Brighton is the Florida of the UK. Technically, no one has ever seen a seagull massacre a battered sausage or run into a child screaming ‘WANT A STICK OF ROCK NAN’ in Miami Beach, but we stand by that statement. The point is, when it comes to escaping the city for a dip in the ocean, a few bevs, and some quality staycation content, you can’t beat Brighton. From the pier to the joy of wandering around the lanes on a sunny day, Brighton has a lot to offer and importantly, a lot of great things to eat and drink. Find the best independent, non-tourist spots all in this guide, from fluffy pancakes to start your day to the perfect paloma to end your trip. Factor 50 and protection from feral seagulls not included.
The Feelgood Brighton Brunch Option
If you deem Notting Hill’s Farm Girl to be your London restaurant spirit animal, then we have a feeling you’ll love Wolfox Avenue. A glossy brunch spot that has that whole foliage and florals egg-shrine thing going on, we are lowkey obsessed with their thick, fluffy pancakes and locally-sourced vegetable dishes. If you’re coming to Brighton for a full weekend, please know that your hangover will love this place but their full English ft. merguez is also an excellent way to kick off your trip. In neighbourhood-feel area, Kemptown, they also make a mean chai latte and have a few other spots dotted around Brighton that you can hit up if you need an afternoon caffeine boost later in the day.
For A Grab-and-Go Seafood Sarnie
Sure, you technically already ate an egg mayo sandwich, four brownies, and a whole bag of Tangfastics on the train out of 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 - more importantly, a good sandwich - now that you’re in Brighton. The place to do that is Smokehouse. A legendary little sandwich shop housed in one of the seafront arches, this place has got everything from salmon and salad doorstop numbers to our personal favourite, the crab sandwich covered. 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, tuck-in, and contemplate whether your boss would let you work remotely from Brighton (“work-life balance is so important Martin”) so you could eat fresh crab every single day.
For That Inevitable Fish & Chips Craving
Riddle us this - if you go to the seaside and don’t eat fish and chips whilst batting away an army of feral seagulls, have you even been to the seaside? In our humble opinion, the answer is no. You have to eat fish and chips in Brighton, it’s basically a legal requirement, but that doesn’t mean you should just settle for the closest place that reeks of vinegar. No, you should go to old school chippie Bardsley’s. This family-run spot on Baker Street has been frying up cod and serving mushy peas since 1926 and all those years of practice have resulted in some of the hands-down best batter in the area. Under a ten-minute walk from the station, you can opt to eat in their straightforward dining room, but for peak seaside feels we recommend getting your fish and chips to go and turning a bench into your own little dinner table with sea views. Be warned, you will have to queue, but it’s entirely worth it.
For A 'Fancy' Lunch
There is one word that comes to mind when we think of Kindling and that is ‘delightful’. This place is an excellent shout if you’re looking for somewhere to have a fancy lunch, a foliage-filled Brighton date, or to eat a Saddlescombe mutton burger that will have you cursing every sad Big Mac you’ve allowed to touch your brioche-loving lips. A light and airy small plates restaurant near the seafront, it’s run by an ex St. John chef. As you might expect with this kind of heritage, Kindling is all about quality seasonal produce, and although the menu changes regularly, you can expect dishes like wild garlic and ricotta gnudi, exceptional seafood, and tarted-up vegetables complete with crispy chickpeas. See, delightful.
A Pub Perfect For Sunday Roasts And Seaside Day-Drinking
The Walrus is a certified ‘nice pub’ with a buzzing roof garden on historical Ship Street. Would we class this quaint little road as being packed full of undeniable property porn? Absolutely, yes. 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 sophisticated upstairs dining room where you can eat a tender pork belly and apple sauce roast in the company of some beautiful William Morris wallpaper. And you’ve got their casual two-story roof garden which should be at the top of your agenda if you’re rolling with a group. Always packed out on sunny days and during live sport events, it’s worth booking ahead if you want a big table at peak times, but they’ll always try to squeeze you in for a pint on the terrace. Cheers!
For A Big Ol' Ice Cream
Realistically, from the moment you packed your swimsuit the weather gods probably decided that it was going to piss it down in Brighton for the foreseeable future. But if by some delightful miracle the weather is looking tip-top, then you’re going to want to get involved in the ultimate summer poster child, ice cream. Our favourite place to get a scoop, cone, or a little sugar-sponsored brain freeze, 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.
The Special Occasion Dinner Situation
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, set our Oyster card on fire, and start talking shit about our ex, Big Ben (just a big clock really, isn’t it?). Such is the delicious power of the refined, quality dishes at this truly excellent wine bar and restaurant. Technically this romantic, candlelit spot is in neighbouring Hove, but it’s just a ten-minute drive from the pier or you can go for a scenic 30-minute walk along the seafront. We promise though, the brief excursion is entirely worth it. An instant crowd-pleaser for fans of London restaurants like Noble Rot and Levan, the long drinks list has 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. Wild Flor, we love you.
For A Grab-And-Go Dinner
We’ll set the scene. Your train back to Central line hell is in half an hour, you spent approximately four million pounds in the arcade trying to win that stuffed Sid the Sloth toy, and you’ve self-diagnosed yourself with hypothermia after a six-minute swim in the sea. Time to hit up Bready Delights. A great little street food van selling Jamaican classics like jerk chicken, patties, and plantain from The Avenue, it’s the perfect option if you need a speedy but oh-so tasty meal. It’ll also work for a quickfire dinner before cocktails if you got so distracted looking for the perfect distressed denim jacket in the Lanes’ vintage shops that you missed your dinner reservation. Plus, it’s a great back-pocket option if it turns out the entirety of London’s residents have descended on Brighton and you need a 10-minute time out on a patch of grass with some ginger cake for company.
A Top Cocktail Situation
An eclectic cocktail bar hidden in Kemptown, The Plotting Parlour is an easy-peasy five-minute walk from the pier. It also just so happens to serve a Paloma that will keep that beach holiday high going long after you’ve attempted to get the sand out of your shoes. As well as serving creative takes on classic cocktails, we’re also very into the look of this bar. Think moody speakeasy meets baby Sistine Chapel, thanks to the dim-lighting, dark walls, red leather cinema seats, and a ceiling covered in renaissance paintings. We’d recommend booking ahead because all those pisco-loaded cocktails and their mezcal flight make this place permanently popular. Just don’t drink so many ginger margaritas that you miss your last train.