Gunwharf Quays is Portsmouth’s big draw for eating out and the queues of cars into the city pay testament to this reputation – who can resist a spot of retail therapy followed by a meal out and a glass of wine, all while overlooking the sea?
For a more bohemian, off-the-beaten-track experience, head to Southsea. It’s where you will find most of the locals eating out, sampling cuisine from around the world and often paying a fraction of the price. There are some awesome independent restaurants in the area – and many I return to again and again, whether it be for a quick Tuesday night supper with a friend, or a weekend get-together with family.
For authentic Thai cuisine – at amazing prices – head to the Thailand Café and Takeaway in Albert Road. The atmosphere is of a street market kitchen – this is certainly not fine dining. But the food is authentic, the service is super-friendly, and the value-for-money is jaw-droppingly good. You can also take your own wine or beer – another major plus if you’re on a budget. When the bill comes to £10 or so, and I’ve had a delicious meal that I didn’t have to cook myself (or do any washing up), I’m a happy man! Just make sure to book ahead, as it’s very popular.
Nearby is one of Portsmouth’s gems – Nara. If you love sushi, you’ll love this place. It doesn’t quite have the glitz of Sakura, another of the city’s Japanese restaurants that is well worth a visit, but its sushi is some of the best I’ve tried – and I’ve eaten a lot! The chicken katsu bento box is one I return to again and again, washed down with Miso soup and a glass of crisp white wine (but not all at once!). The restaurant is run by a lovely local family and the service never disappoints.
It’s easy to take a tour of Asia in this corner of Southsea as across the road is the fairly new, Bubble and Pho, another street kitchen-type restaurant. Their Vietnamese spring rolls really are to die for – and pack a taste punch wrapped in a healthy package.
For a more formal meal, head to the Indian Cottage in Albert Road. It’s beautifully decorated, the service is always spot-on, and it’s the perfect place for a special dinner. Slightly more expensive than some of the other street kitchen eateries, but worth it if you’re looking for a bit more refinement.
Albert Road is full of great restaurants and cafes! Some of my personal favourites are Nicholsons (perfect for a relaxed Sunday lunch. Try the tortilla and meatballs, washed down with a glass of fruity red), and Casa de Castro (their home-made pastries and tarts are fantastic, although it can sometimes be difficult to get a seat, so I often get takeaway)
Albert Road isn’t the only food mecca in Southsea, however. Osborne Road, Palmerstone Road and Elm Grove are full of their own gems. For a bit of glamour head to Koh Thai Tapas in Elm Grove – it’s great for a Friday or Saturday night out with friends. For a mid-week meal, I recommend 6oz Burger in Osborne Road – the burgers are always fantastic – or for some fusion street food, Two Doors Down is a good bet (their tacos are particularly good)
I’m a big fan of Greek/Turkish/Lebanese food and all its delicate spicing and two of my favourite restaurants are Istanbul, Steki and Agora. Great atmosphere, tasty food at a reasonable price. Don Claudio in Jubilee Terrace is a great spot for authentic Italian cuisine (you know it’s good because this is where all the local Italians eat on a Saturday afternoon)
Although I love touring the world in my dining, you can’t beat an American-style burger on a Saturday afternoon and one of my new-found favourite spots is FEED, at the Hard. Just a stone’s throw from the crowds at Gunwharf, this is definitely worth a visit!
The list goes on! Southsea really offers a feast of the world for foodies, so make sure you give it a try next time you head to Portsmouth!