Cornwall has long had a reputation for fantastic food. This far-flung corner of the country has always been popular with holidaymakers in search of a precious bit of British summer, sometimes to the chagrin of Cornish natives. Nowadays, though, tourists don’t just come from far and wide for a sun tan - many are food tourists, jetting their way to Cornwall to tour the county’s top restaurants.
West Country produce is second-to-none - whether it’s fish and seafood from Padstow, Rock or nearby Brixham in Devon, locally grown vegetables, Cornish cheeses, meats and everything in between. Cornwall’s rolling green hills and many rivers and estuaries make it a paradise for great produce, and as a result, chefs from all over the country head down this way to ply their trade, surrounded by some of the best ingredients available. It’s no surprise that trailblazing chefs like Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac, and Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth in Padstow have set up shop here and never left - Cornwall offers a wonderful balance of great lifestyle and great produce.
There was a time not long ago when Cornwall really was the food capital of the country in many ways - Nathan Outlaw’s eponymous two Michelin-starred restaurant was right at the top of its game, and Paul Ainsworth’s Padstow stalwart Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 was also a long-time national treasure. Though Outlaw has since rebooted his flagship restaurant as something slightly more relaxed, he still holds multiple Michelin stars in Cornwall - his two restaurants in Port Isaac are consistently rated amongst the UKs very best.
So, if you’re looking for restaurants with a Michelin star in Cornwall, you’ve come to the right place. Scroll down for the short-but-sweet list of Michelin-starred restaurants in Cornwall, as well as a few spots that have a Michelin Bib Gourmand - awarded to restaurants that are adjudged to be of excellent quality and good value.
Michelin star restaurants in Cornwall
There are currently three Michelin-starred restaurants in Cornwall, run by two legendary British chefs - Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw.
Outlaw's New Road
What: Nathan Outlaw’s eponymous two Michelin-starred flagship was once one of the UKs very best restaurants, but it felt the heavy impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions. As a result, Outlaw rebranded the space at Outlaw’s New Road - the offering is more relaxed than its predecessor, but the food is no less delicious. Lunch and dinner is a seven course set menu - dish titles don’t give much away, but with Outlaw at the helm of the kitchen, you’re in very safe hands.
Where: 6 New Road, Port Isaac, PL29 3SB
Book now: Outlaw's New Road
Outlaw's Fish Kitchen
What: Nathan Outlaw’s second Port Isaac restaurant is slightly more casual than the first, but admittedly since Restaurant Nathan Outlaw became Outlaw’s New Road, there isn’t much to call between these two sites. They both remain very popular - Fish Kitchen is worth a visit for fresh fish and seafood-based cooking from a master, as well as the quaint 15th century fisherman’s cottage that it sits in.
Where: 1 Middle Street, Port Isaac, PL29 3RH
Book now: Outlaw's Fish Kitchen
Paul Ainsworth at No.6
What: Another recognisable face for food TV watchers, Paul Ainsworth has been plying his trade in Cornwall for decades now, and Paul Ainsworth at No.6 is rightly lauded as one of the best restaurants in the country. Ainsworth’s signature playful style comes through in dishes like ‘all of the pigeon, umeboshi condiment, pain au chocolat’, and his famous ‘Fairground Tale’ collection of sweets and petit fours, which is heavy on nostalgia. Head to CiCi’s Bar before or after dinner for a little drink, or check out other Ainsworth establishments in the area like Caffe Rojano and The Mariners pub.
Where: 6 Middle Street, Padstow, PL28 8AP
Book now: Paul Ainsworth at No.6
Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants in Cornwall
Michelin's Bib Gourmand awards were created to recognise great restaurants that didn't reach the standards of a Michelin star, but were offered great food at affordable prices. There are currently four restaurants in Cornwall with Bib Gourmands.
The Sardine Factory
What: A relative newcomer to Cornwall’s restaurant scene, The Sardine Factory is actually chef Benjamin Palmer’s third restaurant in the area - he also runs the Greedy Goose in Plymouth and Glazebrook House on the edge of Dartmoor. At The Sardine Factory, Palmer and team source the freshest fish and seafood they can lay their hands on each day, and create simple, delicious lunch and dinner menus from an industrial-style restaurant that overlooks the Looe River.
Where: Quay Road West, West Looe, PL13 2BX
Book now: The Sardine Factory
The Square at Porthleven
What: The Square at Porthleven serves comforting, brasserie-style dishes has an enviable spot overlooking the picturesque fishing harbour. The comforting, brasserie-style menu makes a great accompaniment to the views, and The Square is a popular place to sit and watch life go by, especially on a sunny day. Dishes revolve largely around fresh fish, seafood and local Cornish produce, but with plenty of international influence - think scallop, tiger prawn and mussel stew with coconut milk, lemongrass, coriander and lime, for example. The Square also make fantastic ice cream, fudge and other treats in-house - don’t miss out on a quality affogato to finish off your meal.
Where: 7 Fore Street, Porthleven, TR13 9HQ
Book now: The Square at Porthleven
What: Porthleven is one of Cornwall’s less-busy seaside villages - it doesn’t attract the same masses as Padstow and St Ives, for example, but many of those that do head to this little fishing harbour do so to visit Kota. Jude Kereama’s exciting menus blend great Cornish produce with unique flavour combinations, resulting in adventurous cooking that has won many fans over the years. Think pork belly with swede dashi, sea vegetables and pork skin furikake, or crispy kataifi wrapped monkfish with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and coconut bisque. The more relaxed Kota Kai is also worth a visit for sharing plates and cocktails!
Where: Harbour Head, Porthleven, TR13 9JA
Book now: Kota Porthleven
Rick Stein's Café
What: Undoubtedly one of British TV’s most recognisable food personalities, Rick Stein's Café is the beginning and end of Cornish food for many people, and thousands flock to Padstow to visit over the summer months. Padstow is home to Stein’s Fish & Chips, Stein’s Deli and Stein’s Coffee Shop, as well as the flagship Seafood Restaurant, ably run by Stein’s son Jack. The Cafe, though, is pleasant and relaxed, with a comforting bistro menu that reflects Stein’s myriad international influences - you’re just as likely to see Thai fish cakes on the menu as a traditional fish and chips.
Where: 10 Middle Street, Padstow, PL28 8BQ
Book now: Rick Stein's Cafe
Planning your ultimate Cornwall food tour? If you're heading to Padstow, take a look at this list of Padstow restaurants and pick out your favourites. Or if you're in need of some guidance, just note down all of the best restaurants in Cornwall and start booking.