Dining out in Cornwall: the best restaurants, cafes and pubs

Food and Drink

Posted by Ed Roberts & Simon Lockyer on 14th June 2021

Dining out in Cornwall: the best restaurants, cafes and pubs

Did you know the famous Cornish pasty is really a dish of two halves? The wives of Cornish miners used to put a savoury filling one end and a sweet on the other, so their husbands could enjoy a full and hearty meal at lunchtime! 

Whether tucking into a cream tea in a traditional rural tearoom or sampling locally caught seafood with a sea view, you'll soon find that Cornwall has a wide and varied foodie culture to discover on your holiday. 

So where do you begin? We know the Duchy very well and have compiled a selection of the best cafés, pubs, restaurants and the occasional takeaway to try out on your holiday to Cornwall. 

Cornish cream tea

Some of the chosen establishments are either places to eat with a view or are located at the beach; others are near popular locations like Rock, Fowey, Padstow, Penzance or Bodmin. Tantalise your taste buds the Cornish way with freshly landed seafood, oven-baked scones and some of the best fine dining restaurants around.

Jump to each region to find a few of our favourite places to dine out in Cornwall.

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Stay at one of our lovely self-catering holiday cottages in Cornwall. We have a wide choice of holiday accommodation, large and small, whether you are looking for a cosy getaway for two or an extended family getaway. Choose from countryside barn conversions, sea view apartments, fishermen’s cottages, chic townhouses and more all across Cornwall.

Cornwall cottages


Places to eat in North Cornwall

Rest a While Tea Garden | Padstow

Image credit: @moodymannion (left) and @ollyrahimi (right)

Rest a While Tea Garden | Padstow

Beautiful food, beautiful service and a beautiful view await you at the Rest A While Tea Garden, run by Martin Holmes and found behind the 200-year-old 'Coastguard Houses' at Hawkers Cove near Padstow. The menu is perfect for lunch and afternoon stop-offs, with choices including local crab sandwiches, homemade quiche and soups, carrot, chocolate and lemon drizzle cakes and, of course, Cornish cream teas.

Various hot and cold beverages are also available to quench your thirst after a walk along the nearby coast path, including sumptuous homemade smoothies – we’d particularly recommend the Very Berry variety. Seating is on wooden picnic tables surrounded by beautifully colourful potted plants, while the view, looking over the Camel Estuary to Daymer Bay at Rock, makes you want to rest for more than a while. Open between April and October.

  • Price: £
  • Location: Hawkers Cove, Padstow PL28 8HW
  • Stay nearby: Padstow Wagon House, Padstow | sleeps 6 and 2 dogs

Fission Chips, St Agnes

Fission Chips | St Agnes

We can’t have a Cornish eatery guide and not include a chippy, can we?! Serving the locals fish and chips for over 50 years, this quality emporium is found in the gorgeous village of St Agnes, one of the UK's most stunning seaside locations. The food at Fission Chips is always cooked to order too, so whatever you choose will be piping hot and fresh, while the fish portion sizes are incredibly generous.

Don’t be surprised to see the queue leaking out of the front door due to its popularity, but don’t let that deter you – the friendly staff are efficient and speedy, meaning you won’t be waiting all that long for your delicious fish supper.

  • Price: £
  • Location: Churchtown, Saint Agnes TR5 0QW
  • Stay nearby: Tuckaway Thatch, St Agnes | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

The Mariners | Rock

Image credit: @marinersinrock

The Mariners | Rock

Join your friends and family at The Mariners in the riverside village of Rock in North Cornwall.  Owned by Paul and Emma Ainsworth, the dining choices here are first class. Traditional dinnertime standards are enhanced with Cornish ingredients and recipes. 

The Mariners is part of a family of restaurants across the Camel River in Padstow - the owners also run a chef’s academy at the local college academy, so you know you are in for a treat.  The Mariners is dog friendly on the ground floor too, so bring your pooch along. Book ahead.  

  • Price: ££
  • Location: The Slipway, Rock PL27 6LD
  • Stay nearby: Rosemayne, Rock | sleeps 8 and 2 dogs

Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac

Restaurant Nathan Outlaw | Port Isaac

We’ve selected Restaurant Nathan Outlaw not only for its wonderful taster menu but also for its stunning location in the popular North Cornwall fishing village, Port Isaac

Expertly concocted seafood dishes comprise of freshly landed fish and shellfish, and pristine vegetables grown on farms in the nearby area. Book a table and you can watch the cooks hard at work in the Kitchen Bar. Keen to share his secrets, the chef has published several cookbooks that are widely available.  

  • Price: £££
  • Location: New Road, Port Isaac PL29 3SB
  • Stay nearby: Pibbies, Port Isaac | sleeps 4

The Seafood Restaurant

The Seafood Restaurant | Padstow

Arguably Cornwall’s best-known chef and restauranteur is Rick Stein. He has several restaurants in Padstow and the rest of the Duchy. The Seafood Restaurant is a triple AA Rosette garnered diner, and it serves as Mr Stein’s flagship diner. 

Since he and his wife threw opened its doors in 1975, it has gained a good international reputation and is a huge draw for those who love Cornish seafood. The reasonably priced three-course meals and a tempting a la carte menu at this popular seafood restaurant are bound to impress.

  • Price: ££
  • Location: Riverside, Padstow PL28 8BY
  • Stay nearby: Padstow - Treetops, Padstow | sleeps 2 and 1 dog

More top pubs and restaurants in North Cornwall:

Flory Restaurant, Bodmin - An elegant eatery in the heart of Bodmin town. Set off for a moorland walk before settling in at this charming Cornish restaurant. 

Chapel Porth Beach Hut, St Agnes - Don’t miss this unique takeaway with its own spin on breakfast baguettes of all kinds and its legendary hedgehog ice creams. 

The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth - This double AA Rosette adorned restaurant is a superb fine dining restaurant if you are in the area. 

North Cornwall cottages


Places to eat in South Cornwall

Cribbs

Cribbs | Falmouth

Cribbs in the heart of Falmouth is a good bet for lunch if you feel like something exotic. Also open in the evenings, the lunchtime menu showcases smaller dishes from the dinner choice.

If you love Caribbean cuisine or feel like trying something new, we can highly recommend a bowl of jerk chicken, rice and plantain with a cool can of Red Stripe or Ting. Go back in the evening and enjoy the bar which has an enviable collection of Jamaican rums!


The Lifebuoy Café | Fowey

Image credit: @coffeecat_photo

The Lifebuoy Café | Fowey

The Lifebuoy Café in Fowey buys their bread from the town bakery; their award-winning sausages and hogs pudding from Par butcher Kittows; their crab is locally caught and supplied by the town fishmonger, Fowey Fish; and their free-range eggs are from Rosedown Farm, near Bodmin Moor. You can’t get much more local than that!

The menu isn’t everything you’d expect from a standard café, either –  full English breakfasts (served until midday) sitting next to eggy crumpets, crab cakes, and banana and chocolate spread sandwiches! There are your usual suspects, too: sandwiches to cure every hunger pang, a children’s menu, cream teas and cakes.


Daisy’s Café | Looe

Image credit: @daisys_cafe_looe

Daisy’s Café | Looe

In an age where flat whites served in test tubes are considered the norm, this small, friendly café is a breath of fresh air – and the perfect place to pop in during a visit to lovely Looe. Try out their delectable full English breakfast which, in our opinion, is one of the best in Cornwall.

The homemade daisy-shaped scones at Daisy's Café are well worth a try, too, served in a range of flavours including plain, fruit, cheese, cranberry and orange, and ginger, all accompanied by a generous helping of cream and jam. Dogs, kids and muddy boots are welcome too, so you can leave your cares at the door and indulge in one of Cornwall’s finest cafés.

  • Price: £
  • Location: Castle St, East Looe, Looe PL13 1BA
  • Stay nearby: The Trust House, Looe | sleeps 6

Fat Apples | Nr St Keverne

Image credit: @fatapplescafe

Fat Apples | Nr St Keverne 

If you are on the Lizard, this café is a well-worth turning the sat nav on for. Found on a windy hillside road between Porthallow and Porthoustock is one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets if you love breezy lunches in a scenic location. 

Set in an orchard, Fat Apples offers a wide range of lunch dishes, and we highly recommend the warm salad and their sandwiches which will ensure you return in the future. Fat Apples above everything else, it’s that good. Seek it out!

  • Price: £
  • Location: Porthallow, St Keverne, Helston TR12 6QH 
  • Stay nearby: Little Pebble, Porthallow | sleeps 4

More pubs and restaurants in South Cornwall:

Restaurant Four, Falmouth - This super stylish eatery offers an eclectic, ever-changing selection of creative dishes that reflects the season. 

Couch's Great Hous, Polperro - An intimate venue under the direction of head chef Richard McGeown who has honed his skills under several cooking greats. 

Driftwood, Portscatho - Three AA Rosette restaurant with exceptional seafood dishes overlooking Gerrans Bay.

South Cornwall cottages


Places to eat in West Cornwall 

2 Fore Street Restaurant, Mousehole

Image credit: @2forestreet

2 Fore Street Restaurant | Mousehole

An elegant bistro-style restaurant on Mousehole Harbour offering local seafood and grill dishes, this is the perfect West Cornwall restaurant to while away a few hours looking out over the quaint Mousehole Harbour and sea beyond. 

You can take in views of Mount's Bay from outside 2 Fore Street Restaurant or relax inside the fresh and contemporary interior. Enjoy grilled lemon sole fillets, hand-picked crab salad, or homemade burger with a glass of prosecco in hand. 


Golden Lion | St Ives

Image credit: @d_averobinson

Golden Lion | St Ives

If it’s pub grub you’re after, look no further than the Golden Lion in St Ives, where you can get a pint and something tasty to eat for a very reasonable price. 

The menu covers everything from nibbles to a whopping steak and ribs combo, while their comprehensive selection of real ales and dog-friendly beer garden make it a perfect place to while away a sunny summer afternoon. The Sunday roasts are superb too! Book ahead.

  • Price: ££
  • Location: Market Ln, Saint Ives PE27 5AL
  • Stay nearby: Rivington, Carbis Bay | sleeps 4

The Tinners Arms, Zennor

The Tinners Arms | Zennor

For an authentic Cornish pub, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Tinners Arms in the tiny village of Zennor. The pub has been the centre of village life for 700 years and it’s still going strong. A short walk down the valley takes you to pure views of the rolling, deep Atlantic Ocean. 

Legends of mermaids haunt the area and the ancient landscape remains unspoiled. Apparently, the novelist DH Lawrence holidayed in the pub in the early 20th century. It’s really like getting into a time machine in this part of West Cornwall. Look out for the peculiar circle graveyard by the pub. Oh, and did we mention that the food and drink is brilliant too? Sit by the roaring fire, bring your dog, and enjoy a tankard of ale (or a glass of wine!)

  • Price: ££
  • Location: Zennor, St Ives TR26 3BY
  • Stay nearby: St Ives Hideaway, St Ives | sleeps 4

Looking for more pubs to take your dog along to? Take a look at our choice of dog-friendly pubs:

Dog-friendly pubs


More pubs and restaurants in West Cornwall:

Boo Koo’s, Helston - Burger lovers: brace yourself for one of the best in the world. 

The Tolcarne Inn, Newlyn - Life-changing food from a well-regarded awarded chef in a gorgeous location. 

Kota Restaurant, Porthleven - A unique blend of Cornish-Asian food in the heart of Porthleven near the lovely harbour. 

West Cornwall cottages


Tempted to pay some of these delicious eateries a visit this year, but not quite the Cornish local? Don't worry, we have plenty of accommodation in the region. Find your perfect Cornwall holiday cottage among our collection, today.

Cornwall cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.