Prepare to wipe the drool from your screen as our Dorset dining guide spans the best cafes, restaurants, bistros and tea rooms in the county.
Places to eat in Dorset
Lyme Regis might be one of the smaller towns in Dorset, but it’s home to three of its best restaurants. Run by celebrity chef and renowned restauranteur Mark Hix, HIX Oyster and Fish House is an upmarket outlet with a finely-honed menu, attentive service and wonderful views out across the Jurassic coast.
The other two Lyme Regis hotspots are Tierra Kitchen, a homely vegetarian restaurant overlooking the River Lim and Poco Pizza, a glorious, independent pizza outlet known for their wood-fired creations.
Over on the other side of Dorset, those staying at one of our Poole hotels should check out Bingley’s Bistro and Guildhall Tavern. Bingley’s Bistro on High Street is one of the best of its kind in Dorset. Housed in a 16th-century building, the charming interior of dark wood and red furnishings creates a warm, cosy vibe while the food – a blend of English and European classics – is first-rate. A short distance away on Market Street is Guildhall Tavern, a swish French seafood restaurant with a nautical-themed dining room. Head over to our Poole guide to discover more of the best places to eat there.
Bournemouth’s restaurant scene is reliably good, with notable mentions to Moose Kitchen – a Canadian comfort food restaurant serving up poutine, over-sized burgers and glorious pancakes – and Lolas Tapas Restaurant, a relaxed Tapas-joint with a cosy interior and an excellent wine and cocktail list.
If you really want to push the boat out and celebrate at one of Dorset’s best restaurants, be prepared and book a table at Rick Stein, Sandbanks well in advance. The food is sublime – with the prices to match – or you can rock up for breakfast or one of their cocktails and take in the impressive views over Poole harbour.
If Rick Stein is booked up, try The Jetty in Christchurch. The fine-dining seafood restaurant also boasts gorgeous sea views and top-class cooking, but it’s much more affordable and the alfresco terrace makes for the perfect spot for a sundowner or two.
Restaurants in Dorset
Cafés in Dorset
With its warm south coast temperatures, coastal views and charming seaside villages and towns, Dorset’s cafe culture is one of the strongest in the UK.
Weymouth has several stand-out cafes and coffee shops including Cafe Blue on the Esplanade and The HiVe Cafe nearby with its Mediterranean, vegetarian food and tranquil hidden garden. One of our favourites is the Crab House Cafe at the bottom end of Weymouth overlooking Chesil Beach. The rustic, charming cafe has an outstanding seafood menu and views to match, not to mention some of the best oysters in the region.
Heading up the coast near West Bay in the cute village of Bridport you’ll find two of the best tea rooms in Dorset. Annie’s Tea Rooms is the perfect place to rest and recuperate with a slice of cake and a cup of tea after a hard day exploring the Dorset countryside. Over in Bridport itself, The Green Yard Cafe is a cozy, welcoming, dog-friendly space with plenty of vegan options plus some of the best Dorset apple cake in the county.
If you’re staying at one of our Bournemouth hotels, try and make time to check out Chez Fred and the English Rose Cafe. Chez Fred is the place to come for fish and chips, a venerable institution that’s been serving up over-sized portions of haddock and hake since 1989. English Rose Cafe is a no-nonsense English cafe, but with a serious amount of style. The food might be simple – think classic English fry-ups and Victoria sponge cakes – but the setting is rustic and informative, the food routinely excellent and the menu well-priced.
Other highlights in Dorset include The Little Teapot on Poole High Street, a charming cafe perfect for a light lunch, afternoon tea and homemade scones and Penny Black in Lyme Regis, a brilliantly retro-styled cafe known for its milkshakes, home-baked cakes and sun-trap garden