Cornwall’s 15 Best Independent Bars, Galleries and Restaurants

Spotlighting rustic-chic seaside shacks and little-known watering holes, we’ve called upon our most discerning Cornish friends to pull together this list of the best independent bars, galleries and restaurants Cornwall has to offer.

We're strong believers in supporting the little dudes, the low-capacity, small-batch places that are going to great lengths to fight the good fight. Spotlighting rustic-chic seaside shacks and little-known wine bars that are flying under the radar of Cornwall's tourist hordes, we've called upon our most discerning Cornish friends to pull together this list of the best independent bars, galleries and restaurants the county has to offer.

Fight the good fight: support these independent bars, galleries and restaurants in Cornwall

Restaurants

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Atlantic Bar and Kitchen

New Polzeath

Those who’ve worked their way through Cornwall’s micro-breweries know that nothing beats a frosted glass of ale from Harbour Brewing. You’ll find this stuff on tap at Cornwall’s most discerning bars, but it’s worth checking out Atlantic Bar and Kitchen, Harbour Brewing’s own clifftop bar on the rugged coast of New Polzeath. It bravely opened just as the UK started emerging from lockdown and you’ll find crispy-bottomed pizza made from scratch on-site and the full complement of Harbour Brewing’s beers, of course.

Address

New Polzeath, PL27 6UG

restaurant

Fitzroy

Fowey

Anyone who has pulled up a seat at Hackney’s Jolene, Westerns Laundry or Primeur will know what Fitzroy is all about: premium, sustainably sourced ingredients (in this case, hyper-locally sourced) whipped into small but delectable little sharing plates. Similarly to its sibling restaurants, the menu changes weekly. Think deep-fried sole with curry mayo, velvety crab soup with chilli and croutons and a glut of vegetarian delights such as spelt, courgette and basil with Cornish Gouda. Fans of Jolene’s rustic-chic aesthetic will be pleased to know that the interiors here are no less deliciously pared-back.

Address

2 Fore Street, PL23 1AQ

restaurant

North Street Kitchen

Fowey

Erm, this one’s another outpost from the folks behind Jolene, Westerns Laundry, Primeur and Fitzroy. We would apologise for the lack of diversity, but we’re huge fans of their work. Picture the scene: ramshackle wooden tables, a ceiling strung with fairy lights, distressed duck-egg blue floorboards and an open kitchen populated by a handful of apron-clad chefs shucking freshly caught oysters, ready to be washed down with local brews. It sits in an old boatshed which opens out directly onto the River Fowey and is so DIY that it doesn’t even have a website so you’ll need to check the New Street Kitchen Instagram page for opening hours.

Address

55 North Street, PL23 1DB

restaurant

Prawn on the Lawn

Padstow

No prizes for guessing this place’s speciality. At Prawn on the Lawn (or POTL to friends), meaty seafood plucked straight out of the Atlantic is served in a neat menu of elegant, Asian-inspired dishes. For starters, try its tempura courgette flower with crab or the Sri Lankan black curry with cod. Those with big appetites shouldn’t hesitate in ordering the POTL fruits de mer – a majestic mosaic of all its best bits. It’s currently seeing out lockdown at Padstow Kitchen Garden, just south of Padstow town centre. Come November, it plans to be back in its harbourside restaurant.

Address

11 Duke Street, PL28 8AB

restaurant

Canteen

St Agnes

If you’re someone who despairs when tasked with cooking for large parties, allow yourself to be dazzled by Canteen, an expert in dishing out hearty, seasonal and downright lip-smacking dinners en masse. You might have seen some of its work on Instagram – long, banquet-style tables laid meticulously in areas of outstanding natural beauty – but you can grab a slice of the action, quite literally, by visiting its base in St Agnes.

Address

Unit 9, Wheal Kitty Workshops, TR5 0RD

restaurant

Feed

Hayle

Hayle is not on the average tourist’s path so this hole in the wall tends to pull a loyal crowd of Cornish locals. If you’re passing through this town in West Cornwall, make sure you stop by to pick up some food for the road. It’s fast food without all the added nasties, such as nachos with homemade salsa and flatbreads engorged by multicoloured veg and hummus which squishes out the sides. It also serves Yallah coffee, itself a local enterprise run by a team of hardcore coffee enthusiasts.

Address

Unit 19, The Old Foundry Chapel, TR27 4AB

restaurant

Mussel Shoals

Porthleven

The subaquatic scrumptiousness on offer at Mussel Shoals in Porthleven needs to be tasted to be believed. Each dish comes spinning out of what can only be described as a glorified shed on Porthleven’s harbour wall. It’s seafood, obviously, but done in French-bistro style. Beyond moules frites, expect salt-and-pepper squid with lime-and-mango mayo or a juicy hake-fillet burger. Whatever fish or crustacean is unlucky enough to get caught that day determines the menu so each visit brings new splendours. With swoon-worthy views out over the harbour and a bar which teeters over the water’s edge, it’s also a terribly romantic place to sink a few drinks as the sun sets.

Address

Harbour Head, TR13 9JY

Bars & Cafés

restaurant

Open

St Agnes

Surfer or not, this workshop-cum-café on the shores of St Agnes is a guaranteed people-pleaser. Its shaping sessions – during which professional craftspeople teach surf enthusiasts how to saw and plane their own boards – will mesmerise those who enjoy catching waves. If you’re one of the more vertically challenged surfers among us, stop by for a coffee at Open’s bleached white café, which looks like the sort of stylish joint you might expect to find in Malibu, California.

Address

3 Wheal Kitty Workshops, TR5 0RD

restaurant

The Warehouse

Penryn

You might have spotted the Origin Coffee shop in Shoreditch or at The British Library, but it doesn’t have a patch on The Warehouse, a minimal but homely conversion slap-bang in the centre of Penryn. While it has scored some big-shot locations in London, this independent coffee roaster remains small but mighty – which brings us on to its espresso. Provenance is the buzzword at Origin. Not only do all its beans come from small-lot farmers, but Origin is deeply involved in the sourcing process and release annual environment reports to see how it can reduce its carbon footprint year on year.

Address

8AE Commercial Road, TR10 8AE

restaurant

Temple

Bude

This finger-on-the-pulse café/restaurant and local store is somewhat of an anomaly in the cutesy village of Bude. The primary focus here, from the menu to its charming shop, is providing a platform for local creatives – on weekends it regularly hosts “Temple Takeovers” during which fledgling Cornish chefs are given the opportunity to serve their own custom-made menus. Its all-day brunch menu is a cluster of drool-worthy temptations such as Temple kimchi grilled cheese sandwich, while a two-course set menu made from Cornish bounty and designed to reduce food waste is served for dinner.

Address

10 Granville Terrace, EX23 8JZ

bar

Little Palais

St Ives

This new addition to the bar scene in St Ives is the type of design-conscious watering hole where the wine bottles look as good as they taste. It’s tucked in a little cubby hole on one of the town’s many retiring little lanes and easy to miss, which is somewhat of a blessing. It’s tight on space so the fewer people who find out about this one, the better. You can grab cocktails and slabs of antipasti, but ecological wines from small-batch vineyards across Europe take centre-stage here.

Address

2 Barnoon Hill, TR26 1AD

bar

The Searoom by Saint Ives Liquor Co.

St Ives

Where better to clink ice-cold glasses of locally distilled gin and tonic than just metres from St Ives seafront? Take a pew at The Searoom, the official outpost of Saint Ives Liquor Co. Naturally, its drinks list is heavy on local ingredients, though its food menu is a more international affair, offering a variety of sushi and poké bowls. It has worked extensively with conservation charity Rising Forests to make its business as carbon-neutral as possible. A tree is planted for every bottle of #Gandtree St Ives gin it sells, which is as good a reason as any to get a few rounds in.

Address

1 Wharf House, TR26 1PG

Galleries & Art Shops

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Newlyn Art Gallery

Penzance

There’s nothing lofty about this contemporary art gallery in Penzance. Yes, it presents more conceptual installations such as Peter Freeman’s Rainbow Flag, a series of multicoloured neon strip lights made to acknowledge LGBTQ+ history month, but it also makes space for more populist work including Grayson Perry’s series of tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences. It has two spaces – the original Newlyn Art Gallery overlooking the harbour which occupies the former home of journalist John Passmore Edwards, and The Exchange, a smaller spot hidden in the town centre.

Address

New Road, TR18 5PZ

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Plumbline

St Ives

Just across the street from Barbara Hepworth’s home and garden sits Plumbline, a small but perfectly formed shop selling all manner of handcrafted beauties made by Cornish locals. It might look like an intimidating private gallery from the outside, but you needn’t be a cash-rich art buyer to pick up some real gems. Aside from wibbly-wobbly glassware and ceramics dripping in jewel-tone glazes, there are precious fragments of jewellery and small objets d art which make for less expensive souvenirs.

Address

2 Barnoon Hill, TR26 1AD

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CIRCLE Contemporary

Wadebridge

In Cornwall’s private gallery market, which is so heavily saturated with washy coastal watercolours and acrylic palette smears, CIRCLE Contemporary presents a roster of commercially viable yet interesting modern artists. It classifies each of its artists according to three categories – The Landscape of Pleasure, The Material Landscape and The Human Landscape – but that’s by the by. If you’re interested in fine art, particularly work with coastal influences, then hop on your bike and make tracks for this unassuming series of warehouses on the furthest outskirts of Wadebridge.

Address

Hawksfield Cornwall, PL27 7LR

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