Cornwall’s dining scene is as exciting and varied as its ever been. From classic institutions that perfectly capture Cornwall’s signature laid-back surf chic vibe, to new openings pushing the boundaries of gastronomy and sustainability – there is truly something for everyone and a restaurant for every occasion. Of course, fish and seafood reign supreme, but on this list of the top 10 places to dine in Cornwall right now, there are also Nordic influences, superb gastro-pub fare, and food for soaking up cocktails. I’d love to hear if you’ve eaten at any of the restaurants on the list, or somewhere else special in Cornwall, get in touch!
No 6, Padstow
Michelin star restaurant Paul Ainsworth at No6 is the must-visit destination for fine dining in Cornwall. Behind the unassuming door of a beautiful Georgian townhouse in picturesque Padstow lies a wonderland of adventurous, precise, impeccable gastronomy. The a la carte dining experience here glitters with extra treats and surprises but is firmly anchored with warm and friendly service and a welcoming, unpretentious ambience. Diners can glimpse the chefs creating their masterpieces in the kitchen, including the restaurant’s iconic ‘A Fairground Tale’ dessert course – each served resplendently on a miniature carousel. The restaurant’s intimate cocktail bar, Ci Ci’s, makes the perfect spot for an aperitif or digestif, or ideally both – when you’re somewhere as special as No6 it’s worth soaking it all in. To really extend your time here, book into nearby Padstow Townhouse, also part of the Ainsworth collection and one of the very best places to stay in Cornwall.
Situated in the glorious St Enodoc Hotel, Karrek offers an intimate, impressive dining experience celebrating the best of Cornwall. The tasting menu is full ofproduce grown in the hotel’s own farm, as well as fish from Padstow’s day boats, and locally foraged herbs and berries. Karrek prides itself on being a welcoming, relaxed dining space, with a laidback, Cornish approach to service. There are intriguing nods to Nordic and Asian cuisines, with surprising twists on classic dishes, and Karrek’s sommelier is on hand to recommend the perfect wine to accompany each course. Book an overnight stay in one of St Enodocs’ chic, cosy suites to turn an indulgent meal in this charming dining room into a night to remember.
Sardine Factory, Looe
The Sardine Factory is an exciting addition to the South Coast’s restaurant scene. It dishes up the freshest boat fish, sourced daily from the market you can glimpse from the restaurant’s windows, across the glittering Looe harbour. The menu is built around a philosophy of keeping things simple and fresh and letting the ingredients shine. Arrive by foot ferry from the bustling streets of East Looe, packed with fudge shops, ice cream parlours and cafes, to discover the relative tranquillity of West Looe, and the oasis of The Sardine Factory. Here you can indulge in Fowey mussels, smoked haddock scotch eggs, and oysters to start, before sampling the catch of the day served simply with a brown butter and shrimp sauce, fish and chips, or crab linguine. The Sardine Factory is the restaurant Looe has been waiting for.
So popular is Sam’s that there are now four branches across Cornwall. But the original, and my personal favourite, will always be the Fowey institution. Right in the heart of the village, Sam’s is an unpretencious, laidback spot to enjoy big portions of delicious food. From local seafood to nachos and burgers, all washed down with cocktails and good times – people flock to Sam’s for the great atmopshere and distinctly Cornish vibe.
Papa Ninos, Looe
One of my favourite restaurants not only in Cornwall but probably in the world – I’ll be transparent and say that I have lots of good memories of meals in Papa Ninos that probably skews my love for this place. You could easily walk past this tiny little spot in the heart of Looe without ever noticing it, but open the door and step down into its warm and welcoming little dining room of an evening and you’ll find it fizzing with activity. It may be an Italian restaurant, but if you are looking for an example of where real Cornish people go and eat local fish and seafood, Papa Nino’s is a great start. Portions are generous, the fish is fresh and local, wine flows and the service is personal and friendly. Enjoy dishes like Spaghetti served with locally caught fresh scallops in a creamy tomato sauce and locally caught, whole Dover Sole, grilled with butter, washed down with a large glass (or two) of wine in this dinky little hidden gem, and escape the real world for a few hours.
The Ugly Butterfly, Carbis Bay
Commanding views across some of Cornwall’s most spectacular coastline at Carbis Bay, the team has created something special at Ugly Butterfly. Carefully sourced ingredients are used to produce exquisite dishes such as “All About the Cornish Crab” which uses every bit of the locally caught Newlyn crab, from the white meat in a delicate tart to the shells in the broth served alongside. It encapsulates the ethos of the restaurant – being local, sustainable, and not wasting any of the top quality produce they buy. The pioneering bar menu continues the theme, using trims and offcuts from the restaurant to produce innovative and appetising bar snacks which make the perfect accompaniment to a glass or two of something local.
The Mariners, Rock
The Mariners pub in Rock has been transformed by Paul and Emma Ainsworth into a mecca for delicious food, incredible views, tip-top service, and an impressive drinks selection. Retaining all the charm of a traditional local, the Mariners quietly produces some seriously knock-out food, from the tastiest bar snacks around – scotch eggs with piccalilli, ½ pints of baby squid and buttermilk fried chicken – to signature dishes like ‘The Dogs Pollock’ – a pollock hot dog with pickled cucumber, mustard, dill, and parmesan. Seafood is bountiful, piles of oysters emerging from the kitchen to the delight of waiting diners. Rustic, generous pies and burgers are on hand to soak up the local Sharp’s beers on tap. All this, in seriously stylish surrounds, with dazzling estuary views– The Mariners is not to be missed.
The Rocket Store, Boscastle
A rising star of the Cornish food scene, The Rocket Store is a dinky seafood bar and restaurant nestled in Boscastle’s pretty harbour. This charming little gem is the perfect place for unfussy, generous, fresh seafood – from their own boat – and meat from their nearby farm. Peruse the blackboard menu for the day’s dishes, designed around the freshest, tastiest produce available. Expect to find delights like hand dived scallops, wild sea bass sashimi, butterflied mackerel, seaweed butters and curried monkfish, and be sure to leave room for the delicious desserts.
Idyllically nestled in 66 acres of beautiful Cornish countryside, Coombesead Farm is a guesthouse, restaurant, working farm, and bakery. It offers a serene pace to appreciate the tranquility of the farm’s surroundings. The restaurant serves an impressive set menu, showcasing the best of what is growing in the farm’s gardens. The midweek menu is a casual affair, a single hot dish designed to share – confit duck, a generously-stuffed pie, or a glazed ham from the farm. If you’re not lucky enough to secure a table reservation, their Courtyard Café is open for coffee, cakes, hams, preserves and pies to eat in or take away and enjoy later.