Best restaurants in Essex

Steeped in history and within travelling distance of London, this scenic county is a popular spot with commuters and those who want a taste of countryside living. Whether you’re looking for a countryside pub or a classic bit of Essex glamour, our pick of the best restaurants in Essex is sure to have something that takes your fancy.

Updated on 18 July 2023

In the last few decades or so, Essex has been put on the map not just due to reality TV and outdated stereotypes, but also thanks to its developing culinary scene. Nowadays, Essex has quite the reputation as a foodie hub, and the best places to eat in Essex include everything from cosy gastropubs, farm-to-table restaurants and glitzy fine-diners. The ever growing list of restaurants in Essex boasts a great variety of choice, whether you are looking to splash some cash on a lavish dinner out or would prefer an authentic taste of global cuisine in a more laid back setting.

Fancy a taste of the high-life? You’re probably best off visiting the likes of Brentwood and Chigwell, where glamorous restaurants are ten-a-penny and the likes of Wagyu beef and lobster frequent the menus (as well as plenty of opportunities for Instagram content). Or head to Tendring or Tilbury for a more budget friendly meal out.

If you are more interested in the Essex of old, head further out where you will find cosy pubs complete with roaring fires that serve hearty dinners and Sunday lunches. Why not make a weekend of it and opt for a restaurant/hotel for a spot of luxury?

Whatever kind of dining experience you’re after, our pick of the best restaurants in Essex will have something that you’re looking for. So, get started by browsing our definitive list of the best places to eat in Essex. If you're planning on visiting Essex or are a local looking to mix up your regular spots, why not have a look at our total rundown of British restaurants in Essex for a properly traditional affair.

Smith’s Ongar

Smith’s Ongar

Fyfield Road, Ongar, Essex, CM5 0AL

Having originally opened its doors in 1958, this Essex old-timer is still going strong thanks to its excellent seafood menu and friendly service. On warmer days, the terrace is a charming spot for dining alfresco.
£50 - £79
British
Fish
The Queens Head Fyfield

The Queens Head Fyfield

Queens Street, Ongar, Essex, CM5 0RY

15th century pub The Queen’s Head serves up modern pub grub with the occasional international influence. In the summer, head out to the garden, while the real log fire will keep you warm in winter.
£30 - £49
British
Gastropub
Milsoms

Milsoms

Stratford Road, Dedham, Essex, CO7 6HW

Unlike most country-house restaurants, Milsoms is an emphatically casual affair, with no bookings or dress code. The food is far from simple however, with dishes including slow-cooked lamb shank and Keralan cauliflower and potato curry.
£30 - £49
International
The Cricketers - Saffron Walden

The Cricketers - Saffron Walden

Whyken Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4QT

Owned by Jamie Oliver’s parents, this rustic country pub with rooms serves the hearty likes of steak and ale pie and treacle tart. It also benefits from being surrounded by country walks and cycle routes.
£30 - £49
Modern European
British
Aurum Restaurant

Aurum Restaurant

The Seven Hotel, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1DT

A weekly changing menu of internationally-inspired dishes should be enough to tempt you to Aurum. If it’s not though, perhaps the promise of afternoon tea or the restaurant’s collection of 30-plus gins will do the trick.
£30 - £49
British
Afternoon tea
The Flitch of Bacon

The Flitch of Bacon

The Street, Little Dunmow, Essex, CM6 3HT

This warm and welcoming Little Dunmow serves up comforting, seasonal British fare, with most of the produce sourced from the local area. There are rooms too, so you can enjoy a proper dinner and collapse into a bed afterwards without arguing over a designated driver.

£50 - £79
British
Gastropub
Tudors Restaurant at Marygreen Manor Hotel

Tudors Restaurant at Marygreen Manor Hotel

Marygreen Manor Hotel London Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 4NS

Part of Mary Green Manor, Tudors is a historical restaurant dating back to the 16th century. The menu is just as traditional, featuring the tempting likes of guinea fowl terrine and venison with beetroot purée.
£30 - £49
British
Afternoon tea
The Sun Inn

The Sun Inn

High Street, Unknown, Essex, CO7 6DF

Seasonal and locally grown is the aim of the game at cosy The Sun Inn. The vision is realised in dishes such as confit pork belly with date jam, and chicken breast from Merrifield farm.
£30 - £49
Gastropub
Tom Dick and Harrys

Tom Dick and Harrys

153 High Road, Loughton, Essex, IG10 4LF

Welcoming every type of diner and serving every kind of meal (hence the name), this casual spot specialises in dishes from around the world. Visit for dinner, brunch or Sunday roasts, with friendly service guaranteed.
£30 - £49
Modern European
International
Aspera Benfleet

Aspera Benfleet

130 London Road, Essex, SS7 5SQ

Found in Benfleet, Aspera is a smart Mediterranean grill, offering a warm welcome to anyone who comes through the door. The wide-ranging menu spans chicken and lamb shish, alongside seafood, steaks and considered veggie options.
£30 - £49
Turkish
Aroma Indian Restaurant

Aroma Indian Restaurant

55 High Street, Romford, Essex, RM1 1JL

Two decades on and Aroma is still pulling in the punters. Diners praise the friendly service, but we’re most tempted by the chef’s specialities, which include butter chicken tikka and tandoori lamb spiced with ginger.
£30 - £49
Indian
The Bull Brentwood

The Bull Brentwood

13 Brook Street, Essex, CM14 5LZ

The Bull is one of Brentwood’s most popular pubs, with a rustic feel. The menu matches the cosy vibes, with hearty dishes to choose from including steak and Guinness pie, and 28-day aged beef burgers.
£30 - £49
Pubs
Galvin Green Man

Galvin Green Man

Main Road, Howe Street, Great Waltham, Essex, CM3 1BG

The Galvin Brothers have returned to their roots with this cosy pub and restaurant. Expect modern British fare, including Scotch eggs with pickled walnuts and a beef burger topped with smoked cheddar and crispy bacon.
£30 - £49
British
The Magic Mushroom

The Magic Mushroom

Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD

Found in Billericay (home to Gavin, Stacey and the gang), The Magic Mushroom is known for serving relaxed modern pub grub. Try something different with the pakora battered seabass or keep things simple with steak.
£50 - £79
British
Pig & Whistle Restaurant

Pig & Whistle Restaurant

Pig & Whistle, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 4SZ

Taking up residence in a 16th-century pub, the Pig & Whistle is all about homely dishes cooked to perfection. The candle-lit space is rather romantic too, while afternoon tea and Sunday roasts are further draws.
£30 - £49
Modern European
British
The Bell Inn - Stanford-le-Hope

The Bell Inn - Stanford-le-Hope

High Road, Horndon-on-the-Hill, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, SS17 8LD

The Bell Inn has been run by the same family for over 75 years. The daily-changing menu hones in on seafood and classic puddings, while open fires and original beams add to the cosy feel.
£30 - £49
Gastropub
Kingsford Park at Bannatyne Colchester

Kingsford Park at Bannatyne Colchester

Layer Road, Essex, CO2 0HS

Part of Bannatyne Colchester spa, Kingsford Park is a smart restaurant which majors in British comfort food, making use of seasonal ingredients. Menu highlights include warming soups and steak, while there’s plenty for vegetarians too.
£50 - £79
Modern European
The Grill Room at Down Hall

The Grill Room at Down Hall

Down Hall, Matching Road, Hatfield Heath, Hertfordshire, CM22 7AS

Flooded with natural light, The Grill Room serves a contemporary British menu featuring goat’s cheese soufflé and roast turkey. Aside from the à la carte, there’s also a classic afternoon tea and an indulgent Sunday lunch.
£50 - £79
Modern European
Rose & Crown - Saffron Walden

Rose & Crown - Saffron Walden

Crown Hill, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 2HA

Weekly quizzes and local ales show the Rose & Crown is a village boozer, but it’s the Sunday lunch that’s the main draw for us. Choose one of three meats, before loading your plate with trimmings.
Under £30
Pubs
The Willow Room

The Willow Room

2 Maldon Road, Maldon, Essex, CM9 8NH

Named after the ancient willow on its grounds, The Willow Room serves an ingredient-led menu which uses produce from local suppliers. Top orders include the beer-battered fish of the day and the sticky toffee pudding.
£50 - £79
British

Still hungry for more? If you've not found that perfect fit, venture into the capital and check out all of the best restaurants in London, where you are bound to find something right for you. If you have a special occasion coming up, browse through the capital’s many private dining rooms in our directory of private dining rooms in London, and find a place for you and your guests can enjoy an evening of true luxury.

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