North Laine is the cultural centre of Brighton, with a great mix of shops, restaurants, cafés and more. Covering a large area of small lanes, North Laine is always busy with Brightonians and tourists. You’ll find some of the best food Brighton has to offer in the Laine.
Burger / Courtesy of H.en | Burger / Courtesy of H.en
H.en is a relatively new addition to North Laine, having only opened in 2014. However, it’s already gained huge popularity in Brighton as owner George battles against the commercial highstreet. H.en stands for ‘Happy. Eat Natural’ and serves high welfare chicken, with everything cooked fresh on site. The menu is refreshingly simple. You can choose from a quarter or a half of chicken, chicken burgers, or wings, accompanied with a choice of sides such as sweet potato fries, and a range of craft-beers, H.en’s food is wholesome and delicious, and good value. Finish off your meal with some gluten-free or even sugar-free waffles with berry compote and a coffee. H.en’s canary yellow exterior is a colourful addition to North Laine. Just like the menu, there is a modern minimalist to the decor, with peg boards, little potted plants, and the large windows at the front looking out onto the street.
The Chilli Pickle is an Indian Restaurant located on Jubilee Street. Owners Dawn and Alun have worked in kitchens all over the world, but their love for Indian food shines through. The interior is friendly and intimate, and the staff will cater to your every need. The menu is varied and you’ll find separate menus for lunch and dinner. The Chilli Pickle serve authentic curries, going big on flavour and spice, and cook all their dishes fresh in the kitchen. Try the Tandoori Loch Fyne Salmon, or one of the vegetarian curries, such as the Assamese Aubergine Curry. The restaurant has won many local and national awards, and you’ll always see the Chilli Pickle humming with customers as you pass.
La Choza serves up some of the best Mexican food in Brighton. Nestled in the North Laine, it’s pretty difficult to miss La Choza, its bright pink and blue walls will certainly catch your eye and inside the floral chairs, flowers and the mix of Mexican trinkets on display add to the colourful and upbeat feel. You can build your own meal by choosing between tacos, tostada, burritos or quesadillas, and then deciding between chicken, beef, pulled pork and other tempting fillings, and finishing with your choice of salsa. You’ll also find a great selection of starters and sharers (including nachos of course) and some tempting Mexican desserts. The food at La Choza is high quality and owners Aoife and Annie often visit Mexico to try the latest and the best Mexican food.
Iydea is the perfect spot for fast, healthy, vegetarian food. You’ll find this restaurant at Kensington Gardens in North Laine, always bustling with customers at lunchtime. All the food at Iydea is vegetarian or vegan and can be eaten in or taken-away. The menu works with a simple premise, you choose one main dish, two side dishes, and then two toppings. The menu changes daily but there’s always a great mix of dishes and flavours such as Indian curries, English quiches and even Greekspanakopita. All the food at Iydea is made fresh and they are quality conscious, only using free range eggs and high quality oils, and never they knowingly use GM foods. Although always busy, the staff are very friendly and work very quickly, so you’ll never be waiting long. If you choose to eat in, Iydea has a clean and simple layout, with an enjoyable canteen-like feel. Their breakfast menu is definitely worth considering too, as there’s a big list of veggie and vegan breakfast options all very reasonably priced with similarly large portion sizes.
Although Bill’s is not only found in Brighton, the Bill’s you’ll find in North Laine is really quite special. Opened in 2005, you’ll be seated inside a converted bus depot. Bill’s is the definition of casual dining, with its wooden tables and chairs, blackboards, and natural produce lining the shelves. Lunch at Bill’s is always a treat, but what really makes Bill’s stand out is their breakfasts. All the food is fresh and cooked to perfection, and you can quite easily mix and match to make your perfect fry up. The vegetarian fry-up is a great alternative to the normal Bill’s breakfast, substituting meat for hummus and guacamole, and their blueberry and buttermilk pancakes are perfect brunch material. Prices are reasonable for good quality food in Brighton, and the restaurant is always popular at breakfast and lunch.
Pompokoserves up some of the best Japanese food around, for amazing value. Located on Church Street, this is not your stereotypical sushi joint; you’ll find some classic Japanese dishes, and some new ones, all cooked to perfection. Pompoko is quite small and very popular so you might have to wait to get a table, but when you do order you’ll be served very quickly, and the staff are eager to help. Choose from Japanese curries, Donburi dishes (rice bowls), noodles, rice, and sides. If you don’t feel like sitting in, Pompoko also offers a takeaway service. Be sure to ask the staff about any special dishes that may available when you visit, as the chef is always coming up with new and exciting dishes.
Mange Tout is a little bistro on Trafalgar Street. As you may have guessed from the name, Mange Tout specialises in French cuisine. They are open for breakfast and lunch during the week, and dinner from Wednesday-Saturday. The menu is varied, with many different specials available for lunch and dinner so there’s always something new to try. The brunch menu is delicious, with a mix between lighter breakfasts and a full English. The lunch and dinner menu have French classics like a beautifully rare steak with chips, or a generous portion of mussels. Mange Tout has a strong focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients. All the wine served is natural, ingredients from Sussex are used, and their coffee and tea is locally bought and ethically sourced. Inside is very welcoming with dark green walls and lights in the window. For a taste of France in the middle of Brighton, Mange Tout is the perfect spot.
Kooks is a self-described boho bistro on Gardner Street. This music-themed restaurant conjures images of a cheesy restaurant but nothing about Kooks is cheesy. Owner and DJ Tim Healey has created his own playlist for Kooks, and his own collection of LPs frame the wall. Kooks is open from 9am until late and is popular throughout the day. The breakfast menu is simple but offers you the usual full English options, but also crepes with vanilla ice cream and cointreau. The mains from midday all sound, and taste, delicious and offer a good mix of larger options like the aged beef burger, to lighter sandwiches and salads. Kooks is best enjoyed in the evening however, when the place is usually busy with people catching some after-work cocktails. The cocktails at Kooks are perfect and have a real kick to them. The dinner menu is again quite simple but has a vegetarian option of spice butternut squash nut roast, and a mix of meat and fish options such as loin of venison and salmon fillet. Head chef James Flavell centres his menu around local, high quality ingredients, and uses seasonal produce. Kooks offers fine dining in a sophisticated atmosphere, but with prices that won’t break the bank.
Wai Kika Moo Kau is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Kensington Garden’s. This little café offers a great range of dishes. The full vegetarian breakfast is truly a full fry up with some interesting additions, such as the oven baked tomatoes with rocket pesto. The lunch menu offers House Specials such as a falafal and hummus wrap or the Kickin’ kau Burrito, made with homemade vegetarian chilli. There’s also the coveted veggie burger on the menu with a sweet potato and soybean patty which will satisfy any burger cravings. The milkshakes are a great addition to any meal, with Jakes shake (peanut butter and banana) being a popular choice. If you’re having dinner, or fancy a drink with your lunch, Wai Kika Moo Kau also have a small selection of vegan wines and beers. For a treat after your meal try a slice of delicious vegan cake.These cakes are moist and creamy and you’d never be able to tell they were dairy-free. The portions are always generous at Wai Kika Moo Kau, and compared to many vegan restaurants, is very reasonably priced.
The Prince George is an unusual breed, being a vegetarian pub. The menu is very varied, from traditional pub grub with a twist, such as ginger beer battered halloumi with chips and mushy peas, to Mexican dishes such as a baked burrito. On a Sunday you also have the option of a traditional Sunday lunch with dishes like sweet potato, peanut, lime and coriander Wellington. The desserts at the Prince George are the decadent, try the homemade vegan sundae with mango and coconut ice cream. The great thing about the Prince George is that although the food is vegetarian, and a good site better than some pub food, it still feels like your local pub; there’s a long counter running through the pub with stools to sit by the bar as you nurse a pint, and there’s a patio garden out the back. The cheery, chatty vibe inside the Prince George proves that English pubs can cater for vegetarians and vegans without losing their relaxed atmosphere.