I love Devon, and I’m so glad that we moved our family back here 5 years ago, just before my 2nd daughter was born. I wanted my girls to have the same childhood experiences that I did, summers spent on the beach, swimming in the sea, and surrounded by beautiful countryside. I had lived in London since leaving university, and as much as I loved it, it’s not where I envisaged my children growing up.
One of the things that I loved about living in London (and still love when I visit) is just the amazing choice of cuisines, restaurants, street food and markets everywhere- you are overwhelmed by fantastic choices. I wanted to share my favourite discoveries so far in Devon, as I think the best way to discover great food and hidden gems is to follow recommendations. So here are my favourite spots in Devon for eating out!
Cafe Alf-Resco, Dartmouth: Dartmouth is a gorgeous town for a wander, it’s so pretty, has some really lovely shops (I love the Dartmouth Bookseller), and is a lovely place to sit and watch the boats go up and down the river Dart. I also had the best bacon sandwich of my life in Dartmouth, and it was at Cafe Alf Resco, a cute and quirky cafe tucked away in one corner of the town. All the other breakfasts looked great, and my daughter had a very delicious milkshake, but that bacon sandwich was a dream come true, and I can’t wait to go back!
The Almond Thief, Dartington: The sourdough bread here is to-die for! even if you go and just have toast and marmalade, you won’t go away disappointed! But there are always just a few things on the (beautifully designed) menu, and the poached eggs on toast, served with different ingredients daily ( I had a lovely wild garlic version) are spot on. The coffee is great. It can get very busy, and the wait for food can be long and unapologetic, but if you aren’t in a hurry the food is fantastic. Also, you can’t leave without taking away one of the dark chocolate cookies, they are dreamy!
RedPod Foods pop-up, The Clay Factory, Ivybridge: A pop-up cafe based at The Clay Factory, just outside Ivybridge, RedPod Food provides delicious, plant-based lunches at a very cool, converted clay factory. No-frills and no-fuss surroundings host the cafe, which provides delicious, vegan lunches and cakes. The food is fantastic value, and the chef, William, has such a flair for creating amazing tasting dishes with local, seasonal ingredients. RedPod Food is part of a social enterprise, and all profits go to the Eddystone Trust. Pop along on a Wednesday, or a Friday lunchtime to try it out!
The Green Table cafe, Dartington: The Dartington Estate is one of my favourite places to visit, it has beautiful gardens open to the public at Dartington Hall, lovely walks around the deer park, and a great little play park for kids, so I was so pleased when this fantastic cafe opened up! It’s spacious and stylish (in a relaxed and welcoming way), it does some great cakes and coffee if you are popping in for elevensies, and fantastic salads, paninis and specials if you are there for lunch. I had an absolutely gorgeous steak panini with garlic mayonnaise on one visit, and a delicious chicken with sherry and olives on another. It’s a real gem for Dartington!
The Riverford Field Kitchen: We have celebrated many special occasions here, as it’s perfect for big groups. A fantastic building located in amongst Riverford’s organic fields, it offers communal tables, with a set menu which changes daily (£23.50pp). You don’t get to pick the food, but we have had consistently brilliant meals there over the years. Usually there is a main of meat, with lots of imaginative and mouth-watering vegetable side dishes, each holding their own and delicious in their own right. I would say although it’s very child-friendly in terms of space, we didn’t find the kids menu great value for our children (£11.75)- they eat the same food as the adults and our children found it a bit too out there in terms of flavours, dressings and chilli content. The puddings are something else too- so much selection that it is very hard to choose!
Jano’s, Totnes: Totnes is a pretty, and interesting town to visit with lots of great shops, and Jano’s is an Italian Deli, where the pasta is made fresh daily, and which focuses on quality, artisan Italian ingredients. I had a delicious fresh spaghetti, with prawns and a light & creamy lemon sauce when I visited, but I could happily have chosen anything from the menu- I adore Italian food and this is an authentic Italian experience. The bellini was also delicious!
Glazebrook House Hotel, South Brent: Glazebrook House was recently named Best Boutique Hotel in the country at the VisitEngland Excellence Awards. Its a cool, quirky but luxurious hotel based in a tranquil and beautiful area. We have visited the restaurant twice for the set lunch menu (brilliant value: 2 courses for £16, or 3 courses for £20), It’s just 5 minutes from where we live, and we feel very lucky to have it on our doorstep! The first time we ate there (May 2017) the food was incredible- using really interesting techniques and really carefully thought through. The 2nd time (May 2018), we didn’t feel that the food lived up to our first visit, but it was still a lovely, and great value meal.
The home of dreamy, wood-fired pizza- this sits in a holiday park with stunning views over the sea. The pizza is delicious, the prices very reasonable, the restaurant is a lovely, carefully thought out space, and the setting is just beautiful. We sat outside on a cold but sunny January day on the lovely terrace overlooking the sea and had a really gorgeous meal.
Fish and chips:
Rockfish, Brixham: Rockfish is right on the harbour at Brixham, it sits above where the fishing boats dock, and it is just an indescribably beautiful setting. Not only is it pretty wonderful to be able to watch the fish that you are about to eat being landed, the restaurant sits up high, looking out at the harbour and the bay. Rockfish is probably the restaurant that we have re-visited the most, and there are a few reasons for this:
1. The fish and chips are consistently the best I have ever had. Beautifully, crisp and non-greasy fish, and really perfect chips. They will also give you free top-ups of chips if you run out too soon! If you are trying to be a little bit healthy, you can ask for grilled fish without the batter.
2. It’s so child-friendly! Rockfish provide an absolutely stellar entertainment pack for kids on arrival- stickers, colouring, a wallet and fish trivia cards keep the kids happy for hours on end, alongside a tablecloth that they can colour in as you eat, and of course, awesome fish and chips! The ice-cream for pudding is also delicious, and comes with a cheeky little prawn sweetie as a garnish!
3. The location at Brixham is particularly stunning, but we have also visited the Torquay, Plymouth and Dartmouth branches which are also in idyllic locations.
Scoff’s, Paignton: Honestly, is anything better than sitting by the sea eating fish and chips?! It’s always been one of my favourite treats. For perfect chips-on-the-beach scenario, you have to try Scoff’s in Paignton- they don’t have a website, or social media accounts as far as I can work out, but they are based at 23 Torbay Road (the road that runs down the middle of Paignton to the seafront), and their chips are flipping amazing! They are a distinctive bright yellow colour- they have a secret recipe which I haven’t been able to decipher- you’ll know they are there because there is always a long queue, and often someone handing out samples at the front (because once you have tried one you can’t resist getting a portion!). Carry them down to the beach and enjoy them sitting on the beach wall. Perfection! (Watch out for the seagulls though!)
Places that I haven’t yet visited, but are on my list to try:
Meat59 Torquay: I hear that the burgers here are superb!
East in the West, Paignton: Authentic Indian cuisine, this comes very highly recommended by my Dad!
The Green Leaf Cafe, Torquay: Serving breakfast and lunches catering for vegetarians, vegans, and coeliacs, the food looks and sounds delicious and I’m dying to try it!
Broadsands Bistro: At the time of writing, this isn’t open yet, but I grew up at Broadsands which is a beautiful, family-friendly beach- the beach cafe was always a terrible eyesore but it’s currently being renovated, and I have very high hopes for some great offerings in a gorgeous setting when it does open!
One of the best sources for information about Devon is our fantastic blogging community, so I asked my blogger friends for their particular recommendations, and here they are!
- Karen at The Next Best Thing to Mummy recommends Tea by the Taw and Fremington Quay in Barnstaple for amazing, homemade cakes. Karen also recommends The Ilfracombe Fryer in Ilfacombe for fantastic fish and chips.
- Kara, who blogs at Chelsea Mama recommends The River Cottage Deli in Axminster: ‘The roast dinners are amazing, and the rest of the menu is delicious too!’
- Karen at The White Approach recommends the ‘lovely and well-priced’ Green Leaf Cafe in Torquay (already on my list!). She also highly recommends The Glorious Art House in Exeter (there’s a fab review here on Exploring Exeter) as they have ‘great staff, great exhibitions, amazing quirky decor and lovely food and drink’.
- Hannie at Devon Daze recommends Powder Mills Pottery cafe for their fabulous cream tea- read her review here: it looks fantastic!
- Hayley at Devon Mama sings the praises of Darts Farm in Topsham: ‘Ignoring the amazing cake selection, they do the best breakfasts. Even better, there’s an incredibly tempting food hall and lots of lovely shops to peruse afterwards, you can even hire a bike there to burn off your breakfast on the footpath down toward Exmouth. ‘ She also recommends ‘The Hideaway at the end of Seaton Seafront is a bit of a hidden gem as well. They do homemade tarts, salads and cakes that are all a little different but delicious. In the summer you can sit outside on the promenade and soak up the sun, but my favourite is on a stormy day when you can hide inside and watch the waves.’ (Great review of it here from Clare at Flip Flops or Wellies)
- Stephanie at Exploring Exeter suggest La Petite Bouchee in Exeter: ‘wonderful, intimate dining experience with a carefully curated menu and a minimum waste approach – you order before you go and the food is bought and cooked based on the order.’ Stephanie also rates Vitamin Sea in Cullompton (there’s a great review here on Dining Devon). Also ‘South St standard in Exeter – amazing for all eats but we love the brekkie there especially vegan fry up & butter milk pancakes’
- Gina at Gypsy Soul loves Ullacombe Farm Cafe near Bovey Tracey as it’s family-friendly with good food. There’s a review here on Devon Daze.
- Jo who blogs at Organised Jo says that ‘Cantina next to the beach in Goodrington is amazing. I’ve only eaten lunch, and lots of cake, from there but their menu for breakfast, lunch & dinner looks scrumptious. It’s also really family friendly with lots of board games & dogs are welcome too. They also put on loads of music events at the weekend.’
- Rachel at Scrapbook Adventures let me know her two favourite spots for a fantastic cream tea: The Bedford in Tavistock, and The Thurlestone Hotel.
- Jade at The Parenting Jungle says that both Herbie’s vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Exeter, and Boringdon Hall near Plymouth have fantastic food.
- Clare at Flip Flops or Wellies has written a review here of Boston Tea Party in Honiton for breakfast, brunch, lunch or coffee and cake!
Wow, so much more to explore and try in Devon. If you have any favourite places to eat, or suggestions for hidden gems I’d love to hear about them!