Eating In Oxford
Oxford's not a bad place to eat, considering it is a fairly small provincial town.
It's important to remember that qualifying clause "considering it's a fairly small provincial town"; it's also important to remember that Oxford's range of restaurants is influenced by its large student population, so that whilst there are a large number of cheap and cheerful eateries (many of which are very good), there are very few, if any, good top-end restaurants.
As is traditional, let's divide things up by geographical origin of cuisine, starting at the Greenwich meridian and going east.
And some random links:
It should be noted that this is an entirely separate entity from Drinking In Oxford.
Note that the listing below includes assessments of quality; these are of course completely subjective and, moreover, made by more than one person, so they are not necessarily even internally consistent. Maybe we should start noting personal ratings, say ratings on a Five Point Scale, in the form [4/5 TA]. Alternatively, leave a comment (possibly including a rating).
Emphatically non-sandwich, The Nosebag (St Michael's St, Centre) is relatively cheap and very cheerful, service is fairly canteen-counter but food is good, including both vegetarian, vegan and carnivorous tastes as well as fairly international cuisine - and look out for the sinful-looking desserts and fruit wines... [4/5 TL/WJR] A funny mix of Malaysian and British, but suitably cheap! [6/10 LR]
British - Sandwiches and suchlike
Note that these places may be somewhat international in flavour; however (a) the sandwich (which we will define as anything with bread on either side) is a fundamentally British invention (b) the world essentially counts as British anyway - we won it fare and square (except for the bits we stole, and Hull), (c) the world is clearly located at zero degrees east, and so goes here in the order and (d) they all belong in one category, and that's got to go somewhere. So there.
- Gee And Dees? (Little Clarendon Street, Jericho; St Aldates, Centre) is a famed ice-cream parlour; they also do a nice line in bagels, and a good vegetarian selection. They apparently supply their ice-cream to various restaurants around the city. The Little Clarendon Street branch is older, more cramped, better served, and more trendy/characterful. In Little Clarendon Street, 'G&D' stands for 'George and Davis', the founders; on St Aldates, it's 'George and Danver's', as by the time this branch was opened, Davis had scarpered with the money. Allegedly. [At the St Aldates branch] you're in less danger of being caught in the blast should Christ Church's starcruiser gatetower decide to launch while you're there. -- WJR I found the service in the St Aldates branch dire, I wouldn't go there again [3/10] -- LR The St Aldates branch looks like a Star Bucks with the serial numbers filed off! -- TA
- Alpha (Covered Market, Centre) is an organic, vegan, macrobiotic, etc sandwich bar (also selling salads and smoothies). Recommended. -- WJR They're actually very good sandwiches, and the smoothies are particularly fine. -- TA
- The Oxford Sandwich Shop (Covered Market, Centre) is, er, a sandwich shop. Recommended. -- WJR DYM the Oxford Sandwich Company? which is in the covered market next to Ricardo's and happens to be the best sandwich place in Oxford and also very reasonably priced compared to most of them -- AG
- Ricardo's (Covered Market, Centre) is also a sandwich shop. Recommended. -- WJR
- Harvey's (High Street near Queens and Bus Station) is another sandwich shop. The steak and Ementhal baggueettes are my favorite. --DM
- Fasta Pasta (Covered Market, Centre) is an Italian deli which also sells Italianesque sandwiches: ciabatta (plain, spinach or tomato) with foreign cheese and sun-dried olive pesto whatnot sort of things. Massimo superbo! Er, io sono Ingles, no habla Italiano, grazie. The sandwiches are genuinely fantastic; the tomato ciabatta is the best (the others can be a little dry, the spinach being better than the plain), and most of the fillings are excellent; special mention goes to the Special, which is pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomato paste (greem, white and red, like the Italian flag, d'you see?); memorise the ingredients, as the ever-changing staff seem less and less aware of its composition. [5/5] -- TA Gone downhill a lot lately. -- TA
- La Croissanterie (St Aldates, Centre and Junction From Hell) does a gorgrous bacon panini and other nice things, though lacking in seats [7/10 LR]
- Cafe Nero (High St, Centre) do good coffee and hot chocolate, but are a bit weak on sandwiches. Favoured hangout of the local Lib-Dems. Who the hell decided to put lettuce in a panini? Warm lettuce? Jesus. -- TA
- Eggs Eggcetera, Botley Road, does not bad sandwiches, just as long as you don't mind mayo. Their Cornish pasties are excellent too. [6/10 LR].
- Reservoir Books (St Aldates', Centre: beside the 'Alice Shop'): not much choice in things to eat but good atmosphere, good things to drink and read... Rather French cuisine. Sebastian recommends, as do TL and WJR for the soup. [4/5]
- The Alternative Tuck Shop is on the corner of Mansfield Rd and either Holywell or Longwall St (I can never remember which is which - the one with New college on it) and is notable for its very efficient service with multiple people making sandwiches and one doing the money which means that even on a lunchtime in term you can get in and out very fast -- AG
British - Tea Shops
- The Randolph (St Giles, Centre) is a grand hotel, which has a bar, restaurant and tea room. I thought the Randolph's afternoon tea was very disappointing. Cheap jam, warm champagne and old cakes. Not worth the money at all! [2/10] -- LR
- The Rose (High St, Centre) looks rather stylish (having been updated from 'Rosie Lee's Olde Musty Tea Shoppe' or whatever it was); no idea what the tea's like.
- The Grand Cafe (High St, Centre) looks very classy; again, food unknown. Food v. good, although the individual chocolates aren't that special (go to Chocology in the Covered Market and pig out on Leonidas, go on)... and the drinks are v. nice as well: good range of fruit juicy type stuff. -TCW
British - Grease-based
- The Iffley Road chippie (Iffley Rd, East) does exactly what it says on the tin. [It] does a mean battered Snickers. OK I know they sound horrid, but they really are delightful, light crispy batter on a soft and gooey snickers bar, gorgrous and only 65p [6/10] -- LR
- The St Giles Cafe (St Giles, Centre) is a damn fine greasy spoon, damn fine, run by a fat old Portugese guy. Plates piled high with food; all fried, all the time. Consult your GP before eating there, though. Mmmmmmm. -- TA
- The Excelsior (Cowley Road, East) is a classic greasy spoon run by Greek Cypriots, with a diverse range of inhabitants. I once met Christopher Zeeman in there, though not all are as distinguished, or indeed coherent - see <http://www.j-paine.org/excelsior.html>. The coffee is the best in Oxford, rich and creamy, still made in a 1950s' cappucino machine. The tea is pretty good too, and the Welsh rarebit.
- Micks Caf on Botley Road is OK I suppose. [4/10 LR]. Unknown to many is the earliness of its opening - 6am on weekdays, 7am Saturdays, 8am on Sundays, to cater for the railway workers, lorry drivers and others who use it. Closes at 2pm. Numerous copies of the tabloids and a mural of the staff on the wall to look at while eating, good value breakfasts, bacon sarnies, etc.
- Carfax Chippie (High Street) has a single table, so you can kind of 'eat out' there. Fish and chips are good, chicken invariably frozen on the inside and to be avoided at all cost. Lurks down the kind of alleyway that would usually house the neighbourhood crack-merchant.
- The Mediterranean Fish Bar (Abingdon Road) appears to have little to do with the Med, but offers a reasonable fish and chips if you're passing by [6/10 LR]
- We will draw a veil over the Kebab Vans. They provide essentially the same menu with varying degrees of pleasantness. Note that Kebab Vans count as British because the kebab van is peculiar to Oxford, even if the meat-like foodstuff after which they are named is not; furthermore, to call Kebab Vans Turkish would be an insult to Turkey.
Pubs with Food
- The Radcliffe Arms (Cranham St, Jericho) is a well-known student haunt. Decent, cheap food, but a poor selection of beer. Becoming less cheap, but their service is still uncannily fast.
- The Goose (Gloucester Green, Centre) is a trendy Bass Ikea pub. Good, cheap food, but incredibly unreliable: you can turn up and they will say they are serving food until you try and order, when they will tell you the kitchen is closed or give you the wrong food.
- The Turf (Holywell Street, Centre) is the best pub in Oxford bar none - first-rate beer and pretty good food too... but don't order food unless you don't mind an extremely long wait [?/10 LR].
- The King's Arms (Corner of Holywell Street and Parks Road, Centre) verges on being 'trendy', but it does have a good range of food.
- The Three Goats Heads (St Michael's St, Centre) has terrible, terrible food, but okay beer. They're a Sam Smith's pub, which means all their beer and spirits are Mr Smith's own brand - the sight of cloned Southern Comfort and Archers is a sight to behold.
- The Gardeners Arms (Plantation Road, Walton Manor) appears to serve veggie and vegan food. A far cry from their old steak and onion baguettes.
- The Royal Oak (Woodstock Road?, North(ish)) tends to have decent selection of beer (including some Belgian bottled stuff) and serves rather good (if commensurately priced) 'gourmet pub' food. They seem to be somewhat disorganised though, often having run out of half the dishes by the end of the evening. Still it's under new(ish) management, so this may improve...
- The Harcourt Arms (just off Cranham St, Jericho) serves good sarnies, soup, pate, potatoes etc. The food is decent, the beer is good (and they do 4 pint jugs), but they have no tap soft drinks and bottles are tiny. Beware of serving time - IIRC? it's 'til 10 except on Saturday and Sunday, when it's 'til 8. Not always open during the day.
- The Turl Bar (Turl St, Centre) is a Beefeater chain pub, often pleasantly quiet and the food is cheap and pleasant [5/10 LR]
- Yates on George Street often does very cheap specials [4/10 LR]
- The Holly Bush (aka Walter Mitteys) does some cheap n tasty grub, and the hygeine seems to have improved of late! [6/10 LR]
- The Watermans down by Osney Lock has a lovely setting, but since it changed hands the food was dire, and the coca-cola was the worst I've ever had. [2/10 LR]
- Osney Arms, Botley Road, does an extremely basic menu. What there is isn't bad, but don't expect choice. Lots of locals and not that friendly, though the staff are fine. [3/10 LR]
- The White House (Botley Road) is a pleasant pub, nice garden when it's sunny, and with a vaguely French menu. Their burgers are delicious, cooked rare [7/10 LR]
- Le Petit Blanc (Walton Street, Jericho; <http://www.blanc.co.uk/lpb_oxford.htm>) is a swanky brasserie run (or at least owned) by Raymond Blanc.
- It is overpriced and the food is not at all special; avoid. -- TA
- I disagree - the food is, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic. Very expensive, but worth the money. -- Jo Charman
- I'll take the middle position and say that the food is good, but (bearing in mind I'm no gourmand) I couldn't honestly say it's worth much more than a meal at Pierre Victoire, for example. --AW
- I have to admit that it was a lot better the third time i went than the other couple of times. It's still not as good as it's cracked up to be, though. You would get better food for the same total price by getting on the X90 and going somewhere really good in London. Not quite as convenient, though. -- TA
- La Gousse d'Ail (<http://www.lagoussedail.com/>, location unknown but north) is a wildly overpriced Gallic nonsense. It is also either soon to close or recently closed, or something.
- Ma Belle (Blue Boar St, Centre) is a French place of average price and unexceptional quality. Some people quite like it, but others don't. I think it's rubbish. -- TA It's quite a comfy atmosphere, but too expensive for the average student, I think --TL Now called something else, and I'm told the quality of the food has dropped [? LR]
- Pierre Victoire (Little Clarendon Street, North-Centre) has excellent food and reasonable prices (about 8ukp for a main). [9/10 LR] I'd say decent rather than excellent; it's certainly very good value. -- TA Just discovered their £8.90 for 3 course lunch on Sunday, yum! [LR].
- Cafe Rouge (Little Clarendon Street) is the archetypal French chain restaurant. I remember as being like Pierre Victoire, but not quite as good. -- ? Me too. -- TA
See also Fasta Pasta (under British - Sandwiches).
- Zizis on George Street is liked by several people for its food, but certainly don't expect good service (they managed to get my order for lasagne wrong, despite pointing to it on the menu as well) [3/10 LR]
- Branca (Walton Street) is a trendy, modern but fairly pleasant restaurant with a random mix of British, French and Italian food (DS and I decided that on balance it's Italian). Food nice, but the portions are just too damn small for me! [6/10 LR]
Pizzerias are separated from 'proper' Italian restaurants, because Pizza Hut et al cannot honestly be described as Italian.
- Pizza Hut (George Street etc, Centre) is bloody naff rubbish, but they do have the ice-cream factory. ICE-CREAM FACTORY!!!-- TA And an as much as you can eat session at lunchtime. [3/10 LR]
- Bella Pasta (George Street, Centre) (take note of the Bella Pasta Question) Now called Bella Italia and it's not really a pizzeria in the Pizza Hut style with its rather extensive menu of italiany food - went there for the first time in years very recently (Oct 04) and it was yummy --AG
- ASK (George St, Centre; yes, that is what it's called) is a pizzeria. [It] verges on the proper Italian, and they do takeaways. Recommended --TL It's nothing like proper Italian; the pizza is almost, but not quite, almost as good as what you can buy in Tesco -- TA
- Marco's (Cowley Road, East Oxford) used to be called Marco and Marco's; draw your own conclusions. It's okay, not great, and doesn't take cards - cash or cheque only. Didn't OUSFG take Stephen Baxter there once? Or was that MMS? Baxter. The other time, i think we took him to the Chiang Mai. -- TA
- Pizza Express (Golden Cross, off Cornmarket Street, Centre) is another chain eatery. It's rather nice as far as pizzerias go. Veggies beware: what they call 'veggie' on the menu can be somewhat random. Somewhat expensive, but good fun with a group. --TL [7/10 LR]
- Puccinos (Golden Cross (between Cornmarket Street and the Covered Market), Centre) is a rather pleasant cafe with eccentrically decorated walls and delicious sandwiches and salads. Quite expensive for a snack, but reasonable for a lunch.
- Domino's (Temple Cowley, Far East; Park End St, West) is a bottom-of-the-range pizza place. The Caption Convention usually gets its pizzas there. [They] are both extremely slow. As in really slow. Usual wait time is about 90 minutes. [2/10] -- LR
- Gino's (Gloucester Green) is ideal for those who like their portions large. Pizza is better than Domino's (not hard I know). Make sure you're hungry if you order a garlic bread! [6/10 LR]
- Hajduczek (Cowley Road, East; http://www.hajduczek.co.uk/>) is a Polish place. Very nice indeed. Even unprepossessing dishes like traditional cabbage and beetroot salad are good. Service was a little haphazard, but swift enough. -- ?
- Someone thought this was called Euphrates. They (a) were wrong and (b) should probably brush up on their geography.
This term refers to the mish-mash of Greek, Turkish, Lebanese etc that turns up in various places. Most have hookah pipes; some have belly-dancers.
- Al Salaam (Hythe Bridge St?, West Oxford) is probably the best Mediterranean in town. Very properly Lebanese. Nice food let down by rather poor service [6/10] -- LR
- Euphrates (Cowley Road, East Oxford) is pretty good. Has belly-dancers. Is run by Kurds, which informs the food.
- Al Shami (?, Jericho) is okay. Insane selection of feta-based desserts.
- Bar Meze (Headington High St?, Headington) is so-so. The food's not great, but the decor has to be seen to be believed (especially the bathrooms).
- Kazbar (Cowley Road, East Oxford) is good fun, if you want to sit in a Moroccan-style conservatory and eat pretty good meze (and, let's face it, who doesn't?). The weekday lunch deal is good value. It's currently being extended by quite a lot, so they're not open all the time; when the extension is finished, the character will probably change a lot - it looks like it could be three or more times bigger (although if they get it right, it could be awesome). Food is nice [8/10] -- LR The food and cocktails (well, the mojito and golden margarita, which are the only ones i've had) are both good. I live quite close, so i go there way too much. -- TA
- Restaurant Du Liban (Broad Street, Centre) is a decent central mediterranean. Probably the best place to go with a group: the fare's pretty good, even for veggies, but the atmosphere is occasionally a bit manic. Has belly-dancing nights, allegedly. -- TL
- The Moonlight Tandoori (Cowley Road, East Oxford) is the best of the Cowley Rd Indians (probably). Awesome wall paintings; the food is a bit variable. -- TA I've had a couple of very nice meals there [8/10 LR]
- Aziz (Cowley Road, East Oxford) is highly overrated. Food extremely average though pleasant surroundings and service. [5/10 LR] I disagree - nearly as nice as Chutney's -- AG
- Saffron (Woodstock Road??, Summertown) has pretty good food and disquietingly classy decor. Bizarrely, it also has a variety of French dishes on the menu.
- Chutney's (New Inn Hall Street?, Centre) is the default curry destination if you're anywhere near the centre of town. Decent vegetarian selection, it is said. They do dosas (large, wafer-thin rice pancakes, usually served with vegetable curry), which is unusual. Hot-hot-hot! --TL
- Cafe Turmeric (Park End St, West) is a goodish curry-place with a reasonable selection of stuff, even if you're a veggie. Daily Information? has given it a good write-up, and having been there myself with the guy who is to curry as some idiots are to wrestling crocodiles, I can't fault it for having anything other than slightly bland decor. -- TL What a way to describe Mat et al! [Docsoc Note] Anyway, I'm sure the crocodiles are a lot nicer to eat. -- WJR
- Bombay (82 Walton Street, Jericho) has just been given five stars from the Oxford Student for its chicken tikka masala. The Bombay is lovely, and they let you bring your own booze. Nice people, lovely food, own booze. Shame that the Ox Stu will be encouraging people to go to it, so filling all the tables. -- DS The duck and tropical fruit curry (huhu, dude, you said currry) is the best thing I've eaten in an Indian in years - lychees, pineapple, mango, the works. -MF One of the most enjoyable curries I've had in Oxford [8/10 LR]
- Akash (Cowley Road, East) is also probably the best of the Cowley Rd Indians. A bit plainer than some, but the food is nice and good value. [7/10 LR]
- Samads at the Junction From Hell has gone downhill recently, and is probably best avoided [2/10 LR]
- House of Spice (end of St Aldates) is quite tasty, although the jazz they play at you can be a little offputting [7/10 LR]
- Cafe Zouk (above the Carfax chippie on High Street) does a fairly good curry if you're in the centre of town; sit by the window and you can ogle the people in the gym opposite too [6/10 LR]
- Paddyfields (Hythe Bridge St, West) is very nice, with a good all you can eat. One day, OUSFG will go there. -- TA
- Chopsticks (Cowley Road, East; near where Sinoco used to be) has very good all you can eat. Interesting carved root vegetables. Just don't get distracted on the duck pancakes and forget there is another course to come! Yummy! [9/10 LR] Rubbish! eat multiple course of duck and starters cos everyone knows they're the best bits.. --AG
- Liaison (Castle St, West) is really nice, not as expensive as it looks (not much more than £20/head with 3 bottles of wine between 5). Richard Stallman? liked it so much, he went back again the next day. I used to really like Liason, but I've been put off since they got a 12k-odd fine (see the Oxford Rag) for dodgy food hygeine :-(
- The Pink Giraffe (St Clements, Centre) is not bad at all on the vegetarian front, if spicy, and fun: genuinely Chinese in style. Does takeaways, but don't let that put you off. Really excellent service as well. -- WJR
- Kowloon House (Walton Street, Jericho) is cheap Chinese at its most generic. If that sounds good to you, you'll enjoy it.
- The Mongolian Wok (George Street, Centre) is great fun. You get to create your own dishes from a wide selection of ingredients, have them wokked before your very eyes, scoff (or leave) the results and go back for more. I think you pay for as much as you can eat in two hours. Always wanted lamb and squid in black bean sauce with pineapple chunks? Go for it. They make an effort to cook veggie stuff separately too. Fairly decent cocktails, but leave before 10, when the karaoke starts...
- Top Work (on the corner of Iffley Road and Between Towns Road) is not bad if you're in the area, but not worth going out of your way for. [5/10 LR]
- Noodle Bar (Gloucester Green, where the Gourmet Pizza Company was) has been cheap and reasonable evry time I've been, but other people I know have done less well. Their duck actually tasted like duck! Service is quick [6/10 LR]
- The Oxford Thai (Cowley Road, East Oxford) is cheap, good, and very, very cheap. Also quite cheap. The restaurant has no Thai feel though, which I found a bit of a let-down. [6/10] -- LR Granted; Shakira and pine tables aren't exactly ripe with eastern promise. -- TA
- The Chiang Mai Kitchen (off High Street, Centre) is the best of the Thai restaurants in Oxford, but also the most expensive.
- The Thai Orchid (St Clements, Centre) may be more expensive than the Chiang Mai Kitchen.
- Bangkok House (Hythe Bridge St, West Oxford) Yummy food, good service, pleasant atmosphere and a rather overwhelming menu [8/10 LR]
- Gulf of Siam (Hythe Bridge St, West Oxford) has decent food (including a number of really wrong combinations like, oh, a squid fighting some fried garlic in a half pineapple or something) and the most comprehensively bonkers decor for miles (it's maritime - portholes, life-belts, fish hanging from the ceiling, a lighthouse, etc).
It is possible to quibble over the relative Easternness of Indonesia and Japan; here, they have been ordered by the coordinates given in the CIA World Factbook?. Quite how the CIA assign point coordinates to countries is unclear, and, presumably, if they told us, they'd have to kill us.
- The Bandung on Walton Street does Indonesian food, not bad, but the food isn't stunning for the price [4/10 LR].
- Gashi Gashi (Cowley Road, East Oxford) is excellent; all sorts of Japanese stuff, decent prices, and cheap and copious sushi during happy hour on Saturdays. The guy who runs it's a bit crazy, but there you go.
- Edamame (Holywell Street, Centre) is a bit more enigmatic; comments from people who've been there more than once are welcome. It seems to be more upper-crust than Gashi Gashi, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's better, just more expensive. I've been to Edamame lots at lunchtime (although never in the evening when the menu changes) and it's always been very good even if the queue can get pretty long. Having tried a range of stuff in Edamame was useful when I went to Japan and had to order food based on pictures/plastic food! The food was actually really similar (in taste as well as appearance) although I've not been there since returning so a change to the wiki will soon be in order :-) --AG Now been there again and it's just as nice as I remember it although I now resent paying english prices for stuff that was just soo cheap in Japan.. --AG
- The Red Star Noodle Bar (Cowley Road, East Oxford; on the site of the former Soundbite Cafe) is basically a generic Wagamama clone (even down to the logo!), minus the pretension; the food is pretty good, but not exactly cheap. I'd say the food is excellent and the prices are fine for the quality, highly recommended [8/10 LR]. Also, the word on the street is that although the dishes are Japanese, the cooking is Chinese; it's not clear what this really means. Seems like mixed eastern dishes to me. I've seen Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Indonesian dishes on their menu so far [LR]. The dailyinfo review at least used to say it was chinese on the basis of their dumplings which are apparently chinese ones but seemed identical to the ones we ate every day in Japan so who knows... one of my favourite places to eat anyway --AG
- Hi-Lo Jamaican Eating House (Cowley Road, East) has interesting food and a nice atmosphere, but extremely laid back service and isn't that cheap [3/10] -- LR The service can be laid-back, but can also be a bit too in-your-face. The food isn't great, but it is worth having once, if you haven't had Jamaican food before (try the goat!). -- TA
Category Oxford Geography