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Brighton: 12 tucked-away foodie hotspots

A dozen hidden gems to explore (slightly) off the beaten track in Brighton

Brighton’s dining scene is so intoxicating it can be overwhelming for any first (or even fifth-) time visitor. Happily, the boyfriend and I have spent a bit of time in the city over the last few months, so here are a dozen diverse options for a super memorable meal anywhere from urban London Road to cosy Kemptown Village, as well as the ever-popular pedestrianized Lanes.

First, a disclaimer: the list is personal, not in any particular order and while as eclectic as possible, it can in no way be considered comprehensive (nor is the focus on Hove, which demands a separate feature). But it should prove a useful starting point to explore the UK’s most vibrant coastal metropolis. Peckish? Let’s go.


Hidden in the Lanes, this newish café-bar-restaurant has a relaxed feel overlooking a Mediterranean-style courtyard and two signature igloos, which offer a refuge on cooler days. On a chilled Sunday lunchtime we enjoyed crispy fried squid with sriracha mayo, succulent seared king prawns (below) and a thick pink slab of chalkstream trout grilled on the plancha (also good: the herby freekah). Carnivores should pounce on the rosy ten-ounce rib eye on the bone, smothered with porcini butter and zingy chimichurri, served with roasted mushroom, tenderstem broccoli and skinny truffle fries. For dessert, try the flourless chocolate cake with orange creme fraiche and caramelised almonds. 12-16 Brighton Square, Brighton BN1, more here.

Coppa Club
King prawns: Coppa Club. Photo: Stephen Emms


On a small modern piazza just off noisy-but-buzzy Preston Circus – and near the awesome Unbarred Brewery, a destination in itself – is one of the city’s best vegan restaurants. It’s certainly stylish, with long counter and pleasing courtyard-style dining room. Every plate hit the mark on our Saturday evening visit, from the ‘bang bang’ tenderstem to the cauliflower tempura with burnt sesame puree and pickled shallot. Glistening shitake and five spice gyoza, house vegan nigiri and karaage oyster mushroom – a little like calamari – were all standout, with the biggest hit probably pak choi (below) roasted with split pea cream, toasted cashew nuts. 5-6, Circus Parade, More here.

Pak choi, Kusaki. Photo: SE

BRUNCH: Egg & Spoon

Of all the brunch spots we’ve tried – including the excellent smoked salmon and scrambled eggs at Cafe Rust – it’s the sensational brioche sandwiches at this simple Kemptown Village cafe that have us drooling. Our favourite is the Cuban, pictured below, stuffed with slow-cooked pulled pork, salami, emmental, mustard mayo, courgette pickle and rocket; try the fish finger sandwich too, or the delicious halloumi and slow-roasted tomato. More here, 107-108 Saint George’s Road

Egg & Spoon
The Cuban, Egg & Spoon. Photo: SE


From the owners of hit Brighton restaurants Burnt Orange, Coal Shed and The Salt Room is this new arrival in a beautifully restored 1930s former bank on Marlborough Place. The elegant dining room boasts an eclectic colour palate, parquet flooring and comfy counter seating, while highlights on our Saturday lunchtime visit included a super pretty dish of salt cod, black garlic and chargrilled leeks, topped with artichoke crisps (below). Strips of ruddy onglet tagliata under unctuous blobs of salsa verde were equally good, as was a tangy caramelised clementine tart. Pop to the Wine Cellar bar next door afterwards. More here, 20-22 Marlborough Place

Salt cod, Tutto. Photo: SE

GASTROPUB: Preston Park Tavern

This leafy neighbourhood pub’s prime asset – characterful interior aside – is a spacious pavement terrace that catches the evening sun. On a chilly April evening we basked, shades on, sipping chilled rose and devouring interesting starters such as mackerel, grilled and smoked with horseradish creme fraiche, and an unlikely combo of confit lamb belly with merguez, hen’s egg and anchovy. The Sunday roast sirloin with all the accompaniments hits the mark too. More here, 88 Havelock Road

Brzn Arms
Spot the food truck: Brzn Arms. Photo: SE


Hidden so discreetly you might just walk past it, the Brzn Arms’ exterior is so small you’d be forgiven for assuming it was nothing much. But instead its brewery bar and taproom – the craft beer is fantastic – gives way to a sprawling beer garden opening right out under the viaduct, above, making it one of the city’s least predictable spots for a drink. Better still, their rotating schedule of food trucks is flawless, whether it’s doorstep raclette sourdough toasties, or tasty Egyptian streetfood. 62 Beaconsfield Rd

FINE DINING: The Flint House

We’ve eaten twice here in the last few months and each time hasn’t disappointed, although sitting on the top terrace on a balmy autumn evening elevated the Med-infused menu even further. Tuck into crispy ox cheek, a pile of tenderstem, hake in a smoked tomato butter, or the flavourbomb roasted cauliflower muhammara (below). Another highlight was outstandingly tender boneless blackened chicken leg. And if you’re indoors, perch at the open kitchen counter. More here, 13 Hannington Lane

Flint House
Cauliflower, Flint House. Photo: SE


Between the seafront and The Lanes is this wee dining room, where we’ve sampled both midweek lunches and super boozy rowdy post-Pride brunches. The menu might include pork and duck liver terrine, trout, creme fraiche, watercress, wild venison pierogi, fermented chilli or bbq hake, leek and hazelnut. It specialises in natural wines, too. More here, 1 Batholomews

VEGAN: Happy Maki

Vegan sushi sounds a little unexciting, but this pared-back first floor not-for-profit ethical diner serves up delish poke and sushi bowls. Try a hearty bowl (below) of rice with “salmon” sashimi, avocado, pickled cabbage, carrot and ginger, the crunch of wasabi and mango mayo; a hoisin “duck” burrito was equally juicy and delicious. And the prices are refreshingly low, as they let you know exactly what it costs to make your order – although you can pay more if you wish. More here, 23 Sydney Street

Happy Maki
Poke bowl, Happy Maki. Photo: SE

STREETFOOD: The Open Market

We often frequent uber-busy Shelter Hall Market on the seafront (especially good is the grilled chicken thigh flatbread) but a lesser known gem is this vibey covered food emporium. Showcasing international streetfood, from Korean to Thai, Chinese and Greek, there’s plenty of seating, it’s chilled midweek and a great option for groceries like fruit ‘n’ veg, eggs, meat and fish too. Our tip is Casa Azul, the excellent taqueria at the eastern end: a trio (below) will set you back less than a tenner, there’s indoor seating and the tacos are soft and moreish, the pulled pork and chicken mole especially juicy. More here, London Road

Casa Azul
Tacos, Casa Azul. Photo: SE

KOREAN: Chikini

Just down George Street next to the Queen’s Arms is this sliver of a spot that serves up impeccable Korean Fried chicken: choose from wing, drumstick, boneless or – our preference – tender thighs, with tasty sides like sweet potato fries and slaw. It’s also perfect to soak up the booze if you’re on an LGBTQ+ pub crawl with its handy location bang in the middle of the gay village. 3 George Street

Karahi chicken, Kitgum. Photo: SE

FUSION: Kitgum

An exuberant celebration of East African and Gujarati cuisine, Kitgum – dedicated to the Asian chef-owner’s parents who fled Uganda in 1972 – is surely one of the city’s best (and tiniest) dining rooms. Situated in Preston Circus, on our two visits the sharing plates included bhel puri, Karahi Pakistani garlic chicken (above), marinated bavette, wonderful crispy potato fritters, grilled white fish and coconut curry with turmeric, and spiced potato and lamb balls. If there’s a few of you, you’ll devour the whole menu, as dishes arrive when they’re ready. And I guarantee you’ll be back the following week for more.  Info here, 9 Preston Road

Stephen Emms writes about food and travel for The Guardian, Time Out, Sunday Times and more. Read his recent guide to LGBTQ Brighton in Sunday Times Travel here. Follow him @stephenemms on Instagram, @stephen_emms on Twitter

Weekendr ate as guests of Coppa Club (main image courtesy PR)

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