Where to Eat in Margate
Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea. And when it comes to places you should, like, be – Margate is a particularly nice place to spend some time à la plage, watching the waves crash on the shore like white horses. It’s also a nice place to have a lovely lunch and dinner while you do that.
Margate is – rightly – a popular holiday destination for those seeking out a bit of sun and sand but I’d argue that it’s just as worthy as a dining destination and a spot where you should go specifically with the intention of eating as much food as humanly possible. Yes, it’s sort of the opposite of taking the train down to show off how great you look in a leopard print swimming cozzie but it’s no less admirable in my eyes.
The food scene here is strong, you see. Very strong. The amount that this town’s culinary offering can bench is especially impressive when you take into account that Margate is not a large place. The fact that the seafront is packed with quality restaurants means that local residents are really spoilt for choice and that holidaymakers are going to need multiple return visits to really see what the Margate food scene is all about.
From classic Italian joints to swish small plate imports from London, Margate has got a wealth of brilliant places to eat and is a location that’s worth the trip for quality seafood no matter how far you live away. These are the pick of the bunch, in my opinion – the best restaurants in Margate. If I’ve missed out your fave Margate gaff, just send me a message and I’ll make sure to check it out the next time I’m in the area. Happy eating.
I’m sure that I’m going to receive a bit of flak for this but most Italian restaurants in the UK aren’t very good. There, I said it. It’s not like there aren’t excellent Italian restaurants out there – quite the contrary, some of the country’s finest establishments specialise in Italian cuisine – but it’s just that there’s simply so many Italian restaurants dotted across the country that a good 90% of them are rubbish. Like Elton John’s discography, there’s much more filler than killer. Bottega Caruso, on the other hand, is a ‘Tiny Dancer’ sort of Italian restaurant. The food here is gimmick-free, strikes a perfect Southern Italian chord, and underlines what you can do with a few simple, well-sourced ingredients. Every plate of pasta at Bottega Caruso is capable of making the hardiest nonna nod her head in approval. Even the freshly made sourdough comes served with oil made by chef Simona de Dio’s Zia Mariagrazia. If that’s not perfezione, then I don’t know what is.
2-4 Broad Street, CT9 1EW
Open on Friday and Saturday at the Tom Thumb Theatre, Dolma Bar is one of Margate’s best-kept secrets. “Balkan food and natural wines by the sea” is the selling point of this freewheeling food concept that sums up everything I love about Margate’s dining scene. Every week, Aleksandar Taralezhkov creates a menu packed with allotment produce, foraged goods, and ingredients sourced from local growers to present the town with a slice of his Balkan heritage. The menu changes weekly (as it is wont to do) but previous dishes have included standouts like kimchi sarma, mussels dolma, and a leek and feta börek that is more than worth the price of your train journey.
2A Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville, CT9 2LB
Seeing as it’s so close to the sea and all, Margate is a town that’s home to some pretty astonishing seafood. While the crustacean-touting competition is fierce, Angela’s is quite likely the best seafood restaurant in the whole of Margate. Angela’s may be small in stature but it’s a giant in terms of performance, serving plate after plate of ethically sourced, immaculately cooked seafood alongside seasonal vegetables that work in harmony with whatever catch of the day the kitchen team has got their hands on. If you want to experience what British cooking is all about, this is the place. Or should that be… plaice? I’ll see myself out.
21 The Parade, CT9 1EX
“Have all beautiful things sad destinies?” That’s a question posed in Jean Rhys’ incendiary novel, Wide Sargasso Sea. I certainly hope that’s not the case with everything in life because it would mean that Sargasso in Margate – a restaurant which is, by every metric imaginable, a beautiful thing – is set to one day face a sad end. Created by the same team behind London’s seminal Brawn, and headed up on the hots by the über talented Marcelo Rodrigues, Sargasso is everything a seaside restaurant should be: calming, clean, and rich with coastal cooking. Dishes like lobster spaghetti and parmesan fritters might sound simple but the sheer thought and careful construction that’s gone into them ensures that they, and just about every plate on the menu, overdeliver. Jean Rhys is right about a lot of things but the future of Sargasso is nothing but bright in my eyes.
Stone Pier, CT9 1AP
Every town needs a great pizzeria and Ralph’s is Margate’s. Naturally leavened sourdough pizzas are the specialty here and whether you’re going for a simple margherita or a more avant-garde ‘Nutty Date’ (which comes topped with chickpea purée, smashed walnuts, dates, mushrooms, rosemary, garlic, sea salt, parmesan, truffle oil, and watercress) you should come out very satisfied. No, it’s not super traditional – Ralph’s is the kind of place that brews their own kombucha – but that’s part of the charm. And even the most dyed in the wool Napolitano will find it hard to disagree that the pizzas here are great. Thin crusts and an airy-as-can-be cornicione? You can’t argue with that.
7A Market Place, CT9 1EN
Hantverk & Found
Hantverk & Found used to be a regular seafood restaurant. That was until head chef Kate de Syllas went on a trip to Japan, trained at the Tokyo Sushi Academy, and returned with an increased desire to provide Margate with a proper Japanese restaurant. The Saturday evening kaiseki menu is a multi-course meal of dishes that balance textures and flavours with whatever’s in season while Friday gives you a chance to tuck into sushi and side dishes served à la carte. Expect nigiri, gunkan and sashimi as well as Izakaya-ish snacks like tempura squid with nanami togarashi. An ambitious restaurant serving ambitious food with an ambitious, natural-leaning wine list.
16, 18 King Street, CT9 1DA
If Angela’s is Margate’s Mary-Kate then Dory’s is its Ashley. As a small seafood bar that overlooks the seafront, Dory’s offers a succinct menu of raw, pickled, cured and baked ocean dwellers. The dishes change depending on the daily catch and the vegetables the team can get from the many small farms they work with but mainstays like the Whitstable rock oysters are always an excellent choice to start. Come here, share as many plates as you can, and leave happy.
24 High Street, CT9 1DS
Cliffs is a *deep breath* cafe, record shop, studio and hair salon in Cliftonville. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Cliffs isn’t that it’s simply all those things but that it’s actually a very good version of all those things. Record heads have told me that it’s a great place to find grailed vinyl but my interests lie in the breakfast, brunch, and lunch offering they do. The bacon sourdough sarnie (which eschews rashers in favour of crispier, juicier lardons) is a supremely good way to start your day. So is most of the menu with the lunchtime salad bowls and wraps not being too shabby either. Cliffs is the sort of place you’ll come for a coffee and crumpets and end up leaving with a deep cut Blondie record. Class.
172 Northdown Road, Cliftonville, CT9 2QN
New Street Bistro
Its name might sound a little generic but the food at New Street Bistro is anything but. Chef-owner Tomas Eriksson has infused Scandinavian cuisine with the best of the local produce to create a menu that’s both totally unique and comfortingly familiar. The cured sea trout with smoked cod’s roe, crème fraîche and dill pickles is a genuine contender for my Desert Island starter. As for the pan-fried sea bass? It’s one of the best-timed pieces of fish you’ll find in Margate. Don’t sleep on New Street Bistro, MOB.
23 New Street, CT9 1EG
Buoy and Oyster
Buoy and Oyster is a family-run restaurant overlooking Margate’s majestic beach. The family in question are Nadine and Simon Morriss – a couple who made it their mission to cut through the noise of disappointing fish restaurants in Margate with an absolute corker. Buoy and Oyster work closely with local fishmongers to ensure the menu vibes with the seasons and that all their fish has been responsibly sourced. The majority of the menu – which features whole local crab and an inventive smoked fish hotdog – comes straight from one of their 18 day boats which fish the waters off of Margate, Whitstable, Ramsgate, Folkestone and Broadstairs. Good people, good food.
44 High Street, CT9 1DS
Will Pitts is a serious barista and Forts is a serious little coffee shop. Located on Cliff Terrace, Forts should be your first pit stop for an expertly made coffee, food, and booze. While Forts is a strictly daytime operation for most of the week, where the waft of cheese toasties is often too hard to resist, on Mondays the joint doesn’t close until 10pm and serves a cracking evening menu. Think sweet potato and spinach croquettes and heaps of other tasty plates.
8 Cliff Terrace, Cliftonville, CT9 1RU
Peter’s Fish Factory
You can’t visit Margate and not get fish and chips. They’ve actually got a police force who goes around every couple of hours making sure you’ve tucked into at least one portion of haddock and vinegar-soaked potatoes. Okay, I totally made that up. But you really shouldn’t visit Margate without having some fish and chips and Peter’s Fish Factory is the best spot for chish and fipping. The fish is always fried fresh and the line outside is a marker of its enduring popularity in a town that’s not exactly lacking in fish and chip merchants. A classic.
12 The Parade, CT9 1EZ
This Creole fish hut isn’t at Margate all the time (it only tends to rear its head during the balmier months of the year) but it’s an absolute must-visit when the shack is open for service. The eponymous po’ boys are the perfect thing for snaffling in the front of the sea with a portion of homemade seaweed salted chips. I challenge anyone to feel anything but contentment and bliss eating that combination on a sunny day.
The Sun deck, Royal Cres Promenade, CT9 5AJ
Barletta is a “moveable restaurant” which you can find both on the rooftop of Margate’s seafront and at the Turner Contemporary. Although Barletta takes its name from a small seaside town in Puglia, the food they serve doesn’t really stick to one cuisine – it’s more of a fluid, culinary offering that showcases bold flavours and (you guessed it) seasonal produce. While dishes like mussel escabeche and smoked salt cod croquettes are par for the course when it comes to seaside eating, Barletta's fried chicken burger is a refreshing change of pace. Make sure to order the anchovies, ricotta, shallot on toast. It’s the perfect bite.
49-50 Marine Terrace, CT9 1XJ