Home to one of the world’s most famous cathedrals and other UNESCO world heritage sites, Canterbury is one of the most popular tourist destinations in England. It provides a mixture of quaint, medieval town architecture around Burgate to the more modern shopping area of Whitefriars, all within close reach of Kent’s countryside and coastline. Here are our top 10 restaurant picks to enjoy while soaking up the city’s history.
Located near Castle Street is Pinocchio’s, an Italian restaurant offering traditional cuisine that makes a welcome change to most of the chain restaurants found on the High Street. The owner, Massimo Fierro, hails from Naples and this influence is evident in the rustic menu. The specials menu changes every month, but always offers the requisite pizza and pasta dishes. Most of the house dishes combine fresh Kentish and Italian ingredients. The interior takes its inspiration from traditional Italian trattorias, providing a laid back, family friendly atmosphere, all accompanied with real Italian hospitality.
Supposedly one of ex-Canterbury resident Orlando Bloom’s favorite restaurants, Café des Amis is Canterbury’s original Mexican restaurant. The menu combines the flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine with the freshness of Mediterranean dishes. As the name suggests, the restaurant is a popular place for friends to gather. Many of the dishes are for sharing, and the fajitas are pretty famous around town. Other dishes include Mexican staples such as tacos, enchiladas and burritos as well as paella, salads and a changing menu of meat and seafood options. The interior is colorful but cosy, with art adorning the walls and rustic furniture giving it an intimate feel, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a table with a view of the river and Westgate gardens.
Cafe, Restaurant, Mediterranean, British, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
From the lovely people that brought you Café des Amis comes Café du Soleil. The menu here draws inspiration from the regions of Provence and Italy, and the dishes are simple and authentic, made with locally sourced ingredients. Examples of the more traditional fare include bouillabaisse, moules frites and cassoulet, and they also have some fusion dishes such as teriyaki duck breast. Food is cooked in a wood burning oven, with wood from nearby Blean, and combined with the surroundings of the 18th century former wool store, diners may feel as if they have been transported back in time.
You no longer have to go to Whitstable for good quality seafood. With all seafood being delivered fresh daily from suppliers on the Kent and Sussex coasts, Chapmans has the best selection of fish and shellfish dishes in the city, as you would expect from a restaurant owned by a fish wholesaler. The menu changes regularly as it depends on daily catches, showing their commitment to providing fresh dishes every day. There is also a carefully curated wine list to suitably accompany your meal, and this includes a number of local wines. The interior is bright and airy, with the exposed beams giving real character to a building situated so close to the Westgate towers.
Tamago is Canterbury’s Japanese soul food restaurant, adding a welcome dash of traditional Asian cooking to the city’s restaurant scene. Situated among the independent shops of Northgate and the King’s Mile, Tamago offers a casual dining experience with authentic Japanese food served the Japanese way. There are curries, ramen, sushi and bento boxes, all of which are cooked with fresh ingredients. The staff are passionate about their food, and this is evident both in the dishes and the large number of regulars that they serve. For those who haven’t yet tried Japanese food, for those that love it, or for those who just want a tasty, laid back dining experience, Tamago is the place to go.
Deeson’s is very much the type of restaurant that you would both hope for and expect when thinking of Canterbury. Possibly the restaurant with the biggest commitment to using fresh, locally sourced produce, Deeson’s goes as far as to use ingredients that have been in ‘The Bunker’ – their own smallholding outside of the city where they grow and rear their own produce. The inside is rustic with an air of fine dining, perfect for a date night or a laid-back family dinner. Dishes include roast duck served with duck leg cottage pie and slow cooked belly of pork with pig’s cheek and sausages. Diners should definitely bring their appetites.
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One of Canterbury’s newest restaurants, Salt has already gained a solid reputation as a venue for reasonably priced, high-quality cooking since it opened in 2013. The menu changes daily, and the chefs use freshly foraged ingredients in their dishes. Head chef Emma has a Nordic background, and she uses this to inspire the menu, with purity of flavor being the main ethos of Salt’s dishes. The staff also work with a Wine Master to offer a seasonally changing wine and beer list to compliment the dishes. The interior utilizes original wooden features and furnishings and is lit by candlelight in the evening to give a comfortable, intimate feel.
Whether you’ve just arrived by train or have been incessantly searching for somewhere new to eat, it is worth heading over to the Goods Shed at Canterbury West station to sample the ever-changing menu of Wild Goose. The menu takes inspiration from the European tapas style of eating, presenting small dishes that are perfect for sharing. The restaurant itself is located within the Michelin-recommended Goods Shed so diners can enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the converted industrial Victorian railway shed alongside their hearty dishes. Food is prepared in front of diners, again showing testament and pride to the freshness of the dishes, and it is also a popular spot for breakfast and cocktails.
A little slice of North Africa in the heart of Canterbury, Café Mauresque offers a mix of Spanish tapas and Moorish foods, with plenty of dishes to share. There are a few seats upstairs looking out onto Butchery Lane, but the bulk of the seating is in the cosy, lantern-lit basement complete with Moroccan decor. Tagines, paella and couscous dishes are the main food options, coupled with an extensive tapas menu. There is also a substantial cocktail menu and you will often see tables enjoying jugs of sangria.
Offering gluten-free dining in historic surroundings, Oscar & Bentleys puts their diner’s needs at the heart of their restaurant, with all dishes being cooked to order. The dishes range from light bites and salads to hearty boeuf bourginon, steak, fish and chips and paella. It is housed above the Ben Jonson pub, in a 19th century building, with the decor being updated to look bright, colorful and even a bit quirky. Their artisan cakes and desserts are also worth sticking around for after the main meal or before heading downstairs for a drink.