We do like to eat beside the seaside! At last, it’s hot enough to really enjoy our glorious beaches – but where will you dine? Here we reveal the finest coastal cafes, from Cornwall to Scotland
- The Harbour Cafe, Fife, is run by Great British Menu contestant Amy Elles
- You can devour crab or mackerel pasties at the Crab Shed on the Isle of Wight
- Tatams in Portscatho, Cornwall, is housed inside a former public toilet block
Just reading about these sublime seaside spots will get your tastebuds tingling.
With summer around the corner, we’ve dug out 15 of the best cafes along the UK coast serving up top-notch views, fresh seafood and friendly service. Some are seasonal, while others are open all year round.
Scroll down to whet your appetite.
The shack on the shoreline
There are splendid views from The Harbour Cafe at Elie in Fife, which is run by Amy Elles, one of the top chefs competing in the current series of the BBC’s Great British Menu show
The Harbour Cafe, Elie, Fife: You may recognise Amy Elles behind the counter, as she’s one of the top chefs competing in the current series of the BBC’s Great British Menu show.
On a beachy spit beside the pretty village of Elie, north-east of Edinburgh, her and husband Jack’s wooden seafood shack contains four long tables and huge windows facing across the Firth of Forth.
Short menus hinge on the catch of the day by local fishermen but often include lobster and crab served with hot, buttery new potatoes. The coffee is excellent, too. Open Monday (lunch-only) and Wednesday to Sunday, April to September (theharbourcafe.co.uk).
A step back in time
The view from the Crab Shed on the Isle of Wight, where you can devour crab or mackerel pasties while looking out to sea
The Crab Shed, Steephill Cove, Isle of Wight: Steephill Cove is a timewarp.
You’ll find striped deckchairs, beach huts, lobster pots, palm trees and even a docile donkey. Crab or mackerel pasties can be devoured on sea-facing picnic tables outside the lunch-only hut (12-3pm). Open Wednesday to Sunday, Easter to September (steephillcove-isleofwight.co.uk).
Here’s why Caine’s so able
Mickeys Beach Bar in Devon has huge windows that afford fine views of Lyme Bay
Mickeys Beach Bar, Exmouth, Devon: Chef Michael Caines runs this three-part establishment on Exmouth’s regenerated seafront.
Below a restaurant and next to Cafe Patisserie Glacerie – selling tempting treats and gelato by pastry chef Sylvain Peltier– comes this bar, complete with weekend DJs.
Two terraces and huge windows offer fine views of Lyme Bay as the top-notch fish and chips quickly explain why Caines has received three Michelin stars. Open daily (mickeysbeach.co.uk).
Carefree… and car-free
The Shell Beach Cafe on the compact, car-free Channel Island of Herm. Its old-fashioned menu offers sandwiches, fizzy pop and ice cream
Shell Beach Cafe, Herm, Channel Islands: Compact, car-free Herm boasts the Channel Islands’ most picturesque beaches and pleasingly sparse crowds. Below grassy cliffs, Shell Beach’s golden sand slopes gently into turquoise waters, and low tide reveals rock pools to rummage through.
Elevated just behind is a blue cafe shop whose picnic tables face the action. Deckchairs can be hired at Shell Beach Cafe, while an old-fashioned menu spans sandwiches, fizzy pop and ice creams. Open daily April-September (herm.com/where-to-eat).
Park up before you fill up
The Drift Cafe in Northumberland, which is a 30-second stroll from Cresswell Beach
The Drift Cafe, Cresswell, Northumberland: Next to Cresswell Beach car park, and about a 30-second stroll from the fudge-coloured sand, sits The Drift Cafe.
Human and canine visitors alike are warmly welcomed. Black-pudding scones represent the boldest order – otherwise opt for its cherry-and-almond counterparts or wolf down pizzas cooked in a traditional oven. Open daily (facebook.com/thedriftcafecresswell).
Tuck in after a puffin trek
Pop into the Cafe Canna in Argyll for zesty plates of local seafood, island meats, and seaweed
Cafe Canna, Isle of Canna, Argyll: With Canna’s latest population figure given as just 18 people, no wonder this harbourside cottage represents the remote Hebridean island’s sole dining establishment.
Luckily it’s excellent, producing zesty plates of local seafood, island meats, and items either foraged (including seaweed) or grown in a community polytunnel. Be it mackerel tacos or wild-rabbit sausage rolls before a bowl of whisky-and-honey ice cream, meals here are just the ticket after strides over tranquil green hills to watch Canna’s colonies of puffins. Open daily except Tuesday, May-September (cafecanna.co.uk).
A spartan victory
Some of the food on offer at the Dungeness Snack Shack in Kent. Menus are based on catches made by the owners’ two boats
Dungeness Snack Shack, Dungeness, Kent: Despite its spartan appearance, this shipping-container kitchen serves wonderful, sustainable seafood (and some sweet traybakes) on the shoreline.
Succinct menus, based on catches made by the owners’ two boats, often feature grilled lemon sole or mackerel baps alongside fish fingers. Open Wednesday-Sunday (dungenesssnackshack.net).
Streetfood hits new heights
Cafe Mor, Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire: Overlooking the sandy, surfer-friendly beach, eco-friendly Mor has bagged numerous national street food awards. From its solar-powered boat-turned-truck emerge laverbread, daily-catch butties and Welsh beef burgers.
Most famous, however, are its lobster rolls with seaweed-infused black butter – a snack so yummy that Mor’s team has been invited to cook it in international competitions. Other favourites are showcased on the owner’s YouTube channel. Open daily, April-September (beachfood.co.uk)
Wake up and smell the coffee
A colourful dish from the Lucky Beach cafe in Brighton, which also runs an organic coffee roastery and shares its profits with Rwandan farmers
Lucky Beach, Brighton: The cafe, located between two piers, also runs an organic coffee roastery and shares its profits with Rwandan farmers.
Options range from aubergine-and-tofu breakfast to 35-day-aged organic beef burgers, while drinks on offer include fruity cocktails and craft beer on tap. Open daily (luckybeach.co.uk).
A top choice after tee time
Beach Cafe, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire: About a par five from the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, this cafe has views over the sandy St Annes Beach and Ribble Estuary as far as Snowdonia.
Top choices include haddock and chips, and shrimp in popcorn batter, best eaten on the rock garden’s turf-topped tables. Sunset is a magical time, and alcohol is available. Open daily (beachcafefylde.co.uk).
Big brother’s little gem
Tatams, pictured, is right beside Portscatho’s rocky shore and is built inside a former public toilet block
Tatams, Portscatho, Cornwall: You’ll find Tatams right beside Portscatho’s rocky shore – on Roseland Peninsula beach along from its big brother, the Hidden Hut.
Let the crowds flock there while you revel in this less-publicised gem. Built inside a former public toilet block, it’s a two-parter – the gently chic ‘taverna’ serves River Fal mussels and stonebaked pizzas while a counter touts coffees with custard tarts. Open daily (tatams.co).
Dine before dinosaur hunting
Shore things: The green-roofed Hive Beach Cafe in Dorset, where spider crabs are one of the specialities in peak season
Hive Beach Cafe, Burton Bradstock, Dorset: Spider crabs from the coarse-sand shore are served in peak season, alongside monkfish or turbot in tarragon and wild mushroom sauce.
Its elevated garden, looking down the fossil-rich Jurassic Coast towards Portland Bill, is enchanting. Open daily (hivebeachcafe.co.uk).
Take a shine to sunny hunny
Old Town Beach Cafe, Hunstanton, Norfolk: Much appeals about this eco-conscious shack in ‘Sunny Hunny’, but especially its varied menu – chicken burgers, sweet potato rostis, toasted sandwiches and vegan options. Open most days (01485 532931).
Start your day the right way
Babushka, pictured with the green roof, looks over West Strand Beach towards the peninsula-set town of Portrush
Babushka, Portrush, County Antrim: Breakfast is brilliant here, be it bacon sandwiches, pancakes or tangy beans alongside coffee sourced from Swedish roasters Koppi. Lots of the produce is local, including Morelli ice cream, while salted caramel squares usually prove most moreish.
There’s a relaxing interior while, outside, deckchairs look over West Strand Beach to the peninsula-set town of Portrush. Open daily (babushkakitchencafe.co.uk).
Sweet treats from a fab cabin
Sandside Cafe in Yorkshire has glass walls so customers can soak up fine North Sea views
Sandside Cafe, Sandsend, Yorkshire: Sandsend Bay is popular with fossil hunters, families, anglers and dog-walkers alike. This glass-walled ‘cafe-in-a-cabin’ has fine North Sea views.
Granary sandwiches with crabmeat are most popular, often accompanied by Mars Bar traybakes or slices of cake. Open daily (sandsidecafe.co.uk).
Check a venue’s website or social media pages before arrival, as many continue to adapt hours of service as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
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