Best pubs and restaurants in Dorchester

Food and Drink, Destinations

Posted by Ed Roberts on 15th March 2024

Dorchester's town centre seen from above at sunset

Dorchester is a wonderful holiday destination in deepest Dorset. It’s also a great place to head to if you are looking for places to eat. Dorchester is large enough to sustain an interesting choice of restaurants and cafes, so there’s plenty of choice no matter what your preference is.

Why not read our guide to the best things to do in Dorchester to find out more about what you can do in and around the town? Dorchester is known for its association with literary titan, Thomas Hardy. It’s also within a few miles of the UK’s largest ancient hillfort, Maiden Castle (2 miles), the striking Thomas Hardy Monument, and the famous chalk fertility symbol, the Cerne Abbas Giant – all inspiring places to visit before or after you have enjoyed dining out at one of Dorchester’s circus of fine places to eat and drink. You can find even more Dorset pubs in this guide too.

To get the most out of your gastronomic trip to Dorchester, why not treat yourself to a stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages? Just click on the button below to see our selection of Dorchester holiday properties.

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The best Dorchester restaurants

We have scoped out the best independent restaurants in Dorchester for you to consider. From international flavours to traditional English fare, there's something for everyone.

Dorchester In Bloom | Seafood cooked in a wok over open flame

The best for international flavours | Drgnfly

One of two restaurants in Dorset (the other being in Poole), Drgnfly is unmatched for its variety of dishes. Its speciality is Pan-Asian cuisine which gives it a gigantic canvas from which to draw their culinary inspiration. Located in an old brewery building at the heart of the town, and over two floors, it’s a lively place, full of colour and enticing food aromas to drive gourmets wild.

You can enjoy a dining experience at Drgnfly Dorchester day or night, and the menus are enhanced by a bewildering number of cocktails to choose from. You can dine and drink in the Opium Lounge, the cocktail bar or at one of the booths. The menu has something for everyone no matter how intrepid you are.

Good to know

  • Address: 2 Brewery Square, Dorchester, DT1 1HX
  • Why not try? Sushi
  • Stay nearby: Sydling Brook House | sleeps 4 

Dorchester's Hardy Monument | Seafood pasta with mussels and shelled prawns

The best for seafood | Al Molo

Al Molo is an Italian restaurant in Dorchester that has a speciality in seafood-centric dishes. It’s also a superb choice of eatery if you love pasta, pizza and the odd wine-tasting event. Situated at Judge Jeffrey’s (one of Dorchester’s oldest buildings), Al Molo is a very popular evening spot for locals and visitors alike. It’s been one of the town’s top restaurants for years and it even welcomes dogs too!

The food has won multiple awards since it opened its doors for business back in 2015 including endorsements by the Italian Chamber of Commerce ‘Marchio Ospitalita Italiana’ certificate representing a seal of quality and authenticity. So, book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Good to know

  • Address: 6 High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1UJ
  • Why not try? The pan-fried sea bass
  • Stay nearby: Finch Cottage | sleeps 6 + 1 dog 

Cauliflower surprise in a bowl | Dorchester's town centre seen across the park

The best for lunch and brunch | Vivo Lounge

If you are looking for something light and speedy then we’d recommend Vivo Lounge in Brewery Square. Its menu is populated with mouth-watering items such as sandwiches, flatbreads and salads as well as Spanish tapas, Mexican or Indian-style dishes. There are menus for vegetarians and vegans too with choices on the menu such as the Goan Cauliflower Curry!

Located centrally, it’s perfect if you want to enhance your trip with a bit of retail therapy in Dorchester’s town centre. If you simply want coffee and cake, Vivo Lounge is also the place to head to. It has a large selection of cakes that change from day to day depending on the whim of the baker. Look out for deals like Cheeky Monday and Tapas Tuesday!

Good to know

  • Address: Brewery Square, 23 Weymouth Avenue, Dorchester, DT1 1QR
  • Why not try? Something delicious from the long vegan menu
  • Stay nearby: Higher Burton Barn | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

The best Dorchester pubs

Very often pubs offer up lunch and dinner good enough to rival some of the best restaurants; the same is true for Dorchester. Check out our choice of pubs in Dorchester to try out.

Sunday roast and a pint of ale

The best gastropub in Dorchester | The Kings Arms

Are you looking for a great place to dine in style? Well, The Kings Arms’ award-winning dishes are made with the finest local ingredients. Its all-day service means it is a convenient place to eat when you get hungry after a long day of touring. Whether you are hoping for a swift lunch with a pint or an unforgettable dinner, The Kings Arms is worth consideration.

The chef is loyal to Dorset fishermen and local farmers and producers, so you can enjoy food from the local area whilst supporting a few businesses at the same time. The Kings Arms is also family friendly, and dogs are welcome in the bar.

Good to know

  • Address: 30 High East Street, Dorchester, DT1 1HF
  • Why not try? Sunday roast
  • Stay nearby: Ruth’s | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Steak and sauces with a glass of red wine |  St Mary's on the Green Church in Dorchester

The best rural pub in Dorchester | The Sun Inn

Set less than 0.5 miles from the middle of Dorchester, The Sun Inn is a 17th-century pub with a lovely atmosphere. Being set in the countryside, it’s a great place to unwind for a long lunch or an idle drink. It’s also family-friendly with a patio and a garden with a play area for kids. The Sun Inn is renowned for its carvery which runs all week. Where possible, food is sourced from local providers, so you know it will be fresh.

From light lunches to hefty full-course meals, there is much to choose from on the menu at The Sun Inn. The dessert menu is particularly impressive should you have a sweet tooth. Book ahead on the weekends, because the carvery is popular with locals too!

Good to know

  • Address: Lower Burton, Dorchester, DT2 7RZ
  • Why not try? The daily carvery
  • Stay nearby: Lavender Cottage | sleeps 5 + 2 dogs 

Toasted BLT in close-up

The best village pub in Dorchester | The New Inn

Many of us love nothing better than a quiet lunch or a drink at a village pub. One of the very nicest that’s close to Dorchester is The New Inn at West Knighton (3.5 miles). This pub is also a good spot if you enjoy coffee or a simple sandwich to stem the hunger before a walk in the surrounding Dorset countryside.

The pub dates back to 1851 and many of its original features have been retained and restored making it a very ambient spot for refreshment. It has exceptional views across the local area making it a worthy addition to your gourmet hitlist when visiting the Dorchester area.

Good to know

  • Address: Highgate Lane, West Knighton, nr Dorchester, DT2 8PE
  • Why not try? Steak and chips
  • Stay nearby: Old School | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs 

Other places to eat in Dorchester

Dorchester has many of your High Street favourites too such as Zizzi, Hub Box, Cote, Nandos, and Wagamama to bolster your choices. See below for our favourite independent takeaway in town.

Classic battered fish and chips in close-up

The best for fish and chips in Dorchester | Callaway’s Fish and Chips

Fear not, Dorchester has a few fish and chip shops, but many locals would testify that the best of them is Callaway’s on Fordington Green. Self-declaring itself a local legend on its website, you can put them to the test yourself when you visit Dorchester. Do they measure up to your local favourite chippy? You can even order your spoils in advance. It's a takeaway and there may be nowhere to dine inside as such but it's still a good place to check out if the weather is warm.

Good to know

  • Address: 14 Fordington Green, Dorchester, DT1 1JU 
  • Why not try? Battered cod and chips
  • Stay nearby: Thyme Cottage | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Map of the best places to eat in Dorchester

Check out our handy map of each of the local eateries recommended in this blog.

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Stay at a self-catering cottage in Dorchester

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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.