Venture beyond the chains that dominate the high street and you’ll find a smattering of culinary gems, not to mention a plethora of proper pubs and lively bars.
Restaurant-wise, the riverside Galleria, BYOB-Vietnamese Thanh Binh and the slightly more tucked away D’Arry‘s are all excellent options in the centre of town. Vegetarians and vegans are spoiled for choice at the Rainbow Café, which serves up fabulous international fare amidst mildly disturbing, soft-toy-dominated décor. For a boozy lunch in the sun, head to La Raza for tapas, cocktails and a table on the cobbles in pretty Rose Crescent, whilst visitors seeking the true taste of Cambridge shouldn’t miss a trip to Fitzbillies for the famous bakery-turned-restaurant’s signature creation: its Chelsea Bun. These sticky, raisin studded beauties are oh-so-delicious Diabetes on a plate.
Just out of the tourist trail, Cotto (on East Road) and The Oak Bistro (on Lensfield Road) are resoundingly popular, albeit far from budget-friendly. For tasty cheap eats, head for the hippyish charm of Mill Road’s cafes (Urban Larder is a good shout) or fill up on yummy Asian dishes at Yippee Noodle Bar and Zhonghua Traditional Snacks.
Those feeling flush can head to one of Cambridge’s two Michelin starred restaurants. Midsummer House, which boasts two stars and ranks amongst the best restaurants in the country, offers 5, 7 and 10 course menus ranging from £45-£95 per person, whilst one-Michelin-starred Alimentum also features £85 taster menus, a la carte options and a two course, fixed price menu for a more wallet-friendly £24.95.
Pubs in Cambridge
Many of the best independent Cambridge pubs also do fantastic food, but they tend to be slightly of the way. A 20 minute traipse out of tourist town to the Free Press on Prospect Row, or the nearby Elm Tree on Orchard Street, is well worth the extra legwork.
Beer gardens abound, with those at The Punter, The Pickerel and The Maypole pubs proving firm city centre favourites. On sunny evenings the crowds crush for outdoor space, so do what the locals do: get your beer in a plastic cup (and your dinner in a box) from The Mill for a chilled-out picnic on the millpond, or pick up a bottle of wine from Cambridge Wine Merchants on Bridge Street to drink on quayside, overlooking the punts.