From cafés and bars in historic buildings that were frequented by Charles Dickens and Sir Francis Drake to high-end restaurants, Exeter’s eating out scene has come alive in recent years, so much so that Which Good Food Guide nominated it as one of the UK’s top eating destinations. Here are just some of the best places to eat in Exeter.
Exeter’s restaurants have always been able to boast high-quality Devon produce, but with a food scene that now spans Lebanese, Indian, Chinese, Italian and French cuisines, amongst many others, the city’s diners are spoilt for choice.
Part of that brave new world is Comptoir Libanais. Located in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, this is a Lebanese canteen and café that offers classics like tagines, Mana’esh (Lebanese style pizzas) and a mezze selection platter perfect for sharing (or for those who are really, really hungry). Conveniently, it’s less than a mile from our Exeter Central St. Davids hotel.
A naval city, some of the Exeter’s best restaurants can be found in the Topsham area at the mouth of the River Exe, offering impressive views across the estuary. Top of that list is The Salutation Inn that dates back to 1720. The food is exceptional and comes in a range of four-, six- or eight-course sample menus, while the Glasshouse Café serves breakfast, coffees and lunches for those wanting something a bit lighter.
Just next door, and a little less refined – and easier on the wallet – is The Pig & Pallet, a meaty restaurant that uses the finest Devonshire cuts. Be it barbecued, cured, roasted, dried or pulled, they have some of the finest meat for miles around, and some seriously good craft ales. And if you really like the stuff, you can take some meat home with you from their on-site shop.
For a full rundown of Exeter’s restaurants, including the best Italians and Indians, check out our dedicated page.
Take the weight off your feet after a busy day, sit back and enjoy the historic city and River Exe views with a coffee and – go on then – a slice of cake.
A West Country institution, Boston Tea Party has several outlets around the region, with their Exeter branch offering the same range of high quality, locally roasted coffees, artisan bread, breakfast and lunch options. The coffee, in particular, is excellent. Not ones to rely on a lazy flat white or overly hot latte, the baristas really know their beans.
Located Quayside in Exeter, Mango’s is a popular café that is especially busy during the summer months when its outdoor seating area comes into play. As well as a range of coffees sourced from Brazil, Colombia and Peru – plus their Australian cold coffee drip – they have a decent breakfast and lunch menu, including smashed avocado, their take on a Ploughman’s and their highly recommended Devon cream tea.
Quirky is the byword for Cosy Club. Described as ‘mansion splendour meets village hall eccentricity’, the Exeter branch — just a five-minute walk from Exeter Cathedral – is a riot of mismatched furniture, classic comfort food with a British twist and a bubbling atmosphere. As well as the usual array of teas and coffees, they have a wide range of beers, ciders, cocktails and wines, as well as offering gluten-free and vegan menus.
Using organic milk and carefully selected coffee, including several ranges from Ethiopia, McGahey’s take their coffee very seriously indeed. A no-frills establishment in the heart of Exeter’s High Street, they don’t offer an endless array of coffees – they do the classics well and will ask you how strong you like your coffee. They do a mean line of chocolate bars, cakes, cookies and muffins as well, perfect after a hard morning spent sightseeing.
If you need a little more entertainment with your coffee and cake, then you won’t be bored in Board (ahem, sorry!). Equipped with dozens of classic board games and plenty of brand new offerings, just select your game, take a long slurp on your milkshake (or craft beer) and watch the next few hours tumble by in a blur of activity.
Celebrate a region known for its outstanding produce – including Devonshire cream tea, white pudding and scrumpy cider – by visiting one of Exeter’s food markets, farm shops and festivals.
Running from May to September every year, Exeter Street Food is a festival that celebrates locally sourced food. A homegrown concept that focuses on local food, the market takes over three Exeter locations, including The Quay, Piazza Terracina and Southernhay Gardens, bringing a taste of Spain, the Middle East, Africa and more to the city. Freshly cooked, affordable and with as few food miles as possible, the festival is well-received each year and is a great way to eat around the world in a few bites.
A two-day affair every October, Powderham Food Festival brings together the region’s best food and drink. With plenty of stands and exhibitors, as well as cooking displays by guest chefs, wine talks and chilli eating competitions, the festival also focuses on healthy eating thanks to their Sugar Smart plan.
Open year-round, Darts Farm has grown from a small farm hut into a multi-room venue that has its own butchers, fishmongers, baker and cider brewer. You can shop from a wide range of locally grown produce and also take a tour around the bird hide, test your luck in the fishing pond or challenge yourself in the Maize Maze, all a 10-minute drive from our Exeter (Countess Wear) hotel.
A popular destination for business travellers and tourists alike, Exeter is located in the heart of the beautiful South West region of England - and if you're planning a visit, our Exeter hotels make an ideal base.
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