The best restaurants in Devon

Penned on the 4th August 2022

The best restaurants in Devon

Devon is renowned for its rolling green countryside and stunning north and south coastlines, it also has a thriving restaurant scene, making it a haven for foodies of all tastes. From fresh seafood to family-friendly feasts, and luxury city lunches to romantic venues on the water, there are lots of fantastic eateries to choose from. And many of them source their ingredients from the area’s very own fields, farms and seas. If you’re not sure where to start, sit back and read on to discover Devon’s culinary delights in our list of the best restaurants that this county has to offer.

Riverford Field Kitchen, Buckfastleigh

Best for: Organic veg-centric dishes

Colourful salad at the Riverford Field Kitchen

Northwest of Totnes in the South Devon countryside you’ll find the beautiful Riverford Field Kitchen, a 100% organic restaurant where vegetables are the star of the show. The seasonal plough-to-plate menu is packed with beautifully flavoursome veg that are made to perfectly pair with any meat, cheese or fish on offer (rather than the other way round!). The set menus include the likes of ‘Roasted purple carrots, caraway and hazelnuts’, ‘Green bean, grilled nectarine and pistachio’ and ‘Raspberry parfait with brown butter biscuit’. And the dining experience is as rustic and unique as the food. You’ll sit at long communal wooden tables and share dishes of the day with the whole restaurant in one sitting. There’s something particularly wholesome and enjoyable about savouring a delicious meal together that’s been grown in the fields that surround you as you eat - which is certainly reflected in the restaurant’s popularity. Booking is essential. 

 

The Horn of Plenty, Tavistock

Best for: Gourmet food with a view

Seafood and wine at The Horn of Plenty

Set in a gorgeous Georgian manor on the Devon-Cornwall border, The Horn of Plenty restaurant has breathtaking views and a sublime menu. And it’s been awarded three AA Rosettes to prove it. The cuisine is creative, rich in flavour and locally-sourced with over 90% of the ingredients coming from the south west. ‘British food with hints of French flair’ is the focus of the daily-changing menu where you might find delicious dishes like ‘Lemon sole meunière’, ‘Pan roasted Brixham stone bass’ and ‘Roasted Dartmoor lamb loin’. You can choose to eat from the casual lunch menu (including a roast on a Sunday) or treat yourself to a special evening of wining and dining for two. Or, if the sun’s shining, you could visit for a delectable afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the Tamar Valley and peaceful gardens.

 

Oyster Shack, Bigbury

Best for: Seafood lovers 

Mussels in a tabasco and lemon sauce at the Oyster Shak

Despite the modest name and laid-back decor, the food at Oyster Shack in Bigbury is high quality, local and as fresh as you can get. Seafood fans will love the platters overflowing with crab, prawns, mussels and monkfish. Or you can make your way through the menu of the Rock Oysters that give the eatery its name, experimenting with toppings like ‘Fennel and Yuzu’ or ‘Rhubarb Granita’. Local seafood sizzles on the barbecue as you dine outside on the covered terrace, and wine is served on ice in classic sandcastle buckets. Getting to the location adds to the experience too - it’s located on the tidal road on the Avon Estuary so there are two different sets of directions depending on how high the water is! 

 

The Masons Arms, South Molton

Best for: Relaxed Michelin-star dining

Thatched pub on a sunny day, The Masons Arms

For a cosy, low key Michelin-star experience don’t miss The Mason’s Arms in the foothills of Exmoor National Park. This idyllic 13th Century thatched inn serves up a sophisticated menu in an inviting, traditional setting. Owner and chef Mark Dodson has produced one of the finest menus in the region, with a focus on seasonal ingredients and local produce. The à la carte menu could include dishes like  ‘Wild mushroom arancini’, ‘Fillet of Exmoor beef with braised cheek’ or ‘Sea Bass, brown shrimps, saffron potatoes, basil and tapenade’. The portions are hearty and you can order a local ale or cider to wash it down, making it the perfect place to relax with some excellent food after a long day exploring the stunning national park surroundings.

To discover more of Devon’s best pubs take a look at our round-up here

 

River Exe Cafe, Exmouth

Best for: A romantic meal with a boat trip

Restaurant on water in Exmouth, River Exe Cafe

Priding itself as ‘Devon’s only floating gastro shed’, the relaxed River Exe Cafe sits on a custom-built barge off-shore in the Exe Estuary. It’s only accessible by boat so you get a mini adventure as well as a meal! You can book the water taxi when you book your table. Enjoy fresh, locally-sourced food such as ‘Darts Farm Ruby Red sirloin steak with truffle & parmesan fries’ or ‘Pan roasted fillet of hake with octopus’. Or for the ultimate romantic dinner for two order a seafood sharing platter with a bottle of wine as you watch the sunset glistening off the surrounding water. Beware that the River Exe Cafe tends to close in the winter months, so make sure you check the website for opening hours before you go.

 

The Elephant, Torquay

Best for: Photo-worthy plates

Rare steak at The Elephant in Torquay

Tucked away in the seaside town of Torquay is The Elephant, a Michelin-starred brasserie and restaurant belonging to chef Simon Hulstone. Foodies will love the ever-changing menu, with seasonal dishes that are always centred around local and sustainable ingredients - often grown on the chef’s own farm. On the à la carte menu you can expect dishes like ‘ Roasted Monkfish, Open Ravioli of Salsify & BBQ Fennel, Shellfish Bisque, Orange Puree’ and ‘Devon Blue Croquettes, Pickled Walnut & Shallot, Grilled Grelot Onions’. Or for the full experience go for the eight-course Tasting Menu with wine pairings. Whatever you choose to eat, presentation takes centre stage here, with every plate looking as pretty as a painting. You won’t be able to resist a snap - and the bright, relaxed interiors will make the perfect backdrop. 

 

The Ivy, Exeter

Best for: A luxury lunch in the city

Afternoon lunch and fizz at The Ivy, Exeter

If you’re spending the day in Devon’s capital of Exeter shopping the boutiques or seeing a show at the theatre, The Ivy in the city centre is the perfect place to stop for a sophisticated lunch and a cocktail. Inside, the high ceilings, large windows, floral decor and Art Deco details make for a beautiful informal luxury setting in the main restaurant - or on a warm day, you can enjoy the Parisian-style outdoor seating instead. The extensive menu has something for everyone too - stand-out mains include ‘Lobster Linguine’, ‘Steak Tartare’, ‘Chicken Milanese’ and ‘Plant-based Malaysian Curry’. And with cocktail options like ‘Mango Colada’, ‘Coffee Negroni’ and ‘Candy Floss Fizz’, the drinks are so good you might have to stay for more than one.

 

The Pig at Combe, Honiton

Best for: Families

Exterior of The Pig at Combe

Nestled in the picturesque Otter Valley, The Pig is renowned for its fantastic food and provenance-focused ‘25 mile menu’. Everything is sourced from that radius - much of which is grown in the kitchen’s huge walled garden that you can explore and let the kids burn off some energy before you eat. The classical dishes let the natural flavours do the talking, with mains like ‘West Baldon Farm Pork Chop with green beans and wasabi rocket’ and ‘Homeleigh Farm Heritage Carrots with Whitelakes Halloumi and Pickled Radish’, and desserts like ‘Oak Church Cherry Fool’ and ‘Mint Chocolate Custard’. There’s a great ‘Little Piglets’ children’s menu too. Or if you’d prefer a slightly more casual atmosphere you can dine in ‘The Folly’ which serves family-friendly food like wood-fired flatbreads, light bites and ice cream. It’s got plenty of benches for al fresco eating too. 

If you’re looking for more family-friendly activities and fun days out in Devon, take a look at our blog post here

 

The Seahorse, Dartmouth

Best for: Fine fish dishes

Fine seafood dishes at The Seahorse, Dartmouth

Run by celebrity chef Mitch Tonks, this multi-award winning restaurant serves seafood at its best. Fish is delivered twice a day from the nearby Brixham so the menu will vary depending what’s been landed - but whatever the catch, it’s guaranteed to be expertly prepared and exceptionally tasty. Simplicity is key too, with the fresh fish often being seasoned with just a few herbs and olive oil before roasting over open charcoals. The selection of antipasti, desserts and wine are just as good - and Tonks, who plays a leading role in the annual Dartmouth Food Festival, has even written a cookbook based on The Seahorse’s recipes (you can pick up a copy during your visit, should you wish to bring the experience home!). 

 

Instow Arms, Instow

Best for: Dog-friendly dining

Seating area looking out over the beach at Instow Arms

Just a stone’s throw from Instow’s year-round dog walking beach in North Devon, this modern pub-restaurant is well known for welcoming four legged friends. Sit inside in the relaxed restaurant area (where pups are often provided with treats!) or, if you can, outside on the terrace overlooking the stunning Torridge Estuary. Blankets and heat lamps mean you can enjoy the views all year round. The menu features a good variety of hearty comfort food, from ‘Beer battered Atlantic cod’ to ‘Pan Roasted chicken supreme’ to a classic ‘Ploughmans’. The homemade desserts menu is packed with scrumptious options too - so make sure you leave room! 

If you’re looking for more dog-friendly things to do and places to visit in Devon, take a look at our guide here.

 

Artillery Tower, Plymouth

Best for: History lovers 

Views from the Artillery Tower, Plymouth

The Artillery Tower is one of the oldest military buildings in Plymouth, built in the early 1500s to protect the deep water passage at the North Plymouth Sound. Now a fine family-run restaurant, it offers a unique experience to dine in an historic battlement with spectacular views across Plymouth Sound and Drake’s Island. The wood burning stove, exposed stone walls and walnut ceilings create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. And the food is exceptional, with the Michelin-rated menu focusing on local ingredients and artisan producers such as ‘Peppered haunch of venison with cranberry and orange compote’ and ‘Blue cheese souffle with pear poached in red wine’. The restaurant’s bread, pasta, chocolate and more are all homemade by the chef! And there’s an impressive wine list to accompany your meal. 

 

River Cottage HQ, Axminster

Best for: Dining events 

Roast dinner at River Cottage, Axminster

Set in a 100 acre organic farm near the Jurassic Coast, River Cottage HQ is where celebrity chef Huge Fearnley-Whittingstall launched his culinary career. You can attend one of the unique dining events held throughout the year in the beautifully restored barn here, from Seasonal Suppers and River Cottage Feasts to Chef’s Table experiences (some of which involve meeting Hugh himself). Many of the ingredients are homegrown in the kitchen garden or farm and everything is served in line with River Cottage’s SLOW food ethos - Seasonal, Local, Organic and Wild. There are lots of courses on offer at River Cottage too, so if you fancy your hand at cheese-making, butchery, foraging, fermentation or more, take a look at what’s coming up on their website.

Where to stay: Stargazy Shepherd's Hut is the sweetest retreat and is within walking distance to River Cottage HQ. 

 

Staying in Devon

Beautiful shepherd's hut with hot tub in Devon

As well as great food, this beautiful southwest county has plenty more to offer so it’s definitely worth staying for a while. Enjoy a few nights or even a week exploring the unspoiled countryside, quaint villages, hidden coves and dramatic cliffs. Hike the famous South West Coast Path (here are some of our favourite circular walks), go surfing or stand up paddle boarding, or simply slow down and unwind amongst nature with a good book and good company. And whether you’re bringing the whole family or it’s just the two of you looking for a Devon escape, we have some wonderful hideaways to choose from, from a cosy upcycled horsebox with a wood-burner, to luxury shepherd’s huts with hot tubs and breath-taking views. Take a look at our full collection of luxury glamping sites in Devon here

 

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