Situated on Cornwall’s North coast, Padstow stands out as a culinary hotspot. Renowned for its top-notch seafood, the seaside town offers a blend of hearty traditional fare and fine dining options.
Located at the mouth of the Camel Estuary on the North coast of Cornwall, Padstow — once home to Sir Walter Raleigh and numerous shipyards — is a centuries-old port town with a rich history. Today, it retains its status as a fishing port, but over the past twenty years it’s also become a focal point for the British culinary world, boasting various celebrity chefs and their eateries and, more recently, a burgeoning scene of microbreweries and brunch spots. Rick Stein, Padstow’s most celebrated chef, arrived in the 1970s with a zeal for local seafood and crafting homely, flavourful dishes. His ventures, including multiple restaurants, TV series, and cookbooks, have bestowed the moniker ‘Padstein’ upon the town and significantly boosted its appeal to tourists and food enthusiasts, with many independent boutiques and galleries also springing up. The town could have become a microcosm of metropolitan London, were it not for the kitsch fudge shops, unspoiled beaches and toy stores filled with buckets and spades that mean it retains its unique charm. When it comes to food, Padstow excels in both hearty traditional fare and fine dining options, plus there is top-notch seafood to suit almost any budget.
The Cornish Pasty Co.
Pasties are perhaps Cornwall’s most famous food, said to date back to the 13th century. They gained widespread popularity in the 19th century, especially among Cornish tin miners, offering practicality with the thick crimped edge serving as a handle for arsenic-covered hands. In Padstow, where pasty options abound, the Cornish Pasty Co. stands out for its lovingly cooked fillings, buttery, super short pastry, and reasonable prices. Don’t expect extravagance—the shop’s interior is no-frills, and sitting in isn’t an option, so you’ll have to do what the locals do and wander around with your pasty as you window shop through the cobblestone streets. The menu is straightforward, featuring the traditional pasty with thickly cut, tender braised beef, swede, onions, potatoes and generously seasoned with plenty of black pepper. Vegetarian alternatives include options with portobello mushrooms or a creamy and sharp cheddar cheese and onion option that rivals its meaty counterpart.
3 Market Place, PL28 8AL
Prawn on the Lawn
The first Prawn on the Lawn seafood restaurant opened its doors in Islington, London in 2013, and the Padstow branch followed two years later. Swiftly earning a spot in the Michelin Guide, it was commended for its creative and fresh cooking, with an acknowledgment of its fairly high pricing. While it continues to be one of Padstow’s more expensive dining spots, Prawn on the Lawn is neither flashy nor overly trendy. The cuisine is simple yet well prepared, featuring shellfish and oysters from Rock Bay, and fresh daily catches from nearby George Cleave Fishmongers. This commitment to locality extends to the drinks, with beers sourced from a microbrewery on Padstow’s outskirts and wine from Trevibban Mill Vineyard, also in Padstow. The daily changing menu strikes a happy balance between classical, crowd-pleasing options like moules marinière with fries, and more playful dishes such as deep-fried oysters with rich garlic crème fraîche or gurnard ceviche with a hint of ras el hanout.
11 Duke St, PL28 8AB
The Old Ship Hotel
The Old Ship Hotel doesn’t have any bells and whistles and doesn’t particularly need them. True to its name, it’s a classic, family-run pub and hotel with generous outdoor seating —ideal for basking in the sun or cosying around the heaters during cooler months. The terrace is always bustling with families, dogs, kids with buckets and spades, and cheerful holidaymakers engaging in lively conversations. Food is straightforward and hearty — fresh fish, rump steaks, burgers, and wraps—with many customers sticking to ordering a round (or two) of their piping hot chips to share, an ideal accompaniment to a pint. The drink of choice for most is Doom Bar—an amber ale brewed in Rock, just across the water from Padstow, accessible by a charming ferry ride.
Mill Square, Padstow PL28 8AE
Stein’s Fish & Chips
What’s a Padstow food guide without a mention of its culinary icon, Rick Stein? The renowned celebrity chef and restaurateur, celebrated for his excellent fish cookery, has played a pivotal role in elevating Padstow’s food scene over the years. He may have faced recent criticism for his prices, including a two-pound charge for condiments at his quayside fish and chips joint (one of four of Stein’s Padstow establishments), but a visit here is a justified indulgence, thanks to quality ingredients and luxurious touches. His fish and chips are about as good as they get — crispy, never-greasy batter, fried in umami-rich beef dripping, accompanied with thick, fluffy chips, complemented by a sharp tartare sauce loaded with cornichons. You can opt for a takeaway and sit on a bench on the quayside or dine inside the bustling chippie (just note that seating can be a challenge).
Unit 1 S Quay, PL28 8BL
The London Inn
Originally constructed in 1803 as a fisherman’s cottage, the London Inn evokes its maritime past with seaside paraphernalia decorating the walls and a seafood-centred menu. With low ceilings, a welcoming fireplace, and comforting dishes like fish cakes with poached eggs, goujon sandwiches, and sticky toffee pudding, it maintains a traditional and homely atmosphere. The pub offers a diverse selection of cask ales, including local choices from the famous St Austell Brewery. On Sundays, patrons can enjoy live music and roast dinners.
6-8 Lanadwell St, PL28 8AN
Café Rojano, owned by Paul Ainsworth (another celebrity chef and restaurateur who’s found his home in the region), is a modern and stylish restaurant celebrating Mediterranean cuisine. The covered glass veranda, mahogany dining furniture, and moody lighting create a swish atmosphere, but the emphasis here is on simple food with flavour taking center stage. The restaurant warmly welcomes families, with plenty of space for pushchairs and a ‘bambini’ menu with a range of options. Thin and chewy Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the spotlight, but the appetisers are equally impressive. From crispy Sicilian arancini to fresh boquerones with chili, lemon, and parsley, and sweet and sour chicken wings, the menu is vibrant and varied. There’s meticulous attention to detail (as one would expect of a Michelin-starred chef) — from the glorious ‘crust dippers’ that accompany the pizzas, to the three types of mustard in the mayo. Round off your dining experience with indulgent desserts, such as chocolate brownies paired with brown butter ice cream and roasted peanuts — a perfect prelude to a leisurely stroll across the beach.
9 Mill Square, PL28 8AE
St. Petroc’s Bistro
A short walk uphill from Padstow Harbour, St Petroc’s is Rick Stein’s French-style bistro and boutique hotel. As with Stein’s other establishments, the decor nods to the restaurant’s coastal surroundings, featuring ship paintings and marine blue furnishings. Inside, it balances a light airiness — thanks to high ceilings and large windows — with snug reading nooks and a roaring fire. The menu naturally leans towards fish, with options such as sea bass fillet with a beurre blanc sauce and colourful bouillabaisse with parmesan croutons, alongside other French classics like steak frites and chicken parmentier. While options for vegetarians are modest (usually just one dish), the desserts are noteworthy and grownup —a sultry chocolate pavé, delicately set, a tart lemon posset, and an affogato served with a generous pouring of Frangelico liqueur. Prices aren’t cheap, but good set lunch deals are available throughout the week.
4 New St, PL28 8EA
You can’t explore Padstow without stumbling upon Musselbox, situated on the quay inside a glass courtyard dining room that offers beautiful views of the harbour. Mussels, sourced from the Padstow estuary, take center stage. There are classic moules marinière (with parsley, garlic, white wine, and a touch of cream) alongside less traditional renditions flavoured with chilli, tapenade or even curry, all served with skinny fries (made in-house and pleasingly salty). Beyond mussels, there are other noteworthy dishes including a plateful of oozy Cornish cheese croquettes and a classic Sunday roast menu featuring locally-sourced meat. For early visitors, the breakfast menu is simple but plenty tasty, featuring various egg dishes, full breakfasts, and bloomer breakfast sandwiches.
The Drang, 11 Broad St, PL28 8BS
Roskilly’s Ice Cream
Posh gelato and avant-garde ice cream flavours may have their place, but there’s a certain allure to the simplicity and nostalgia of Roskilly’s offerings, each adorned with a (admittedly slightly stale) flake. Right on the quay, a perpetual queue winds out from this old-fashioned stone walled ice cream shop, where customers dutifully duck their heads and squeeze under the weathered door upon entry. Milk and cream are sourced from Roskilly’s Jersey herd, which graze and thrive on a working farm in the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall. The result is ice cream that’s fresh, rich, and smooth. Opt for a clotted cream vanilla cone and keep an eye out for any opportunistic seagulls as you wander around the harbour.
S Quay, PL28 8BL
Paul Ainsworth at No.6
If you’re seeking a fine dining experience in Padstow, Paul Ainsworth’s Michelin-starred flagship restaurant, No.6, is an excellent choice. Housed in an elegant white Georgian Townhouse in the heart of Padstow, the restaurant celebrates British ingredients. Upstairs, Ci Ci’s Bar offers a decadent setting for pre-dinner aperitifs or a few pintxos snacks, such as tempura crab stick dressed with soy and ginger and fabulous cheese scones. Descend to the smart and intimate dining room, furnished with leather booths and a beautiful skylight, where the concise set menu, featuring only two choices per course, rotates frequently based on seasonal and daily availability. Expect visually stunning plates that appeal primarily to meat/fish enthusiasts, showcasing unique local ingredients like eel, pigeon, and wild red prawns. While the dishes appear simple, the flavours are complex and intriguing — game dishes paired with black cardamom and salted plum compote, or a chocolate-based dessert topped with a cep (mushroom) caramel. Don’t leave without sampling the brown butter madeleines. No.6 strikes a perfect balance between excitement and sophistication and the top-notch service befits its Michelin-star status, making it an ideal place for a celebration.
6 Middle St, PL28 8AP