With so many people working from home, it’s predicted that this summer will see us eating and socialising more in the suburbs. From family-run neighbourhood restaurants to exciting new indie upstarts, it’s time to explore the dining options on your doorstep. We asked 10 food lovers for the lowdown on their favourites. After, check out our guide to the UK’s best gastro pubs with rooms.
Recommended by Anna Hedworth, chef-owner of Cook House
An interesting scene is emerging on Heaton’s Chillingham Road. A group of young chefs who worked at places such as Terry Laybourne’s legendary Café 21 have starting to open venues there, including Flint Pizza and, probably my favourite low-key Newcastle restaurant, Bao Bar. It’s got about eight counter seats, and it serves incredible tempura, broths and dumplings. Its non-traditional bao, tempura haggis with okonomiyaki sauce and pickled red onion, or the vegan deep-fried aubergine bao with miso, are all amazing. Don’t miss its lobster take on prawn crackers, too.
From £4; @baobar_newcastle
Recommended by Aji Akokomi, owner of Akoko
This is somewhere I can walk to with my wife and son, or if we have friends over, eat ambitious food without heading into the centre of London. Chef-owner Tony Rodd was a MasterChef finalist, and uses carefully sourced ingredients to cook delicious British dishes, including cod with curried mussel velouté and sea vegetables, or barbecue pork belly with smoked eel and fennel slaw. The décor is clean and minimalist, and it offers a tasting menu, which I tend to go for (the petits-four are beautiful). Equally, Copper has a friendly, neighbourhood atmosphere.
Mains from £18; copperandink.com
Recommended by Aktar Islam, chef-owner of Opheem
Co-owner Dan Sheward started as a chef in my last business 10 years ago. He’s wanted to start Patty Dabblers for a long time and during lockdown last year he and his partner Liz Chan-Foxley launched it with people ordering click ’n’ collect through Facebook and Instagram. Now they’re doing pop-ups and residencies in suburban areas such as King’s Heath, Moseley and Bearwood. The fat ratio and muscle mix in their aged beef patties is great. You get a real hit of beefiness. I like their Not So Classic cheeseburger with rich, sweet bacon jam and a side of fries, topped with smoky, spicy Dabbler’s Dust.
From £7.50; @pattydabblers
Recommended by Sam Grainger, executive chef at Belzan
As soon as lockdown eased, I rushed to Berrington’s. Brat-style, everything is cooked over wood on a humongous grill and, similar to Hawksmoor, you order amazing cuts of meat and fish – such as swordfish or tuna loin, rarely seen in Liverpool – then your sides. I love their sharing côte de boeuf and unbelievable duck fat confit potatoes, deep-fried and dressed with salt and vinegar powder.
Mains from £12; 12berringtons.com
Castello is tucked away on a quiet street overlooking Bruntsfield Links park. The food is unbelievable for a tiny café. During Covid, it did bang-on coffee to take away and pastries (the toasted coconut bread is so good!) but, normally, the small menu has brunch dishes, including the best eggs benedict in town and delicious vegan options such as jackfruit curry.
Meals from £6; @castellocoffee
Recommended by Rachel Stockley, head chef at Baratxuri
Being from Yorkshire, where we often cook in beef dripping, I used to be disappointed in Manchester’s fish ’n’ chips. But when Chips @ No.8 opened three years ago (you’ll spot it from the mural of The Fall’s Mark E Smith on the side of the building), word spread that they were doing it right, and cooking in beef dripping, too! Although they can use vegetable oil on request. The owner, Dan Edwards, used to work in hospitality, managing hotels, and meals come in high-end takeaway boxes with lemon and parsley – the presentation’s cute. Most importantly, the chips are perfect, the batter crisp, the haddock flakes beautifully and the mushy peas are well seasoned. It tastes fresh. My wife Sam and I probably eat from there fortnightly.
Recommended by Deb Lewis, co-owner of Dusty’s Pizza
This small Catalan restaurant in Canton’s backstreets has a very high ethos on sourcing. All of the wines come from Catalonia, and it works with producers there to ship the ingredients in. Basically, everything put on your plate is simple and honest. I really like that. It’s an intimate space, maybe 24 covers, and it’s as good for an impromptu date night as a family celebration. During lockdown, the takeaways were an absolute treat. The hake casserole with black squid ink rice is novel, the rabbit croquettes and the vegan cep ones are delicious, and the sharing milk-fed lamb with potatoes and vegetables is divine.
Mains from £14; lacuina.co.uk
Recommended by Mayur Patel, co-owner of Bundobust
This pub was taken over in 2019 by Ash Kollakowski and his Belgrave Music Hall crew. Unlike their previous venues, it’s more family-orientated (it has a wicked play area) but it’s also ideal for a quiet pint, or to head to with mates in the summer. The outdoor area is amazing, and luckily it’s walkable from my house in Chapel Allerton. It has a good beer selection (breweries Northern Monk and Kirkstall are usually well represented) and the kitchen does classic pub dishes really well. The Sunday roast menu is brilliant, too, from Greek-style lamb shoulder wraps to roasted pork belly with all the trimmings, and I love the beer-battered haddock and chips. It’s a suburban pub with city-centre attention to detail.
Mains from £10.95; thebeckandcall.co.uk
I was born in Nigeria and lost my mum at a young age. Dad brought us over to London when I was 10. I tried my auntie’s dishes and different restaurants but nothing really matched my mum’s traditional African cooking – until I stumbled across this little side-street restaurant, which blew my mind. Now, after a long shift, I treat myself to a Tee’s delivery. My favourite is the pounded yam (known as fufu in Nigeria), with ogbono soup, a stew of okra and bitter leaves, and a side order of extra meat such as beef, made with underused cuts, such as the feet. I also like the fried fish in a tomato stew that’s cooked for hours with loads of seasoning and smoked shrimps, and pepper soup, a meat stew with lots of chillies.
Mains from £11; teesafricancuisine.co.uk
Recommended by Larkin Cen, chef-owner of Woky Ko
I used this nearby Lebanese restaurant quite a lot for takeaway during lockdown. It makes lovely charcoal grilled meats, fresh salads and Middle Eastern breads in clay ovens – it’s really fantastic stuff. The lamb chops, kofta and marinated shish taouk chicken kebabs are delicious. The flavour is incomparable when you cook over coals.
Grill mains from £12.50; lonagrillhouse.com