Looking for Porthleven restaurants? Here’s our foodie guide to Porthleven – Porthleven pubs for the perfect pint, seafood restaurants and cafes, along with where to stay in the Cornish harbourside town…
Best pub in Porthleven – The Ship Inn
Steep steps up from the harbour take you into this classic 17th century Cornish fishermen’s pub. In winter you can huddle by the open fire with a pint of Porthleven pale ale (made by Cornish brewery Skinners) and watch the waves crash against the sea wall as seasonal storms come in. In summer the outdoor terrace has panoramic views over Porthleven harbour and the surrounding coastline.
Best seafood dinner in Porthleven – Seadrift Kitchen Café
This small café is a hidden treasure of brilliant seafood cooking. As well as the regular menu, head chef Chris creates a daily specials menu based on whatever fish is landing locally. The set two-course lunch and dinner fish menus are a bargain and include a glass of wine. We tried baked scallops, mussels and prawns with a garlic and herb crust and pan roasted gurnard with chorizo, rocket and parmesan – both beautifully fresh and flavour-packed. Dogs are also welcome at any time and get a towel and a treat!
Best coffee shop in Porthleven – Origin Coffee Roasters
The original location for Origin Coffee this little shop on the harbor head has award winning baristas and coffee directly sourced from growers all over the world. The also make their own bottled cold brew and offer seasonal specials such as affogato in the summer. Perch on a stool in the window if it’s a rainy day or there’s benches outside overlooking the harbor for sunnier times.
Origin Porthleven was named as one of UK’s baristas’ favourite coffee shops. Check out more favourites from the experts here…
Best pasty in Porthleven – Horse and Jockey
You’ll spot this harbor side bakery by the regular queues out the door. It sells all manner of baked goods but is justifiably famous for its huge (and we mean HUGE) Cornish pasties, melt-in-the mouth pastry packed with peppery steak, potato and swede filling. Skip breakfast and get one for a super-early lunch. You won’t need to eat again till dinner time.
Best full English in Porthleven – Harbour View Café
Lovely quirky little traditional caff which does crab sandwiches, toasties and a stonking fry-up all washed down with big pots of tea. It’s also very child- and dog- friendly.
Mount Pleasant Rd, Porthleven (no website)
Best Sunday lunch in Porthleven – Amelies
This airy harbourfront restaurant doubles up as an informal café/bar during the day and a twinkly candlelit space at night. The vaulted ceilings and white and sage painted interior give the space a lovely beach-hut feel and there are views out onto the harbour through huge glass doors, or in summer even more panoramic views from the terrace.
The menu is a real celebration of Cornish produce. Not surprisingly, given the harbourside location, seafood features heavily and changes dependent on what boats are landing that week. We had spankingly fresh Porthilly oysters served simply with shallot vinaigrette and salt and pepper squid with a fiery homemade chilli sauce from the seafood menu.
Amelies is famous for its Sunday lunches and the Cornish roast sirloin of beef came with huge puffy yorkies, crunchy golden roasties and a deep, rich gravy. A bouillabasse was packed with crab, crayfish, cod and mussels. Service is attentive and friendly to all – kids and dogs are welcome and there’s a separate well thought-out kids menu that includes lots of healthy options.
Best brasserie in Porthleven – The Square
This brasserie-style café restaurant is a breezy space with a small terrace out front. Tea, coffee and cakes are served all day and, at lunch and dinner, the menu ranges from lighter sandwiches and soups (such as French onion soup with Cornish Gouda rarebit) to heartier dishes like crisp pork belly with hogs pudding and apple salad.
Best fine dining in Porthleven – Kota
Fine dining with an Asian twist can be found at this harbourside restaurant. Chef Jude Kereama references his Maori/Malay roots with delicate plates such as Beef carpaccio with shemeji mushrooms, roast garlic, pickled beetroot, parmesan shavings and rosemary soy dressing, or pan-fried hake fillet with Cornish mussels, seaweed and a ginger dashi vegetable nage. Prices are equally high-end but it does a good value daily two- or three-course set menu. A few doors away, little sister restaurant Kota Kai is a more relaxed family-friendly version.
Best crab and seafood shop in Porthleven – Southgates Cornish Crab
A gem of a place if you are staying in a holiday cottage and buying in lunch or dinner, this tiny counter shop sells cooked crab and lobster as well as packs of hand-picked crab meat and whole dressed crabs. All its seafood is sustainably caught, with most of the crab landed by the family boat at Coverack on the Lizard Peninsula.
Best deli in Porthleven – The Corner Deli
Tucked away just off the harbour this cute little deli is a great place to stock up on locally-sourced cheeses, charcuterie and booze as well as daily-made sandwiches, cakes, tarts and soups. Standout cheeses include Cornish Gouda from nearby Looe or soft and creamy Helford Blue. In the evenings the small wood-fired oven turns out a selection of pizzas to order and there are regular gin and wine-tasting evenings throughout the year.
Best places to stay in Porthleven
Harbour View Cottage
Perched halfway up a hill seconds from the centre with views over Porthleven Harbour, this is a cute little bolthole for two (and a furry pal if you like as it’s also dog-friendly).
The layout is charmingly topsy-turvy as the bedroom and bathroom are on the ground floor with the living/kitchen area up a spiral staircase. The underfloor heating in the bedroom keeps the cottage wonderfully cosy on colder nights and the crisp white linens and muted colour scheme keep everything fresh.
Up the spiral staircase there is an open plan living/kitchen space with a wood-burning stove and squashy sofa for evening lounging. The kitchen is brilliantly equipped for cooks so perfect for self-catering (Porthleven has a great fresh fish shop, deli and a supermarket which carries lots of local Cornish produce). There is a separate private enclosed terrace opposite the cottage with a table and chairs with panoramic harbor views and is perfect for outdoor eating or just enjoying a bottle of wine watching the sunset.
One of Beach Retreats’ luxury hideaways, just two minutes’ walk from the harbour in Porthleven, Tom’s Cottage is a restored 18th century fisherman’s cottage, a cosy bolthole for a week away. Downstairs is a modern kitchen, which is well equipped if you fancy cooking up some freshly caught seafood for dinner, and the woodburning stove in the living area is perfect for stoking up on a stormy evening.
If you’re too relaxed to even think about shopping for dinner, Beach Retreats also partners with The Mindful Chef so that guests can order in healthy meal boxes; a recipe and all the local ingredients you need to follow it (including organic beef from Dartmoor and fish from St Ives) are delivered to the door for you to cook at home.
Words by Janine Ratcliffe