Large table with many people dining and passing plates

Fabulous Foodie Hidden Gems

For a small island, the Isle of Wight certainly punches above its weight when it comes to its foodie offering. Whether you’re looking for a blow-the-budget special occasion dinner or some good old fashioned pub grub with the family, there really is something for everyone and to suit every budget.

A plate of food at The Royal Hotel isle of wight

Fine Dining

Sometimes you’ve just got to push the boat out and the Island has some incredible restaurants combining stunning food with impeccable service, guaranteed to make it a meal to remember.

Perched above our Yarmouth ferry port, The Terrace offers superb views of the harbour and Solent beyond. The daily-changing menu showcases classic favourites and the best seasonal produce in a beautiful setting.

For local Island produce reimagined through a pan-Asian lens, head to the Smoking Lobster. With restaurants in both Ventnor and Cowes, beautifully presented, impeccably fresh seafood is their speciality.

If a gastro break tickles your fancy, book a stay at The Royal. The hotel has a reputation for modern British food with a regional Isle of Wight twist and has held two AA Rosettes over 25 consecutive years.

A pub on the waterfront at Ventnor beach, Isle of Wight

By the sea

With over 57 miles of coastline, you are never too far away from a dining experience with a view. Boasting panoramic views of Sandown Bay is The Bandstand. The ideal spot for a romantic dinner watching the sunset and moonrise over the sea while enjoying dishes from fresh seafood to succulent steaks.

Cadet Beach Club & Seafood Restaurant in Ryde was once voted as having the Island’s best sea view. Serving Asian-inspired food in a relaxed, open setting the restaurant offers stunning beach views and across the Solent towards Portsmouth. For the full experience order the signature dish, “A Taste of the Sea” for 2 people to share.

Quite possibly the most well-known pub on the Island, The Spyglass Inn in Ventnor undoubtedly has some of the best views from any pub. Overlooking Ventnor Bay and the Channel, even on a blustery day the view is stunning. Serving traditional home-cooked pub grub, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Family dining outdoors

Family Friendly

As all parents will know, if the kids are happy at mealtimes, everyone is happy. The Island has so many family-friendly pubs you won’t have that feeling of ‘can we take the kids here?’. The Wight Mouse in Chale has a dedicated children’s menu that has been designed for both toddlers and pre-teens. After you’ve ordered, the little ones can play in the games room at the bottom of the garden, as well as the outside play area.

When the weather turns, The Caulkheads in Sandown has been designed with kids in mind. There’s an indoor ball pit, silent cinema and the ice cream factory will be a huge hit!

During sunnier autumnal days The Fighting Cocks in Arreton has the most amazing play area with a slide, climbing frames, swings and a seesaw. There’s also a separate enclosed area for younger children.

Two cups of coffee at a table with a person in the background

Café culture

If you’re after a lighter bite or a little afternoon pick-me-up, the Isle of Wight also has a thriving café scene to rival even the most cosmopolitan city centres – perfect for quenching your thirst and resting weary feet.

If you need a coffee fix or even a spot of light lunch while exploring way out west, you’d be hard-pressed to beat Freshwater Coffee House. Expect expertly prepared beverages, stacks of fluffy pancakes and a warm welcome.

Cake lover? Make your way to Chessell Pottery Café pronto! This light and airy café is ideally located for walkers and cyclists and is renowned for the selection of cakes, cream teas and tasty breakfasts!

It’s impossible to talk about coffee without mentioning Caffè Isola – home to the Island Roasted coffee which we serve on our ferries. This artisan café in the heart of Newport serves specialty coffee and freshly prepared food.

Inside a farm shop at Quarr Abbey Isle of Wight

Local produce

With rich fertile soils and benefitting from an extra 7 hours of sunshine a week, our ‘Garden Isle’ is home to multi-award-winning growers and producers who provide our pubs, cafés and restaurants with tasty treats.

Making good use of the abundance of seafood from the surrounding waters, The Highdown Inn at Totland is a real hidden gem. Popular with locals, this traditional country pub is noted for its daily blackboard specials and fresh, seasonal menu. Similarly, the White Lion at Niton is an elegant, yet relaxed pub, where the team pride themselves on using as much local produce as possible.

If you’re looking to keep food miles to a minimum, we recommend Quarr Abbey. The heritage varieties end up on the plate mere metres from where they were grown – and the Farm Shop is the perfect place to pick up an edible souvenir to enjoy at home!

Dinner for two

Date Night

The Island is the perfect place for a great couples getaway and with a whole host of restaurants setting the mood, you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s something about a tapas-style dinner that makes it feel more romantic and Gastronomy in Cowes has a scrumptious selection of sharing dishes and creative cocktails too.

Over in St Helen’s, husband and wife team, Tom and Claire, own 33 St Helen’s, a cosy restaurant where they focus on great food, using the best ingredients with amazing service too. For intimate dining at a quaint country-style pub, look no further than The New Inn, Shalfleet. On a chilly autumnal day, there’s nothing quite like settling back here with the roaring fire and exquisite food and fine wines.

* A version of this article first appeared in Wightlife Autumn 2021. To read more inspirational articles, visit our Wightlife magazine page.

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