Of all the restaurant guides we’ve put together here at Easyjet Traveller, this was one of the hardest to write – there are just so many brilliant places to visit in Brighton and its sister-town Hove. It was almost impossible to narrow it down to just ten, but we got there in the end. From a sweet-as-pie bakery to a very cool Thai barbecue, here’s our essential list of places to eat and drink on a trip to the seaside.
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Come to this Laines hotspot for the seasonal small plates featuring the very best Sussex produce, stay for the superb selection of natural wines and effortlessly cool, almost Parisian vibe. The blackboard might feature the likes of oysters, fresh homebaked bread and pork and duck terrine, paired with one of their skin-contact whites, a French red from a small producer or some funky cider. If you’re coming on a weekend you’ll definitely want to book.
1 Bartholomews, BN1 1HB
The Little Fish Market
For the freshest fish elevated to the level of art, head over the border into Hove. New opening The Little Fish Market is cosy, with just 20 covers, but its tasting menu wouldn’t look out of place in the loftiest of London eateries. It changes every four to six weeks, but you might find yourself sitting down to wild prawns, gilt-head bread, squid and three different deserts, plus plenty of delicious and surprising bells and whistles. At £95 per person with an optional £55 wine pairing (curated by the team behind Noble Rot) it isn’t cheap, but it’s remarkably good value. One for a special occasion.
10 Upper Market Street, BN3 1AS
This buzzy, ever-reliable neighbourhood Italian started life as a converted 1970s Fiat van that sold bubbles and nibbles at Brighton festivals. Now firmly established in Hove, it’s the place to go for antipasti and Aperol spritzes, plus clever, creative plates of fresh pasta (rigatoni, pork shoulder and nduja ragu; tonnarelli with clams, girolles and sea herb pesto). Leave space for the justifiably famous Cin Cin tiramisu.
60 Western Road, BN3 1JD
Neon lights and lip-tingling Northern Thai barbecue are the vibe at this perennially busy Kemptown favourite. The ingredients are local wherever possible, but the recipes and techniques strive for authenticity; most of the team at Lucky Khao have trained in Thailand. Whether you’re popping in for a bite to eat at the beginning or the end of the night (try the hot dog, a Chiang Mai sausage made with Sussex pork in a buttery bap, smothered with Laos mustard and house pickles) or a barbecue feast for a group (the coconut cream corn ribs are sensational, as are the drunken noodles) you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a pleasantly sweaty brow.
1d St James's Street, Kemptown, BN2 1RE
This is the sort of restaurant you dream of having at the end of your street: cool, friendly, serving good-looking and delicious seasonal food at very fair prices. If you’re coming for dinner it's worth visiting early to take advantage of the bargainous £35 set dinner menu, with a £25 wine pairing: your three courses might include fried green tomatoes with bagna vert, hay-baked shoulder of Sussex pork with bee pollen, and raspberry-pistachio ice cream. As you might guess from Wild Flor’s name, sherry is something they do very well here: a glass of fino ‘Innocente’ makes for a delightful start to the proceedings.
42 Church Road, BN3 2FN
Food For Friends
As you’d expect, Brighton is brilliant for plant-based dining, and the city has no shortage of cool new vegan and vegetarian places to eat. Food For Friends, which has been going since 1981, is the original and still one of the very best. Jutting out onto Prince Albert Street like the prow of a ship, the elegant dining room serves an internationally influenced menu: think spring vegetable katsu-style curry and a hearty roasted roots salad. The weekend brunches are fantastic: order the Full English, which comes with vegan sausage, aubergine ‘bacon’, smoky beans, toasted sourdough and a choice of eggs or ackee. There’s a smaller Food For Friends in Hove, too.
17-18 Prince Albert Street, BN1 1HF
The Flint House
Hidden away in the heart of the Lanes, the Michelin-rated Flint House is one of Brighton’s most exciting new places to eat. If you’re in the market for stylish counter dining in an architecturally impressive space (all glass and stone), look no further. After a ‘livener’ in the first floor cocktail bar (the melon-Riesling-soda hits the spot on a sunny day), head downstairs for tapas-style small plates: deep-fried stuffed courgette flowers, slow-cooked ox cheek, dressed green beans. There’s a fantastic, comprehensive vegan menu, and they also cater for groups with aplomb.
13 Hanningtons Lane, BN1 1GS
Flour Pot Bakery
Another Lanes must-visit, Flour Pot Bakery on Sydney Street is just the place to refuel in the middle of shopping spree with a sandwich (the chickpea and Sunblush tomato one is a winner), seasonal soup or salad, followed by coffee and a slice of their famous Blackout chocolate cake from the counter. It’s such a lovely, homely spot, the only difficulty will be in forcing yourself to leave so you can get on with the rest of your day. Team Flour Pot have eight locations across Brighton and Hove, plus two branches in Worthing.
40 Sydney Street, BN1 4EP
The Chilli Pickle
A hit as soon as it opened in 2008, The Chilli Pickle remains one of Brighton’s best-loved restaurants. Drawing inspiration from all over India, as well as Nepalese and Indo-Chinese cuisine, it’s a brilliant choice for groups and family meals. As you browse the menu under paper lanterns and twinkling lights, look out for the gol gappa, filled puffs of deep-fried flatbread, and the fiery oxtail Madras, which has actually won an award for being Britain’s hottest curry.
17 Jubilee Street, BN1 1GE
Brighton’s bright, airy new seafront food hall has had rave reviews – and rightly so. Shelter Hall combines a genuinely fun, stress-free dining experience (there are no queues or scrums for seats; you order using a QR code from your bookable table) with an unbeatable selection of traders: Edinburgh’s Montreal-style Bross Bagels, Neapolitan pizzeria Amalfi and Patty Guy’s burgers are all there. There are plans for regular kitchen residencies too: the latest is Sol, billed as a ‘celebration of Santa Monica cuisine’. Meanwhile, up on the first floor, cocktail bar Skylark is a perfect date spot.
Kings Road Arches, BN1 1NB