Sense of place and seasonality are key factors when it comes to eating out in Norfolk. Whether it’s Cromer crab, Brancaster mussels, Holkham venison or Sharrington strawberries, there’s no shortage of exceptional, locally produced ingredients to inspire the region’s chefs. Special boards in pubs and restaurants may focus on succulent asparagus in spring, salty marsh samphire in summer or puddings based on crisp Norfolk apples and juicy plums in autumn. From cosy cafés with vintage tea cups and homemade cakes or fire-warmed pubs serving wherry ales to traditional fish and chips on the quayside or a spot of Michelin-starred fine dining, there are places to suit all budgets too.
If this whets your appetite to discover more about Norfolk, check out our guide to the county, plus more of our expert recommendations covering the best things to do, top-rated pubs, hotels and beaches.
Proprietor and chef Galton Blackiston oversees the kitchen in this highly regarded Michelin-starred restaurant and country house hotel, Morston Hall, with a choice of interior and conservatory dining areas. Expect beautifully presented and imaginative dishes served in a no-choice dinner menu of up to seven courses, which may start with butternut squash velouté with locally caught brown shrimps or wild Stiffkey sea bass with whey butter sauce.
Best table: In the conservatory, overlooking the garden
Wiveton Hall Café
It’s more about the location – next to the marshes in the peaceful, pine-shaded grounds of Wiveton Hall – than the food at this quirky café. On fine days, the brightly coloured outside chairs and tables fill up quickly. Fresh, reasonably priced dishes include salads, quiches, homemade cakes and pastries, using produce sourced from the onsite fruit farm and kitchen gardens. In summer it stays open for pizza evenings, made in the pizza oven.
Reservations: Walk-in only
This restaurant’s location, next to the new Foundry Field car park on the edge of Burnham Market, is initially off-putting. But there’s huge demand for tables at this large, hangar-like restaurant and you need to be prepared to book months ahead for peak season tables. The idea is British tapas with expertly prepared sharing plates of grilled pollock with celeriac velouté, heritage tomatoes with almond gazpacho or burrata with roasted hazelnut, followed by Socius chocolate bar or yoghurt panna cotta.
Creake Abbey Café
It’s well worth tracking down this small complex of café, retail outlets and food hall a few miles to the south of Burnham Market, where wholesome meals and teas are served by friendly staff in light and airy surroundings. The full English breakfast, including locally sourced bacon, eggs and sausage, is a Creake Abbey menu highlight, while lunchtime favourites include deli platters, burgers, soups and tagines. Takeaway menu offered daily.
Kevin and Jacki Mangeolles opened this intimate, Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms in 2007. Housed in a former eighteenth-century coaching inn in Old Hunstanton, Kevin is responsible for the cooking, with a dinner menu and more lavish tasting menu relying heavily on seasonal local produce including fish and seafood, game and lamb. The tasting menu may include warm scallop mousse and sauternes sauce, followed by suckling pig, heritage carrots, haricot beans, cavolo nero.
The White Horse
Seafood is the big draw in the spacious dining rooms of this glass-fronted, pub-restaurant with rooms. The White Horse's coastal location is special too, with fabulous views directly over the garden and tidal marshlands beyond. Subject to availability mains include tempura or natural oysters, grilled lobster, and smoked salmon from the Staithe Smokehouse. Local marsh-grazed sirloin is also a speciality, as is the seafood platter to share.
This family-run hotel and restaurant also has local fish-and-chips and pizza outlets in nearby Thornham, overseen by proprietor and chef, Eric Snaith. Titchwell Manor offers a formal Conservatory restaurant overlooking the garden and the more relaxed and dog-friendly Eating Rooms with bar and terrace. The dinner menu might include oysters with sauce Mignonette followed by venison loin with Jerusalem artichoke or beer-battered fish and chips.
The Old Bank Bistro
The limited but imaginative menu at this informal and friendly restaurant (family-run by Aga and Lewis King) changes frequently according to seasonality. Choices may include mackerel, beetroot, and cod roe with blackberry, followed by Norfolk lamb, carrot and alliums. Follow this with chocolate, black cherries, malt and popcorn.
The Gunton Arms
You’ll find chef, Stuart Tattersall, taking centre stage in the Elk Room, where he cooks in full view over an open fire. Walls of this hostelry are hung with striking modern art and it has stylish, art-filled rooms too. Restaurant specialities include the venison, which graze the surrounding estate, and Aberdeen Angus beef, hung for 28 days. Side dishes include diet-busting goose fat roast potatoes. Note that the Elk Room fire doesn’t operate on a Sunday.
The Suffield Arms
Like the Gunton Arms, a mile down the road, this renovated, brick-built 19th-century pub is the creation of modern art dealer, Ivor Braka. There are no bedrooms here, but there’s a similar array of striking pictures hung throughout the main bar, greenhouse-style restaurant, sultry first-floor saloon and even toilet cubicles. Come here for excellent Italian-influenced, Spanish tapas where mouthwatering sharing plates are cooked to order and may include linguine vongole, tuna tartare, patatas bravas, burrata salad, baby squid or garlic king prawns. Among the pizza toppings are iberico ham and chorizo with spinach and red onion, while desserts include sublime pannacotta with basil, tiramisu or baklavas with mascarpone.
No 1 Cromer
This fish and chips restaurant overlooking the pier and sea is owned by local chef, Galton Blackiston (owner of Michelin-starred Morston Hall, see above). Freshly battered cod or haddock are traditionally served with chips and mushy peas and takeway is also available. Upstairs Restaurant at No 1 also serves fish and chips, alongside cockled popcorn and crab burgers. In the same building, Ice Cromer serves local ice creams.
Chef patron, Richard Bainbridge, oversees a young, talented team at Benedicts including head chef from North Norfolk, Ashley Williamson, and restaurant manager, Luara Santos. There’s no a la carte menu, rather carefully honed, five- or eight-course affairs with wine pairing available, plus a three-course set lunch menu. Expect garden radish tart, chalk stream trout with English peas and macadamia nuts, and pistachio crème brûlée, served in a fresh, contemporary dining room, in the city centre.
The Dial House
Overlooking the main square of Norfolk market town, Reepham, 13 miles northwest of Norwich, this grade-II Georgian house has a clutch of dining areas – all with a stylish, vintage feel. Chef patron Andrew Jones offers his concept of “bistronomy” focussed on fine produce, rather than fine dining. Mains feature Swannington beef tartare or venison haunch with ragu, plus vegetarian options and sticky toffee pudding or baked custard tart with raspberry sorbet to finish.
If you’re craving some Middle Eastern flavours in atmospheric surroundings at a reasonable price, head to this friendly Turkish restaurant in the foody area of St Benedicts Street in Norwich where you’ll find mouthwatering mezze of grilled halloumi, crispy calamari and spicy sausage combined with marinated meat and vegetable dishes from the charcoal barbecue. Sweet desserts include sütlaç rice pudding and baklava.
Roger Hickman’s Restaurant
In this wooden-floored, modern dining room in the historic centre of Norwich, the modern British menus might include Cromer crab with quail egg, followed by duck with boulangère potato or turbot with oyster and raisins, then white chocolate panna cotta. A taster menu, available for the whole table only, comes with an optional wine flight. The private dining room sits 16 people.