There is the full range of restaurants in Oxford, from French fine dining to award-winning Asian eateries and fun-filled pizza parlours. With almost 500 restaurants available, expect a hard time choosing. But worry not, here are the best of the bunch, whatever your taste.
The Jericho and Summertown districts north of the city centre are the leafiest and most elegant parts of Oxford, and they have the restaurants to boot. Gee’s Restaurant sits on Banbury Road running north from University Parks, where you can enjoy Mediterranean grills and fresh seafood inside their stunning orangery. The food is a little pricey but with good reason, as you’re guaranteed a memorable dining experience. On the charming Little Clarendon Street, Pierre Victoire offers a more rustic, candlelit experience, but the traditional French dishes are every bit as stylish – perfect for a pre-theatre meal.
If you’re tempted to try punting during your stay – and you should – the Cherwell Boathouse Restaurant in north Oxford is the ideal place to set off. Start or end your amble along the River Cherwell with a meal at Cherwell Boathouse and can you sample their menu of seasonal small plates. It’s worth opting for a set menu, which costs £20 to £30, as a main course will typically cost only £5 or so less.
Oli’s Thai is the best Thai restaurant in Oxford. A cosy, unpretentious setting in the backstreets of the Cowley Road area, Oli’s Thai serves up lunch and evening meals to rave reviews. Their experimental dishes – try the crispy chickpea salad – hold their own with the authentic papaya salad and duck panang. They always keep space free for walk-ins but leave it no later than 6pm if you want a seat straight away.
Another restaurant with great reviews, from no less than TV chef Ken Hom, Zheng Restaurant on Walton Street will tantalise your taste buds with a variety of Chinese-Malaysian dishes. Spicy Szechuan and classic Cantonese mix it Malaysian and Singaporean stir-fries on this eclectic menu that includes the highly recommended rendang tok beef.
There are several places to get sushi and Japanese food in Oxford, but Edamamé on Holywell Street undoubtedly offers the most authentic experience. This family-run kitchen offers exceptional home-style Japanese meals at lunchtimes from Wednesday to Sunday, with evening sittings every Friday and Saturday – and a special sushi menu on Thursday nights. Expect a casual, homely charm in this tiniest of eateries, where the service comes with a smile and the food is to die for.
If you’ve never tried Nepalese food, now is your chance. The award-winning Yeti Nepalese on Cowley Road, less than 10 minutes’ drive from our Oxford hotel, dishes up Himalayan specialities with a family feel. Feel free to ask them about the food, the music, or anything for that matter – the owners are as proud of their culture as they are of every plate put on your table.
For Italian classics with a modern twist, La Cucina in East Oxford and Branca in Jericho are two favourites. Their sleek kitchens serve pasta, pizza and lots more done the Italian way; a balanced combination of hearty seasonal ingredients. La Cucina, in particular, is great value for money – most dishes cost under a tenner – and with an open kitchen and fresh ingredients on show, La Cucina has the livelier atmosphere of the two as well.
A not-so-stylish but equally wholesome Italian experience is Pizzeria Trattoria Mario on Cowley Road. You’ll find the usual pasta and risotto fare, but when you’re visiting the pizza place in town, why would you? Mario’s pizzas are rustic, homemade with a crispy base and stretchy cheese – just like Nonna used to make. Buon appetito!
Head to Atomic Diner, on the southern end of Cowley Road’s shops, for the most un-Italian of pizzas. With geek memorabilia splattered over every surface, this is where Oxonians go to reach nerdvana. Enjoy one of their wacky pizzas on the menu or fully embrace the madness and create your own for around £10.
There are plenty of reasons for visiting Oxford. Whether it's the world-famous university, Westgate shopping sprees, world-class museums, or the waistband-busting food scene, you can take your pick from four wonderful Oxford hotels with parking. Each one is an excellent base for exploring this most-fascinating of cities.
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