The Best Restaurants in Brighton & Hove

Sun? Maybe. Sea? Definitely. Tourist traps? Absolutely not. Introducing our 13 must-visit seaside spots in Brighton.
The Best Restaurants in Brighton & Hove image

photo credit: Phoebe Rossi

Brighton is the Florida of the UK. Technically, no one has ever seen a seagull massacre a battered sausage or run into a toddler using a stick of rock as a lightsaber in Miami Beach, but we stand by that statement. The point is, when it comes to escaping London for a dip in the ocean, a few bevs, and some quality staycation content, you can’t beat Brighton. 

From the upbeat chaos of the pier to the smug satisfaction of finding the perfect pair of vintage jeans while wandering The Lanes on a sunny day, this seaside town has a lot to offer—and perhaps most importantly, a lot of great things to eat and drink. You’ll find the best independent, non-tourist spots all in this guide, including handmade pasta, secret patios, and natural vino. Factor 50 and protection from feral seagulls not included.


photo credit: Phoebe Rossi

Modern European


$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysDate NightDinner with the ParentsDrinking Good WineLunch

We love London. No really, we do. That being said, approximately three bites into Wild Flor’s glazed pig cheek pappardelle, we were willing to ghost the capital and set our Oyster card on fire. Such is the delicious power of the refined yet entirely inventive dishes at this seasonal wine bar and restaurant in Hove. It’s just a 10-minute drive from the pier, or you can go for a scenic 30-minute walk along the seafront. We promise the brief excursion is entirely worth it. The long drinks list is an instant crowd-pleaser and includes aged wines at good value, as well as a negroni that will convince you that missing the last train isn’t such a bad shout if you can stay in their moody dining room forever.

photo credit: Phoebe Rossi

$$$$Perfect For:LunchQuick EatsTakeaway

Sure, you technically already ate an egg mayo sandwich, four brownies, and a whole bag of Tangfastics on the train due to some warped belief you’d be on Southern Railway for the next three months, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also have a sandwich now that you’re in Brighton. The place to do that is Smokehouse. It’s a legendary little sandwich shop housed in one of the seafront arches with everything from salmon and salad doorstop numbers to our personal favourite, the smoked mackerel sandwich. You’ll find a couple deck chairs out front, but our game plan would be to pick up your seafood sarnies and then find a nice spot on the beach to sit down and tuck in.

If you’re able to resist saying ‘sizzle sizzle’ when The Chilli Pickle’s Kashmiri lamb cutlets arrives at your table, then you’re made of better stuff than we are. It’s presented in a scorching skillet, featuring the south coast’s best spitting oil ASMR. You don’t want your cutlets to get lonely (have a heart), so go ahead and order a round of the highly snackable vegan gol gappa and dutifully fill them with as much Bombay chaat and ginger-zinger bone marrow as you can. There’s a big (and importantly, covered) outdoor terrace out front, and a bright, buzzing dining room. This is a great spot for a group looking to make use of the £36 set menu and get a touch silly after one too many margaritas.

Cin Cin is home to high-end, high chance of encountering the word ‘Venetian’ Italian dishes. It’s also home to a warm date-ready wraparound bar and an arancino that comes with a side of lip-smacking garlic aioli and, inevitably, delighted expletives. This tennis-ball sized medley of rice, tomato, and slow-cooked pork ragu is a hero of the BN3 Hove postcode and the perfect way to start a meal in Cin Cin’s private garden. It’s all very idyllic San Gimignano by way of Western Road. Be aware that prices can stack up quick here, but stick to any dish involving the words ‘ragu’, ‘artisan’, or—ding ding ding—‘saffron gnocchi’ and the spend will be entirely justified.

We don’t make a habit of using the word ‘twee’, but this old-school seafood shack on Brighton beach is oh-so gloriously twee. From the '80s charm of the crabsticks to the pour-your-own vinegar station complete with a printed meme seagull warning, this is the ideal spot to start your trip or to have lunch on the beach. Order a dozen freshly shucked Jersey oysters with homemade chilli dressing and the delightfully rich, slapdash crab roll while you’re at it. Then, grab one of their tables on the beach. It’s walk-up only, but rest assured the queue moves fast. Oh, and if you fancy adding a pint to the proceedings, you can order one from the grab-and-go hatch at The Tempest Inn nearby.

From the moment you see Kanok Thai’s Kermit-green frontage, you’ll crack a smile. Inside, there are cream walls, kitsch floral table runners, and it’s a generally low-key casual set-up. The joy here is provided by what’s on your table. You can expect excellent Thai dining with sweet pineapple rice, spicy kee mow, and a Pantone-worthy colour show of luminous orange sauces, courtesy of the must-order tom yum and pa-neang curry. Also, the affordable prices and its location on Preston Street make it the ideal spot for a stop-off lunch between Brighton Station and the beach. Don’t skip the Thai spicy sausage or the milk tea.

There’s one word that comes to mind when we think of Kindling, and that is ‘delightful’. It’s a light and airy modern European small plates restaurant near the seafront run by an ex-St. John chef, and as you might predict with this kind of heritage, it’s all about quality produce. The menu changes daily, but you can expect dishes like smoked tomato salad, exceptional seafood, and tarted-up vegetables complete with crispy chickpeas. Come evening, you can only order the £80 tasting menu, but if you’re looking to kick it à la carte, Kindling is prime territory for a fancy lunch. It’s also excellent for a foliage-filled date involving sweet nothings over their signature homemade ketchup. See, delightful.

The Walrus is a certified ‘nice pub’ on Ship Street that looks deceivingly tiny. Trust us, it’s not. Just off of the main seafront, this place has several great venues rolled into one. You’ve got the snug downstairs pub with its intimate booths and traditional boozer bar. You’ve got the two-storey roof garden that’s packed out during live sports events and should be at the top of your agenda if you’re rolling with a group. And, you’ve got the sophisticated upstairs dining room where you can eat tender sirloin steak and sip local beers in the company of William Morris wallpaper. In our humble opinion, the dining room serves the best Sunday roast in town. Expect XXL yorkshire puddings and a slow-roast lamb shank that may, or may not, result in a self-satisfied nap on the beach.

Le Baobab Cuisine is a great little Senegalese spot on Trafalgar Street where every dish feels like an ecstatic love letter from the head chef (and founder) addressed directly to your stomach. It’s homely, there’s a two-foot flamingo on the bar, and there’s a distinctive come-on-in attitude. But make no mistake, the mafe is one of the best ways to spend £13 in Brighton. Outside of knockout stews that will have you getting all misty-eyed over the humble peanut, the special plat du chef au poisson is a must-order for anyone who wants to inhale their weekly omega-3 intake and try the chef’s expert sea bass in the same sitting. Take note, it’s closed on Sundays. 

Café Rust is a cool-meets-casual brunch spot that takes its ingredients seriously. The croque madame comes with a rich, near-nutty béchamel sauce, the garlic and herb beans are our new favourite reason to not hit snooze, and the welsh rarebit is one of the most profound ways to mainline mustard. There are three Café Rusts dotted around Brighton, but thanks to its charming little patio, the one on Preston Road is our top pick—especially because it’s just a 10-minute walk away from Brighton Open Market’s abundance of artisan candles and food stalls. If you’re heading to the beach, hit up their Kemptown location or just stop by for a Red Roaster organic caffeine hit come 2pm.

Plateau is sexy. There’s exposed brick, enough natural wine to make you sincerely use the word ‘funky’ in public, and a portrait of a pug in Tudor attire above the black tiled bar. When it comes to what you should order, Plateau does the bit-of-this, bit-of-that small plate thing in a truly impressive way, and in a plot twist everyone saw coming, light, salt-fest whipped cod’s roe and tender tartare goes exceptionally well with candlelight. Thanks to the low lighting and abundance of rock oysters in the room, there’s a general sensation that someone is just about to start getting it on in the corner. Come here for date night and—praise be—it could be you.

What’s that? Your trip to Brighton is almost exclusively motivated by your desire to post Whimsical Beach Content to quietly enrage any of your friends, colleagues, or love interests circa 2012 who didn’t have the bright idea to hightail it to BN1? It’s fine, we won’t tell anyone. Instead, we would like to direct you to the second outpost of Riddle and Finns, which just so happens to have a sophisticated wraparound veranda directly overlooking the beach. There’s a definite view tax built into the prices of the quintessential beachside seafood menu, but it’s worth it for the half grilled lobster or a serious fruits de mer moment.

photo credit: Phoebe Rossi

Our favourite place to get a scoop, cone, or a little sugar-sponsored brain freeze in Brighton is Brass Monkey. This cool, retro ice cream parlour looks more like a tattoo studio from a distance, but trust us, walk in and you’ll find quality organic ice cream, including flavours like orange chocolate chip, cardamom, and their signature ‘Hokey Pokey’ honeycomb and vanilla. On North Street, Brass Monkey is just a casual three-minute walk from the Royal Pavilion, so feel free to take your pistachio scoop on a romantic stroll around the palace.

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