The Best Places to Eat in Oxford: A Gastronomic Guide
Oxford is a vibrant and bustling city, globally recognised for its rich academic history. With its assortment of shops, green spaces and museums to explore, it’s the perfect spot for a day-trip or a weekend break.
Oxford’s history also extends to its culinary scene, offering a dining experience to suit every taste bud!
Where Can You Find the Best Dining Experiences in Oxford?
The city’s food culture is particularly special, balancing historic and modern eateries for a unique experience. From the traditional to the contemporary, Oxford is home to a wide range of classic dining destinations and hidden gems.
Over the years the city’s culinary scene has diversified; from a focus on simple British food to an emergence of international restaurants and gourmet dining. With a shift to local and sustainable ingredients too, you’re sure to find fresh and delicious food all across the city!
Why Should You Explore Oxford’s Culinary Scene?
Discovering the culinary delights that Oxford has to offer is an excellent way to enhance your trip to the city. By sampling the local culinary scene, you can gain a deeper understanding of Oxford’s history and evolution, experiencing the city first-hand, beyond its academic front.
With our guide as your chaperone – catering to different budgets and preferences – you can explore what makes Oxford a top destination for food enthusiasts.
The Best Places to Eat in Oxford
From light brunches and lunches to big family dinners, here’s our ultimate guide to the best places to eat in Oxford!
Breakfasts and brunches
Cosy cafés and bustling eateries make up Oxford’s breakfast and brunch scene, so don’t miss out on exploring the city’s morning offerings!
1. Oxford Brunch Bar
The Oxford Brunch Bar is based right in the centre of the city on George Street, making it the perfect spot for a tasty breakfast, brunch or lunch. High quality, locally sourced ingredients – and the best eggs around! – make for a delicious and nutritious way to start the day.
As well as serving a wide range of sweet and savoury light bites, the Oxford Brunch Bar also serves an extensive drinks menu including coffees, teas, milkshakes and fresh juices.
Its relaxed setting is the perfect spot for a casual get-together or a chilled study session!
2. Turtle Bay
Although many tourists flock to Turtle Bay for its delicious lunches and dinners, the Caribbean restaurant is also famous for its fresh and hearty brunches.
With reggae beats and a feast of inspired food, Turtle Bay is a taste of the spirit, smiles and magic of the Caribbean. Fire-grilled rotis, sweet fried plantain and scrambled ackee await!
Its colourful, fun atmosphere makes it a great place for a bubbly get-together with friends or family.
3. Brown’s Café
Popular with locals and students, the independent family-owned Brown’s Café – one of Oxford’s oldest cafés – has been serving delicious homemade breakfasts and brunches since 1924!
Based in the middle of the lively Covered Market, with a warm and relaxed atmosphere, it’s the perfect spot to sit and watch the world go by, either with a big breakfast, or a pastry and a cup of tea.
Quick bites and light lunches
With a multitude of cafés and food stalls across the city, you’re never far from a quick bite or light lunch. Here are some of our tried-and-tested favourites:
4. Gloucester Green Market
If you’re looking for a quick pit-stop, Gloucester Green Market offers a variety of different options from different cuisines. The vibrant outdoor street market is located in the centre of the city, and is open from Wednesday to Saturday each week.
With over a hundred stalls to browse, there’s a lot on offer on market days. With hot food – think gyoza and eastern European fried bread! – and fresh fruits, vegetables and baked treats, Gloucester Green is a must-visit.
5. Mission Burrito and Tortilla
For an on-the-go bite while you explore the city, Mission Burrito is located near Cornmarket Street, right in the middle of the city. Selling Mexican burritos, tacos, salads and rice boxes made fresh to order, it’s an ideal grab-and-go option!
Similarly, Tortilla is nearby on Cornmarket Street. Well-known for its delicious, quick and easy Mexican food, Tortilla lets you pick your ingredients, preparing your lunch right in front of you!
6. ItaliAmo Deli
There are two ItaliAmos in Oxford, one on Broad Street and one on the High Street, and both are conveniently placed for a quick lunch in the middle of a busy day.
Popular with students and tourists for their range of authentic Italian foods, ItaliAmo serves pizzas, pastas, and calzones – the perfect light lunch choice! A variety of sandwiches, pastries and cakes are also available.
7. G&D’s Café
G&D’s is best known for its delicious range of homemade ice creams, but it’s also a great lunch spot. With George & Davis on Little Clarendon Street, George & Danver opposite Christ Church, and George & Delila on Cowley Road, you’re bound to come across Oxford’s well-loved ice cream café while exploring.
Serving a range of bagels, waffles, desserts – and cow-themed decor – it’s the perfect place to grab lunch and an ice cream!
8. Sofi de France
Sofi de France offers café dining in the bustling Covered Market. A wonderful spot to sit down for a light lunch, the café offers a range of hot and cold sandwiches, paninis, pastries and cakes.
It’s perfectly situated for a rest in the middle of a busy day, a quick coffee, or a long catch-up with a friend.
9. Georgina’s Café
The Covered Market is also home to Georgina’s Café. Right in the middle of the busy market, the cosy café is an upstairs hideaway from the hustle and bustle, selling authentic Greek food.
The vintage movie poster décor and wooden board plates makes Georgina’s a quirky and charming setting for a delicious range of breakfasts, lunches and cakes.
10. The Opera Café
If you find yourself wandering out of the city centre and into Jericho, look no further than the gorgeous Opera Café for a light lunch or some coffee and cake.
The café brings Mediterranean flavours to Oxford with a menu filled with Egyptian koshari, Moroccan harira soup and homemade baklava, as well as a range of toasties, wraps, soups and salads.
Hearty midday meals
If you’ve built up an appetite on your tour of the city, there are plenty of local eateries offering satisfying meals made from delicious seasonal ingredients.
At Pieminister, you can get a hearty, tasty meal in no time at all – and in one of the Covered Market’s most charming spots!
Pieminster serves a range of different pies, sold by themselves or with a range of sides including peas, mashed potatoes, gravy and onions. If you’re looking for something quick, filling and delicious, then pop into Pieminster for one of their authentic British pies.
Edamame is always extremely busy – and with good reason! Its delicious and authentic Japanese menus offer a range of home-cooked dishes and sushi in a casual and friendly setting.
Edamame cycles between three small menus: a lunch menu, a sushi night menu, and a dinner menu. This means their ingredients and dishes are always as fresh as possible!
A tiny restaurant based on Holywell Street, it’s only a five to ten minute walk from most of Oxford’s central tourist spots.
13. Jude the Obscure
If you’re looking for a traditional pub lunch in Jericho, Jude the Obscure is a gorgeous spot to enjoy a hearty meal. The pub sells big sharing platters, as well as individual burgers, classic pub dishes, and roast dinners on a Sunday.
It’s a great place to go with family or friends, with a welcoming, communal atmosphere, and a heated, dog-friendly outdoor garden!
14. The Rickety Press
The Rickety Press is a charming corner eatery in Jericho, with modern European dining, colourful and cosy décor, and a truly unique rustic feel. With shelves of books on the walls and an old fireplace taking centre stage, The Rickety Press is well worth a trip to North Oxford!
As well as a daily menu of delicious burgers and pizzas, special deals such as “Burger Wednesdays” and “6 Quid Pizza Lunchtimes” are also on offer throughout the week.
Moshi is a traditional Japanese eatery based on Little Clarendon Street. A quaint little restaurant and a favourite amongst locals, Moshi serves a range of foods, like hand-rolled sushi, gyozas, steamed buns, soups and rice boxes.
While grabbing lunch, you can choose to sit outside and watch the world go by, or enjoy a quiet break inside, away from the excitement of the city streets.
16. The Art Café
Heading into Westgate shopping centre, The Art Café is difficult to miss with its yellow painted walls!
The café has an outdoor crepe stand, and an extensive lunch menu inside: with quesadillas, jacket potatoes, soups, salads, bagels and baguettes – there’s something for everyone!
The Art Café’s particularly popular due to its cosy atmosphere and the local artwork decorating the walls. Frequently collaborating with local artists to exhibit Oxford’s creativity, the café is a wonderful hub of community spirit!
There’s something special about Oxford after dark; the city of dreaming spires is filled with a warm glow from cosy, candlelit bistros and restaurants. Here are our top picks for a relaxed evening meal:
Gino’s is a charming family-run Italian restaurant and pizzeria based in Gloucester Green. Its warmly decorated interior, relaxed atmosphere and generous portions make it an ideal spot to enjoy a delicious, down-to-earth meal.
Selling a range of pizza, pasta and risotto, an evening at Gino’s will transport you straight to Italy!
Angrid Thai is also based in Gloucester Green Square, and offers an extensive menu of authentic Thai food including soups, curries, fried rice and stir-fry noodle dishes.
Freshly cooked food, and the option of a specially made vegan sauce for every dish, make for a great spot to recharge and refuel after a busy day – and the food is delicious!
Glut is a quirky American burger restaurant located on George Street, selling “sinfully good food” made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
The restaurant’s speciality lies in its choice of supersized dirty burgers, which include extra cheese, caramelised onions, and their in-house special sauce. They also serve a tasty range of sides and desserts to choose from!
20. Tse Noodle
A hidden gem tucked away in Ship Street, Tse Noodle is a snug little restaurant cooking up delicious Chinese dishes. With a lively communal atmosphere and lots of high-quality dishes, Tse Noodle is a favourite among the student community.
Considered to be some of the best authentic Chinese food in Oxford, it shouldn’t be missed!
21. Pizza Pilgrims
After a busy day in Westgate shopping centre, Pizza Pilgrims is the perfect place to re-energise and re-fuel. With a colourful, rustic and retro atmosphere, situated on a scenic rooftop terrace, it’s the perfect place for a pizza night with friends and family.
Pizza Pilgrims serves a delicious range of pizzas, with authentic Italian ingredients, and unique topping combinations such as sweet-and-salty pepperoni and honey!
Last, but certainly not least, is our favourite spot for a sweet treat in the city centre!
22. Ben’s Cookies
Located in the Covered Market, Ben’s Cookies serves world-famous cookies made from the finest ingredients – including chunks not chips! – and baked on the day.
For a gooey, chewy treat, Ben’s Cookies is a must-visit!
Oxford offers a fantastic range of cafés, restaurants and stalls – whatever you fancy, there’s a perfect spot for you!
By Jessica Mason
Jessica is currently studying a BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, and has a particular interest in Early Modern theatre. She enjoys writing articles and has lots of experience in student journalism.
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