Cheltenham Foodie Guide: Where Locals Eat And Drink

Cheltenham foodie guide: where locals eat and drink

Try crab bao buns and egg hoppers, hoppy pale ales and local fizz in this bustling Cotswolds town

Looking for Cheltenham restaurants? Whether you’re attending Cheltenham Races and want to know where to eat and drink after your day out, or are just looking for an evening in the town, check out our pick of the best cafés, bars and restaurants. Stay at one of Cheltenham’s best foodie hotels, No. 131, full review here…

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Koj – for Japanese food in Cheltenham

2012 MasterChef  finalist Andrew Kojima’s Japanese sharing plates are winningly affordable. Hits on our visit included meaty shimeji mushrooms cooked two ways (crispy-breaded and baked in foil with leeks, lemon, butter and soy sauce), delicate tempura soft-shell crab in pillowy bao buns, addictive ‘Koj’ fried chicken with sesame mayo and brussels sprouts deep-fried to caramelised, umami perfection.

Drinks also impress – we tried a funky Japanese skin-contact wine – while upstairs sister bar Bandana Monkey serves Japanese whiskey, sake, shochu and beers as well as playful cocktails including the saketini: a punchy, fruity blend of vodka, sake, plum bitters and ume shiso seasoning. kojcheltenham.co.uk

A bowl of fried chicken
Fried chicken with sesame mayo at Koj

The Scandinavian Coffee Pod – for coffee in Cheltenham

If you need a break from Georgian architecture (and a caffeine hit) head to this contemporary, cosy coffee spot tucked away on a side street minutes away from the town’s famous Promenade. Housed in a yellow pod-like structure, inside it fulfills all Scandi-minimalist dreams, from gabled wooden ceilings to blonde-hued walls and tables with cheerful blue chairs and mid-century-style loungers. Fuel up on dinky cortados or a smooth V60 filter coffee made with ethically sourced beans roasted just next door. thescandinaviancoffeepod.com


The Coconut Tree – for Sri Lankan food in Cheltenham

Though this acclaimed Sri Lankan street-food outfit now has outposts in Bristol, Cardiff, Bournemouth and Oxford its original site in Cheltenham’s studenty St Paul’s neighbourhood is worth making the journey for. Fun interiors (we loved the penny-tiled bar), cheerful service and hip tunes on the speakers set the scene for vibrant, colourful dishes including red lentils cooked in coconut cream, slow-cooked goat curry, kotthu (finely chopped roti with eggs and veg), devilled chicken wings, egg hoppers and coconut flatbreads. On the side sip Sri Lankan Lion lager or a fruity rum, passionfruit and Rio cocktail. thecoconut-tree.com

A Sri Lankan feast at The Coconut Tree

DEYA Brewing Company – for craft beer in Cheltenham

Tucked away in a cavernous industrial unit, DEYA is a little hard to find but craft-beer lovers should persevere. There’s a taproom serving juicy, hoppy brews in a funky setting – think communal tables, a gigantic, multi-coloured mural and tumbling plant life. Order the aromatic, tropical Steady Rolling Man pale ale along with dinner – food trucks visit on Fridays and Saturdays (check the website to see what’s coming up). deyabrewing.com 


Purslane – for seafood in Cheltenham

Refined plates of British seafood are the star of the show at this sleek, low-key fine-dining restaurant outfitted in soothing natural tones. Chef-patron Gareth Fulford sources his catch from small Cornish day-boats that use handlines and nets so as not to damage the seabed. 

Highlights include elegant takes on surf and turf, from wild sea bass with bath chap, roscoff onion and elderflower vinegar to monkfish with chicken wings, celeriac and trompettes. Keep an eye out for imaginative veggie dishes, too, such as parsnip brioche bread pudding with Bath Blue cheese, pickled walnuts and praline. purslane-restaurant.co.uk

Sustainable fish and seafood at Purslane

Le Champignon Sauvage – for Michelin-star dining in Cheltenham

Ask anyone in the Cotswolds where to go for proper, treat-your-self fine dining and they’ll point you towards this much-loved, Michelin-starred outfit, where chef David Everitt-Matthias and his wife Helen have been quietly doing their thing – serving critically acclaimed Gallic fare – since 1987.  Dishes are lavish and imaginative – think butter-poached lobster with Jerusalem artichoke, pear and sorrel, or pig’s trotter stuffed with snails and ox tongue. Foraged and local ingredients abound in dishes such as Cinderford lamb fillet with dandelion and burdock salsa, or Cotswold venison with mugwort and smoked apple purée. lechampignonsauvage.co.uk


Domaine 16 –  for cheese and wine in Cheltenham

Domaine 16’s owner, Stephanie Ronssin, trained as a cook in Paris and later moved to Gloucestershire where she co-founded Purslane before opening this tasteful cheese-and-wine outfit last year. Turophiles will love a menu that features the likes of cheese boards, three types of fondue, tartiflette, camembert fritters and baked vacherin. There’s also a bottomless raclette deal on Tuesdays. Accompanying this is a mostly old-world wine list that skips assuredly across Europe – from Burgundy to Hungary and Lebanon – as well as the Cotswolds. Start your visit with a glass of elegantly crisp, local Woodchester Valley fizz. domaine16.co.uk


Baker & Graze – for pastries in Cheltenham

Ryan Bennet and Adam Hall’s Montpellier bakery uses classic French techniques, small local producers (including stoneground flour from a nearby 13th-century water mill) and inventive, global flavors in their breads, pastries and cakes. These could include heritage grain sourdough, vegan croissants, chocolate and prune buns, and rhubarb, strawberry and cheesecake danishes. Head inside the navy-fronted café for Middle Eastern-inflected brunch dishes such as lamb merguez sausages with scrambled eggs, and shakshuka with coriander and dukkah. bakerandgraze.com

An iced pastry
A Baker & Graze iced bun

Holee Cow – for burgers in Cheltenham

This no-frills burger joint has plenty of choice on the menu – from lamb kofte burgers to Korean-style fried chicken – but the original is hard to beat – a well-seasoned beef patty with crispy edges draped in molten American cheese with burger sauce and pickles in a glossy brioche bun. Order a double patty for maximum chin-dripping enjoyment. If you have room, get some truffle cheese fries with parmesan, chives, smoked cheddar and truffle oil to eat alongside it. holeecowburgers.co.uk

Stacked burgers at Holee Cow

Where to stay in Cheltenham – No.131 hotel

This elegant boutique hotel is spread over three neighbouring Georgian properties on the Promenade. Inside, swoon-making period features – from high ceilings to stately proportions and sash windows – juxtapose an eclectic, modern décor. Add in a superlative foodie offering – including kedgeree, fry-ups and DIY buck’s fizz at breakfast, and a buzzy gin bar in the basement – and it makes the perfect bolthole from which to explore Cheltenham.

Doubles from £140, check availability at booking.com

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no131.com 

A room with pale green walls and a big bed
Soft teals and misty greens in one of No.131’s bedrooms