1. The Hub, St Ives
The old favourite of almost the whole Cornish population, The Hub sits just opposite the lifeboat station in St Ives harbour and has a menu stacked with BBQd goodies. From brisket to pulled pork, sliders to burgers — my mouth is just watering thinking about it. There’s local beer on tap and the most idyllic view Cornwall has to offer from the upstairs balcony. Be prepared to fight for a seat.
2. The Ship Inn, Porthleven
If a party is what you’re after, look no further than the Ship Inn, perched precariously on the harbour wall of Porthleven. Its regulars and bar staff consist of the creators of Love Riot and the Masked Ball — be prepared for plenty of sparkly speedos, nipples, and things to get really fucking weird.
3. The Stable, Newquay
Relatively new to Cornwall, The Stable is some sort of holy grail for both pizza and cider lovers. Wall-to-ceiling glass overlooks Fistral beach and pizzas made from local produce are so perfectly made with love that you can’t help but scoff them in seconds.
4. Sandbar, Praa Sands
Cosy in the winter and a sun trap when summer decides to show its face, Sandbar is a family friendly affair all year round. On Sundays they deliver a carvery bigger than your face — best served with a traditional Cornish storm battering the coast outside.
5. SAM’s on the Beach, Polkerris
On Cornwall’s south coast near Fowey hides a little beach with one of the county’s finest restaurants. To get a table at SAM’s on the Beach, you’re going to have to book in advance, but there are three other branches in Fowey, Truro, and at Crinnis Bay if you can’t wait for a table to free up.
6. The Vault, Penzance
A cocktail bar-come-bistro in an old bank at the top of Penzance’s most historic street, The Vault goes from sophisticated beer garden to knickers-round-your-ankles as quickly as it takes to down a Dark and Stormy. The sun deck is great for slurping a jug of Pimm’s in the summer, and the DJ booth lives behind an old piano in the middle of an Alice in Wonderland-themed dancefloor. If you’re brave enough to return to the scene of the crime, they serve breakfast all day on Sunday: Kiwi Stacks highly recommended.
7. Blue Bar, Porthtowan
A personal favourite of mine, Blue Bar is my go-to for dates, catch ups, and good food on the beach. Tucked into a pocket of no 3G or phone signal, Blue has an intimate atmosphere with just a lick of surfer-hipster about it. When the sun is shining, grab yourself a buddy, a pint of something cold, and pop yourself on the steps with your face to the sea.
8. Blue Anchor, Helston
Home of the mighty Spingo. ‘Nuff said.
9. Royal Standard, Gwinear
I don’t even know where Gwinear is and I never know how I find myself in the Royal Standard, but I know that every time I do, there’s always a rocking punk band soaking the dated carpet with sweat and a mosh pit full of naked chicks. The beer is cheap and the bar staff are more than tolerant — anything, and I mean anything, goes in the middle of who-the-hell-knows in Cornwall.
10. The Rock Pool, Mousehole
Tucked behind Mousehole’s most famous hotel, The Old Coastguard, hides a little café in an oversized beach hut that looks out across the whole of Mounts Bay. Not one piece of crockery matches the other and the kitchen is so tiny it’s a wonder they can fit five members of staff back there. Food is home-cooked and full of everything bad for you — just how I like it.
11. Clipper Bar, Camborne
Part of me is disgusted with myself for bringing Clipper into this, the other part would be mad if I didn’t. Clipper, oh Clipper; the location where I’ve lost my dignity so many times. It’s a bar that attracts Cornwall’s grimiest EDM fans to drop more class As than the whole of Tomorrowland in the deepest, darkest hovel in Camborne whenever a DJ comes to town. Saturday nights are a whole other ballgame however — think Vengaboys and ‘90s pop, boobs for shots, and Andrew WK arms. Choose your night wisely.
12. Driftwood Spars, St Agnes
Reasons to love the Driftwood: 1 — It’s right on Trevaunance Cove, meaning you can go straight to the surf to the bar. 2 — it has a quirky layout that you will get lost in. 3 — The food is so. Fucking. Good. 4 — it has it’s own microbrewery. ‘Nuff said.
13. Random Arms, Maker
In a part of Cornwall I didn’t even know existed until very recently, the Random Arms in Maker Heights has it all. Open mic nights bi-weekly, camping, and an adjoining venue that hosts bands on a regular basis. I also have on good authority that Natty played a secret gig there not so long ago. Must mean it’s cool, right?
14. Gylly Beach Café, Falmouth
Gylly Beach Café is always, always busy. And for good reason. The atmosphere is chill, the food is delish, and the view even better. Sat on top of Gyllyngvase Beach with a sweeping view of the ocean, it’s the perfect place to cosy up under the heaters and wrap yourself in a blanket, bottle of wine in front of you, and your beau next to you. Free live music regularly.
15. Trevaskis Farm, Connor Downs
Desserts bigger than a tractor wheel and steaks thicker than your arm — Trevaskis is famous all over Cornwall for putting whole families into food comas on a Sunday afternoon. Bailey’s cheesecake FTW.
16. Becks Fish and Chips, Carbis Bay
People come from all over the Duchy to get a Becks. Be prepared to queue out the door for some time before taking your paper-wrapped Cornish cuisine to a car park on the beach and tucking into the wonderful, salt and vinegar-drenched goodness.
17. Kathmandu, Truro
Hidden behind Truro Cathedral, Kathmandu is a Nepalese restaurant that has the feeling of stepping into the family living room, your granddad offering you a beer whilst your sister cooks and hums to the radio in the kitchen. There is no place in Cornwall that even comes near the greatness of the curry at Kathmandu. Fact.
18. Beerwolf, Falmouth
Beerwolf not only has the greatest pun known to man, but it’s a literary snob and beer lover’s haven. Direct quote: “Decent beer, loads of rum, foosball AND a bookshop. Plus you can negotiate with the bar staff on what tunes to play of an evening!” Win.
19. The Beached Lamb, Newquay
Cutsie little café with perhaps the friendliest hippy vibe on the planet. Breakfast at The Beached Lamb is to die for and has a healthy mix of fruit, waffles, and a big fat fry up. They have cake and smoothies and fresh fruit juices and beautiful people and I just love it.
20. Sunset Surf, Gwithian Towans
Sunset Surf has recently had one hell of a refurb and has decking outside and an even friendlier atmosphere than it did before. Come straight off the beach and grab yourself a pint of Korev while the sun goes down in front of you. Heaven on earth, maybe?
21. Dolphin Penzance
The Dolphin is probably my favourite pub in the whole world. Dark and cosy for winter nights, the menu is stuffed with sticky toffee puddings and sizzling chicken, greasy lasagne, and chutney and stilton sandwiches. Good old-fashioned pub grub. If you happen upon it at Christmas, be sure to take part in the annual Carolaoke.
22. The rest of St. Ives
I just spent 20 minutes arguing with myself over which St. Ives restaurant or bar to put next, and, hell, I just couldn’t decide. They’re all great. Special shout out to: Rum & Crab Shack, Blas Burgers, Porthminster Cafe, Seafood Café, Peppers, The Firehouse, Ocean Grill, The Mermaid, Balcony.