When the sun shines and the beach beckons, most of Britain heeds the call. Instead of following the crowds this summer and settling for sandy sandwiches or naff caffs, up your beach game with some of the best seaside eating in the country. Here are 10 beachside gems from around the UK. 

Words: Nicky Evans

Uk restaurant bar beach cafe food drink

The Beach Café, Holkham, Norfolk

What: When people talk about Norfolk’s big skies, you only have to visit the vastness of Holkham’s breathtaking beach to get the picture. This child-friendly, dog-friendly, wallet-friendly café is a short walk from the beach: eat alfresco on the terrace, pop in for a wedge of homemade cake, or pick up some local delicacies for a picnic.

Where: Beach Road, Wells-next-the-Sea, NR23 1DR

Uk restaurant bar beach cafe food drink

The Beach Hut, Llangrannog, Ceredigion

What: This family-run café and chippie on the Wales Coastal Path has a chic yet convivial vibe – plus unbeatable views of Llangrannog beach (especially beautiful at sunset). Try the battered cod burger with homemade tartare sauce, exotic specials such as Keralan fish curry, or Welsh trademarks such as the rarebit on rye.

Where: Llangrannog, SA44 6SN

Beachhouse Devon restaurant bar

Beachhouse, Devon

What: Sat right on the sands between Thurlestone and Hope Cove, this ramshackle local venture offers unrivalled views of the Devonshire coast, plus lip-smacking seafood dishes best eaten with your hands (it’s that kind of place). Go for the sensational seafood platter, comprising lobster, crab, mussels, prawns and clams; stay for a sundowner.

Where: South Milton, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 3JY

Uk restaurant bar beach cafe food drink

Beachside Grill at Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon

What: The panoramic views of Saunton Sands from the first floor of this modern, airy eatery are simply stunning. Depending on how the British weather treats you, sit out on the terrace or in the spacious, vaulted dining room, and order from lighter dishes such as flavour-packed open sandwiches to more substantial meals like the formidable surf ‘n’ turf.  

Where: Saunton Road, Braunton, EX33 1LQ

Uk restaurant bar beach cafe food drink

Big Beach Café, Brighton

What: DJ Fatboy Slim owns this colourful, down-to-earth beachfront caff, with its arty-surfy vibe, good-quality food and distinctly normal prices. The chef has toured with big music names, but his menu is solidly unstarry – think ham, egg and chips, battered cod with mushy peas, and gourmet burgers. This simplicity, coupled with excellent coffee, keeps locals loyal.   

Where: Lagoon Watersports, Hove Lagoon, Kingsway, Hove, BN3 4LX

The Company Shed restaurant bar seafood

The Company Shed, Essex

What: Locals and tourists alike swamp this no-frills hotspot each weekend, so arrive early and expect to queue for their startlingly fresh shellfish (crab, lobster and oysters are specialities). It’s worth it: staff are super-friendly and the atmosphere couldn’t be more laid back – you bring your own bread, for Chrissakes. Access is tide dependent.

Where: 129 Coast Road, West Mersea, CO5 8PA

East Beach Cafe West Sussex

East Beach Café, West Sussex

What: You can’t miss this iconic beachfront café, whose design has won it as many awards as its equally stand-out food. The stop-and-stare exterior, built to resemble a piece of driftwood, boasts expansive views of the coast. Tuck into salt-and-pepper squid or chilli-flecked prawn and chorizo linguine as you watch the waves.

Where: Sea Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5NZ

Hive Beach Cafe restaurant bar

Hive Beach Café, Dorset

What: The set-up at Hive Beach Café is a simple one – who needs a concept when your backdrop is the picturesque Jurassic Coast? The pricey menu champions locally and sustainably sourced seafood: from crab sarnies to Lyme Bay hake and potato curry to seafood platters, there’s something to sustain every type of beach body.

Where: Beach Road, Burton Bradstock, DT6 4RF

St Ives Beach cafe

Porthminster Beach Café, Cornwall

What: This award-winning establishment sits right on the sands of Porthminster beach. It’s a smart place – more River Café than Bab’s Caff – so be sure to book. Treasures on the upmarket menu include local oysters or creamy cod roe smeared over freshly baked bread, followed by Cornish lobster or sourdough-crumbed fish with herbed chips.

Where: Portminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2EB

Uk restaurant bar beach cafe food drink

The Ship Inn, Northumberland

What: This homely, whitewashed pub deserves a shout-out for its gorgeous beachside location and simply cooked dishes. It’s so close to the sea that not-to-be-missed Newton Bay lobsters are delivered straight to the pub’s back door in season by the man who caught them. Perfect for a pint with a view or a post-prandial seaside stroll.

Where: Farm Road, Low Newton-by-the-Sea, Alnwick, NE66 3EL

Looking for more UK restaurant inspiration? Check out our list of the 100 best restaurants the length and breadth of the country, as chosen by SquareMeal’s readers and team of critics. 

This article was published 7 July 2017