When the first summer sun rolls in, the same thought enters the mind of every person in the UK – when are we heading to the beach? Well, fortunately for those driving to Cornwall for a weekend of sun lounging, or anyone hoping to sample the seaside way of life in Brighton, they’ll be pleased to know the UK coast has a great selection of restaurants to try on a beach break. The only problem is narrowing them down which, you’ll be pleased to hear, is exactly what we’ve done for you.
The favourite weekend summer destination for pretty much every Londoner, Brighton has all you could wish for from a seaside retreat, with its cobbled lanes, bijou cafés, and busy beach. As it happens, it’s among the best coastal areas for restaurants, too – 64 Degrees is a favourite among the locals, thanks to its frequently changing menu of small plates. Meanwhile, The Restaurant at Drakes remains a popular choice for its beautifully presented dishes, elegant setting and proximity to the beach. If however barbecue’s your thing, look up Smokey’s – the restaurant’s well-priced menu is a safe bet for fans of ribs, brisket and burgers.
Camber Sands, Sussex
The beach and sand dunes at Camber Sands on the Sussex coast are among the very best in the UK. Whether you’re staying or eating in the area, The Gallivant is definitely one to consider, with it’s ultra-sustainable ethos (all ingredients for the restaurant’s menu are sourced within a 10-mile radius) and seaside cottage-like rooms. Alternatively, the pretty town of Rye – home to the excellent seafood brasserie Webbe’s – is a short drive down the road.
Chef and restaurateur Mark Hix takes provenance and sustainability very seriously. His southern coastal joint, HIX Oyster and Fish House, is as close as many restaurants can hope to get to the food they source, so it goes without saying that food lovers and beachcombers are well catered for when dining out here.
The idyllic golden shores of North Sands, South Sands and Mill Bay endow Salcombe with much of its beauty. While many visitors and locals are quite rightly hit with inspiration for weekend picnics on the beach, others are seduced by the local restaurants and beach cafés. Situated on their respective beaches, both The Winking Prawn and South Sands Hotel have good views out to sea. Only question is, would you rather tuck into buckets of prawns at The Winking Prawn, or South Sand Hotel’s mussels mariniére?
Perched out on a headland with stunning views over Fistral Beach and beyond, The Lewinnick Lodge is one of those places that make you feel you’re on the edge of the world. The food, incidentally, seems to have a similar effect. The Fish House – another restaurant overlooking the beach – also serves some of the best food around, and at good prices, too – you can dine well here for less than £15.
King Edward’s Bay, Tyne and Wear
If it’s top-drawer, paired-back seafood you’re after, Riley’s Fish Shack in Tynemouth might be on the cards. The restaurant is slap bang on the beach, meaning you can dine on chargrilled squid and pan-fried hake with caper butter while the sand’s between your toes. Sound good? It should – Observer critic Jay Rayner called Riley’s one of the best dining experiences he had last year.
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.