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These are in no particular order, and Brighton being what it is, what was a coffee shop on Wednesday might have turned into a tattoo parlour by Friday. If you’re planning a trip to Brighton specifically to go to one of these places it’s worth calling first to make sure they’re still in business!
Whilst we have been to all these places (and enjoyed them too – else they wouldn’t be on here) we have no direct affiliation with them and cannot guarantee they’ll be able to make your skinny soy latte exactly the way you want it.
The Amsterdam Bar & Kitchen
Fantastic seafront bar minutes from the pier with a huge outside terrance and comfy, warm interior.
Cup of Joe
Attached to the Kemptown Trading Post, Cup of Joe in Kemptown village is a great place to stop for a bite to eat. With a decidedly French flavour thanks to owner George, you can get Gallic classics such as French onion soup and croque madame. And if the lovely Eddie is there you can get a cracking cup of coffee too!
The antiques café is within William Morris antiques. It doesn’t have its own website yet but the above link does provide opening hours. Great coffee and nice food which you can enjoy surrounded by gorgeous antiques.
If you’re hankering for something a bit different, this eclectically decorated little café in Kemptown Village offers a range of good ‘ole American classics like Po’ Boys, Hoagies, Wraps, Meatloaf and Mac & Cheese – as well as milkshakes and healthy smoothies. The opening times can also be a bit eclectic too so worth checking their website if you’re planning a visit.
My Coffee Story
This wonderful, tiny Turkish run coffee shop is easy to spot on St James Street due to the swings in the window. You might have to fight off a couple of toddlers to get on them but it’s worth it to re-live your childhood. They make fantastic strong coffee – rocket fuel that is the perfect way to kick-start your day. There’s a selection of tasty home-made cakes and sandwiches and they do hot food too – such as smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. But if you go and want something different, have the Mediterranean Pan – spicy Turkish sausage, eggs, feta, halloumi, olives, toast and jam – perfect!
Wheat & Beans
What’s not to like about Wheat & Beans – an Argentinian family run café on St James Street? The coffee is fantastic and pretty much everything they sell is home-made. The cakes, the breads used for the sandwiches, the proper Italian style pizza slices and best of all, the best empanadas in Brighton. And Fabrizio must be in the running for the nicest man in the city. A great place to stop by for lunch before exploring Kemptown.
Tucked away in a corner, The Marwood is a brilliant place for coffee lovers to escape the tourists and shopper madness of the Old Lanes. The décor can best be described as slightly deranged and tongue-in-cheek. As well as the quirky indoor space there’s also a hidden garden, which is a wonderfully quiet place to sit in good weather.
Sister (or should that be brother?) café to The Marwood, Presuming Ed follows on with the “Withnail & I” homage. The coffee is good and strong and the inside hipster-ish but without the attitude. Like its sibling it has a “hidden” garden out the back for those rare sunny days. Great for some respite from the London Road when you’ve had your fill of pound stores and discount meat shops.
The Coal Shed
MEAT MEAT and more MEAT! The Coal Shed is probably not the place to go for vegetarians or vegans (although they do have meat free options on the menu). But if you are an unashamed carnivore then you’ll love The Coal Shed. Choose your cut (porterhouse, fillet etc.), choose your weight (600 grams, 800 grams, 1kg if you’re greedy) and add your sides (chips, creamed spinach etc.). It’s simple, unfussy food – but can get expensive if you get carried away. Gets very busy at weekends so definitely worth booking.
The Salt Room
The sister restaurant to The Coal Shed and pushing the boundaries of posh nosh in Brighton, The Salt Room on the seafront has more of a focus on fish than meat (although they do both). A tiny bit more grander than its sibling but nonetheless an informal place to eat, it’s known for its amazing cocktails and extravagant desserts. There’s a lovely outside terrace for those odd days when the sun shines – which has stunning views out to sea.
Buon Appetito is a classic Italian restaurant run by classic Italians. When the owner is around expect madness! They offer a decent range of things on the menu but it’s best to stick to the Italian classics since that is what they do best. The food here is made fresh to order and is always hot and tasty. Get a seat in the window if you can so you can enjoy the madness of St James Street while you dine.
Another Italian restaurant – this time just off St James Street. La Capanina is about as traditional as they come. Step inside and you’re transported back to Italian holidays in the 1980s – and that’s no bad thing. The décor is wonderfully dated but that’s accompanied by traditional, friendly service. If the upstairs is full there’s a downstairs room that’s a cross between a grotto and a cave. The food is excellent and they always have some very tempting specials.
Leman Tea Room
Cup of tea and a slice of cake Aunt Sally? If you’ve a hankering for a great big slab of lovely home-made cake coupled with a refined cup of tea served in a dainty teacup, Leman Tea Room is for you! This tiny wonder is a haven from the madness of St James Street.
Very Italian Pizza
OK – so there’s much more to Brighton than just Italian restaurants, but we’d be remiss not to mention Very Italian Pizza since it’s one of the best – not only in Brighton but quite possibly in the UK! The upstairs is tiny (although there’s more space downstairs) but it gets very busy at weekends and is worth booking. Very popular with Brighton’s Italian community (which is a recommendation in itself) it gets pretty raucous. Sit near the window and look across at the fountain on the Old Steine and you could be in Rome!
You can’t come to Brighton and not eat fish and chips. And one of the best places to enjoy them is at The Regency – right opposite the remains of the West Pier and now the i360. The service can sometimes be a bit surly but the fish and chips are fantastic – plus they have plenty of outside seating for enjoying the views. As well as the classic fish in batter they do a whole range of seafood from oysters to Dover sole. Strangely popular with Japanese tourists who come all the way from London just to photograph their food!
Kemp Thai is mostly a takeaway / delivery place for lovely, lovely Thai food. But they also have a few seats inside and so a tasty and cheap lunchtime menu. If you’re staying somewhere in and around Kemptown and are bored of the hotel’s food options, give them a call and get some fresh and filling Thai food delivered.
Since its arrival on the Brighton scene, Bar Broadway has quickly become one of the most popular (and busiest) venues – so much so that they’ve had to expand upwards to cope with demand. The downstairs bar gets pretty raucous with people singing along to show tunes playing on the TV screens whilst upstairs has a more laid-back vibe for sitting around and chatting with friends. They do a good range of beers and also excellent cocktails. Check their website for their live performances which are always great fun.
Part bar, part café, all crazy – Neighbourhood is the cool place to visit on St James Street. Whether you just want a beer (craft or bog-standard mass produced), a cocktail, coffee or to stuff your face with one of their fantastic burgers, Neighbourhood should be on your list of places to visit. Their chic garden is very popular and they have events and DJs in the summer months. In less good weather there is a cosy downstairs area to chill out and chew the fat! It gets rowdy and packed in the evenings – so makes an ideal place to have a drink before going out for the night.
Morris & Jacques
Next door to Neighbourhood, Morris & Jacques is much more laid back. They do a great fry-up that’s very reasonably priced and they also have a lovely, quiet garden out the back – which is a great place to while away the hours in the summer. This unpretentious place is a bit of a hidden gem!
The Market Diner
Been out on an all night bender? Welcome to Brighton! Those in the know head to this tucked away 24 hour greasy spoon for one of their celebrated “gut buster” fry ups! Hidden on Circus Street which runs parallel to Grand Parade this place is a genuine life saver when you’re craving something to eat at 4am.
Tucked away in the nether regions of Upper St James Street, Cosiez is definitely worth a visit. It’s a very simple, cheap and cheerful café – but on the menu, is one of Brighton’s best kept secrets: their Kemptown rarebit is ace! Call it posh cheese on toast if you will, there’s nothing quite as good to cure a hangover than its cheesy goodness. Push the boat out and treat yourself to a side of bacon and your taste buds will love you forever!
The Black Dove
Another trendy Kemptown watering hole, The Black Dove manages to cross the generational divide. Serving a great range of craft beers and wonderful cocktails, they manage to appeal to everyone from trendy young students to be-whiskered real ale types. The interior is cool and fun and there’s a not-so-secret downstairs speakeasy where you can plot the overthrow of the government in secrecy.
The Plotting Parlour
Winning tons of cocktail awards since it opened, The Plotting Parlour has almost become a victim of its own success. It’s so popular that at weekends you really have to book if you want to get in. The advantage of that is that it doesn’t get uncomfortably packed with people jostling for space. The cocktails are amazing and as well as their own menu they can of course make pretty much anything you ask for. There’s also a lovely wood burning stove to give a cosy feel in winter. Lovely.
Visit Brighton – Brighton Tourism
A good place to start planning any visit is the Visit Brighton website. Loaded with up-to-date information and lists of events it’ll tell you the best times to come and help you make the most of your stay. You can also book tickets to various attractions all from the comfort of their homepage!
What’s On Brighton
This listings website is a useful way to find out about clubs, theatre, comedy, film and more. They’re particularly helpful if you’re into the extensive Brighton music scene. Great to check whether Anal Beard are performing so you can coincide your visist!
No visit to Brighton is complete without seeing the Royal Pavilion – the Prince Regent’s very own pleasure palace. On a lovely sunny day there’s nothing better than wandering around the gardens and stopping by the lovely café for a cup of tea and a sticky bun. But it’s worth every penny to go inside and see the sumptuous interiors – which are totally over the top. Periodically they offer special tours of he cellars and behind the scenes where the staff would have lived and worked. It’s Brighton’s number one attraction for a very good reason.
Sadly Brighton have started charging for their museums again – so you can no longer just pop in for an hour or two to get out of the rain. Hopefully the extra cash will be spent fixing some of the interactive displays that haven’t worked since 1986. But there is plenty to see and the interior of the building is quite beautiful. The section on local history is looking a bit tired now but is still a way of peering into the past of Mods and Rockers and saucy end-of-the-pier shows. There are regular special exhibits so it’s worth checking the website before you visit.
Like dead things in display cases? Then you’ll love the Booth Museum of natural history! This quirky museum is actually great fun to visit and a good way to keep the kiddies amused for a few hours in inclement weather. But adults too can enjoy the interactive exhibits and lose themselves in the slightly macabre atmosphere.
Inside a deconsecrated church, Fabrica is a unique space given over to art exhibits. They vary in type massively from more traditional paintings through to video installations – but many are on a grand scale that take advantage of the huge vaulted ceilings. Best of all, entry is free for most exhibits so you can pop in if you’re passing to see if anything grabs your interest.
Palace Pier (Brighton Pier)
Most Brightoners hiss if you ask for directions to Brighton Pier since they’ve still not got over the barefaced cheek of the previous owners in changing its name. Apparently the new owners are considering restoring it to the beloved Palace Pier – but regardless of what it’s called, you can’t come to Brighton and not go on the pier. The amusement arcades might not have the appeal they once did (except if it’s raining and you need shelter) but there are plenty of places to eat before whirling around on funfair rides until you throw up. While you’re there get a stick of rock with an offensive word running through the middle and a henna tattoo. For a gentler time sit on one of the free deckchairs and just admire the view.
If you’re idea of fun is being stuck up a pole in a confined space with hundreds of strangers and going to the toilet in a tent, then be sure to take a ride on the i360. Only kidding! It hardly ever breaks down these days. The divisive i360 has split opinion amongst Brightoners but there’s no doubt it’s very impressive up close. Looking like a flying saucer – especially at night when lit up – it does offer staggering views (on a clear day) along the coast and inland over the South Downs. If you don’t want to risk actually getting on it then the area around its base is worth exploring for the cafes, bars and shops that have opened up.
One of the wonderful things about Brighton is the large number of independent retailers. Whilst all the big chains have swamped the rest of the city, the North Laine has largely remained free of them. That’s not to say they aren’t nibbling at the fringes (so as to speak) but you can go shopping, have a beer, eat lunch and energise yourself with coffee – all without visiting a tax dodging multinational. North Laine is actually a district – so no need to pluralise it (there are no “North Laines”). And while we’re on the subject, there are no “South Lanes” or “Old Lanes” either – the narrow twittens filled with jewellers is simply known as The Lanes. Phew – I’m glad I got that off my chest! Anyway, you can spend many an hour in North Laine but the roster of businesses changes so often it’s hard to keep up. The North Laine Traders Association is a good place to find out what’s there now so you can see what tickles your fancy before you visit!
This little shop stocks some of the rudest greetings cards in Brighton and we wholeheartedly approve! They do all the usual soppy ones too of course. But if you’re looking for something a bit risqué (think Modern Toss or KissMeKwik) then it’s worth stopping by to stock up. Just make sure you don’t send mix up and send an expletive laced missive to your Nana by mistake!
If you’re looking for something to brighten up your home and add a touch of sophistication, InHouse Space is the place to go. Everything they sell is gorgeous and carefully chosen by the owners. Perfect if you have questionable design sense yourself!
KissMeKwik has taken on the mantle of saucy seaside postcard and pushed it to its limits. Taking the innocence of classic children’s books like Janet and John and adding some filthy dialogue, their greetings cards are some of the funniest (and rudest) available.
The Open Market
From its run down roots The Open Market has been reborn with a brand new covered market area and more food sellers than ever before. A great place for a wander round – even in bad weather. At weekends there are additional stalls in the centre and it comes alive around Christmas. There are a number of caf&eacture;s from cheap ‘n’ cheerful fry-ups to posh delis and patisseries to keep you fed and watered. Butchers, bakers (alas no candlestick makers), cheese mongers and green grocers abound along – so why go to a boring old supermarket when you can get everything you need here?
Jump the Gun
You don’t have to be a Mod to shop here – but it helps! If you’re into the classic style of 1960’s menswear then this is the shop for you. Harrington jackets, tonic trousers, Loake shoes – you’ll come out dressed to kill (or at least ready for a spot of ‘how’s-your-father’ with Leslie Ash down an alleyway). One of the shops that helps make Brighton so unique.
Utility does for household goods what Jump the Gun does for clothing – introducing a retro sense of style to your home. Enamel mugs, teapots, jugs, glass butter dishes, wooden utensils, tea-towels, lifebuoy soap and much more. This little shop packs in loads of things you never knew you needed.
Convenient as the big chain bookstores are, there’s no beating the passion and expert knowledge of the real book lovers in this fab little book shop. If you’re wandering around Kemptown Village and want to know more about Brighton then pop in here and peruse their section on local history. If they haven’t got a book you want on the shelves they can order it for you and it usually arrives within a day or so. Better than Amazon!
Kemptown Trading Post
The Kemptown Trading Post includes the wonderful Cop of Joe – listed separately – and is full of retro clothing, antiques and knick knacks. Pop in if you’re passing for a browse and you might just pick up a bargain.
Brighton Flea Market
In the nether regions of Kemptown, the Brighton Flea Market is always worth a browse. With prices more in keeping with the actual value of an item, it’s a better place to actually shop than other similar places. From second hand furniture to articulated skeletons you can nearly always pick up a bargain. And their window displays for things like Christmas, Easter, Pride and Halloween are always worth seeing.
The world’s biggest junk shop! Snoopers Paradise (the lack of single quote is theirs, not mine) is a deceptively large collection of antiques and general brick-a-brac – some of which is fabulous and a bargain, a lot of which is over-priced tat. But it’s great fun poking around at the retro stuff you probably threw out a few years ago and finding out it is now worth a fortune. It’s also another place to pass some time during inclement weather without having to pay to go in!
Home of the website for Pride on the Isle of Sheppey
Paul Bott Estate Agents
Have you fallen in love with Brighton so much that you want to live here? Well if you’re planning to make this fantastic place your home, drop Paul Bott a line. Based in Kemptown his agency is honest and trustworthy – two words not normally associated with estate agents! Whether you’re looking to rent or buy he’ll do all the hard work for you as well as offering his advice based on local knowledge.
If you’re a multi-millionaire masochist who is perfectly happy to spend many hours in a small tin tube that smells of stale farts, then visiting Brighton by train is the perfect option for you. Re-mortgage your house and hand over wads of filthy lucre in return for possibly getting to Brighton at some point in the next week or two. If you’re very lucky and there isn’t a strike / sink hole / rain / sun / snow / plague of locusts – then you can actually get to Brighton relatively easily. But please do check before you travel. Although both Southern Railway and Thameslink are owned by the same company, they like to pretend to be different – so you can’t simply buy a ticket for one then use it on the other. However train travel does become affordable to those without a six-figure income if you book online in advance. Leave it till the day of travel and you might have to hand over a kidney or your firstborn child.
AA Route Planner
If you’re planning on driving down to Brighton – and unfortunately thanks to the incompetence of the train companies it’s probably the easiest options – then it’s worth checking out the AA’s route planner beforehand. The great urban planners enjoy nothing more than closing the main routes into Brighton off at the same time as rail engineering work. So save yourselves the misery and check beforehand to avoid spending hours sat staring in silent fury at the car in front.
Parking in Brighton
For the cost of parking in Brighton for a day you could probably fly to Spain or somewhere – it truly is one of the most expensive places to leave your car. However, parking prices do vary greatly with some of the multi-storey car parks offering deals on specific days. The limited on-street parking is also cheaper the further away from the centre you get. In the summer months it’s cheaper to park up by the Marina and travel in by the Volks Railway! The official website should help you plan where best to park according to your needs. And nowadays you can pay for parking using your mobile phone – so you no longer need to re-mortgage your house and bring the money down in coppers to feed the meter with.
Brighton buses are pretty frequent and run all around the city and along the coast. The price of a ticket usually covers a specific zone making it a bargain if you’re travelling between the limits, but expensive if you’re only going a couple of stops. If you download the app you can pre-buy tickets and use them on your phone – clever eh? The newest buses feature such modern contrivances as free wi-fi and charging ports for your electronic gadgetry. You can use the Brighton buses to get to some fantastic places just outside the city – such as Devil’s Dyke and Stanmer as well as further afield to the Seven Sisters Country Park. If there’s a group of you though and it’s a short distance, a taxi might be cheaper.
Need a cab? Call 01273 74 74 74 and Streamline Taxis will sort you out! You can’t hail them but there are cab ranks in key locations such as by the railway station and near the Pavilion. They’re usually pretty reliable and most drivers generally know where they’re going. You sometimes get to meet some real old Brighton characters – like the 70 year-old driver who once informed me he was his older girlfriend’s toy boy!
All sorts of info on here from the local council if you’re prepared to dig for it. Want to know when rubbish is going to be collected? Need to find your nearest library urgently to read the latest Jilly Cooper? It’s all here – along with news and events and their latest tweets should you require something to aid your sleep.