With an eclectic range of cuisines spanning Latino flavours to locally caught seafood, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes in our pick of the best restaurants in Southend-on-Sea.
Restaurants in Southend
The Mews, Southend
If La Pizzeria doesn't sound like the most imaginative name for an Italian restaurant, don't worry – you'll find plenty to take your fancy on the menu. Located in Westcliff-on-Sea on the outskirts of Southend, it specialises in traditional Sicilian food. Not surprisingly, pizzas feature prominently, but the restaurant also has a reputation for pasta and seafood. Highlights include fried whitebait, grilled sea bass and Sicilian rice balls called arancini.
A stone's throw away, you'll find Padrino, another Italian restaurant with a loyal following. Padrino is a short stroll from the Cliffs Pavilion and offers views over the seafront. Crab linguine, swordfish and scallop ravioli compete with tried-and-tested favourites such as spaghetti meatballs to give diners a very varied choice. And of course, there are pizzas galore as well, from the traditional Margherita to the mysteriously named Protection, which comes with the advisory note: ‘Don’t mess with this one!
Mexican food is fast becoming all the rage, with burritos, fajitas and nachos seemingly available throughout the UK. But you won't find many more popular places than Pieno-Lleno. Only half a mile from our Eastern Esplanade hotel, it has a wide range of Mexican specialities, including quesadilla, enchilada and chimichanga dishes, plus a selection of pizzas, some of which have toppings with a Mexican twist, such as jalapeños.
Also on the spicier side is the South Indian restaurant Red Chilliezs in Westcliff-on-Sea. It might have some odd spelling going on in its name, but there's nothing confusing about its authentic range of dishes, with a particular emphasis on specialities from Kerala. Red Chilliezs is certainly regarded by Southend locals as being something a bit more than your run-of-the-mill Indian restaurant, with regulars recommending the masala papadum, spinach bites, lamb travancore and fish in banana leaf.
Southend also has plenty to offer fans of Chinese food. For most people, the obvious first port of call would be the Pearl Dragon. The first Chinese restaurant to open in the town in 1979, it's still going strong four decades later. It prides itself on serving authentic dishes – so much so that regular visitors include members of the local Chinese community. Favourites on the menu are the crispy shredded beef, barbecued pork, steamed rice noodles, yam croquettes and prawn dumplings.
You can enjoy the best of both worlds at the highly rated Sandbank Restaurant, which offers a tasting menu with themes like East meets West, featuring highlights such as prawn croquette in Thai broth. Located in Leigh-on-Sea, it was opened under its current name in 2011 after the former Bank Restaurant underwent a major refurbishment. With two impressive chandeliers in the main room, you'll certainly be dining in grand surroundings, but the restaurant also aims to provide a relaxed atmosphere.
The Sandbank menu ranges from the classic to the contemporary, with old favourites like ham hock and beef Wellington rubbing shoulders with vegetarian options such as butternut and almond-filled vol-au-vents.
Finally, you might want to seek out The Mews. Hidden away in an unobtrusive part of Clifftown, it boasts some quirky decor, with mismatched furniture and vintage chandeliers jostling for position with a tailor's dummy. But there's nothing eccentric about its food; a lovingly prepared menu with highlights including sea bass, lamb shank and lemon meringue cheesecake.