The secret is out – the Isle of Wight is a foodie’s paradise through and through. Whether it’s amazing produce, eateries in stunning locations, olde worlde pubs or beach-front cafés, you will find a slice of paradise right here…
It’s said that there are more pubs per square mile on the Island than any other county, but whether that is true or not, it certainly has its fair share. You will be hard-pressed to visit them all (yet another excuse to return!)
The Waterfront, Totland
For a real wow-sunset spot, The Waterfront in Totland is the top choice. The views over the clear waters as the sun dips below Bournemouth, have got to be one of the most photographed scenes on the whole Island.
The Fishbourne, Fishbourne
Aside from the convenience of being right next to the ferry terminal in Fishbourne, The Fishbourne serves up quality dining, matched with superb ales and an extensive wine selection. Situated in a wooded enclave, it makes a great stop on a family walk from nearby Quarr Abbey.
The Chequers Inn, Rookley
Families will love The Chequers Inn, Rookley. This traditional rural pub is situated in the heart of the beautiful countryside and boasts a fantastic outdoor children’s play area and games room.
The Anchor, Cowes
If you enjoy watching local artists and live music as you relax with a pint, then a trip to The Anchor in Cowes is a must. Here, you will find live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night throughout the year – from funk, jazz, blues and rock at weekends, to more chilled out acoustic sounds during the week.
The Culver Haven Inn, Culver Down
Feel on top of the world at The Culver Haven Inn. Set at the summit of Culver Down, with wide-reaching views across the Island and out over the English Channel, the pub offers a cosy stop after a bracing walk.
The Breeze, Island Harbour Marina
There are plenty of laid-back restaurants, bridging the gap between full-on fancy and proper pub, perfect for an evening with friends and family. The Breeze resides at Island Harbour Marina, situated on the River Medina, two miles south of Cowes. Expect a warm welcome for everyone, whether you are a boat-owner or landlubber.
The Cow, Tapnell Farm
The Cow is one of the most unique places to eat on the Isle of Wight, set in a converted Swiss barn at the heart of Tapnell Farm, near Yarmouth. The restaurant team champions the finest in local produce, with fresh takes on home-cooked gastropub classics, and delicious steaks and burgers straight from the grill.
The Garlic Farm, Newchurch
Fans of garlic flock to The Garlic Farm in Newchurch. The chefs create gourmet dishes often (but not always) with a good hint of garlic. Wherever possible, ingredients are sourced locally and they regularly serve their own Garlic Farm-reared Highland beef in the restaurant. The cattle can be seen enjoying the open pastures around the farm.
There are lots of lovely cafés on the Island, some open all year round and some that close for the winter.
The Best Dressed Crab, Bembridge Harbour
One that is open all year round, whatever the weather, is The Best Dressed Crab. Quirkily, it’s the Island’s only floating café, based on a houseboat in Bembridge Harbour. You can guess from the name what it’s famous for and the crab certainly doesn’t disappoint.#
Caffé Isola, Newport
Housed in what was once a large department store, Caffé Isola sits right in the heart of Newport, the Island’s county town. The home of Island Roasted coffee (find it on board in our Wight Taste shop) the team serves up a range of light lunches and cakes, all with a distinct Mediterranean flair.
Quarr Abbey, Ryde
Quarr Abbey provides a peaceful oasis away from modern life, in the form of its tea shop. Serving up tasty, rustic dishes, much of which is prepared using items grown in Quarr’s fertile gardens. Children will love to feed the pigs with the special food, available to purchase in the shop.
Chessell Pottery Café, Yarmouth
Paint some pottery and indulge in a cream tea at the same time at Chessell Pottery Café. Set in the picturesque West Wight, this café is known for great afternoon teas and kids will love to paint the pottery and take home a souvenir.
The Dell Café, Puckpool Sands
The Dell Café enjoys panoramic views across The Solent from its elevated position at Puckpool Sands. There is never a dull moment looking over the water here, you can see cruise liners as they leave from Portsmouth, and in the evening, watch the twinkling lights of the city light up the skyline.
Blueberrys Café, Shanklin Cliff Path
The view alone is worth it, but it is the cake that keeps people returning time and time again to Blueberrys Café on the Shanklin Cliff Path. Try flavours such as rhubarb and custard or Biscoff then walk it off along the path towards Shanklin.
New Holmwood Hotel, Cowes
Head to the New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes and bag a seat on the terrace. Overlooking this busy stretch of the Solent, it’s a perfect place for yacht-spotting, people-watching and catching a fabulous sunset in the evening.
The Seaview Hotel, Seaview
The Seaview Hotel keeps its offering as local as possible and work with a multitude of Island suppliers. The style is modern British with a regional Isle of Wight twist and the chefs work hand-in-hand with many local producers. The restaurant has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes and also holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand for creative, affordable food.
If fancy dining is your thing, or you have a special occasion to celebrate, a name to know is Robert Thompson, a chef who’s worked at all of the Isle of Wight’s top restaurants. He won the Island a Michelin star at his previous restaurant, The Hambrough, and now owns his own restaurant, Thompson’s, in Newport. Try the eight-course tasting menu for true decadence.
Briddlesford Lodge Farm Shop, Wootton
Briddlesford Lodge Farm Shop near Wootton, stocks an excellent range of local produce including its own award-winning range of cheeses, milk, yoghurt and cream. You can take a tour around the farm, pet the calves and enjoy a treat in Bluebells Café.
Brownriggs are well-known on the Island for its quality and affordable meat produced on their own farm near Godshill. They began the venture 20 years ago with a flock of free- range turkeys and geese and now also rear traditional Ruby Red cattle, have a flock of over 1,000 sheep and free-range hens that produce over 3,000 eggs a day!
Don’t forget, you can get a huge range of local produce from Wightlink’s on board shop, Wight Taste. Perfect for souvenirs or just for a treat for yourself.
A version of this article first appeared in Wightlife magazine.