Southampton is known as Europe’s cruise capital, and the city sees more than four million visitors each year. Thankfully, there are also lots of great restaurants packed into this city on England’s south coast. We pick ten of the best for a bite to eat.
Restaurant, British, $$$
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Tucked away among the yachts at Shamrock Quay Marina along the River Itchen, Quay FIFTEEN is an oasis of calm and fine dining. The family-owned restaurant opened in 2013, and the owners have been busy setting the standard for the rest of the city’s restaurants ever since. Each seasonal menu is packed with inventive dishes that are made with locally sourced ingredients. Try the curried chicken breast prepared with vegetable pakora, tandoori puree, and baked okra, or the beef onglet, made with burnt butter, braised hispi cabbage, and shallot mash.
The Rockstone is a Southampton pub that is a cut above the rest. Take a break from the bustling city to enjoy a home-cooked, hearty meal and a pint of local ale. The pub has two garden spaces for outdoor dining and holding events and annual festivals, including the Blues and Bourbon Festival, Rocktober and Pirate Rumfest, each of which feature live music and specialty themed food. Try the Infamous burger, served on a poppy seed or brioche bun and served with shoestring fries. The Dirty South(ampton) comes with South Korean barbecue pulled pork and home-brewed kimchi, and the This is England ’15 is served with homemade apple chutney, applewood smoked cheddar, and char-grilled bacon.
The Oxford Brasserie has had a recent revamp to reflect a more contemporary menu and approach to dining. The brasserie serves modern French, English, and Italian cuisine for lunch and dinner. The changing menu includes gourmet items such as slow-braised Hampshire beef or goat’s cheese and artichoke pithivier.
Enjoy high-quality Indian cuisine that takes a back-to-the-roots approach at Coriander Lounge. The restaurant’s mission is to restore the lost authenticity of Indian food in Britain. Anglicised versions all over the country have left the traditions and the truly exciting flavours behind, according to the restaurant’s owners. Coriander Lounge’s dishes, made from traditional, centuries-old recipes, are prepared with carefully selected spices and high-quality ingredients. If you’ve had one too many a bland chicken tikka masala, try a meal at Coriander Lounge to restore your faith in the excellent flavours of India.
As quaint and adorable as the name makes it sound, That Lovely Little Café is a perfect spot for an early breakfast before a jaunt in the nearby New Forest or a long, relaxed lunch. Eat in to enjoy the bright, fun ambience in the cosy café, or take your food away if all of the tables are full (which frequently happens). Homemade breakfast and lunch options are available as well as daily blackboard specials and a weekly Sunday roast. Every dish is cooked to order and served piping hot.
The White Star Tavern is an award-winning pub and hotel. For over a century, the pub has been serving Southampton excellent pub fare, but in recent years, it has become a top-ranking modern gastro pub. The modernised British cuisine is always cooked with care and skill, using the freshest ingredients. Get cosy inside at the bar, or enjoy al fresco dining in the pub’s outdoor dining area on warm days.
Olive Tree has a reputation for classic French bistro food in the heart of Southampton. The menu changes to incorporate the freshest seasonal dishes as well as a daily seafood specials board. Try the flavourful seafood linguini, made with fresh king prawns, crayfish, and mussels. On Sunday nights, the lights are dimmed and live piano music is played to provide guests with an even more elegant experience.
Ennio’s overlooks the sparkling Southampton water from the ground floor of a renovated Victorian warehouse. The restaurant’s head chef has arranged a menu bursting with exciting flavours and traditional recipes. Every dish, from the antipasti to the secondi piattiis prepared with the freshest high-quality ingredients. The best-selling item is the grigliata mixta, a mixed seafood grill made with fresh-caught fish. Book a window seat if you can.
Dock O’ The Bay was established in 1999 as a chilled-out restaurant and bar with fantastic cuisine and flawless service in a fun and quirky atmosphere. The restaurant’s head chef uses the finest local ingredients to cook each dish fresh and made to order. Along with lunch and dinner every day, a brunch menu is presented on the weekends and roast dinners are available on Sundays. Enjoy classic pub meals with dishes like simple eggs on toast for brunch, juicy burgers for lunch, and confit duck leg or lasagne for dinner.
It’s a Pizza Thing may be Southampton’s quirkiest restaurant. The fantastic wood-fired pizzas are fresh and each is made in a clay oven in the It’s a Pizza Thing truck. The truck is parked outside of the South Western Arms, and diners looking to ‘eat-in’ can take their pizza into the pub to eat with a pint of local ale. Pizzas, garlic bread, and sweet chocolate calzones are offered from the truck at very reasonable prices. Try the meat feast, a meat-loaded pizza drizzled in garlic sauce.