A year ago, I was sitting at my computer trawling through reviews and articles, tourist guides and websites that were all about Pompey. Of course, they mentioned the Historic Dockyard, the football club, seafront and Spinnaker Tower but they rarely talked about food. The ones that did, seemed more like press releases than actual reviews or lost themselves in foodie jargon.
It’s without a doubt that there are so many amazing places to eat in Portsmouth, all with their own unique brand. So why don’t we celebrate that part of the city more? We are more than boats and Charles Dickens, we are flavour, culture and colour.
The Southsea Food Tour does just this. My aim was to bring honest opinion to the town as well as re-branding it as a place of taste. As they say, if you want a job done, do it yourself.
Now, 37 eateries later, my everyday reviews are read by people all over the world from Portsmouth to Canda. To celebrate this anniversary and a productive year, I have compiled a list of my top 10 favourites so far.
There were too many places for me to choose from and I could have easily made a Top 20 instead. But, the following are all special for various reasons other than feel-good food, including affordability, ethics, seating and ambience.
Are you ready? Let’s tuck in!
#10 Cinnamon Cafe
Cinnamon Cafe is a bright venue located on Winter Road that provides all-day breakfasts, an extensive range of vegetarian items and healthy smoothies at a very reasonable cost. The portions are generous, the menu is diverse and the cakes are drool-worthy. I recommend it to anyone unless you are after a more formal dining experience with ‘meals’ rather than snacks and lunch options.
#9 Pie and Vinyl
Pie and Vinyl is a very special place that everyone seems to know. A cafe and vinyl shop, it is a unique spot that should be on any tourist’s ‘to do’ list. The atmosphere is funky and the food is filling with a range of unique tasting pies. There are various vegan and vegetarian options too but, if you are after something else other than a pie, this may not be for you. There is limited seating too and a high demand to be sure to visit early or on a weekday to avoid disappointment.
#8 Home Coffee
Home Coffee is a beauty with great presentation and experimental flavours. The staff are always warm and welcoming and, during the summer, their ‘secret’ garden, bursting with vibrant flowers, is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. More vegetarian and vegan options on offer here too. Although they have a constant cycle of exciting specials, food options are limited to mainly sandwiches, crostinis and ploughmans.
#7 The Harbour Coffee House
Easily forgotten amongst the hustle and bustle of Commercial Road, this little gem has options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The atmosphere is relaxing, a contrast to the street outside, and the prices are reasonable. It’s another place with unique flavours and nice staff but their food is limited to sandwiches with fillings that are not as generous as a ravenous foodie, such as myself, would like.
#6 Parade Tea Rooms
The Parade Tea Rooms is like the Tenth Hole but better. The portions are just as tempting (or daunting) and the meals are tasty too but you don’t need to wait for hours to get in. The backdrop of the common is the perfect addition to their light and airy space. It’s a bit more expensive than other cafes but you definitely get what you pay for in terms of size and quality. There is, however, a limited amount of vegetarian options and it can get quite ‘comfy’ when rush hour strikes.
After countless break-ins and a threat to shut down. Huis still stands tall and proud as one of my favourite venues to eat and drink in the city. An authentic Belgian bar, you can find a vast range of imported beers and delectable mains. You can easily spend all week in here for both lunch, dinner and late night partying but good vibes come at a cost. The prices, for drinks expecially, can be on the pricey side of things but don’t let this deter you. The experience is far worth it!
#4 Fisherman’s Kitchen
Locally sourced, freshly cooked and so damn good, the Fisherman’s Kitchen seems too good to be true. Their menu adds a new spin to the Fish and Chips classic with countless of items for you to choose from. Their portions are large but still affordable and their specials are, well, indescribable. Sadly, there is a lack of seating and, as the name suggests, not many vegetarian and non-fishy choices.
#3 Hunter Gatherer
Hunter Gatherer has a place in my heart. They serve generous and gorgeous vegan and vegetarian food, have wonderfully relaxed vibes and cheery staff. It is one of the few veggie joints in the city and, since its opening, has also become a bit of a cultural hub with poetry and music events taking place there every month. This cafe is definitely something to behold which will sway even the most stubborn meat-eaters.
#2 Need Street Food / The Merchant House
A newcomer to the game, Need Street Food means business. Their meals are filling, tasty, moreish and ethical with each hot dog and burger going towards saving lives. Their flavours are something you can’t quite find anywhere else in the city and their vegan food gives ‘food porn’ a whole new meaning. The atmosphere in The Merchant House may be a tad noisy, but who cares when you are getting great food for hardly any money at all?
Of course, Sakura has to be at Number 1. As a ‘Japan-phile’, this authentic Japanese restaurant had me with stars in my eyes, feeling as if I was back in Tokyo. The ambience is great, the food is plentiful and the price tag is very reasonable. Sometimes the staff may be a bit slow but they are always friendly and accommodating. Here you can have a great night out without denting your wallet and experience a slice of Japanese life without having to leave the city.