ 01273779021


64 Degrees, Meeting House Lane

Ideal for fantastic fine-dining without the frippery

Arguably the city’s most acclaimed restaurant and more than worthy of addition on our rundown of the IDEAL 22 best restaurants in Brighton, 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 gorgeous beef tartar with smoked yolk emulsion from a recent set menu of sharing plates – a snip at £50 – 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.

Read: The best restaurants in The Lanes

Address: 53 Meeting House Ln, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1HB

Website: 64degrees.co.uk

☎ 01273770115


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.

More importantly, The Chilli Pickle has been part of our IDEAL 22 restaurants for just as long.

Address: 17 Jubilee St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1GE

Website: thechillipickle.com

☎ 01273442893


Alberta’s at The Windmill, Upper North Street

Ideal for Brighton’s best fried chicken and much more besides…

Scottish chef Ali Munro – formerly of Wild Flor, another of our IDEAL 22 – has been leading something of a quiet revolution with his Alberta’s brand since its lockdown inception. With the noble aim of changing the face of fast food in his adopted home of Brighton, Munro has gained something of a cult following for his stacked, sumptuous sandos and indulgent, globe-trotting menu of things deep-fried and ribald. 

Yep, this is food designed to be enjoyed with beer, so when we heard that, following an acclaimed run of pop-ups across the city, Alberta’s was opening in our favourite neighbourhood backstreet boozer The Windmill last year, we were knocking down the door (and the pints) before the first popcorn chicken had even left the pass.

During the week, those glorious sandos take centre stage on that pass, with fillings generously piled into Alberta’s pillowy, rich Japanese milk subs. Our go-to is the ham, egg and chips, which sees pleasingly proper chunks of ham hock bound together with a chopped egg salad and given crunch with a mountain of straw fries. Sweet mustard pulls the whole thing together.

At the weekend (well, on Sundays) it’s all about Alberta’s already iconic roast, with just about everyone ordering the Deep South inspired, deep-fried whole chicken. This beautiful bird arrives golden from frier, with a crisscross of Dijon mustard-spiked mayo spunked across its breasts. Alongside, a thick, glossy gravy, charred whole cobs of sweetcorn, and an umami-heavy cauliflower cheese. Phwoar. Serving two or three for £24 a person, do be aware that this guy needs to be pre-ordered by 5pm on the Thursday prior to the Sunday.

Oh, and the best bit? Absolutely nowhere on the menu does Alberta’s bill its food as ‘dirty’. There’s a trend we need doing away with – this is just delicious, indulgent food from a true master of his craft.

Address: 69 Upper N St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 3FL 

Website: thewindmillbrighton.com

☎ 01273 202475


Easy Tiger, Upper North Street

Ideal for Desi Pub nirvana…

Image via @easytigerbn1

Another hugely popular backstreet boozer/chef residency that makes our list of the best restaurants in Brighton is Easy Tiger at the Hampton, a pub that’s, incidentally, a one minute walk from the Windmill. Yep, Brightonians are getting seriously spoiled here!

Easy Tiger is a riff on the Great British tradition of the desi pub, where curries and pints combine to beautiful effect. The restaurant is helmed by Chef Sabu Joseph, who brings his extensive experience and passion for authentic Indian cuisine to the table. 

Originally from Kerala in southern India, Sabu has had a distinguished cooking career in both Brighton and London, doing time at Brighton’s two most acclaimed Indian restaurants The Chilli Pickle and The Curry Leaf Cafe, as well as a stint at the five star Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in central London. Yep, that’s some serious pedigree, and it shows in Easy Tiger’s enticing, easygoing rundown of Indian streetfood classics, the perfect accompaniment to one of the locally brewed IPA beers on tap at the Hampton, a proper local boozer that has been tastefully updated while retaining its authentic charm. 

Do not miss out on the Kerala Fried Chicken, a crispy boneless chicken thigh coated in garlic, ginger, spices and rice flour, before being hard fried ‘till crispy. Could there be a better combination in the world than a basket of these and a pint of Cloak and Dagger Hazy Pale? We certainly haven’t found it.

Address: 57 Upper N St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 3FH 

Website: easytigerbrighton.com

☎ 01273731347


Fatto a Mano, North Laines 

Ideal for spot on Neapolitan pizzas…

Nine years after the inaugural Fatto a Mano opened on London Road, the team now boast two more pizzerias in Hove and the North Laines, and a further two in London, in Covent Garden and King’s Cross. With each branch (yep, we’ve visited them all) seemingly packed every day of the week, world domination seems the only next logical step. 

Wood fired within the requisite 90 seconds at the requisite 450°C, Fatto a Mano’s pizzas are pillowy affairs. Give that canotto a prod and watch it bounce back up at you. That response promises a beautifully digestible dough, and so the pizzas here deliver it. Toppings are – on the most part – refined and reverential, with just a handful of the freshest ingredients treated sympathetically. The margherita buffalo is the finest realisation of this humble vision; a light, natural pizza that sings of simplicity. 

We say ‘on the most part’ as there are a couple of more divisive pizzas in the lower reaches of Fatto’s menu. The lasagna pizza, it should be said, has split the Brighton crowd since its addition to the menu late last year. Some have cried heresy. Others have stuffed it into their faces with abandon. We fall very much in the latter camp, with the smattering of ragu well judged in its restraint, leading to a pizza that’s nowhere near as heavy as it sounds.

Image via @fattoamanopizza

The name translates as ‘handmade’ in Italian, and that’s certainly the vibe here; everything is made from scratch and with love, and it shows. Even if pizza isn’t your thing, Fatto has some excellent starters and sides to keep the picky eaters satisfied; their nduja arancini, in particular, truly hit the spot.

Though all three Brighton and Hove branches are excellent, we’ve chosen the North Laines outpost for our IDEAL 22, as it’s close to the station, and super convivial. Of course, the London Road and Hove versions are ace, too.

Address: 25 Gloucester Rd, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 4AQ

Website: fattoamanopizza.com 

☎ 01273693221


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. 

Address: 10 Upper Market St, Brighton and Hove, Hove BN3 1AS

Website: thelittlefishmarket.co.uk

☎ 01273442893

Read: 7 IDEAL seafood restaurants in Brighton


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.

In a city somewhat in thrall to ‘casual’ dining, it’s so refreshing to settle into a more serious spot, which has recently changed to a straightforward a la carte offering, with starters keenly priced in the early teens, and mains not topping £30.

Though the last vestiges of winter do remain on the menu, things are certainly moving in a springlike direction (springing forward? nah), with a whole host of newly wed, vivid flavours that come as such a relief after winter’s browns and beiges.

We were particularly enamoured with a dish of rabbit loin, wrapped in wild garlic and gently pink, which was served with a medley of spring veg that still had plenty of bite, its mustard and hogweed dressing pulling everything together. Even better, golden sweetbreads that pulled off the tricky balancing act of being both crip and tender within, sat beautifully with a pool of glossy chicken jus and the first of the season’s asparagus. I don’t know about you, but spring has only truly arrived when the toilet smells of sulphur.

For the pescetarians around the table, gorgeously pert salt cod agnolotti with a sharp, lemon-spiked emulsion and sourdough pangrattato hit the high notes, too.

Wild Flor are also currently offering a spring set menu which is laughably good value at £22 for two or £25 for three courses. Treat yourself to the trio, as 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 deep fried rice pudding parcel with rhubarb compote is as heady and intoxicating as it sounds.

Address: 42 Church Rd, Brighton and Hove, Hove BN3 2FN

Website: wildflor.com

☎ 01273329111


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!

*Please be aware that due to its location, Murmur is very much a seasonal restaurant, and is only open in the warmer months.*

Address: Kings Road Arches, 91-96, Brighton BN1 2FN

☎ 01273711900


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.

Address: 60 Western Rd, Brighton and Hove, Hove BN3 1JD

Website: cincin.co.uk

☎ 01273726047

Read: The best Italian restaurants in Brighton


Plateau, Bartholomews

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.

Read: Where to eat French food in Brighton

Address: 1 Bartholomews, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1HG

Website: plateaubrighton.co.uk

☎ 01273733085


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…

Read: The best cocktail bars in Brighton

Address: 59 Middle St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1AL

Website: burnt-orange.co.uk

☎ 01273929923


Embers, Meeting House Lane

Ideal for a menu seasoned skilfully with smoke…

A restaurant in the Lanes that specialises in wood fire cooking with a vaguely Middle Eastern bent to proceedings (Zhoug? Check. Labneh? Check. Dukhah? Check) and some truly excellent cocktails? With Burnt Orange just around the corner and only a paragraph previous, Brighton’s culinary cognoscenti might be forgiven for wondering whether this was all strictly necessary when Embers opened almost exactly a year ago.

But scratch the surface just a little and you’ll find a very different proposition here, and one that’s refreshingly unique from its peers in close proximity. The work of two well known faces on the Brighton culinary scene, ex-Terre a Terre head chef Dave Marrow and former chef-patron of Isaac At, Isaac Bartlett-Copeland, here everything is cooked in a specially designed mutli-rack grill which sits pretty in the centre of the dining room, bringing a touch of theatre to proceedings as its glowing embers crackle and flare up as fat and glaze drip invitingly.

It’s one fiery hell of a statement, the grill’s racks constantly being manipulated by a soot-covered chef, all controlled by a pulley mechanism in the style of Etxebarri. The huge stack of logs under the pass only serve to hammer the point home.

All of this would be a little performative if the food didn’t taste thoroughly seasoned by wood, smoke and fire, but at Embers, there’s a genuinely masterful control of the flame, and this is reflected in some truly stunning dishes, the best of which are big sharers, billed ‘centrepiece dishes’. An apt epiphet, as the smoked spatchcock chicken (there’s grilled brill or mushroom parfait, too) arrives splayed and smouldering, very much making the table its bed whilst the phones come out for a photoshoot. Tear off a leg – properly blistered and burnished from those embers – drag it through the throbbing, fluorescent honey and mustard mayo, and get all caveman about things.

Embers is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

Website: embersbrighton.co.uk

Address: 42 Meeting House Ln, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1HB

☎ 01273869222


Terre à Terre, East Street

Ideal for the best vegetarian food in the city…

It feels patronising – perverse, even – to spend a paragraph or two introducing the idea of Terre à Terre, such is the stalwart status of the restaurant in this city. A Brighton institution serving the good stuff since the early 90s, Terre à Terre is arguably the premier dining spot for vegetarians in Brighton, if not the country, its menu eclectic and its vibe lively.

Though the restaurant name translates as ‘down to earth’, the only thing grounding the menu here is the vegetarian part; inspiration is drawn from all corners of the globe, with plenty of heft and punch to the dishes. 

In fact, it sells Terre a Terre short to give it the ol’ ‘’you don’t even miss meat’’ line. You’ll eat very well here, however you define your dietary choices. Sure, the menu descriptors are pretty verbose, sometimes running into a paragraph of prose, but the flavours boast remarkable clarity and comfort. 

We’ve written more about Terre à Terre in our roundup of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Brighton. Do check it out sometime.

Address: 71 East St, Brighton, Brighton and Hove

Website: terreaterre.co.uk

☎ 01273729051


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!

Address: 106 Kings Rd, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 2FU

Website: saltroom-restaurant.co.uk

☎ 01273929488


Nanninella, Preston Street *no longer dine-in*

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.

*Please be aware that, as of the start of 2024, the proposition at Nanninella has somewhat changed. The pizzeria has now closed, and in its place, the same team are running a takeaway shop “with a few stools for quick eating inside.”

Fear not; you’ll still find pizzas being sold here, handcrafted lovingly by the awesome owner Sergio. Available for collection or delivery via Uber Eats, three nights a week, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 6pm and 9:30pm, their exclusivity makes them even more desirable, in our humble opinion. The sandwiches from the new deli operation are great, too*

Address: 26 Preston St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 2HN

Website: nanninellapizzeria.co.uk

☎ 01273325500


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. 

Having recently celebrated its third birthday, the Shelter Hall well and truly hit its stride, with a whole host of restaurants and chefs trying out their concepts here, some short-stay and some more permanent. Right now, it’s a stellar line-up of established Brighton faces, a few wildcards from further afield, and some ambitious local upstarts, which is the ideal combination for the place, we think.

Local Neopolitan-adjacent pizza slingers VIP are still here, having been doing their thing under the Kings Arches for a couple of years now. It’s easy to see why; their gracefully adorned pizzas benefit from the immediacy of being fresh out of wood-fired oven, showing the best side of the excellent fior di latte that VIP sources straight from the Motherland. The unique rectangle design makes these pizzas great for sharing, too; at a place so primed for a party, this is only a good thing.

Also recently added to the bill is Leeds outfit Little Bao Boy, whose sweet sriracha chicken bao we’ve recently developed a rather dangerous addiction to. Chase it down with a classic Mexican torta – a rare find in Brighton – from Conchita’s Mexican Kitchen because, well, it’s that kind of place, and dive back into the menu of souvlaki, smash burgers and sweets like a kid in a very grown-up candy shop.

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 – as with the rest of the venue – 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. 

Website: shelterhall.co.uk

Address: Kings Road Arches, Shelter Hall, Brighton BN1 1NB


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, and one of Brighton’s best restaurants, period.

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.

Address: 70 Ship St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1AE

Website: petitpoisbrighton.co.uk

☎ 01273911211


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.

Address: 16 Western Rd, Brighton and Hove, Hove BN3 1AE

Website: palmito.co.uk

☎ 01273777588


Tutto, Marlborough Place

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.

Address: 20 – 22 Marlborough Pl, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1UB

Website: tutto-restaurant.co.uk

☎ 01273031595


Taquitos Casa Azul, Brighton Open Market

Ideal for Brighton’s best tacos…

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.

Address: Open Market, 21 Marshalls Row, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 4JU

Website: casazul.co.uk

☎ 01273019302


Bonsai Plant Kitchen, Baker Street

We end Brighton’s IDEAL 22 restaurants at Bonsai Plant Kitchen, the work of Dom Sheriff and Amy Bennett, who met while working at Brighton vegetarian institution Food for Friends. With Amy’s background as a head pastry chef and Dom’s experience as head chef, the pair decided to combine their culinary talents and passion for vegan cuisine to create Bonsai Plant Kitchen, an imaginative plant-based restaurant whose menu is broadly South East Asian inspired and always super exciting to eat. 

Rave reviews and accolades have followed, including a recent glowing write-up in the Guardian, and an award of The Best Vegan Food in the city at the BRAVOs, Brighton’s premier restaurant awards.

A huge part of the draw here is the cooking-over-coals philosophy that drives things forward, with several of the dishes cooked on a Binchotan grill. Accordingly, there’s a suave smokiness running through proceedings, whether that’s in the sweet potato skewers doused in miso butter, lime juice and wisps of parmesan, or the barbecued napa cabbage that arrives properly, comprehensively blackened. All of this would be overkill in the wrong hands, but here, those campfire flavours are perfectly poised. The restaurant’s excellent selection of pickles help things along and lighten the mood nicely.

The cocktails are fantastic here too, with all syrups and infusions created in house, a veritable celebration of ingredients preserved at their peak. We love it.

Address: 44-45 Baker St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 4JN 

Website: bonsaiplantkitchen.co.uk

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!

Joseph Gann
Joseph Gann
Chef and food writer, with an interest in mental health and mindfulness

Latest From Us

Like That? You'll Love This...

Everybody's clicking on

Just Published...

All Our latest content...