If there’s two things we tend to be pretty good at, it’s eating and drinking. And luckily, we’ve become spoiled for choice as different regions have worked hard to make their mark on the foodie map.
To celebrate all of the great cooking talent that our nation has to offer, we’ve put together a list of 11 towns in the UK and Ireland we think every foodie should visit. From Michelin star restaurants and artisan chocolate makers, through to food festivals and seafood shacks on the beach, there’s something to suit every taste.
1. Malton, North Yorkshire
Malton has been making a name for itself as a must-visit food destination over recent years. So much so in fact, that it’s widely regarded as the Food Capital of Yorkshire.
Malton is built around locally sourced produce, award-winning monthly food markets, and an annual food festival. It’s also home to some of the most popular food shops in Yorkshire. From fresh bakeries and macaroon stores, to gin distilleries, Yorkshire cream gelato stalls, and espresso bars, it really is foodie heaven.
Aside from enjoying the food, there’s also plenty of ways to meet people and get involved with the food creation process too. The Malton Food Tour, for example, is a guided gastronomic walking tour where you can go behind the scenes of new food creations, chat with local food producers, and see how their products are made. There’s also a gin school and a cookery school, if you fancy brushing up on your existing skills or learning some new ones.
For more information about what’s on in Yorkshire’s Food Capital, have a read of the Visit Malton website.
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2. North Berwick, Scotland
Just half an hour away from Edinburgh by train, North Berwick has been dubbed Scotland’s ‘new foodie hotspot’. In a trend that’s been widely documented, North Berwick has undergone something of a food revolution in previous years.
As more and more people have become priced out of nearby Edinburgh, their eating habits have followed them to the surrounding suburbs – including North Berwick. In response to the boom, increasingly some of the best places to eat and drink on the East coast are now outside, rather than inside, of Edinburgh.
Some of North Berwick’s foodie highlights include Bostock Bakery, where the croissants are said to be so good that Danish Chef Rene Redzepi sent his pastry chef all the way from Copenhagen to learn Bostock’s secrets.
The seasonal Lobster Shack can also be found on the harbour, where seafood is cooked fresh and can be enjoyed alongside a refreshing glass of white wine.
Alternatively, cliff-edge coffee shop DRIFT is a great place to enjoy a spot of homemade lunch and a quality cup of coffee while taking in the gorgeous backdrop of Canty Bay.
For more information on planning a visit to North Berwick, have a read of this visitor’s guide.
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3. Chinatown, London
If you’re a fan of Chinese food, then unsurprisingly, Chinatown is a great place to visit. Within just over an acre of space, you can taste noodle dishes from Wuhan and Henan, skewers from Xi’an and Sichuan, dumplings from Beijing and Shanghai, and fried chicken from Taiwan.
Among the various stalls and restaurants are a few customer favourites. Cafe TPT, for example, is a standout out Hong Kong-inspired cafe with everything from tender brisket curry and Macau-style pork chops, to Singapore noodles fresh from the Wok.
If you love pasta, then consider taking a trip to Joy Luck Restaurant, where the speciality is Wuhan dry noodles. These alkaline (lighter) noodles are mixed perfectly with sesame paste, chopped chillies, chilli oil, pickles, and garlic.
Or, if you’re on the trail for the perfect bao buns, take a trip to Baozilnn, where the buns are said to be perfectly soft and fluffy on the outside, while wonderfully warm, sweet, and sticky on the inside. Equally, if you’re a bit of a night-owl and enjoy the occasional midnight snack, various restaurants like Old Town ‘97 serve into the early hours of the morning. You can read more about the best places to eat in Chinatown on the TimeOut website.
Chinatown cuisine has been a topic for debate previously, with some people arguing that the area is ‘inauthentic’ Anglo-Chinese. However, while snippets of popular British spin-offs like crispy aromatic duck and sweet and sour pork are readily available amongst the authentic Hong Kong cafes, many will argue that there is plenty of room for both.
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4. Tisbury, Wiltshire
Full of history, art, and beauty, Tisbury is set against the attractive backdrop of Wiltshire’s Nadder Valley. And although more of a village than a town, Tisbury still has plenty to offer when it comes to food and drink.
Found in a Grade 1 listed, thatched Tithe Barn (that has been converted into a contemporary Messum’s fine art gallery) is the Mess Restaurant. This popular restaurant has an air of sophistication about it, and on Friday evenings, you can catch an exhibition before sitting down to an elegant dinner.
Other highlights include top-rated restaurant Pythouse Kitchen Garden, fresh Cornish mackerel and homemade meals available from The Fishmongers, and Tisbury Deli – which is full of various treats such as fresh croissants and pork pies.
There’s also The Beckford Bottle Bistro and Shop (a contemporary wine merchant) where visitors can try-before-they-buy, get expert advice, and enjoy artisan cheese and charcuterie boards alongside their drinks.
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5. Deal, Kent
Closer in distance to France than London, Deal is home to various creative culinary flavours that have made their way across the channel. Situated on the Kent coast with a perfect little pebble beach, it makes sense that Deal is popular for seafood.
For super fresh seafood with a great view of the seafront, consider stopping by 81 Beach Street. Here, you’ll find all your seafood favourites, from salt and pepper chilli squid, to crab on fresh sourdough bread.
Alternatively, if you’re after something a little more casual, like a traditional fish and chips takeaway, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Judging by the frequently long queues, Middle Street Fish Bar is by far one of Deal’s most popular.
However, Deal’s not all about the fish – there are also plenty of non-seafood options to enjoy. From charming pop-up cafes, fresh bakeries, and deli counters, through to mezze lunches and Michelin star restaurants, you’ll find plenty of inspiration in this article on Where to Eat in Deal from Suitcase Magazine.
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6. Abergavenny, Wales
Abergavenny is well known for its annual food festival every September. The festival is one of the longest-running, most inventive and dynamic in the UK.
Visitors come from all over to enjoy dinner party master classes, vegan barbequing tips, and talks by British food writers like Diana Henry – as well as sustainable farming debates, outdoor feasts, and a children’s cookery school. With so much to see, do, and eat, the Abergavenny Food Festival is definitely one to tick off of your list.
Aside from the festival, Abergavenny is also a quiet market town packed with great foodie opportunities. The Angel Bakery sells fresh fruit pastries and homemade baguettes, and at The Marches Deli, you’ll find a range of Welsh cheeses, ale, and locally-sourced chutney.
In terms of places to eat in, The Kitchen at The Chapel is a local favourite – where freshly baked soda bread is produced every morning.
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7. Birmingham, West Midlands
Whether it’s spicy or mild, a korma or vindaloo; most people love a curry from time to time. A combination of Indian cuisine washed down with a few beers is a long-time British favourite – and few places in the UK have embraced Indian cuisine as much as Birmingham. So, for any foodies on the search for a great curry, Birmingham should be top of your list.
There are various curry restaurants to choose from in Birmingham, however, a few are particularly noteworthy. Known for its excellent customer service and modern methods of creating Indian cuisine, at Raja Monkey, you’ll find plenty of delicious street food options served on traditional Asian thalis’ (round metal plates). And for an original balti house experience, head to Shababs where, despite having a makeover in recent years, the taste has passed the test of time.
If you fancy something a bit more luxurious, contemporary, and modern, then why not head for a meal at Lasan, which was dubbed one of the best restaurants in Birmingham by Gordon Ramsey? Pushkar – winner of the best restaurant in the Midlands at the National Curry Awards – is also well known for being formal, classy, and a great place to pick up a refreshing pre-dinner cocktail.
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8. Orford, Suffolk
The beginnings of Orford’s reputation as a foodie hotspot can be traced back to its pink-walled Pump Street Bakery, which started as the place to go for breakfast pastries and freshly baked bread.
However, in recent years, it has also developed into an artisan chocolate-making site. The chocolate is made from beans that are imported directly from family farms and cooperatives around the world. So if you’re heading down there for some chocolate, be sure to leave plenty of stomach space.
Not far from the East coast, Orford is also home to many great seafood spots. Butley Oysterage is a formal restaurant that serves fresh oysters and prawns, while its sister shop Pinney’s is the place to buy everything from smoked fish, potted shellfish, and savoury oysters to enjoy as a takeaway.
If you’re visiting Orford in September, it’s also worth exploring the Aldeburgh Food Festival. As a celebration of Suffolk’s thriving food and drink industry, the festival features cooking demonstrations, as well as talks and debates on a range of topics like technology, farming, and health and wellbeing.
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9. Dingle, County Kerry
Not only is Dingle appreciated as a pretty picturesque seaside fishing town, it’s also a highly-regarded food and drink destination. If you fancy trying some seafood while you’re by the sea, restaurants like The Boat Yard and Out of the Blue – both of which overlook the Dingle harbour – are common favourites.
Or, if you fancy a bit of surf-and-turf, then family-run restaurant Fentons specialises in mixing meat and seafood dishes. Alternatively, if you follow a plant-based diet, you can browse vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Dingle on the Happy Cow website. There’s also plenty of opportunity to keep it more casual and enjoy a classic takeaway in front of the sea view from Reel or The Fish Box.
Another highlight is the Dingle Food and Wine Festival, which takes place on the first weekend of October every year. It’s known to locals as the best weekend of the year. The town comes alive with locals and tourists who flock to enjoy cookery demonstrations, workshops, wine tastings, food trails, and over 50 market stalls. By far the most popular part of the festival is The Taste Trail where visitors are led to over 70 venues around the town offering different tastings of the best food and drink in the area.
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10. Clitheroe, Lancashire
Surrounded by the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley is the market town of Clitheroe.
In the heart of town is Holmes Mill, where alongside a hotel you’ll find a beer and food hall brimming with delicious fresh produce sourced from local farmers and growers. With everything from a gelateria, a fresh deli, and a tasting parlour, to a wine bar and restaurant, this really is a unique celebration of Lancashire food and drink.
Plus, regularly hosting family events, live music, and barbeques, Holmes Mill is the perfect place to combine fine food with great entertainment. You can browse upcoming events on the Holmes Mill website.
Other highlights include Cowman’s Famous Sausage Shop, where you can buy over 70 different varieties. Plus, you’ll never struggle to find something new to eat and drink at the Assheton Arms, where the menu changes every day!
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11. Brixton, London
Brixton has staked its claim as one of London’s go-to gastro postcodes in recent years. It’s full of great food from almost every cuisine in the world, so you won’t be stuck for choice.
Brixton was one of the first areas where people from the Caribbean settled after the Second World War, and today it remains one of the top areas in London to enjoy Caribbean food.
Negril (named after one of the most beautiful parts of Jamaica) has a great menu founded on bold Caribbean flavours, and it claims to have the ‘best jerk in South London’. From salted fish fritters and jerk ribs, to mixed bean and chicken curries, you’ll find all your favourite dishes here. Plus, known to have one of the friendliest restaurant atmospheres in Brixton, it’s a nice place to enjoy a sit-down meal too.
Alternatively, if you fancy a few cocktails with your meal, then why not head to Three Little Birds to enjoy some Jamaican-inspired Tapas? Or, if you have a sweet tooth, then Kata Kata (a vegan and vegetarian restaurant said to be so good that even meat-eaters make the trip) specialises in fresh juices, crepes, and galettes – so it’s definitely worth a visit. You’ll also find a number of independent cafes and restaurants over at Pop Brixton.
Alongside live music and bustling shops, these characterful foodie spots bring Brixton to life. It also remains one of the few places in London that you can enjoy a plate of world-class food without breaking the bank.
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We’re a nation of foodies, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to food and drink quality, the UK doesn’t fall short. Dotted across the country, these foodie hotspots are a great way to explore new places, find your favourite tastes, and learn more about the technique and theory behind food and drink making.
So whether you’re dreaming of stepping into a family-run bakers, browsing fresh fruit markets, or enjoying a quality fish and chip takeaway on the beach, why not start planning your next foodie adventure today?