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The 15 best restaurants in Nottingham

Find out where to nosh in Nottingham with our curated restaurant and café guide

Kitty Drake
Written by
Kitty Drake
&
Kayleigh Watson
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Nottingham’s unassuming exterior hides a kinetic energy and a wealth of eclectic and exciting things to do. Home to a diverse food scene, the city’s independent restaurants prioritise fresh, locally sourced ingredients and generous portions for all budgets. From double-stacked patties to bottle shops, Michelin-star eateries and an appreciation for classic British grub with a twist, get stuck into the best restaurants that Nottingham has to offer.

Best restaurants in Nottingham

Sat Bains

What is it? The edge of an industrial estate isn’t where you’d expect to find mind-blowing food but Sat Bains provides it. 

Why go? An eccentric complex of kitchen, lounge, sommelier station and conservatory very close to the A52, it does an extraordinary seven-course tasting menu. Strap in for dishes like veal croquette and Anjou pigeon.

Jam Café

What is it? Whether you're after bloody marys over brunch, an adventurous vegan dish, a chill with a craft beer or an energetic evening at the hands of a DJ, Jam Café has you covered. 

Why go? This is the perfect place for a bunch of mates when everyone fancies something different. By day it operates as a European-style cafe-bar, by night it turns into a live venue, where on any one night you could find live bands, DJs, poets or comedians.

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Junkyard

What is it? Part craft bottle shop, part American diner, if you have a beard and/or tattoos Junkyard is your nirvana.

Why go? For bottle shop vibes and deliciously greasy food. This place boasts fifteen taps and an inventively dirty food menu – don’t miss the fish burger: pan-fried fish with caper and parsley mayo slipped inside a toasted milk roll. Mac and cheese balls are also ace. 

The Cod’s Scallops

What is it? Fish and chips at this brilliantly named spot are indeed the scallops, and it has the awards to prove it.

Why go? For award-winning fish and old-fashioned sides like gravy and pickled eggs. Fish is caught that day and deep-fried in traditional beef dripping or baked with garlic. There’s posh stuff like oysters and lobster, but you can expect chippie favourites like curry sauce and Heinz baked beans, too. 

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Alchemilla

What is it? The location of this upmarket modern British restaurant is its calling card. A lovely, vine-covered door leads you down below street level to a beautiful, bright room set beneath exposed brick arches. 

Why go? When you want to eat fancy food underground. Food is fancy, pricy and delicious (think: oysters and game). Remember to look up: there are beautiful ceiling windows in the arches. 

No12 Houndsgate

What is it? Inside this snug vegetarian and vegan café the look is clean and rustic with lovely wooden furniture and white and duck-egg blue walls. Food is simple, with a focus on fresh ingredients.

Why go? For veggie food that won’t make carnivores miss meat. Danish open sandwiches are a speciality – try the ‘slow and low tomatoes’ on multi-seed bread with cream cheese and salsa verde.

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What is it? Those with a penchant for all things America will appreciate the fluffy pancake stacks that The Pudding Pantry does so well. 

Why go? Because sweet tooths need satisfying too. And it’s not just about pancakes. They do sweet sharing boards, Mississippi mud pie and s'mores milkshakes, not to mention boozy shakes and pudding and wine pairings. What's not to like? 

Hart’s Kitchen

What is it? Set within the ramparts of Nottingham Castle, this modern British restaurant has serious culinary lineage: it’s run by husband and wife Tim and Stefa Hart – parents of the Hart brothers who run London’s Quo Vadis and Barrafina.

Why go? For an anniversary meal: if things go well you can book a room as it’s part of a luxury hotel. This place is all about quality food and service. Try the duck breast and spiced lentils and the chicken liver parfait. 

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Annie’s Burger Shack

What is it? Big fat patties wrapped in paper and served on a tray are the speciality here. Burgers have zany names like The Deathray and The Johnny Vegas and every single one is available in a vegetarian or vegan version.

Why go? For out-of-the-ordinary buns with sexy little touches, like Jack Daniel’s mustard and marinara sauce. There’s a tavern downstairs for drinking in, too. 

MemSaab

What is it? In prime position on a road named after Robin Hood’s girlfriend, MemSaab is a Nottingham curry stalwart.

Why go? For barbecued meats and superb Tandoori chicken. The look is colourful, with ornate pillars intersecting the spacious dining room, but the food is the star of the show. Expect all the classics, done brilliantly – AA Gill hailed this as one of the best Indian restaurants in the UK. 

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Sexy Mama Loves Spaghetti

What is it? A rustic, blue-fronted spot, this place specialises in spaghetti, duh. 

Why go? That name should be reason enough. Expect simple, luscious dishes scrawled up in chalk on a blackboard: anchovy and tomato spaghetti is a hit, as is roast aubergine with fresh ricotta and pear and honey truffle oil. The tiramisu isn’t bad either. 

What is it? The team at George’s Great British Kitchen are passionate about British grub, but even more about doing so in a unique way: they pride themselves on the quality of their ingredients - and it shows.

Why go? High-quality British grub with a twist (plus a strong appreciation for gin at the bar). Take their classic fish and (proper) chips, for example; their cod is sourced from Norwegian Fjords and patrons can opt for a curry-flavoured twist to their batter. Their candyfloss-spun cocktails and desserts are out of this world.

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What is it? ‘Good Food. Messy Fingers. Dirty Burgers’ - that is the motto of Fat Hippo. A Northern export that has slowly seeped into the Midlands, Fat Hippo finally landed in Nottingham in the chaos of 2020 and doesn’t disappoint on its mission statement. 

Why go? It is - in their words - "good old fashioned, roll up your sleeves and get it all over your face" food. All burgers come double stacked and don’t scrimp on the innards. Chicken lovers are similarly respected with the addition of spicy thighs and fries, whilst the vegan crowd are treated to a whole five (yes, five) options on the menu.

What is it? The Maharaja’s Retreat brings another taste of high-end Indian cuisine to the centre of the city. 

Why go? Opulent Indian cuisine for all dietry needs! A family affair, the team take influence from the historical opulence found in the Maharaja’s own diet to deliver their guests meals fit for a king. Their chilli garlic chicken is a firm favourite, as is their turmeric simmered lamb nihari. 

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What is it? Founded back in 1981, Perkins Bar & Bistro clearly must be doing something right. Located in the old Plumtree train station, the longstanding family establishment serve fresh, locally sourced produce in a variety of hearty and refined dishes.

Why go? Their Sunday roasts are a top-notch family treat. Slow-braised beef bourguignon and confit duck leg will make meat-lovers salivate, but it’s their famous Sunday roasts that are worth the pilgrimage.   

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