Curry Leaf Cafe

The Curry Leaf Cafe treats diners to South Indian street food in three branches across Brighton (including a train-station kiosk), but we love its vibrant flagship restaurant in The Lanes the best. Snack on pakoras as you muse over a menu of dosas, naan wraps, curries and thali, making sure to save room for a dessert of date rice pudding. 

 

Wild Flor

The lovechild of four young, local restaurant and wine professionals (and friends), this intimate bistro opened in Hove in the spring of 2019 and quickly earned Michelin recognition. Against a muted, stripped-back dining room, it serves no-fuss food done well: veal sweetbreads with sherry sauce, pheasant pithivier, beef-fat potatoes, blood orange posset. The cellar here is especially bountiful and the negroni particularly punchy.

Purezza

Purezza was the UK’s first plant-based pizzeria, and it has crafted a (top secret) recipe for vegan mozzarella using brown rice from Italy (where else?), along with dairy-free ricotta good enough to rival its dairy-full counterpart. These are slapped on sourdough bases and joined by toppings including black truffle, wood-smoked tofu and beetroot carpaccio.

Food for Friends

Feeding Brightonians since 1981, this veggie (and vegan-friendly) restaurant will satisfy even the most blood-thirsty carnivore. Try spiced-chickpea Scotch eggs, oyster-mushroom scallops and mirin-infused crispy tofu – just make sure to book ahead; this place is popular. Can’t snag a seat? Head to East Street where Terre à Terre serves globetrotting plant-based dishes including nori tapioca, lemony battered halloumi and a rhubarb-and-custard variation on arancini. A. A. Gill dubbed it “probably the best vegetarian restaurant in Britain”.

 

Lucky Beach

Tucked in the seafront arches, Lucky Beach is the sibling eatery of coffee-specialist Red Roaster and Lucky Khao, a neon-flecked restaurant serving Northern Thai barbecue. Croon over the waves as you munch through feel-good brunch and burgers (vegan options include a meatless “bleeding” patty). All produce is sustainably sourced and profits are donated to social projects in Rwanda.

 

Wolfies of Hove

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you’re at the seaside, you need to find a decent chippy. There are too many anaemic-looking chips and sad saveloys served around the Palace Pier for our liking. Instead, head to family-run Wolfies (near Hove train station), a purveyor of traditional (and sustainable) fish, chips, pie, mash and liquor along with unusual catches such as stone bass and soft-shell crab. Gluten- and dairy-free options available.

 

The Little Fish Market

After a different kettle of fish? Book a table at The Little Fish Market, a former fishmonger where sustainably caught seafood is given the five-star (or three AA Rosettes and a Michelin Plate, to be exact) treatment by The Fat Duck alumni Duncan Ray. Expect simple, ingredient-led dishes such as brill with plankton butter and crab ravioli.

 

Brass Monkey

Boho Gelato, Scoop & Crumb and Marroccos generally steal the show when it comes to Brighton’s best ice cream. Nevertheless, we say: brave the crowds of Kensington Gardens and head to the speakeasy-style Brass Monkey, an independent, 100-per-cent organic and vegan-friendly parlour. Offbeat flavours whipped up in the basement include masala chai latte and saffron with rosewater. Our order: a scoop of black sesame in a waffle cone.

Bincho Yakitori

“We won’t waste our time and your money on unnecessary garnishes”, states Bincho Yakitori’s website. Accordingly, this izakaya serves the kind of fuss-free fare that has earned an under-the-radar spot a loyal local following. Having started life in London’s OXO Tower, Bincho Yakitori now rubs shoulders with the many international restaurants that line Preston Street. Bag a seat at the no-frills counter and order skewers (yakitori) of chicken skin and pork belly, along with small plates of Korean-style wings and pudding-like sweet potato brushed with miso butter. Best washed down with Japanese beer or a sake flight. 

 

Brewed

Brewed is off the tourist track, though you’ll pass the Open Market and The Level park en route from central Brighton. Knock elbows (literally, this place is tiny) with locals as you sip single-origin coffee and peruse a menu featuring cauliflower fritters, a kimchi reuben and bacon-topped pancakes dripping with syrup. We always opt for a fry up – there are meat, veggie and vegan options – chiefly for the divine potato croquettes. If you know, you know.

 

The Pond

“Craft beer. Street food. Zero ducks” is the mantra of this independent watering hole frequented by Brighton’s cool crowd. Wet your feathers with a Pondwater Pale Ale and stick your beak into pillowy Taiwanese steamed buns from the resident Baby Bao kitchen – sides of Pond special fries, aubergine caviar and spiced mac ‘n’ cheese are a must. 

 

Kindling

Stepping inside Kindling is akin to stumbling into a Pinterest black hole of Scandi interiors; all blonde woods and rattan, rustic crockery, trailing leaves and wishbone chairs. Thankfully the dishes taste as good as the place looks. Menus are “kind to the soul and the environment”, peddling plant-centric plates with produce foraged from the Sussex countryside alongside ethical meat and sustainable fish. If you hadn’t guessed, fire cooking is done especially well here – the bread is great, too.

Etch.

MasterChef winner Steven Edwards is the culinary brains behind this bank-turned-restaurant in Hove, where local produce populates the monthly-changing set menus. Each course is etched around two ingredients – pea and asparagus; blood orange and beetroot; pigeon and watercress – to allow for daily flexibility. While the restaurant ranks among the city’s pricier eateries, it’s a reflection of the fine fare rather than the atmosphere, which is far from formal.

Black Mocha

This brunch spot goes above and beyond the norm in food, drink and service offering more than just standard poached eggs or avocado on toast. Whilst it caters to any preferences, the high standard of food is maintained throughout regardless of whether its chorizo hash or vegan baba ganoush on sourdough that entices. On top of this, there is a great coffee selection to wash down the oncoming indulgence!

Chilli Pickle

There are infinite numbers of Indian restaurants around the UK but some manage to stand out from the rest. The Chilli Pickle are considered a Brighton institution loved by locals and visitors alike. Serving up delicious Indian food bursting with colour in a friendly, Brighton-esque atmosphere, it has created a harmonious blend between international and local. Head here before an evening at the Theatre Royal or a stroll around the Pavilion. Alternatively, grab their food to go and enjoy along the Brighton Pier.

The Gingerman

Located a little out of the centre, its certainly worth the journey which will work up your appetite almost as much as the tempting menu on offer. Using a large selection of local produce, The Gingerman delivers Great British classics with a hint of innovative and added refinement. Choose from the a la carte or tasting menu and on the next day head to the sister restaurant, The Ginger Pig which is just a short walk away in Hove.

The Salt Room

With its ideal coastal location, Brighton’s seafood scene is bountiful. The Salt Room is certainly one of the dominating seafood restaurants serving polished up versions of the classics in a beautifully located setting that overlooks the water.

Riddle & Finns

With emphasis on high quality, locally supplied produce, Riddle & Finns delivers on unfussy yet exceptional dishes in both of their Brighton locations. Their menu is a wide-ranging list of varying seafood although they are particularly specialised in oysters which are on the menu all year round. The impressive wine list ensures a perfect pairing to these pearly delicacies. Opt for an Oysters and Champagne combo for a truly luxurious treat.

The Longhouse Cafe

Venture off the tourist-trodden tracks to find this great, dog-friendly, all-round-friendly brunch spot enjoyed by the locals. Plenty of plants inhabit the charming cafe and resemble the Lounghouse’s attitude to their menu which itself is powered by plants. Everything here is presented with utmost care and whether its savoury or sweet, each dish is guaranteed to please.

Isaac At

At just 24, Isaac Bartlett-Copeland is the ambitious chef behind this tiny but mighty dining spot. Housed in a soothing, grey-washed former office space on Gloucester Street, guests are offered menus of bright, seasonal dishes created with hyper-local produce. In fact, this team of young friends are so committed to their sourcing that the menu comes with a list of the day’s ingredients and their corresponding mileage. A nine-course feast may include warm treacle and stout bread (we’d like a mattress made from stuff), crab with homegrown radishes, pan-seared aubergine with beetroot ketchup, blushing lamb chump with salt-baked turnips and greengage ice cream with pink-peppercorn meringue and date puree, all cooked from a tiny open kitchen.

The Set

You’ll find this 20-seat restaurant at Artist’s Residence, a sea-facing townhouse-turned-hotel decorated by local creatives. Set inside a cosy room of reclaimed wood, copper and exposed brick, the British tasting menus change with the seasons. Expect dishes like mackerel, ponzo and oyster; pork, octopus and peach; and crumbly chocolate and blueberry pie bookended by creative snacks and homemade sweets – washed down with an eclectic selection of wines. Set aside a few hours and a giant appetite for this one.

64 Degrees

This cosy dining joint is tucked away down the winding, cobbled Lanes, with a passionate team whipping up inventive small plates from an open-plan kitchen. The menu changes constantly, informed by the seasons and local purveyors. Expect photo-worthy plates like silvery mackerel with sweet beetroot and jerk yoghurt, beef rump with hispi cabbage and black beans, or lasagnette with silky red peppers and an egg yolk cooked at 64 degrees. The room is finished with soft charcoal walls, wood panelling and black-enamel lights. The best seat in the house is at the bar, where you can watch your food being made from scratch as you sip on a glass of frosty white or their very own 64-degrees pale ale.

Plateau

Step into this Parisian-style nook for natural wine, small plates and the kind of manager who asks you if you’re ready for the next bottle before the first one’s reached the halfway mark. Liquor bottles are stacked up against a brick wall at the bar, where locals huddle at silver stools and sip sparkling reds and cloudy whites from glass carafes. The chalkboard menu is altered slightly each day, offering sharing plates that are almost impossible to share, such as miso-glazed aubergine, smoked eel with lemon curd, smoked leeks with pecorino and a plate of fried chicken with pickles we’ve been fantasising about since. All topped off with a few too many glasses of orange wine and a bowl of figs, burnt orange and olive-oil ice cream.

The Flour Pot Bakery

Follow your nose to this white-washed café-cum-bakery, where the smell of freshly baked loaves, tarts and pastries is enough to send even the most committed gluten-dodger into a tailspin. Founded by a former chef, The Flour Pot puts the finest ingredients first, with a team of artisan bakers working through the night. Pop in for great coffee, a flaky croissant or a hefty sourdough sandwich loaded with seasonal ingredients, cured meats and fantastic cheeses.

Fatto a Mano

When the craving for wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza hits, make a beeline for this neighbourhood honey trap. The dough is made on-site every day and proved for 24 hours before being laden with spicy minced pork, smoked ricotta and aubergine, fennel sausage and burly artichokes. In peak season there’s regularly a waitlist for the North Laine branch; take the 10-minute walk west to its London Road restaurant instead.

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