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Grey trey with chips, ribs, coleslaw, pickles and sweetcorn on it. There is also a drink that looks like a cocktail and a seperate plate of chips
Photograph: Tristram Godfrey

The 22 best restaurants in Cambridge right now

From homely Italian caffs to swanky Michelin-starred fine-dining, these are the very best restaurants in Cambridge right now

Miriam Balanescu
Written by
Bethan Kapur
Miriam Balanescu

Sure, Cambridge is known the world over for its architecture, its natural beauty and, obvs, its community of boffins. But did you know it’s also a foodie hotspot? Once you’re done punting down the Cam or pitching your way through the rooms of the Fitzwilliam, Cambridge has plenty of top-notch restaurants to choose from.  

Whether you’re in the mood for Italian pasta, Middle Eastern falafel or just some quintessentially English grub, Cambridge’s culinary choices boast fabulous scope and diversity. For when you’re done ticking off the city's best attractions and culture spots, here are all the refuel options you’ll need: the best restaurants in Cambridge right now.

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This guide was recently updated by Miriam Balanescu, a writer based in Cambridge. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Best Cambridge restaurants

The Old Bicycle Shop
Photograph: The Old Bicycle Shop

1. The Old Bicycle Shop

What is it? Inventive British dishes served in what once was Britain’s oldest bike shop. 

Why go? If the name wasn’t enough of a hint, there are themed bits and bobs around the place, like the chain cog candle holders, which are a very nice touch. While the prices at The Old Bicycle Shop aren’t cheap, this is a great option for vegetarians and vegans. Forget boring old bean burgers, you can get things like za’atar-crusted tofu kebabs and wild mushroom and miso ramen here. Come for brunch, lunch or dinner. 

2. Zhonghua Traditional Snacks

What is it? A tiny restaurant serving hand-made Chinese delicacies.

Why go? If you don’t mind cosying up with your fellow diners, this humble food joint serving – you guessed it – traditional snacks from China is indisputably one of the best places to grab lunch or dinner in the city (and it’s thankfully very easy on the wallet). Zhonghua Traditional Snacks is mostly famous for its dumplings but also have a mix of filled buns, noodles, and tasty desserts on the menu to choose from.

Midsummer House
Photograph: Midsummer House

3. Midsummer House

What is it? Hands down the fanciest place to eat in Cambridge. 

Why go? Midsummer House is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant right by the River Cam. It’s famous enough to have its own Wiki page, and its head chef is Daniel Clifford. If you can afford to go, it serves insanely pretty portions of French-inspired food. Midsummer House is where you go when nothing but pure decadence will do (and if you get an invite, all the better).

Time Out tip: Can’t quite fork out £230 per head for the evening tasting menu? The lunch menu is half the price. 

4. Restaurant Twenty-Two

What is it? A Michelin-starred restaurant that’s perfect if you like your food served with a little drama.

Why go? Hidden behind the doors of a Victorian townhouse, don’t let Restaurant Twenty-Two's unassuming building fool you – this place plates up dainty mouthfuls of mindblowing flavour concoctions, from confit red pepper tacos to charcoal pastry crammed with juniper ketchup. Expect delicate pastries theatrically placed atop bowls full of pinecones, or a side of blackberries dipped in liquid nitrogen.


5. The Tiffin Truck

What is it? Cambridge’s answer to London’s Dishoom.

Why go? Street food, curries and a healthy selection of lassis are on offer here, cooked up by the team from top Indian restaurant Navadhanya. The idea behind The Tiffin Truck is to bring the tiffin (a light meal that emerged in India as an alternative to the British afternoon tea) to Cambridge – you can even ask for your lunch packed up in a traditional stainless steel box, for a small deposit.

Stem + Glory
Photograph: Stem and Glory

6. Stem + Glory

What is it? A vegan-friendly restaurant where turning plants into food is something of an art form. 

Why go? These vegan-friendly folk have two premises in Cambridge. Stem + Glory's new King Street venue is the place to head when you’re in a rush but mustn’t miss your five-a-day. It’s healthy fast food where coffee and cake meets quinoa and carrots. Alternatively, book a table at Chesterton Road and take your time sipping vegan wine over food that’s nothing but good for you.


7. Parker’s Tavern

What is it? A gastropub that does classic British food with style and flair.

Why go? At Parker’s Tavern you can expect your cheddar to be spiced up a little (with cayenne straws). This place is perfect if you’re looking for something British that’s slightly fancier than a chip-shop pie. The dishes are presented with care and attention. We’re talking swirls of balsamic around the goat’s cheese and a coronation chicken salad that looks like a finely pruned shrub.

Pint Shop
Photograph: Jason Lowe

8. Pint Shop

What is it? Fancy pub grub served in a Grade II-listed building that was once home to EM Forster.

Why go? Onion and pork bhaji scotch eggs, charcoal-grilled burgers and buttered kale are the sort of things you’ll find on the menu here, but the drinks are where the Pint Shop really shines. The gin menu alone is three pages long and the whisky and wine menus aren’t far off. 

Time Out tip: Keep an eye out for Pint Shop's drinks board, which changes regularly and features breweries from all over the country.

Photograph: Bedouin

9. Bedouin

What is it? A vibrant North African restaurant loved by students.

Why go? If you’ve got creaky hips, this might not be the best restaurant in Cambridge for you. A visual feast of bright fabrics, Bedouin seats its diners down low on cushion-covered carved wooden furniture. Its affordable menu features well-seasoned, succulent tagines for you to top off with Algerian desserts.

Photograph: Trinity

10. Trinity

What is it? An oysters-and-champers venue that’ll give you a taste of the Cambridge high life.

Why go? Trinity, Cambridge – the restaurant not the college – is the sister of Varsity, another popular Cambridge jaunt to splash your cash in. Trinity specialises in meat and fish of the ‘pan-fried pigeon’ variety. Come here to celebrate finally passing your PhD with slippery, sexy seafood.


11. Al Casbah

What is it? A North African restaurant that mixes traditional and modern cuisine.

Why go? Cosy up at a candlelit table decorated with mosaic tiles and enjoy creamy hummus, some falafel or a tender lamb shoulder that falls apart when you nudge it. If you’re avoiding alcohol, Al Casbah is the ideal dinner location – because they don’t serve any. Instead, there’s a selection of fresh juices: apple celery and parsley, anyone? Although the lamb is excellent, there are also plently of veggie options including ingredients like artichokes, halloumi and stuffed peppers.

12. The Mill

What is it? The perfect punt-spotting pub for casual afternoon drinking.

Why go? No one spends any serious time in Cambridge without venturing down to the sinuous River Cam, either for a walk or a boat ride. Book a table at one of the most popular pubs in town The Mill for comfort food done the English pub way. 

Time Out tip: If the weather’s looking good, you can venture out onto the site of the former mill itself with your pint in hand.

Photograph: MN2S

13. Limoncello

What is it? A fairly swish deli-restaurant with one wall covered in plants. If you love classic Italian food, look no further.

Why go? Fancy some truffle shavings on al-dente tagliatelle or an antipasti board? Love a pizza that’s never quite circular, with lovely uneven charring? This is your place. When the weather's warm, Limoncello feels just like Tuscany – especially if you make use of the flowery outdoor patio. Saluti to that!

The Petersfield
Photograph: The Petersfield

14. The Petersfield

What is it? Cosy, stylish and does a top Sunday roast.

Why go? The Petersfield serves food throughout the week, but it scores particularly highly for its Sunday lunch. There’s not a soggy spud in sight here, and the sticky toffee pudding could feed three (or, you know, just one). Wash it all down with a pint of still cider.

The Oak Bistro
Photograph: The Oak Bistro

15. The Oak Bistro

What is it? A cosy Cambridge bistro, housed in a former historic coaching inn. 

Why go? The Oak Bistro ticks two boxes: it’s in central Cambridge and it offers outdoor seating. And not just any outdoor seating. One of the perks of eating here is enjoying its lovely walled garden. The menu is full of fine dining classics (halibut, beef and duck) and is perfect for people who like timeless dishes done well.

The Punter
Photograph: The Punter

16. The Punter

What is it? Well-loved shabby chic gastropub named after Cambridge’s favourite hobby.

Why go? Any stay in Cambridge will see you punting down river before you know it. So it’s no surprise they chose to name a pub after this honourable pastime, and it’s a good pub at that. The superb menu at The Punter has some pleasingly cheap bread-y options for poorer students, along with a few fancy steaks and other trad classics.

The Senate
Photograph: The Senate

17. The Senate

What is it? A lovely Mediterranean-influenced brunch and lunch spot in the tourist heartland. 

Why go? Just across the road from King’s College Chapel is The Senate, an unpretentious restaurant offering everything from morning eggs through to evening steaks.

Time Out tip: The Senate is especially good as a lunch spot, with antipasti sharing boards and khobez flatbreads taking a ‘quick bite’ to the next level. Treat yourself to a gin and Earl Grey martini.

Tamburlaine Restaurant at the Clayton Hotel
Photograph: Tamburlaine Hotel

18. Tamburlaine Restaurant at the Clayton Hotel

What is it? A snazzy restaurant and bar which is a great spot for an atmospheric pre-train meal. 

Why go? The Tamburlaine is a hop, skip and jump from Cambridge’s main station. Prop yourself up on a velvet sofa and indulge in porcini mushroom arancini and apple gyoza while admiring the Victorian wallpaper.

The Rupert Brooke
Photograph: The Rupert Brooke

19. The Rupert Brooke

What is it? An elegant pub in a pretty Cambridgeshire village.

Why go? Another Grantchester haunt (yes, it’s time to dust off those walking boots), The Rupert Brooke is the place to go if you want the leafy surrounds of Grantchester but something a little more upmarket than The Red Lion. You can get everything here, from breakfast, lunch and dinner to Sunday roasts and afternoon tea.


The Clarendon Arms
Photograph: Clarendon Arms

20. The Clarendon Arms

What is it? Another superb Cambridge pub that does a proper Sunday lunch.

Why go? The Clarendon Arms is home to the daddy of roasts. Succulent beef, lamb and veggie options are paired with creamy swede, broad beans, sweet shallots… and that’s before you get to the salted caramel and blondie cheesecake.

Photograph: Tristram Godfrey

21. Smokeworks

What is it? Your best shout for American-style barbecue food.

Why go? Smokeworks has a no-bookings policy that’s perfect for rainy days when you get a sudden urge for something indulgent. The food is served on a large tray; the meat is glazed, the buns are brioche and the french fries are plentiful. It’s where to go for instant gratification, whether you desire a large salted caramel milkshake or a waiter to serve you every time you flick a switch on the wall (bizarrely, they offer a neon light-operated service).

What is it? An unassuming pub nestled among rows of cute Victorian terrace houses with special dishes served on hot rocks. 

Why go? With seating both indoors and out, it often has live bands playing in the corner, but the biggest draw has to be the hot stones. These will set you back the best part of a £20 note, but they come with two filling sides and mains like pork tenderloin and lamb neck skewers.

Time Out tip: If you’ve got a train to catch, The Geldart is a perfect place to eat, as it’s only a 20-minute walk away.

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