Quilliam Brothers (also known as QB’s) was opened four years ago by three brothers who wanted to offer an alternative to the existing Newcastle nightlife scene (they stay open until midnight Monday to Saturday). The Budapest-style tea house offers over 60 types of loose leaf tea, with each of the tins displayed on the shelves as you walk in (those who like a well-ordered space will be pleased to note that each tea is split into categories and numbers, from a B14 Keemun Mao Feng, to a sweet, marzipan F10 Battenberg).
Split over two floors, the upstairs space has wooden tables where you can relax over a lazy weekend brunch; choose between stacks of fluffy pancakes served with banana and a rich homemade chocolate and hazelnut spread, or go for a classic North-East stottie – a flat round bread cake that comes toasted and filled with Mexican pulled pork and sour cream. Head downstairs for squishy leather sofas, piles of board games and a cinema room decked out with traditional red velvet chairs and bean bags (keep an eye out on the eclectic selection of films they show on a Tuesday and Thursday evening).
Don’t leave before admiring the cake selection inside a glass cabinet. The dark chocolate and ginger scones are a must, with their nobbly appearance, dense texture and sweet-spicy ginger kick.
For the best pizza in Newcastle, pay a visit to Cal’s Own. After relocating from Heaton to Jesmond, they’ve refined their style, both pizza and interiors-wise, ditching an electric oven for a Stefano Ferrara wood-fired one and swapping chunky wooden chairs for school style seats and bright murals on the walls. Now serving traditional Neapolitan pizzas, the focus is firmly on the dough, tomatoes and cheese. Crisp and charred sourdough bases are topped with sweet San Marzon DOP tomato marinara sauce and DOP buffalo mozzarella from Campania.
While the pizzas may be refined, the atmosphere is relaxed, with families, groups of friends and couples popping in to grab a takeaway on a Saturday night.
Hidden away in Ouseburn, South West of Newcastle centre, Anna Hedworth (aka The Grazer) reimagined a shipping container as a place to eat, read and enjoy a quiet moment in the Ouseburn valley. It’s a lovely, informal place to hang out, whether you want a coffee (supplied by the Ouseburn coffee company which also has a café in Jesmond) or a lunch of local cheese, spiced chutney and sourdough bread.
With a herb garden at the back, and jars of jam made fresh, the focus is on seasonal food and a daily-changing menu built around fresh, local produce. Think smoked mackerel pâté with house pickles, salad and toast, braised beef shin stew with pickled walnuts and slices of pear, and walnut cake with crème fraiche.
Not content with a successful café, Anna also hosts seasonal supper clubs, and set up Jesmond Food Market where local producers set up stall on Armstrong bridge selling bread, cheese, fruit and veg on the third Saturday of every month.
Newcastle’s Grainger Market opened in 1835 and is split into two sections – a butchers’ and a vegetable market. Nowadays, the still-traditional market is a hive of activity, with butchers, fishmongers, fruit and veg sellers and bakers. It’s easy to get confused, with the market’s 14 entrances and exits but once you’ve learnt your way around it’s a great place to stock up on fresh produce, at bargain prices. Geordie accents bellow around the building (“a pound of pears for a £1”) but don’t miss out on the street food stalls that are dotted around, too.
On the corner of alley four you’ll find La Petite Crêperie, a small shop with a few window seats offering sweet crepes and savoury galettes. Watch the satisfying process of the crepes being made in the open window, before being topped with chestnut spread, speculoos biscuits or goat’s cheese, fresh spinach, honey and roasted pine nuts. On match days, you’ll often find the Newcastle football team queueing for a post-match galette.
If you’re looking for hearty comfort food in Newcastle, make a beeline for Fat Hippo and its indulgent burgers, either the branch in Jesmond, or the one in the city centre. You can easily spend the whole evening in the cosy Jesmond restaurant, where wooden tables are squished together, with an open fireplace on one wall, and an old church pew against another. It feels like you’re hunkering down in a friend’s living room, and if you live locally you’re almost sure to bump into someone you know. The place comes to life in the evenings, so it’s good to book ahead.
The beef burgers are freshly ground and pressed daily, served in a toasted brioche bun. The Texas burger is a feast of two 4oz patties, streaky bacon, cheese, crunchy onion rings and smoky BBQ sauce. Chicken burgers (all named after films) are just as hearty. If you’ve got room to spare, we recommend you order a side of dirty fries – that’s a bowl of hand-cut chips with crispy bacon pieces and creamy Fat Hippo sauce.
For a refined meal in Newcastle head to Peace and Loaf. Durham-born chef Dave Coulson trained under Michel Roux Jr. and is the antithesis of the food he serves – strong, tattooed hands plate up delicate dishes of clementine, saffron, sheep’s milk and vanilla.
Head there for a Sunday lunch (a great deal of three courses for £26), and indulge in roast belly of pork with crunchy crackling, crisp roast potatoes and fluffy Yorkshire puddings. Coulson’s imaginative desserts pair sweet, salty flavours. Think rich chocolate with sharp blackberries and salty, creamy goat’s curd.
If you’re looking to splash out on a special occasion go for the tasting menu and settle in for 10 courses with drinks pairings. Each of the dishes will intrigue you, for different reasons, from the combination of salmon pastrami, scotch egg, clementine and ponzu, to the simply named “cheesy jacket potato”. The food might be more on the side of fine dining, but the atmosphere and service is as friendly and relaxed as anywhere else in the city.
The Patricia is relatively new to the Newcastle food scene. Opened late last year by ex-River Café chef Nick Grieves the menu is simple and the atmosphere relaxed. Lunch involves a selection of small plates like Cornish crab and Isle of Wight tomatoes, and roast courgette tagalerini while the dinner menu changes daily with snacks, starters, mains and desserts to choose between. Simple fresh dishes are the focus but portions are more hearty than at lunchtime. Make sure you leave space for dessert – the chocolate mousse with salted caramel, poached cherries and hazelnuts, a twist on that 70’s classic, black forest gateau, is a standout.
The North East coast might not be the most sought-after beach spot for sun-seekers, with its bracing temperatures and strong sea breezes, but that’s what makes Riley’s Fish Shack, in Tynemouth, such a find. Adam and Lucy Riley set up the shack in their hometown as a way to celebrate the local seafood that’s caught in the area, and if you want some of the best fish in the North East then it’s a must-visit.
Queues can stretch for a couple of hours in peak times and, as with seafood, when the fish is gone, it’s gone. Fortunately, it’s worth the wait. Choose between mackerel wraps (cooked in a wood-fired oven for a smoky flavour), chargrilled squid served with crispy hot-plate garlic potatoes and pan-fried salted hake with caper butter. The menu changes depending on the fish supplied by local fishermen, but you can always rely on something fresh, seasonal and hearty to warm you up.
If you can’t find a seat inside, wrap up warm, breathe in the sea air and enjoy a pint of ale from local Almasty Brewing Co. with your food on the sandy beach.
If you’re looking for the best coffee in Newcastle, Flat Caps is the place to go. The industrial space the business now occupies is a world away from their previous location. Moving from a cosy underground café to a vast open space, the new café features a steel floor packed with school-style tables and chairs (often packed with students and workers dedicated to Flat Caps coffee).
Owner Joe Meagher was a UK barista finalist in 2014, and knows a thing or two about the perfect brew. He uses three different processes – filter, aeropress and siphon to make the coffee, and there are always two guest coffees on the brew board. If you’re unsure about what to choose, have a chat and Joe will decode it for you.
Exhibition Park is a vast green space in Newcastle with bandstands, lakes, cafes and an art deco Palace of Art. The latter, built in 1929 is now home to Wylam microbrewery. Opened in 2000, it stocks 24 core keg beers, four core cask beers and four heritage cask beers that are only available in the North East. The latter includes a red kite heritage red ale, a gold tankard with a hint of grapefruit and a spicy angel amber ale.
The tap room is a cosy space for an ale or two, and there’s a bottle fridge if you fancy something chilled. Book a tour of the brewery on a Saturday to learn about the company’s history and the brewing process, before having a tipple or two.
If you can’t make it to the brewery, they supply a lot of places across Newcastle including Tyneside café and cinema bar, so stop off for a pre-film pint.