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Ennio's restaurant, Southampton
Photograph: Ennio’s

The 13 best restaurants in Southampton

Whether you fancy a hearty bite in a pub or something delicious from a MasterChef champion, our pick of the best restaurants in Southampton has you covered

Written by
Tom Howells
&
Joe Minihane
Contributor
Liv Kelly
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Southampton has prospered into a fantastic seaside destination for a day out. Its proximity to the stunning New Forest, the historic town of Winchester and the quaint Isle of Wight have made it a go-to stopover in the past, but it is well worth a visit in its own right. 

And that's largely thanks to its growing and increasingly confident food scene. The myriad of eateries, from incredible Mauritian dishes crafted by the hands of a MasterChef champion, to a swanky French dishes, and a popular pizza van. Here are our top picks for the best-rated restaurants in Southampton right now. 

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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 restaurants in Southampton

1. Dancing Man Brewery

Why go? An attractive, timber-heavy brewpub and restaurant in a medieval woolhouse.

Hoppy house-brewed beer might be the name of the game, but a Deep South-inspired menu has enough going on to attract the most pious teetotaller. It’s a grab bag of zhuzhed-up cajun, delta and creole flavours: think snacks of pickled okra and pork crackling cornbread, then cherry cola-glazed wings, succotash beans, super-sounding gumbo and so on. Dancing Man Brewery offers southern-comforting stuff. Mid-range. 

2. The Pig in the Wall

Why go? A daytime deli and cosy boutique hotel restaurant with a neat line in porky morsels.

The simple food at this spin-off from The Pig in the Wall, the New Forest’s lovely Pig Hotel is served from noon until 8pm – so spend the day pigging out on things like air-dried lomo, garlic sausage rolls or chorizo on sourdough (with Isle of Wight tomatoes, naturally). Swine averse? Snaffle a plate of hot-smoked chalk stream trout or some cheese instead. Mid-range

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3. Coriander Lounge

Why go? Slick, self-consciously traditional Indian joint.

A high-street curry house hawking dishes of ‘primordial authenticity’ using ‘ancient’ cooking techniques might sound a bit lofty. But Coriander Lounge isn’t your regular Cobra’n’masala slop shop. It seeks to provide spice seekers with more nuanced Indian flavours. The classics are repped, but it’s the karai, parsi and chef’s specials that are really appealing. Malai kofta, anyone? Mid-range. 

4. The Rockstone

Why go? A welcoming Inner Avenue boozer that prides itself on its gargantuan burgers.

Anyone claiming to dislike burgers is either a fool or a liar. Everyone else will find much to love at the cosy Rockstone pub: think classic bacon cheeseburgers, modish vegan jackfruit numbers and romance-killing patties slathered in black garlic mayo, plus creative sides and sundries like beer-battered olives and vegan katsu seitan ‘chicken wings’. Mid-range.

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5. Oxford Brasserie

Why go? A long-standing, romantic modern European spot on Oxford Street.

After a chic, smart city institution? Oxford Brasserie is it, dishing out butter-heavy classics that’ll never go out of fashion. Think slow belly pork with garlic spinach, Romsey lamb with roasted asparagus and vast, succulent steaks. This is the place to be if you’re in the market for comfort. High-end. 

6. It’s a Pizza Thing

Why go? Excellent artisan pizza at the South Western Arms pub in St Denys.

A moveable wood-fired oven is the source of Southampton’s most popular pizzas. Glance outside this St Denys boozer and you’ll find It's A Pizza Thing knocking out a bevy of simply topped pies, the most elaborate of which is The Bryn. Laden with fennel sausage, parmesan, ham, jalapenos and more, it’s an edible tribute to Bryn Lewis, much-missed founder of local music venue The Brook. Budget

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7. Ennio’s

Why go? Classy Italian dining in a converted Victorian warehouse.

Ennio’s was voted Hampshire’s best Italian by the newspaper Corriere della Sera. Sounds a bit random, but they might be on to something. From nibbly antipasti to meaty secondi, via insalate and proper pasta, the vast menu has all bases covered. Fish, though, is the focus – try scallop and prawn thermidor, tomato-y brodetto stews and groaning fritto misto platters. High-end. 

8. Café Thrive

Why go? An all-day parkside café offering plant-based – AKA vegan – dishes of all stripes.

Brighton throngs with vegan joints; Southampton not so much. Rejoice, then, for Café Thrive. Pulse-packed salad bowls aside, clean eating is dismissed in favour of seitan burgers (pimped with tempeh rashers and cashew ‘cheese’), pizzas and sandwiches – there’s even a vegan New York reuben. What’s more, the dairy-free sundaes look better than the real thing. Budget

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9. Piecaramba!

Why go? A comics-themed diner whipping up fine pies near the Polygon.

Piecaramba! is a bit like Bristol’s pun-heavy pie-oneer Pieminister. By which we mean it makes delish pies with ridiculous names, like the lamb-and-red-wine Woolverine, a curried chicken Chick Norris and the Piecaramba! itself, with beef, melted cheese and kidney beans (a burrito in pie form, basically). Mash, gravy and minty peas are, of course, plentiful. And obligatory. Budget. 

10. The White Star Tavern

Why go? An award-winning pub with rooms

Named after the famous shipping line, the White Star Tavern is an award-winner, serving up pub grub beyond the usual burgers and fish and chips (although those are on offer too). Think linguine with broccoli and squash, and maple-glazed ribs. Fullers beers are on tap, while the swanky rooms upstairs make this a place to settle in for the night. Mid range. 

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11. Lakaz Maman

Why go? If you've ever watched ‘MasterChef’ and wished you could taste what’s on the telly, now’s your chance. 

Shelina Permalloo, who won the series in 2012, opened a cute street food kitchen in Bedford Place where she serves the homely Mauritian dishes she grew up with. At Lakaz Maman, which means ‘Mum’s House’ in Mauritian Creole, everything is halal and they cater for gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan diets. Expect coconut curries, tropical burgers, roti wraps and more. Mid-range

12. La Regata

Why go? A characterful Spanish stalwart near the Isle of Wight ferry.

La Regata has been going for almost 25 years, and for good reason. It’s atmospheric, value for money and does the kind of tapas that pay no heed to finicky trends. Fancy small plates of Iberico ham, Cantabrian cheese-stuffed dates, sherry-simmered chicken livers, gallons of Rioja and more aioli than you can shake a castanet at? ¡Sí, Señor! Mid-range

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13. The Olive Tree

Why go? Great Mediterranean food right on the marina

Set within the swanky Ocean Village development, The Olive Tree serves up the best in Mediterranean cuisine with a focus on ingredients from across Hampshire and southern England. Think locally reared beef and seafood from the day boats and you get the idea. The pea risotto and rack of lamb with kale polenta are both winners. High-end

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