Bath foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
From matcha granola to agnolotti with smoked Winchester cheese and craft cocktails, there's a bumper crop of independent places to eat, drink, shop and sleep across this Somerset city
Looking for restaurants in Bath? Want to know where to eat in the historical spa town? Here are our local, insider tips for the best restaurants in Bath, along with where to find the best coffee, bakeries and gin bars. Next, try the best afternoon tea in Bath.
For more exciting restaurants and weekend ideas for food lovers, check out our best UK city breaks and UK gastro pubs with rooms.
Best places to eat and drink in Bath
OAK – for vegetarian dishes
Bath’s acclaimed vegetarian restaurant Acorn has evolved into the more relaxed OAK. The cosy Georgian room is fitted with mustard and cream panelled walls, dried Somerset flowers and soft lighting. Huddle up in the little alcove at the back, with window seating boasting views of a perfect hidden nook of Bath – the abbey looming majestically over blackbirds picking berries from the trees. Choose the five course meat-free feast to try a variety of new flavours, with the option of small-batch natural wines to match. Highlights include crisp panko-covered arancini with an aubergine centre; chickpeas tossed in a creamy, smoky vegan pine nut sauce with crisp pangritata and greens; and springy pieces of homemade sourdough cavatelli pasta tossed with vibrant heritage tomatoes. On your way out, peruse the selection of Somerset products, including artisan pottery, lockdown baby Hárth chocolate truffles and pretty bottles of natural wine. Oakrestaurant.co.uk
Beckford Canteen – for modern British dining
The Beckford Group has opened a new restaurant in a former Georgian greenhouse, up the hill from Beckford Bottle Shop. Head chef George Barson (River Cottage, Viajante, Kitty Fisher’s) uses South West ingredients in nostalgic dishes such as rarebit with beer pickled onions, confit pork belly with pumpkin and black treacle and ginger sponge. beckfordcanteen.com
Berdoulat – for a magical food emporium
Over 50 spices from the jar, shelves of small batch wines and a bakery concession can all be found at this impeccably restored grade II listed food emporium. The shop has been a labour of love for Patrick and Nuri, who have uncovered the building’s past to reveal cheesemonger’s receipts and vaults that now nurture plants as an on-site fernery. The couple have curated and crafted their own pieces to sit alongside original apothecary-style furnishings. Order a loose-leaf tea and fresh cinnamon bun or madeleine from Frome’s Rye Bakery concession and head up to the gallery where cookbooks sit alongside candles and aprons for sale. Look out for supper clubs and sophisticated foodie events, including London’s Honey & Co brunch on 9 September. Berdoulat.co.uk
Elder – for wild game and sophisticated Sunday roasts
A series of intimate, green-panelled dining rooms make up Bath’s new restaurant from wild game chef, Mike Robinson. Dark wood floors, framed hunting paintings and terracotta-coloured leather banquettes add a lavish cosiness to the converted Georgian terrace that also houses the city’s boutique Indigo Hotel. Dinners kick off with a complimentary rosemary and sherry-infused venison tea served with crusty, warm granary bread. Highlights of the menu include venison tartare on a squidgy brown butter crumpet, cod cheeks in a creamy guanciale sauce with puffed rice and pea purée, and an elegant black bream fillet with crisp capers and Jersey Royals. Visit on a Sunday to tuck into a sophisticated roast of perfectly pink beef, a dinky copper dish of the crunchiest golden roasties and a Yorkshire pudding filled with caramelised onions and white sauce. You can stay the night in Hotel Indigo's vibrant rooms upstairs, more info below. Theelder.co.uk
The Scallop Shell – for upmarket fish and chips
This simple seafood restaurant is unpretentious and artily rough around the edges – the day’s catch is piled high in a rolltop bath snagged off eBay, and there are light fittings fashioned from colanders, lobster pots and fishing nets. Starters are unfussy plates of the freshest shellfish available on the day, while the mains range from hake in crisp batter to grilled skate, all with proper 'chippie' chips and homemade tartare sauce served in a pretty scallop shell. If you're staying in the west of the city look out, too, for The Oyster Shell, the restaurant's younger sibling based on Moorland Road. Thescallopshell.co.uk
Colonna and Small's – for coffee
Head to this contemporary coffee shop and roaster for a serious espresso. The brews, all double shots, change weekly, there are tasting notes for each one (including how the flavour changes when adding milk), and the in-house baristas are all experts. The Gigesa Grade 1 Washed, an Ethiopian coffee with promise of peachy sweetness, hints of melon and bergamot. Colonnaandsmalls.co.uk
Landrace Bakery – for cinnamon buns
This small but thoughtfully formed bakery precision-sources everything from the grains to the (wild) yeast. As well as a brisk trade in loaves to take away (on our visit there was a choice of sourdough or a vast prune and buttered oat number) and a counter heaving with fresh-from-the-oven Eccles cakes and cinnamon buns, the bakery is stocked with provisions like fruit and veg, cheese and dairy, Cacklebean eggs, Pump Street chocolate and bags of Workshop Coffee. @landracebakery
Pintxo – for tapas
This Basque-style tapas bar with a pretty garden and a dedicated sherry menu is tucked away in Bath’s theatre district. Order sharing plates of pan con tomate y jamón along with tinned sardines served with bread and aioli before moving onto albóndigas (meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce), gambas al ajillo and fried padrón peppers. A succinct dessert menu offers warm chocolate and almond cake as well as vanilla ice cream, both of which can be ordered individually or together, with a shot of Pedro Ximenez sherry on the side. Choose your sherry of choice from the dedicated menu and make the most of any sunshine in the leafy sherry garden out back. Pintxobath.co.uk
Kingsmead Street Bottle – for craft beers
Step off lively Kingsmead Square into one of Bath’s more contemporary establishments. Scandi interiors include a concrete bar, a few window tables and funky illustrations hand-squiggled onto the wall. Rotating beer taps offer Cornwall’s Verdant Brewing Co, Bath’s own Electric Bear Brewing Co and hoppy Black IPA from North Wales’ Polly’s Brew Co. There’s a fridge of beers by the bottle and plenty of natural wines to take away. If you’re staying in, pair your brews with a Bath-based cheeseboard. The line-up includes nutty, semi-hard Wyfe of Bath and creamy brie-style Bath soft cheese alongside a bespoke chutney made with cider, soft berries and fresh apple. Palmerstbottle.co.uk
Comins Tea House – for tea
This contemporary tea house is a serene spot to while away an hour or two making your way through its extensive menu of single estate teas or to fill up on cleverly paired food (Sri Lankan hoppers, matcha granola or gyoza anyone?). It also runs regular tea-themed suppers and tastings. Read our full review of Comins Tea House here
Lucknam Park Hotel – for afternoon tea
Smoked salmon sandwiches and billowing scones nestled in starched linen. Vintage china and gorgeous garden views. This Palladian mansion in 500 acres of parkland is a quintessentially English setting for afternoon tea. In summer, indulge your inner Jane Austen over egg and cress finger sandwiches and fine loose leaf teas, enjoyed alfresco on the drawing room’s lawn. lucknampark.co.uk
Noya's Kitchen – for Vietnamese
After moving from Vietnam to England at a young age with her family, Noya Pawlyn has become one of the most loved foodies in Bath and has recently transformed her popular Vietnamese supper club into a restaurant. As well as serving informal but hearty sharing dinners in the evening, Noya’s Kitchen also opens for lunch, Tuesday to Saturday, offering a thali-style menu, presented as a tray os small dishes that diners eat clockwise, starting with an appetiser such as fresh summer rolls with punchy dipping sauce or a squidgy pork bun, followed by small portions of Noya’s favourite Vietnamese stews and broths, and finally a miniature dessert. Noyaskitchen.co.uk
Swoon Gelato – for ice cream
Bristol's artisan gelato shop has a second brand in Bath, serving seasonal gelatos and Swoon on a Sticks (think artisan Magnum). Guest flavours include cremino, a heady whirl of vanilla, chocolate and coffee but regular varieties include that children’s holy trinity of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Swoononaspoon.co.uk
The Canary Gin Bar – for gin
Don’t miss this dedicated gin bar, which offers up to 200 gins to choose from. Try the new Bath Gin (£7) – it’s flavoured with 10 botanicals including burnt orange peel and cardamom, and Thornbury’s 6 O’Clock, mixers included. Thebathgincompany.co.uk
Best place to stay in Bath for food lovers
The Royal Crescent Hotel
Few visitors to Bath see beyond the façade of the magnificent Royal Crescent, the city’s most impressive landmark. Fewer guess that No 16 extends into beautiful hotel gardens with lavender path, a haven for birds and butterflies where afternoon tea, cocktails and light lunches are taken. Chef Martin Blake balances simplicity with on-trend touches. Montagu’s Mews’ evening tasting menu starts with tiny canapés of Bath Blue cheese and avocado mousse with cucumber and borage. Then shokupan, a soft Japanese-style milk bread with Somerset’s Ivy Farm butter and smoked roe studded with salmon ikura. Hollandaise for beef tartare is spiked with Bath Ale and IP8 (beer) vinegar. A forced rhubarb dessert is softened with olive oil and vanilla. The comprehensive wine list includes confident choices such as a barrel-aged assyrtiko.
The hotel’s five-star spa includes a heated pool with sauna and steam, tranquil treatment rooms and a small garden where you can relax after a swim, still in your robe if you like. Rooms are built for comfort and luxury, some with terraces and views on to the gardens or over the sweeping lawns of the Crescent. Fireplaces in bedrooms may be filled with decorative pinecones, modern art sits alongside vintage portraits and busts, and everywhere the outside is brought in with plants and floral displays.
Rooms from £300 per night, check availability at booking.com
From £135 per night, including breakfast, check availability at booking.com.
A honey-hued Georgian terrace in the heart of Bath is home to this 166-room hotel that nods to the city’s past. Depending on your choice of room, individual quirks include exposed sand stone, murals that reach all corners and funky wallpaper. Smaller details add extra charm – manuscripts and maps on the walls, old-school telephones on side tables and velvet headboards that frame comfy Hypnos beds. Bathrooms offer lavish touches, including vibrant foliage-adorned wallpaper, walk-in rainforest showers and a selection of Bramley products.
Aside from its location, the hotel’s biggest pull is the ground floor restaurant. Before dinner, prop up the bar on a plush red leather stool with a Kamm & Sons English spritz or a barrel-aged negroni. Pad through The Elder’s cosy rooms to tuck into wild game dishes and lavish Sunday roasts (more information above). Bath.hotelindigo.com
From £110 per night, including breakfast; check availability at booking.com.
Just a few cobbled steps away from big-hitting local attractions such as Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, this hotel’s two beautiful bow windows give passers-by a glimpse into this recently revamped and restored townhouse on North Parade Passage.
Rooms are decked out in a palette of chic, neutral greys with colour pop accents – burnt orange in our superior double – on velvet furnishings and thoughtful illustrative artwork. There are a variety of tea and coffee pods for the Magimix drinks machines, as well as homemade shortbread in a Kilner jar for dunking (though UHT milk is a disappointing surprise; there are no in-room fridges).
There’s an unexpectedly cool bar below the hotel for its residents. It makes the most of its medieval structure, with cavernous original fireplaces and stone stairways to nowhere. Decked out in shades of opulent dark blue and emerald, set off with the odd metallic shimmer from gently flickering lanterns and collections of statement mirrors, it feels like the perfect ‘secret’ spot to hunker down after dark.
The Bath Priory
From £155 per night, check availability at booking.com.
At first glance, everything in this honey-stoned country house hotel on the fringes of Bath is pretty much as it’s been for decades, from the ticking clocks and carefully plumped sofas in the library to the starched white tablecloths and synchronised cloche flourishes in the dining room. But appearances can deceive.
In the kitchen, Michael Nizzero's style is modern classical French (no sous-vide cooking here) but with a delicate touch and clean flavours. His star-studded CV includes not only the three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn at Bray where he worked alongside Michel and Alain Roux, but the Hostellerie La Briqueterie in France (where he won a star while executive chef) and most recently The Ritz.
More like this
More Bath restaurants to try
Henry's – for steak
For a decadent dinner, book a table at Henry’s and try dishes such as flat-iron steak with polenta, grilled leeks and pickled shallot or blood orange parfait with poached pear and toasted brioche (there’s also a full vegan menu). Henrysrestaurantbath.com
Jars Meze – for Greek dishes
Try this light and bright contemporary restaurant for simple, home-cooked Greek food, served from the soul. Jarsmeze.com
Olé – for Spanish food
A tiny, corner tapas bar with charming, Spanish staff, Olé is tucked in above Paxton & Whitfield cheesemongers in Bath. Settle in with a tabla mixta – jamon de bellota, spicy chorizo rounds, soft salami, pink slices of tender cured pork loin, triangles of manchego and goats’ cheese, the obligatory quince paste and bread sticks. Then turn it up a notch with fiery paprika-dusted slices of pulpo a la gallega (Galician octopus), tempura-battered, deep-fried aubergine sticks drizzled with dark honey from Malaga, and ensalada de tomato (the ripest raf tomatoes with aggressive minced raw garlic, earthy dried oregano, and the best Spanish olive oil).
Don’t forget drinks as the booze is just as well-considered: think dry manzanilla sherries, white tempranillo riojas and Spanish craft beers (try El Boqueron, made from seawater). Book a table or turn up late (it’s one of the few places in Bath where you can grab a table after 9pm) and eat and drink until you (nearly) fall off the barstools. Oletapas.co.uk
Cafés and coffee shops in Bath
You’re not going to go short of a caffeine kick in Bath. This pint-sized city is generously served by artisan coffee shops, the best of them including Society Café’s two local outlets, Colonna & Smalls and tiny Mokoko.
There are two elements that set Mokoko apart. One is the coffee, which is all single origin and roasted in-house (as well as the usual flat whites and cappuccinos you can choose between aeropress, chemex and syphon filter coffees). The other is its cakes, which are freshly baked at the Bristol bakery, change regularly and usually include a vegan choice or two. Current picks include the cherry cheesecake cruffin and banana and peanut butter cake. Mokokocoffee.com
Tea House Emporium
If tea is more your, er, cup of tea, you’re also well catered for in Bath. The Tea House Emporium is great for stocking up on loose-leaf teas, as well as pots, tins and infusers. Teahouseemporium.co.uk
For a sit-down afternoon tea with all the trimmings, our top pick in the city is the decadent Bath Priory, especially in the summer when you can sit out on the terrace enjoying smoked salmon finger sandwiches, lemon drizzle cakes and raspberry tarts overlooking one of the best gardens in Bath. Thebathpriory.co.uk
Bakeries in Bath
Head along Walcot Street to Didi Cakes and pick up something from its vast range of cupcakes (peanut butter, Black Forest and passionfruit cheesecake among them), a slice of vegan banana bread or a pear and almond tart to take away and eat in nearby Hedgemead Park. Didcakesbath.com
For more conventional baked goods, Bath’s most famous bakery is arguably the Bertinet Bakery (which also has a nearby cookery school in Bath). It's known for its traditionally made breads – sourdoughs, ciabattas, baguettes and focaccias – but if you want a sugar hit, look out for their superior twist on a Bath bun, essentially a sugar-topped sweet roll. Bertinet.com
Family-friendly restaurants in Bath
We’re not fans of children’s food shaped into faces but Dough manages to side-step the silliness while adding just the right amount of cute by shaping subtle bunny ears onto its (otherwise simple margherita) children’s pizzas (read our full review of Dough here).
Other places worth checking out with children include The Scallop Shell (see above) and Yak Yeti Yak, the city’s long-standing Nepalese restaurant, with its cushioned seating area, benign staff and mildy spiced, fun-to-dip momos.
Or head out to Hartley Farm, between Bath and Bradford on Avon, and fill up on eggs benedict, pulled lamb flatbreads or a Sunday roast before browsing the shelves of its farm shop – or letting the children loose in the play area.
Bars in Bath
Bath has no shortage of bars. From quintessential dining pubs like The King William to real ale pubs like The Raven and The Bell, microbrewery The Bath Brew House, The Electric Bear Brewing’s tap room, and The Dark Horse craft cocktail bar, whatever your poison you’ll find it in Bath.
A wine bar and bottle shop – now with two locations in the city – that sells some extraordinary wines by the glass and serves imaginative small plates alongside them (its marinated octopus with smoky, lemon-infused hummus is legendary). It also does pre-bookable wine events and guest chef nights. Corkagebath.com
The Dark Horse
A local and seasonal ethos is the central tenet of cult Bath bar The Dark Horse. It draws a grown-up crowd with its dark basement setting, traditional styling (brawny wooden furniture, button-back sofas and rioja-coloured walls), table service and ultra-local drinks list. Alongside beers and ciders from the Southwest, and English wines and liqueurs are cocktails made with juices pressed to order and homemade syrups, cordials and bitters (often made not just with seasonal ingredients, but locally foraged ones). This experimental approach means there are a few misses – we weren’t wild about our Twelfth Night (Tullamore Dew whiskey, Cocchi Torino, Somerset Pomona and coffee) – but the gamble usually pays off. Dear Prudence (Sipsmith gin with strawberry and lavender syrup, fresh lime and orange bitters) was a triumph. Darkhorsebar.co.uk
Beckford Bottle Shop
What started as a modest shop in the Wiltshire village of Tisbury has recently grown into a flagship bar, restaurant and wine shop in Bath. Serving inventive small plates, British charcuterie and cheeses, and an enormous range of wines, Beckford Bottle Shop is also a place where people pop in for an informal lunch, a romantic dinner, an evening wine talk, wine and food courses, or private dining. All the wine shop’s bottles can be opened to enjoy with a meal in the restaurant for a simple corkage charge, which gives customers reasonable prices and a wide variety.
Best food shops in Bath
If you’re in search of a crate of local food and drink to take home, the easy way to do it is to get one delivered from Taste of Bath. Or, for non-perishable foodie souvenirs, make your way to Mr B’s Emporium and Topping & Co. for cookbooks, Magalleria for obscure indie food magazines, and Rossiters for cookware.
If you’re self-catering in Bath, make a beeline for some of Bath’s best independent food and drink stores – among them The Fine Cheese Co. and Paxton & Whitfield for cheese, and Wolf Wine and Independent Spirit for booze.
Bath is also home to various markets, including Bath Farmers Market, which takes place at Green Park Station every Saturday morning and draws some of the region’s best small produce traders. You can pick up a wedge of Westcombe Dairy’s tangy Somerset Cheddar or try a pint of Dick Willows’ proper West Country cider (Green Park Station).
On the third Sunday of the month between March and October there's also the Independent Bath Market for high quality baked goods, cheeses, charcuterie, preserves and pickles.
Where to eat and stay near Bath
The Bunch of Grapes deserves a heads-up here. Although it’s not in Bath but in Bradford-on-Avon, 20 minutes’ drive away (or a 13-minute hop by train) it’s travel editor Rhiannon’s favourite choices in the area for a date-night dinner or lunch, drawing an unusually dashing line between decadent and unfussy. A bar, café and restaurant with a pretty oriel window, an unusual ceramic fireplace and an impressive collection of vintage cocktail glasses, it serves a modern British menu.
Timbrell’s Yard, Bradford on Avon
Doubles from £105 per night, check availability at booking.com
In a converted Grade II-listed building, tucked away by the river near the iconic Town Bridge and Lock Up, Timbrell’s Yard provides the perfect hideout for a gastro pub style weekend getaway. With a well-stocked bar buffeted by smartly upholstered sofas and wooden tables, plus a large restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, you need only leave Timbrell’s Yard to stroll up through the town’s honey-stone houses to cafes, shops and delis, or to stride out along the banks of the River Avon into the Wiltshire countryside.
Hare & Hounds
This stone-built, dog-friendly inn is only a mile from Bath city centre, but nevertheless the Hare & Hounds is surrounded by beautiful countryside and extensive gardens. From the terrace, there are sweeping 10-mile views across the city towards Solsbury Hill, an Iron Age hill fort immortalised in song by Peter Gabriel. Perhaps the best views in the city (along with those of the Packhorse Inn, a community-run pub on the southern slopes of the city with a fabulously set beer garden).
The Hare & Hounds garden comes into its own in the summer, with its large lawn, picnic benches and children’s play area. It all makes for a lovely spot to enjoy a pint of Somerset-brewed Butcombe ale and simple dishes such as beer-battered fish and chips, or mash and beef braised in red wine.
Photographs by Rhiannon Batten
Words by Rhiannon Batten and Mark Taylor