Oxford is steeped in history, as a walk down any one of its streets will demonstrate, with architecture ranging from medieval to present-day. Outside of the city centre towards Cowley and East Oxford, there are signs of the city’s more recent growth and diversification. All of this and more is evident in the city’s burgeoning restaurant culture. We take a look at the top 10 places to dine in the city of dreaming spires.
British food is known for hearty flavours and full-bodied character. The Magdalen Arms is testament to this, as its menu has a rotating selection of giant, sharing sized dishes, harking back to rustic traditions of serving locally sourced, good quality meat to a large company. Whilst tradition is strong, there is an undeniable gourmet twist. Guardian food critic Jay Rayner found their sharing size steak and ale pie so good that he was reputedly almost left speechless. Eating at the Magdalen Arms is less like going to a restaurant and more like visiting an old family friend, offering comfort food classics with a nod to modern sophistication and culinary prowess.
Magdalen Arms, 243 Iffley Road, Oxford, UK, + 44 1865 243 159
Found in Radcliffe Square between the University Church and the Radcliffe Camera, the Vaults and Garden Café might possess the grandest surroundings in the city. The inside of the café is in fact the site of one of Oxford University’s oldest buildings, the Old Congregation House, which was established for academic meetings in the 14th century. Even amongst such historic buildings, the café holds its own, offering hearty, unpretentious fare such as chickpea tagine and beef lasagne. The space is locally famed for providing warm sustenance and a friendly hospitality in winter, when Oxford’s stones make for a chilly city. The café also offers a selection of cooked breakfasts and freshly baked cakes for afternoon tea.
Vaults and Garden Café, University Church, 1 Radcliffe Square, Oxford, UK, + 44 1865 279 112