20 of the UK’s best seaside restaurants, cafes and shacks – The Guardian

20 of the UK’s best seaside restaurants, cafes and shacks

Enjoy fresh seafood with sea views at these fabulous diners

Barricane Beach Café, Woolacoombe, Devon

This small, ramshackle-looking café, set above sandy Barricane Beach, serves up lipsmacking Sri Lankan curries from 5-7pm every evening. It’s wonderfully low-maintenance; simply turn up with a beach chair or blanket, pack a few cold beers and settle in for a spectacular sunset. Between 10am-4pm, hearty baguettes, sandwiches and cakes make for an excellent post-dip lunch. It’s cash only and dogs are welcome on the beach all year (facebook.com/barricane-beach-woolacombe).

Hooked on the Rocks, Falmouth, Cornwall

Overlooking Swanpool beach and nature reserve, this is the place to come for Falmouth Bay lobster and crab, with an excellent selection of local Cornish ales, lagers and cider. There’s indoor and outdoor seating (reservations essential), but if you’re not that organised, the adjacent Seahorse food truck offers drinks, prawns, oysters and crab fries (skinny chips topped with brown and white crabmeat, mayo and chives) that can be eaten on the beach below (hookedontherocksfalmouth.com).

The Seafood Restaurant, St Andrews

Freshly caught seafood comes with panoramic views at this slick, glass-sided restaurant, tucked behind the town’s iconic Royal & Ancient Golf Club. On warmer evenings, the deck is the perfect spot for an indulgent (if pricey) evening of classic fish dishes, including poached Scottish langoustines, lobster raviolo in shellfish bisque and Shetland cod. At lunchtimes, the set menu(£35/£40 for two/three courses) is a better-value option. The Italian-focused wine list includes some world-class Super Tuscans (theseafoodrestaurant.com).

The Little Tearooms at Mickey’s Boat Yard, Abersoch

The Little Tearooms at Mickey’s Boat Yard, Abersoch

Perched right on the top of the slipway above Machroes Beach, the café at Mickey’s looks out over Abersoch’s tranquil bay, with the looming peaks of Snowdonia in the distance. With a focus on promoting Welsh artisan producers, everything – from the jams and chutneys, cheese and cold meats – is sourced locally. The small but inventive menu encompasses hearty breakfasts, Middle Eastern salads and crisp, cheese-stuffed toasties, with local ice-cream to take with you for a stroll on the beach (thelittletearooms.com).

Porthminster Beach Café, St Ives, Cornwall

Come for the blissful beachfront location, stay for the spectacular crab linguine and creative cookery that has kept Porthminster at the forefront of dining in St Ives for more than 25 years. This is seaside dining at its upmarket best. It’s ideal for families: kids can wriggle free of the dining table and indulge in bucket-and-spade pleasures while parents relax over a glass or two of rosé. Many of the ingredients are sourced from the restaurant’s own garden and nearby coastal path, and the menu changes regularly (porthminstercafe.co.uk).

The Hut, Colwell Bay, Isle of Wight

Don’t be misled by the name; this elegant eatery, perched directly above the water (you can almost dangle your toes in while you eat) is the place for a long, wine-fuelled lunch rather than a quick crab sandwich. The restaurant can arrange transfers from nearby Yarmouth (where the ferry docks) and sailors can moor up in front of the restaurant, who will collect diners by tender. Fresh fish dominates the menu, along with a scattering of bistro classics, and vegans and vegetarians are well catered for with a separate menu of five starters and five mains (thehutcolwell.co.uk).

Watch House Café, Bridport, Dorset

Fans of Broadchurch will recognise West Bay’s East Beach, dominated by khaki-gold cliffs that rise steeply from the broad swathe of sand, and home to just one beachfront café, the Watch House. Come on a Sunday for a sunlit brunch or bag a table before 11.30am for hearty full English or veggie breakfasts and smoked salmon bagels. It’s open until 4pm for pizzas, fish and chips or succulent crab sandwiches, and there’s a kids’ menu and a pleasing focus on sustainability (watchhousecafe.co.uk).

Mickey’s Beach Bar, Exmouth, Devon

Mickey’s Beach Bar, Exmouth, Devon

Mickey’s – named after owner and renowned chef Michael Caines – opened its doors in spring last year, located right on Exmouth beach. There’s a clubby vibe to the bar and outdoor terrace area, with cocktails that slip down far too easily (go easy on the Five-Finger Punch), while the upstairs restaurant mixes surf’n’turf, with steaks, burgers and seafood all cooked over coals. Vegans and veggies are well catered for, as are kids, with their own three-course menu (mickeysbeach.co.uk).

Sands Restaurant, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

A tranquil spot by the quayside in buzzy Wells, Sands is the perfect choice for a family-friendly dinner after an afternoon’s crabbing on the beach, with quirky “beach-hut” booths and a children’s menu, alongside straightforward bistro dishes – scampi, steaks, burgers – and reasonably priced seafood platters. The Norfolk skies have some of the most spectacular sunsets in the country, so skip dessert for an ice-cream and stroll on the quay (sandsrestaurant.co.uk).

Riddle and Finns at Brighton Beach, East Sussex

This second outpost of Brighton’s legendary seafood restaurant is housed in the Rotunda, directly above the town’s beach, with stunning views of the skeletal remains of the West Pier. Although primarily a champagne and oyster bar, it also has a crustacea menu and half a dozen fish-themed main dishes, including a rich fish soup and a tangy Sri Lankan curry. There are a handful of tables outside, but the glass-walled interior is wonderfully elegant and boasts the same spectacular views (riddleandfinns.co.uk).

Salty’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, Tenby

Located right on Tenby’s glorious South Beach, Salty’s is as welcoming to dogs as people, with a dog-friendly section inside as well as on the decked terrace. The menu combines classic fish dishes – made with the catch of the day – with steaks, burgers and salads, and there’s a small kids’ menu (including fish-finger sandwiches). If you don’t want to eat, the bar does a good line in cocktails and occasionally hosts occasional live music evenings, while the adjacent Salty’s Shack does excellent takeaway breakfast baps and coffee – ideal fuel for an early morning walk (saltysbeachbarandrestaurant.co.uk).

Tavola and Tatams, Portscatho, Cornwall

Seaside dining doesn’t have to mean seafood. Tavola is a cheery Italian on Portscatho’s picturesque waterfront serving thin, crisp pizzas and hearty pasta dishes, including three vegan pizza options and a small kids menu. Open Wednesday to Sunday (5-9pm) all food is served as takeaway, but can be eaten at the communal tables in the buzzy dining room, as long as there’s space. At other times, Tavola’s sister and neighbour, Tatam, serves coffee and cakes and pastries baked in-house – perfect post-dip treats (tavolaportscatho.co.uk, tatams.co)

West Beach Café, Littlehampton, West Sussex

West Beach Café, ClimpingLittlehampton, West Sussex

While crowds have long flocked to Littlehampton’s East Beach Café (designed by Thomas Heatherwick) fewer people know about the West Beach Café, tucked away on the other side of the River Arun. It’s a great place for a bacon sandwich and a coffee, or pleasingly crisp fish and chips, after a stroll over the dunes and along Climping Beach – one of the last undeveloped stretches of Sussex coast. Open Wednesday to Sunday, with occasional pizza pop-ups on Friday nights (facebook.com/westbeachcafe1)

Riley’s Fish Shack, Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear

One of the most renowned seafood spots in the northeast, Riley’s combines a chic beachfront restaurant, tucked into the back of King Edward’s Bay, with firepits and deckchairs out front (bookable in advance). Breakfasts include locally sourced Craster kippers, while lunches and dinners feature the best of the day-boat catch, from chargrilled salt and chilli squid to pan-fried hake, halibut and lobster. It’s pescatarian heaven, with a nice line in homemade drinks, including buttered rum and cider (rileysfishshack.com).

The Lobster Shack, North Berwick

Open only on weekends, this much-loved seafood shack has a covered, heated outdoor dining area, making it possible to devour fresh crab, fish tacos or rich, creamy chowder even if the weather is being unkind. The dish to try is the grilled North Berwick lobster, with garlic butter or chimichurri oil, and the small wine list includes a couple of sparkling options if you’re looking for a real treat. Everything is cooked to order, and the food can be taken away and munched on the beach if there are no tables available (lobstershack.co.uk).

Seafood Shack, Ullapool, Scotland

Award-winning, much-loved – and with its own cookbook – the Seafood Shack is the creation of two friends who decided far too much of Ullapool’s rich seafood harvest was heading out of town, rather than being devoured by locals and visitors. The daily-changing menu might include smoked trout, langoustines with garlic and thyme, or hand-dived scallops, all served up in disposable cartons and eaten at picnic tables by the waterfront. The shack is run on a first-come, first-served basis (no bookings) and there are vegan options (seafoodshack.co.uk).

The Boathouse, Instow, Devon

Book a table at sunset for infinite, rose-tinged sea views at this buzzy brasserie perched right on the sands of Instow Beach. A great choice for families after a day of sandcastles and swimming, kids have their own menus and dogs are welcome. The restaurant focuses on locally caught seafood; the lobster thermidor is sinfully good, but there are lighter options as well as some vegan choices (theboathouseinstow.co.uk).

Southsea Beach Café, Hampshire

Southsea Beach Cafe on Southsea PromenadeH10YFD Southsea Beach Cafe on Southsea Promenade

With a deck right on to the beach and a closeup view of Southsea’s elegant pier, this buzzy beach café is a great spot for families, with children able to play on the beach, while parents can sit back and enjoy scallop and chorizo baps, chimichurri prawns or classic fish and chips. For early starters, the breakfast burrito is a great way to refuel after a morning dip, while kids can have their own mini Benedict or mini English – although they’ll probably want the dig-a-saurus ice-cream, complete with chocolate dinosaur pieces (southseabeachcafe.co.uk).

Seafood & Grill, Brudenell Hotel, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Book ahead for a table on the terrace at this slick eatery that looks straight across to Aldeburgh’s tranquil beach. Part of the Brudenell Hotel, the glass-fronted dining room offers equally gorgeous views and food: think crispy crab arancini and salty whitebait at lunch, crayfish and clam linguine or roasted stone bass with white bean cassoulet for dinner. There are meaty options, too, vegans and veggies are well served and it’s worth having a long walk across the sands before eating, to enable guilt-free scoffing of sticky toffee pudding (brudenellhotel.co.uk).

Café Môr, Angle, Pembrokeshire

A Pembrokeshire institution, Café Môr is a unique, solar-powered seaweed boat kitchen cooking fish butties and lobster rolls alongside breakfast baps smothered in seaweed butter. This year, it’s in a new location, next to the Old Point House in Angle, which has been taken over by Môr’s owners and is set to reopen as a beachside restaurant and bar later in the summer. For now, Môr is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, but this month hours are set to be extended, so call ahead or check social media before setting out (beachfood.co.uk).

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