Margate, Kent: 5 places to eat right now

The food scene in this Thanet resort just keeps on growing

Like thousands of others, the other weekend we were in Thanet’s most riotous town for Margate Pride – and what a phenomenal day it was.

In between the parade, the packed promenade, the crazy-busy beach and copious beers at top sunset-facing bars Little Swift, Sundeck and mighty LGBTQ hangout Sundowners – not to mention partying at Cliftonville’s Faith in Strangers and the Lido’s Queer House Party – we ate exceedingly well. Better perhaps than on any previous visit.

I might be biased as it’s my hometown, but the Margate food scene is now, along with Folkestone’s (read my Guardian round-up of its own Top 10 places here), surely the hottest of the Kent resorts.

George & Heart
Sunday roast, George & Heart. Photo: SE

This will come as no surprise to anyone; after all it’s been on the up for years now – remember the brilliant Xiringuito? And yet still its innovation and diversity is a delight.

As I haven’t written about the town for a year or so, I thought it worth a mini round-up (my last mention was in this Guardian Top 10, and another that included Ouma’s and George & Heart.)

A brief disclaimer: we ran out of time to revisit Bottega Caruso, and sadly failed to get a table at uber hotspot Sargasso, although we did enjoy a perfect Campari spritz on the latter’s terrace.

Dory's Margate
Bream, Dory’s. Photo: SE


Owned by longstanding dining room Angela’s, this tapas and seafood bar on the seafront is surely one of the top three places to eat in town. Sit at the counter and watch the chefs, or outside on the small pavement terrace and swoon at the setting sun. And our succession of plates was simply masterful: ruby-red cured trout and pickles, tomato and sourdough salad, a fantastic mackerel tartare with horseradish, and – best of all – a fillet of bream (above), its skin expertly seared, on a light stew of peppers and black-eyed beans. @dorys_of_margate

Waverley House (main pic)

Tucked-away New Street Bistro was always a favourite, and the owners’ new seafront venue is ambitious and chic in equal measures. We sat on the terrace overlooking the busiest-I’ve-ever-seen Margate Beach and devoured just-opaque scallops on vivid pea puree sprinkled with chorizo, and charred padron peppers with nutty romesco. But the highlight was pink seared tuna loin (main pic, above) on a nicoise salad with creamy yolked egg, fresh anchovies and vibrant sauce verte: almost too pretty to eat. @wh_margate

Tomato salad, and scallops, Barletta. Photo: SE


Originally at the lovely Rose in June pub on the edge of Trinity Square, Barletta has taken up a high-profile residency at the Turner Contemporary. It’s worth booking a sunset table by the furthest window with views over the harbour. We kicked off our Pride weekend here on Friday night, devouring buttery curried scallops, roasted aubergine with creamed cannelloni beans and a deliciously savoury aged beef ragu with cavatelli. But the highlight was a simple and stunning tomato salad (pictured above) with lardo for maximum umami and pangritata (grated bread) for texture, in pool of green olive oil and herbs. @barlettamargate

Skinny Dip
Skinny Dip BLT (left), Photo: SE

Skinny Dip

Cliftonville is now buzzing with quality places to eat, from bento boxes at Mori Mori to brunch at the must-visit Cliff’s (also a record store) and South African fare at the aforementioned Ouma’s. Right at its furthest tip is this excellent daytime stop, well worth the half-hour walk from the Old Town. Its iced coffee is on point, and brunch menu imaginative and stimulating: highlights include the huevos rancheros and tasty, egg-packed chilaquiles (pictured, above right). But it was the smoky depth of the BLT (left), with habanero jam-glazed bacon, bok choi, slow-roasted tomato, mayo and chipotle in brioche that we couldn’t stop talking about afterwards. @skinnydipcoffee

George & Heart

After an extremely late Saturday night, the chilled leafy roadside courtyard at top pub-with-rooms the George & Heart was calling, all laidback Sunday afternoon DJ vibes. And the food is no afterthought: while the roast beef (sensibly priced at £16.50) was thankfully rare and tender as requested, it was the vegetables, from gooey cauliflower cheese to honeyed roast carrots, that were the real surprise. A cold gamay was the perfect accompaniment, and the staff even knocked 10% off our bill without asking as there was a slight delay in service. @georgeandheart

Margate-born Stephen Emms has written about the Kent Coast for The Guardian, Observer, Lonely Planet and more since 2006. Read his personal feature on Margate here, and guides to Folkestone and Deal. 

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