Our regularly updated top ten favourite places to eat in Oxford. There are some obvious choices in here and some less obvious but we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.
They’re in no particular order, just places where we know you can get consistently good food and they will change as we discover new places or rediscover old. There’s food for when you want to scoff and food for when you require more of a fine dining experience. But they’re all good.
Let us know what you think and if there’s somewhere you think should be on here, tell us and we’ll listen. We may not agree, but we’ll listen!
December 2017 Edition
There’s been a lot of movement in the Oxford restaurant scene lately and after a particularly good lunch, we have finally agreed on our current Top Ten. As mentioned above, this is not an exhaustive list, there are many more great places to eat and you should totally go and try as many places as possible to get your own favourites.
- The Old Parsonage – one for a proper posh night out, a gorgeous setting with a modern British and European menu. Definitely immerses you in an Oxford ambience. Save room for the creme brulee dessert – it’s amazing!
- Oli’s Thai absolutely consistently deserves to be on here. We’d love for it to be bigger and be able to book for whenever we fancied it but that’s all part of its elusive charm! We love the crispy chickpeas, papaya salad, beef soup, sweetcorn fritters, tamarind prawns – literally everything on the short but sweet menu. We’d also recommend that if you really want a table, turn up at the start of service and be willing to take a bar seat. If you’re too late, then we also recommend going next door to Hyper Ramen.
- Pizza Pilgrims are the new kids on the shiny new Westgate block. One of the best pizzas we’ve ever had outside of Italy. Wood-fired, billowy dough with quality toppings and they don’t leave you so full that you can’t move. Which practically makes it a healthy dinner, right?!
- The White Hart is one of two restaurants ever to achieve a nine in the Bitten scores. A traditional country pub with excellent beers (they just won an award for this) and a roast dinner that is as good, if not better, than our home cooked ones. New chef Martin Sheriff is doing some very exciting and inventive dishes whilst staying true to the pub’s roots.
- Cafe Orient is a new addition and one that we regularly go back to for both dining in and takeaways. Authentic, flavoursome and so much to choose from. Spicy, melt in the mouth aubergine, chilli fish, dry fried green beans with pork are always on our orders!
- Pierre Victoire – date night regular for one Mr and Mrs Bitten, the other Mr and Mrs Bitten have been together too long and are there just for the food rather than the romance! The closest thing to a traditional French bistro in Oxford, expect snails, moules, duck and steak. Sacre Bleu, the steak!
- Oxford’s Grill if you’ve been here you know why this deserves to be on the list. Simple, home-cooked Mediterranean food and lots of it at a very good price.
- The Porterhouse another new addition to Oxford’s restaurant scene, this one is heavy on the steak and it’s some of the best steak we’ve ever had. Their menu allows you to select by cut and by weight so you can be as greedy as you like. Have the bone marrow starter or potted shrimp too!
- Sticks N Sushi another new Westgate resident, and one that so far we’ve only tried in their preview sessions. Upmarket and occasion dining with a huge and glamorous menu. Go with friends so you can order as many dishes as possible. And dress up a little, it’s fancy!
- The Chester we managed to wean ourselves away from the steak platter and can now recommend the Sunday roast, the fish and chips, the cooked breakfast and an impressive range of vegetarian dishes. They have a fantastic range of beers, sausage rolls on the bar and a toe-curlingly happy creme brulee.
Bubbling under: Not quite making it into the top ten and trust me, there was blood spilt as we debated these, but deserving of a mention are the following.
- Franco Manca be prepared to queue for these wood-fired pizzas but worth it. Great flavours, amazing burrata but not quite the all box ticking levels of Pizza Pilgrims for us
- Comptoir Libanais we’ll definitely be returning to this Middle Eastern restaurant very soon.
- Taberu our go-to for takeaway sushi and spicy seafood udon
- Pint Shop Scotch eggs! If you want more then head downstairs where you’ll find a hidden slice of foody heaven – steak with French Onion butter or those flamed lamb chops. Spend time perusing their extensive list of gins.
- Rusty Bike excellent chips, excellent sourdough pizzas, great comfy and relaxed vibe but can be hard to get a table. A proper local but with well above average grub.
- Zheng not cheap but definitely one of the best Chinese restaurants and takeaways around.
- Magdalen Arms still good, still worth a visit as it’s possibly the best-known gastropub in Oxford.
June 2016 Edition
We haven’t updated our best Oxford restaurants list for a while, partly due to there being so much going on elsewhere and partly down to some good old heated discussions about who should remain, who should go and who should be added. Unlike the EU referendum though this isn’t a democracy and so our decision is final. Ish!
So in no particular order, here are our current favourite places to eat in Oxford.
- The Chester Home of the famous steak platter and according to Jacqui, one of the best roasts in Oxford. An evolving seasonal menu that’s an entire staircase up from your usual pub grub. Save room for pudding. And possibly a sausage roll to take home (for lunch the next day, obviously!)
- White Hart, Wytham Run by Baz, he who totally revitalised St Giles Cafe (passed into new hands now) and has now brought a lacklustre country pub back to sparkling life. The menu focusses on local and seasonal produce, an epic Sunday dinner and a new Argentine Asado grill for al fresco steakage.
- My Sichuan Currently our favourite Chinese, although we are still working on tasting them all! Full of punchy flavours, lip tingling and fragrant Sichuan peppers, but mix your dishes. Don’t make our mistake and order all chilli-based dishes! Strongly recommend the house speciality fish – cubes of white fish in a clear broth with LOTS of chilli and peppers. Toe-curlingly good.
- Oli’s Thai I finally managed to get a table! And by God, it was worth it. Who cares if you have to spend days on the phone at those extremely specific times and then get a table in four months time when the food is really that good. Handy tip, book your next visit whilst you’re there because it’s guaranteed you will want to go back.
- Magdalen Arms Some discussion on this one. It’s good. Sometimes it’s excellent and sometimes it’s just not quite there. It is always inventive and different – for example, just yesterday we had Southern fried buttermilk rabbit with possibly the best coleslaw ever.
- Oxford’s Grill There might be a few raised eyebrows on this one, but those who’ve been will know. Don’t go for the decor, go for the simple, home cooked Mediterranean food, including the FREE plate of hummus and flatbreads to dunk as you peruse the menu. Ridiculously good and ridiculously amazing value.
- Pierre Victoire Perfect French bistro. Consistently good food, good service, good for a date, good for catching up with friends, good for solo dining, just good. Great value set menus.
- Brasserie Blanc Still stylish after all these years with a modern French menu. Can be noisy when busy but still worth going, very child-friendly too.
- Old Parsonage A must visit for the ‘someone else is paying’ moments, this place oozes Oxonian style with the price tag to match. While it may not be the cheapest place to eat, with assumed service charge added to all bills, the food is excellent and luxurious, in a decadent and beautiful setting. Highly recommend their Afternoon Tea and the crème brûlée (above).
- Zheng Chinese/Malaysian/Szechuan/Singaporean menu with something for everyone. We love their cereal prawns, the fried green beans and the beef rendang. If you want to talk while you eat, then ask for a table upstairs but frankly, you should be there for the food, not the conversation! Also excellent for takeaway.
- New coffee shop Society Cafe for excellent and ever-changing coffees, cakes from Barefoot Oxford and pastries from Natural Bread Company. A perfectly calm, contemporary space for a cappuccino and a croissant.
- Talking of Barefoot they now have their own cafe in Jericho. Seriously scrumptious cakes, some that are even healthy! Limited seating so be prepared to take your cake away on weekends, it’s heaving!
- La Cucina in St Clements for traditional Italian dining.
- Next to La Cucina is SeaSalt, just opened and owned by the same people. Mainly fish based menu but a few meat dishes. Interesting tapas concept at lunchtimes.
January 2015 Edition
What better way to welcome in the new year than with a revised Top 10! Don’t be expecting major changes though, this edition is all about one particular addition… In no particular order, the best Oxford restaurants in our opinion, be they casual cafe, fine dining or burger bar.
- Sojo: Still holding on by the skin of their teeth after a recent unimpressive visit, prior consistency keeps them on the list… for now. Go in a large group and let the chef choose your food – wave after wave of delicious Chinese food – yum!
- St Giles’ Cafe: Proper home cooking, and baking, done well with lots of care and attention, in a lovely little cafe. A far cry from it’s previous ‘greasy spoon’ format, big credit for making their own ‘Oxford sausage’ too. Not just open for breakfast and lunch, check it out for an intimate supper. And as Jacqui says – “the best cuppa you’ll get in Oxford”!
- Oxford’s Grill: Don’t let that basic sign fool you, the food inside is far from basic – delicately balanced punchy flavours, free bread and houmous to start your meal, excellent service, all at incredibly reasonable prices. An excellent example of under promising and over delivering!
- Oli’s Thai: I’m utterly amazed when I speak to any locals who haven’t yet been. I want to grab them by both arms, give them a good shake and say “what the hell are you thinking?!”. Excellent food, exquisite flavours, lovely owners, relaxed but stylish vibe. The confit Penang duck is understandably a huge hit, but their simple dishes of beef soup and sweetcorn fritters are way more exciting than they sound. Booking essential because this place is VERY popular.
- Magdalen Arms: Loved by locals and nationals alike, this previous ‘spit and sawdust’ pub has led the way with food in Oxford for some time. Sister pub to the ‘original’ gastropub The Anchor & Hope, Magdalen Arms now serves up consistently excellent Med-inspired food, though the service can be a little lacking – lucky for them the food is so damned good!
- Brasserie Blanc: Monsieur Blanc still holds a special place in his heart for the city where the Brasserie group originated. And we hold a special place for this restaurant in Jericho. Can be noisy when it’s busy but the food is very good, so who needs to talk anyway?
- Al Shami: Lebanese in Jericho. Go hungry as you’ll eat a lot! Peek into the back room for stunning decor.
- Atomic Burgers: Voted by the Twittersphere as the best burgers in Oxford – both meat and veggie. Retro, fun, filling and flavoursome it’s well worth a visit to get your hands on one of their mammoth filled burgers. You could always try Becca’s tip and take a Krispy Kreme doughnut in with you to replace the top half of the burger bun!
- Pierre Victoire: Excellent French bistro food, in an intimate and classy setting, at sometimes unbelievably low prices. For great value, do check out their set menus – three-course lunch for £11.90, three-course dinner for £23.50, pre-theatre offers for £11.50 and three-course Sunday lunch for £15.90.
- NEW ADDITION – We couldn’t launch the new site without adding new kid on the East Oxford block, The Chester, to our Top 10 list. The long-awaited Chester finally reopened after keeping us waiting almost AN ENTIRE YEAR. Thankfully, the food lived up to all expectation and we can’t get enough of the place. That epic steak platter alone deserves an Award, a truly deserving new entry.
First Edition (March 2014)
- The Magdalen Arms: hearty good cooking. We like it here a lot.
- Sojo: possibly the best Chinese in town. There are a few new contenders that we’re about to try so it does have competition…
- Chiang Mai: Thai food, in a stunning building but a little pricey. An occasion rather than an everyday visit.
- Door 74: home of the best chips in Oxford according to Jacqui! Small, intimate and lovely.
- Oli’s Thai: run by a husband and wife team, rapidly becoming one of THE places to eat in Oxford. Confit duck, beef Penang and papaya salad get a lot of love!
- Al-Shami: Lebanese in Jericho. Go hungry as you’ll eat a lot! Peek into the back room for stunning decor.
- The Red Lion, Gloucester Green: Run by the same team as The Trout Inn but able to concentrate more on the food than the scenery. Sunday roasts here are good.
- Brasserie Blanc: Monsieur Blanc still holds a special place in his heart for the city where the Brasserie group originated. And we hold a special place for this restaurant in Jericho. Can be noisy when it’s busy but the food is very good so who needs to talk anyway!
- St Giles Cafe: No longer a greasy spoon, this tiny cafe does excellent breakfast, lunches and fabulous cream teas. And they open for dinner a few nights a week. Wonderful.
- Atomic Burgers: Voted by the Twittersphere as the best burgers in Oxford – both meat and veggie! Retro, fun, filling and flavoursome it’s well worth a visit to get your hands on one of their mammoth filled burgers.