6 of the best beach cafes

Rhiannon Batten rounds up a raft of her favourite eateries with sea views

best beach cafes
Published: July 30th, 2022 at 8:30 am
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The Hidden Hut, Cornwall

best beach cafes
Photography by Nik Taylor

Sweep down to National Trust-owned Porthcurnick Beach, past Veryan’s iconic thatch-topped round houses (built in the 19th century by a missionary, they were supposedly shaped to prevent the devil hiding in corners), then stop for a swim, followed by lunch at The Hidden Hut. Run by chef Simon Stallard, during the day this open-air cafe serves a small cooked-from-scratch menu, ranging from chowders, chillis, fragrant dhals and allotment salads, to grilled mackerel and legendary sausage rolls. Look out, too, for occasional themed lunch events and pop-up evening feast nights.

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Drift, East Lothian

Best beach cafes
Photography by Andrew Smith

Perch inside this cluster of converted shipping containers huddled above Quarrel Sands near North Berwick (or in one of the cute potato box shelters just outside it) and you can feast on widescreen views of Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth while you eat. Popular with birdwatchers and history-lovers (it’s half a mile from Tantallon Castle), Drift draws a loyal local following with its menu of homemade, Scandi-influenced treats. Grab a raspberry, cardamom and honey bun after a blustery morning stroll or go for lunch and order a venison, tarragon and apple sausage roll with celeriac slaw.

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Babushka, Co Antrim

best beach cafes
Photography by Simon Boyle

On a pier between West Strand Beach and Portrush Harbour, Babushka makes a handy pit-stop if you’re touring the Causeway Coast as it’s roughly halfway between Dunluce Castle and Portstewart Strand. Coffee is sourced from Swedish roastery Koppi, while bread comes from Ursa Minor Bakehouse in Ballycastle and free-range eggs from Cavanagh in Co Fermanagh. Go for brunch and fuel up on buttermilk pancakes with grilled peaches, rosemary-salted caramel and roasted hazelnuts, or beetroot and potato fritters with poached eggs, wild garlic ricotta, sourdough toast and sausage.

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Riley’s Fish Shack, Tyneside

best beach cafes
Valiant Fotography

Stride to the lighthouse at the end of 900m-long Tynemouth Pier for dramatic views of English Heritage-run Tynemouth Priory and Castle, back on the headland. Eyes full, it’s a short stroll from here down to Riley’s Fish Shack, on King Edward’s Bay, where you can let your stomach follow suit. Daily fish specials reflect local catches – wood-roasted coley with caper and fennel salad, perhaps, a helping of silky Lindisfarne oysters, or monkfish kebab curry – and there’s Oyster Lager, a custom-brewed craft beer, to boot. There are no tables but the shack’s fleet of smart navy deckchairs are pre-bookable.

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The Hut, Isle of Wight

best beach cafes

The closest you can get to the Balearics without leaving Blighty, The Hut at Colwell Bay, in the far west of the Isle of Wight, is definitely more chic than shack. Known for its sleek white decor and refined, fish-focused menu, this year it welcomes a new roof-top bar (complete with DJ) and a new head chef (fresh from London’s The Ned). With catch-of-the-day fish tacos appearing on the menu alongside rock oysters and seafood platters, this is a good place to bring yourself back up to 21st-century speed after a wander around nearby Yarmouth and its 16th-century castle, cared for by English Heritage.

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The Beach Hut, Ceredigion

best beach cafes
Photography by Steve Thearle

First appearances suggest something altogether more traditional at this family-run cafe, on the beachfront at Llangrannog. But, while The Beach Hut does a brisk trade in takeaway fish and chips to customers wanting to eat on the sands below, the daily bakes and lunch specials offer something more unexpected. Walk along the clifftop at nearby Mwnt, admiring the tiny whitewashed medieval church teetering above the waves, then call in at The Beach Hut for Tuscan fish stew, Caws Teifi halloumi ‘fries’, fish tacos with homemade salsa, or a freshly baked pistachio and raspberry tart.

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