25 Best Restaurants in The South, England

Allium

$$$ Fodor's choice

This family-run, centrally located restaurant has been winning rave reviews for both the taste and presentation of its creative Modern British dishes. Produce is largely fresh and local while meats and poultry are free-range and sustainably farmed. Shared plates allow diners to sample a broader mix of dishes from the exceptional menu. Options might include chalk stream trout, cured sea bass and confit egg yolk, and dehydrated heritage tomatoes with mint and melon.  

Anokaa

$$ Fodor's choice

For a refreshingly modern take on Indian cuisine, try this bustling restaurant a few minutes from the town center. Classic recipes are taken as starting points for the artistically presented dishes, which include tandoori breast of guinea fowl with fenugreek sauce, pistachio chicken korma with sweet basil and clove, and a Singapore-style chickpea and baby eggplant curry. A two-course seasonal set lunch (£10.50) and an early evening set menu (£17.90 for 2 courses plus wine) offer good value. The setting is contemporary and cosmopolitan, and service by staff in traditional dress is friendly and prompt. Live performances by a musician or dancer occasionally make an appearance at dinner.

Hix Oyster & Fish House

$$$ Fodor's choice

This coastal outpost of one of London's trendiest restaurants combines stunning views overlooking the Cobb with the celebrity-chef's trademark high standards and originality. The menu changes twice daily, but the focus is always on simply cooked and beautifully presented seafood, including Korean fried monkfish cheeks, grilled sole on the bone, and, of course, local oysters. There's a limited vegetarian menu, but the dessert menu is extensive, with dishes like Peruvian chocolate mousse with honeycomb. Book well ahead to sit by the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the coast, on the small terrace, or at the Kitchen Table, where you can watch the chefs at work.

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Seaview Hotel Restaurant and Bar

$$$ Fodor's choice

The outstanding food at this waterside hotel is defined by a menu with a strong maritime flavor that befits its location in the heart of a harbor village just outside Ryde. One of only two Michelin Bib Gourmand recipients on the island, much of the fresh produce is from the Seaview's own farm. You might start dinner with a local crab rarebit, then move on to the catch of the day with local tenderstem broccoli and saffron potatoes. The lunch menu features sandwiches and salads, plus vegan options. Food is served in a wood-paneled pub, the Pump Room and Grill, and in the Bistro, a cozy room modeled on a typical ship's Officers' Mess cabin. Luxurious fabrics characterize the chic guest rooms in the adjoining hotel.

The Pig

$$$ Fodor's choice

The funkier sister of glamorous Lime Wood, this New Forest "restaurant with rooms" is a local favorite that puts the emphasis on local (with all ingredients sourced within 25 miles if not the restaurant's own kitchen garden) and seasonality. Lunch and dinner are served in a large Victorian greenhouse overlooking the lawns, and the twice-daily changing menu may include dishes like an Isle of Wight eggplant with Romano peppers or a whole Poole sea bass. You may also accompany the "staff forager" on expeditions to find shellfish or edible flora like wild garlic and berries. Overnight in one of the 26 comfortable rooms in the main building (an 18th-century former royal hunting lodge) or the converted stable block. All combine a slightly retro, shabby-chic style with modern bathrooms.

Abarbistro

$$

A relaxed, modern bistro midway between Old Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays, this place is ideal for a snack, meal, or glass of wine from the thoughtfully chosen wine list. The changing Modern British menu specializes in seafood dishes like pan-roasted chalk stream trout with a Nicoise salad or ale-battered haddock-and-chips, mostly sourced from Portsmouth's fish market directly opposite the restaurant. Alternatively, opt for honey-and-sesame-glazed duck breast or sweet potato, spinach, and cauliflower Wellington. You can sit indoors, in a garden at the back, or at Continental-style tables on the pavement.

Boston Tea Party

$

Specializing in quick, nourishing meals, this relaxed café in a 14th-century former inn allegedly once patronized by Shakespeare, Cromwell, and Pepys serves hot and cold breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon snacks. Choices include cheeseburgers served with bacon and fried egg, a Moving Mountains beetroot, mushroom, and soya version, or a sweetcorn hash with halloumi, avocado, and poached egg. You can eat upstairs in the spectacular Tudor great hall or in the quieter side room.

13 High St., Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2NJ, England
01722-433266
Known For
  • child-friendly atmosphere and dishes
  • freshly roasted coffee and homemade cakes
  • casual dining in impressive historic setting
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No dinner

Cathedral Refectory

$

With a vaulted glass roof on steel supports, this self-service cafeteria in a walled garden across from the cathedral combines contemporary style with locally sourced, freshly prepared dishes to create a refreshing stop for lunch or afternoon tea. Food is served daily until 4:30 or 5, and there are tables outside on a slate terrace for fair-weather eating.

Chesil Rectory

$$$

The timbered and gabled building may be venerable—it dates back to the mid-15th century—but the cuisine is Modern British, using locally sourced ingredients. The small but well-executed menu is particularly strong on game dishes, like roast wood pigeon with white onion purée, butternut squash, and puy lentils or guinea fowl with a cabbage and mushroom fricassée and truffle cappuccino. Service and the heritage charm of the surroundings enhance the quality of the food. There's also a good-value set lunch (£21.95 for two courses, £26.95 for three).

Duke of Wellington

$

This family-run traditional pub that dates back to the 16th century has flagstones, bare stone walls, an inglenook fireplace, an open fire in winter, and a beer garden in the summer. The homemade food leans towards the traditional, with superior versions of old favorites like fish pie. You'll also find more exotic selections like a housemade curry of the day as well as Purbeck-brand honeycomb ice cream for dessert. The inn also has 11 rooms for guests who want to stay the night.

7 East St., Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EE, England
01929-553015
Known For
  • highly regarded beer and ale selection
  • fresh fish specials
  • organic and locally sourced Sunday roast lunch

Fisherton Mill

$

A former grain mill, Fisherton Mill houses independent shops as well as artists' studios and a gallery showcasing paintings, sculptures, textiles, jewelry, and all manner of crafts. Enjoy a light lunch or Wiltshire cream tea in the highly regarded café. It shuts down for the day at 5, except for Sunday, when it's closed.

Forte Kitchen

$

This unfussy but elegant café-restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea offers freshly made soups, sandwiches, hot dishes, and cakes made with locally sourced ingredients. Favorites include beer-battered cod with fries, fried mushrooms on sourdough toast with creamed spinach and a poached egg, and a miso glazed chicken salad. There are no reservations and it's very popular, so a wait may be involved at busy times.

78 Parchment St., Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8AT, England
01962-856840
Known For
  • excellent breakfasts
  • fast, friendly service
  • no reservations so waits are possible
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No dinner

Green's Bar and Kitchen

$

Reasonably priced and healthy comfort food is served cafeteria-style at this established, family-run favorite, including dishes like a vegan cheeseburger, a quinoa salad with grilled tofu, and torched mackerel on toast. Serving breakfast (including a great full English) and lunch, the place transforms into a busy cocktail bar in the evening.

Howard's House

$$$$

If you're after complete tranquility, head for this early-17th-century house surrounded by two acres of grounds in the Nadder Valley. The excellent restaurant has fixed-price menus specializing in contemporary English cooking using local and seasonal ingredients (some from the kitchen garden), such as a pan-seared fillet of wild brill or roast loin of Wiltshire venison. The style is traditional and smart, and a terrace provides alfresco dining overlooking the tidy lawns in summer. Nine comfortable guest rooms may tempt you into forgoing the 10-mile drive back to Salisbury.

Oxford Brasserie

$$

This airy modern brasserie on a restaurant-heavy street close to the docks is known for its melt-in-your-mouth meat dishes but also offers vegetarian options. The menu leans toward Modern British favorites like slow-cooked pork belly and pan-fried salmon with Mediterranean touches like fried zucchini or calamari.

Pascal's Brasserie

$

Tucked away from the busy harbor, this French-owned local favorite serves classic Gallic dishes such as onion soup, eggs Benedict, and croque monsieur, plus simple seafood dishes like king prawns in garlic butter. If you're looking for an afternoon pit stop, try the substantial, and very English, cream tea selection and other superlative baked goods. A set-menu pop-up supper club serves dishes like pork fillet braised in Chablis with prunes on the third Friday and Saturday of each month and books up fast.

8 Cove St., Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 8TS, England
01305-777500
Known For
  • delicious housemade cakes and scones
  • French brasserie favorites
  • excellent breakfasts
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No dinner

Restaurant 27

$$$$

Owned by chef Kevin Bingham (who lives upstairs) and his family, this 35-seat global French restaurant serving only set-price six-course tasting menus (£65) for the whole table is very much a personal vision, with Bingham's sophisticated, technically assured take on French classics (expect gels, foams, "soil," and smears) winning rave reviews (and now a Michelin listing). The set menus change daily according to what fresh ingredients are available, but dishes might include blackened beef sirloin with cavolo nero, a starter of whipped goat cheese with rhubarb and pistachio, or roast halibut with king prawn and wild garlic. The three-course Sunday lunch is a deal at £45. There's also an extensive, well-chosen wine list.

27A South Parade, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO5 2JF, England
023-9287–6272
Known For
  • excellent distinctive dishes
  • extensive wine list
  • set-price tasting menus
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch Wed.–Sat. No dinner Sun.

Rick Stein, Winchester

$$$

Renowned as one of Britain's finest seafood chefs, Rick Stein chose Winchester for his first venture away from the Cornish coast. The menu is largely focused on fish and crustaceans, but carnivores and vegetarians are catered for as well. The airy room embodies tasteful nautical chic, but the restaurant's popularity means it can be noisy when busy.

7 High St., Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9JX, England
01962-587348
Known For
  • simply but confidently prepared classics like turbot hollandaise
  • exotic choices like spicy Indonesian curry with prawn and squid
  • good-value set menus for lunch and early evening dinner
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Wed., Reservations essential

The Bell Cliff Restaurant and Tea Rooms

$

This cozy, child-and-dog-friendly restaurant in a 17th-century building at the bottom of Lyme Regis's main street makes a great spot for a light lunch or a cream tea with views over the bay. Apart from hot drinks and sandwiches (including fresh crab), you can order more substantial dishes like homemade beef lasagna.

The Seaside Boarding House

$$$

Perched on a bluff overlooking sandy Burton Beach, this airy restaurant in a hamlet at the western end of Chesil Beach specializes in freshly caught seafood and locally raised meat and produce. The small but focused menu includes dishes like grilled West Bay lobster with garlic butter and samphire or skate wing with lemon, oregano, and brown shrimp. The restaurant is in a Victorian villa remodeled to evoke a chic 1920s feel, and the tables outside on the terrace have fabulous views across Lyme Bay. Bar food is served when the restaurant is closed. There are also eight light-filled bedrooms with views upstairs.

The Ship Inn

$

Whether you're in the mood for a traditional Sunday roast or a steak pie with beer gravy and a puff pastry top, this welcoming pub-restaurant with great views over the harbor specializes in a well-executed, modern approach to classic British pub fare. Service is attentive and friendly, and there's an excellent selection of beers and ales.

Custom House Quay, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 8BE, England
01305-773879
Known For
  • outdoor seating overlooking harbor
  • several vegetarian options
  • Sunday roast lunch

Verveine

$$$$

This small but acclaimed seafood restaurant attached to a fishmongers' specializes in innovative fish cuisine using the freshest ingredients. Options change daily but might include dishes like roast Devon hake with chorizo, parsnip, and wild garlic or sea-cured mackerel with puffed rice, kombu, and ponzu sauce. There are three set-price dinner menus, ranging from four-course (£55) to 8-course (£95), and three at lunch, starting at £23 for two courses. There are only 10 tables so reservations are recommended.

98 High St., Lyndhurst, Hampshire, SO41 0QE, England
01540-642176
Known For
  • creative seafood dishes using the freshest ingredients
  • excellent wine list
  • multicourse tasting menus
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon.

Waggon and Horses

$$

A 17th-century thatched-roof building with foundations made from sarsen stones, this traditional inn and pub (Dickens mentions the building in the Pickwick Papers) is a two-minute drive from the Avebury stone circles. With a beer garden that has views of Silbury Hill, it's something of a tourist hub in high season, but lunches and dinners are still excellent. Dishes include whole pan-fried sole with crayfish and coriander butter and a baked Mediterranean tart. Recent innovations include meatless burgers.

Beckhampton, Wiltshire, SN8 1QJ, England
01672-539418
Known For
  • cozy atmosphere with open fire
  • housemade food using locally sourced ingredients
  • crowds in high season
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. No dinner Sun.

WestBeach

$$

Superbly positioned right on the beach close to Bournemouth Pier, this fish restaurant serves the best seafood in town, whether grilled, baked, or in fish pies and stews. The menu usually includes a crayfish roll, a soft-shell crab burger, and wild locally caught fish and shellfish (including local oysters, crab, mussels, clams, and lobster). There are also a few non-fish dishes such as a crispy duck and blood orange salad. Simple wooden tables and a large glass front lend a modern, minimalist feel, and there's a narrow deck and terrace for open-air dining and excellent views over the sea and sand. But be warned: if you turn up for lunch one minute after service finishes, you won't be served. In summer, pick up ice cream and snacks from the adjacent stand.

Yalbury Cottage

$$$$

Oak-beamed ceilings, exposed stone walls, and inglenook fireplaces add to the charm of this restaurant in a 300-year-old former shepherd's cottage across the road from where Thomas Hardy went to school. It specializes in set menus featuring superior modern French cooking using locally sourced produce, with dishes like Portland crab salad, sticky braised beef brisket, and beetroot Wellington with eggplant caviar. Sunday lunch and afternoon tea are also available. Eight comfortable bedrooms are available in an extension overlooking gardens or fields. Lower Bockhampton is signposted off the A35, 1½ miles east of Dorchester.

Bockhampton La., Lower Bockhampton, Dorset, DT2 8PZ, England
01305-262382
Known For
  • French cuisine with an English twist
  • good-value fixed-price two- or three-course dinner menus
  • booking up quickly so making reservations is a good idea
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No dinner Sun. No lunch Tues.–Sat.