Hand-picked places to eat, stay, shop & cook in the South West

Insider's guide to Exeter

Published on July 1, 2014
Home » Good stuff » Features » Insider’s guide to Exeter

So you’re planning a trip to the city, you want to sample some of the best food and drink the South West has on offer, but you don’t know where to start? Find out where to eat and stay in Exeter with our fabulous insider’s guide …

Abode

Restaurants

There are some excellent places to dine in Devon’s capital city – here are a few of our faves

Hubbox

For that all-American eating experience, you can’t go far wrong with Hubbox. With its  street art murals and shipping container kitchen, this is surely one of the trendiest eating spots in the city. You’ll find homemade burgers, gourmet hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and beef brisket on the menu, washed down with a craft or draft beer, natch.

Circa 1924

Go back in time and relax in the speakeasy vibes of steakhouse and bar, Circa 1924. Enjoy one of the cracking cocktails, served with a side of live music and Devon produce from the constantly changing menu.

Polpo

Following huge success in London, Polpo has landed in Exeter, bringing superb Venetian cuisine to the heart of the city. Shoppers, lunch-breakers, day-trippers and hungry wanderers will love the affordable osteria menu, perfect for a alfresco afternoon aperitifs on the sunny terrace.

Rendezvous

A stone’s throw from the cathedral, Rendezvous is your go-to for wining and dining to a rustic, intimate atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot for grabbing a quick, casual lunch with friends or meeting colleagues for a more formal dinner. The garden is a little oasis in the centre of the city: sit in the sun and enjoy a glass of the good stuff from the extensive wine list.

Jasmine

Spice lovers will love a trip to Jasmine, Exeter’s finest Asian restaurant. A short wander from the cobbled paths that line the historic centre, this sleek eatery offers an exciting range of delicious and authentic Thai dishes – make a beeline for the chef’s sharing selection which is the perfect accompaniment to an evening shared with friends.

Harry’s Restaurant

Since 1993, the Pound family at Harry’s Restaurant have provided Exeter with honest food at affordable prices: no wonder people keep coming back again and again. Now in their third generation, the family still consistently deliver deliciously tasty meals; some even swear that the steak is the best found in Exeter…

Want to find the best places to sip cracking coffee in the South West? Discover the region’s top coffee shops and roasters here

The Galley

Not far from Exeter

The Jack in the Green

Drive a short way from the hustle and bustle of Exeter to the village of Rockbeare and you’ll find the delightful Jack in the Green. Along with the friendly atmosphere and excellent service, you’ll enjoy stunning restaurant dishes displaying a celebration of South West food in both an la carte and relaxed bar menu.

The Galley

For the very best locally caught seafood, head down to The Galley in Topsham, where the fish is so fresh that the restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays because the boats aren’t in.

The Salutation Inn

While we’re in Topsham, a must-visit for any foodies who love fine dining is the thoroughly fabulous, 18th century Salutation Inn. Peer up at the unique Venetian window as you pass through the old carriage porch into the restaurant, where you’ll be treated to one of three weekly changing menus, all of which can be adapted to taste.

The NoBody Inn

Head south west of the city and wind your way along twisting lanes with Dartmoor stretching out ahead of you, until you come to the village of Doddiscombsleigh, home to The NoBody Inn. This low-ceilinged, 17th century inn with blackened beams and inglenook fireplaces will make the drive well worth it as you bask in old world charm. The menu is far from dated, though, with its ever-changing range of meat, fish, pastas, risotto and vegetables to suit all tastes.

The Pig at Combe

Informality rules at this unconventional hotel. Forget your polished panelling and patterned carpets; at The Pig you step straight into the heart of the action by arriving through the main doors and into the bar, with open fires and snuggly sofas on bare wooden floors creating an inviting atmosphere. With local fish and meat, veggies from the garden and the very best of Devonshire cheese, you can look forward to family style sharing dishes with vibrant flavours.

The Pig at Combe

Cafes

From excellent coffee to tasty sandwiches, Exeter’s wide range of cafes and coffee shops will have your afternoon tea breaks sorted

Boston Tea Party

Perfect for brunch, lunch or tea, Boston Tea Party is a great stop within the busy city centre. The South West coffee shop chain prides itself on using the best local produce and is serious about quality coffee. Chunky, homemade food is served up in a slightly rough-around-the-edges setting which adds to its charm. We recommend the kedgeree!

Artgiano

Artigiano has injected style and sophistication to Exeter’s High Street. After you’ve enjoyed the delicious juices, smoothies and milkshakes on offer, or perhaps a deep-filled bagel followed by a gooey chocolate cake, you may find that time has simply disappeared… never mind, stay after dark for live music and a tipple that’s perhaps a little stronger than your speciality coffee.

The Exploding Bakery

Innovation, flavour and texture are the order of the day at The Exploding Bakery, where beautifully crafted coffee and cakes are crafted with care and precision. Watch the master craftsmen baking cakes in the open kitchen as you sip on expertly prepared cuppa.

Chandos Deli

A visit to Chandos Deli in Princesshay is an absolute must for foodies who fancy a little retail therapy alongside their coffee break. From local produce to international goods, you’ll find a fabulous selection of goodies to take home. Sit down with a quality cup of coffee, and you’ll likely find that something delicious has just come fresh out of the oven.

Devon Coffee

Easily missed at first glance, Devon Coffee on Queen Street has a reputation for being a small coffee shop with a big personality, where you’ll find “nice coffee made by nice people.” Now who doesn’t like the sound of that?

March Coffee

Producing speciality coffee and fresh food bursting with awesome flavour fusions is March Coffee’s aim. Try out their nitro cold brew coffee for a refreshingly crisp and creamy cuppa.

The Glorious Art House

If you like the sound of being immersed within a living piece of art rather than simply looking at it on the wall then a trip to The Glorious Art House is a must. With colour bursting from every crevice, fairy-lit garden, and local artwork on display in the top floor gallery, this gloriously creative spot also happens to make a rather delicious cup of coffee.

Cafe at Darts Farm

With the farm shop as their larder, the chefs in the cafe at Darts Farm make all-day breakfasts, Devonshire sausage and mash, freshly prepared salads and daily specials that are as fresh as they come.

Southernhay House

Hotels

Discover our insider’s finds to turn your trip into a gourmet getaway

Hotel du Vin

Situated in a former eye hospital, Hotel du Vin is a contemporary wonderland, brimming with charm and unique character. There’s a magical terrace, historic walled gardens, artwork in abundance, and a French-inspired menu to complete your stylish city break.

Southernhay House

‘Chilled out glamour in the city’ is how proprietor Deborah Clarke describes this exquisite boutique hotel located in one of Exeter’s smartest streets. Perfect for a weekend break, Southernhay House is set within a beautiful grade two listed, Georgian building, just around the corner from the charming quay. Enjoy evening cocktails in the stylish bar before indulging in an al fresco meal on the veranda. The menu features old fashion classics recreated with a modern twist,  and freshly prepared using  the best quality, local produce.

Darts Farm

Places to visit

Devon is bursting with gastronomic delights from specialist delicatessens to farmers markets, here’s our round up of the best foodie hot spots in and around Exeter

Exeter Street Food

The Exeter Street Food pop-up has exploded with popularity and can now be found at three locations across the city (Southernhay Gardens, the Quay and The Piazza). If the smell doesn’t entice you to sample the tasty stall offerings, the vendors’ charm should do the trick.

Just outside the centre, you’ll find what could arguably be known as Exeter’s foodie capital, Magdalen Road. Stroll down and find an abundance of gourmet treasures:

For the freshest fish, bought daily each morning from local boats, check out fishmongers Gibson’s Plaice. You’ll even find its fresh fish van touring villages and delivering the highest quality fish to the people of Devon. What a lovely lot.

With a treasure trove of baked goodies, cheeses, pastries, gift boxes and so much more, you can’t miss a trip to Bon Gout delicatessen a couple of doors down. And if you’re still hungry after all of that, pop into the Salty Pigeon for a delicious and locally sourced lunch.

Darts Farm

You’ll be in foodie heaven at the award winning Darts Farm as you wander around the market style farm shop, taste local ciders in the ale works, and sample the finest cheeses at the deli counter. Get out for some fresh air and lose yourself in the ‘Maize Maze’ (open in the summer months), pick your own fruit and veg on the farm, or meet the local pigs, cows and alpacas in animal corner. And if none of that appeals, there’s always the spa for those who want to indulge in a spot of pampering.

The Real Food Store

Since 2009, community owned Real Food has provided Exeter with the opportunity to shop with integrity. This dynamic food hub houses a friendly cafe, but also aims to provide a local, sustainable, organic and ethical alternative to supermarket shopping: go there to pick up bakery, fresh produce, meat, fish, drinks and household goods.

Dr Ink’s Curiosities

If you like a drop of theatre with your cocktails, then pay a visit to the unique Dr Ink’s Curiosities, a den of dramatic déeor and smoky surroundings. You’ll find an inventive selection of out-of-the-ordinary cocktails in this Victorian-esque bar.

Also try

tomato tart

Ben Tunnicliffe, founder of The Packet Inn near Penzance, shares his recipe for crab, saffron and tomato tart

POLPO Exeter

The new Queen Street Dining Quarter has added some hedonistic highlights to Exeter’s edible credentials but could the best have been left until last?

Stable

We've done a bit of diggin' and uncovered the best foodie pit stops on the main routes through the South West just in time for your next road trip