Updated: Jul 11
When I started researching restaurants in Bath, I went to the one place I always go for foodie advice before a trip: to the locals. If we opt for a rental instead of a hotel, I always ask the flat owner for insider tips on where to eat in town before we arrive. Then, I cross-reference the list with my own research because what’s considered good to some, may not be on par for all (listen, life is too short to eat crappy food). But in Bath, I’ve discovered the locals are not only happy to share their favorite haunts and the city’s hidden food gems, but they seem to be just as picky. We rented a beautiful Georgian townhouse from Rebecca, an interior designer in Bath, and she put together a list of recommendations with the help of her girlfriends. I'm happy to share, they were spot on.
Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is positively dripping in history and culture. It's known for its stunning Georgian architecture, natural thermal springs, and labyrinth-like streets. But what often gets overlooked is the vibrant food scene. As a foodie traveler, I have always been fascinated by the way cuisine brings people together and tells the story of who they are and where they came from. And in Bath, there are plenty of stories to be told through its diverse and delightful restaurants.
The dining scene in Bath runs the gamut, from cozy pubs and cafes to authentic international cuisine and Michelin-starred restaurants. But what sets it apart is the intimate connection that many of these restaurants have with the land , the sea and the local people. The staff at these establishments are extremely passionate about their food and eager to share the stories behind the dishes they serve. Which makes a lot of sense, because so many of them work extremely hard to source their ingredients locally. In most instances, they can not only tell you which farm your produce came from, but who the butcher is and even who made the bread they just set on the table. Sourcing is a huge sense of pride in Bath. And you don’t really make that kind of effort, unless you truly care about what’s going on the plate. So let's dig in.
The first stop on our locals' recommendations on restaurants in Bath:
The Scallop Shell
22 Monmouth Place, Bath, BA1 2AY, United Kingdom
Flanked by the frigid waters of the Bristol Channel and the English Channel, it begs the question: “How is the seafood?” It doesn’t have to travel far, so you can bet it’s fresh and decadent enough that it earned The Scallop Shell an independent Fish & Chip Restaurant of the Year Award. And they’re consistently among the esteemed top 10 best in the UK.
But here’s what you really need to know, three generations of this family-run business have devoted themselves to advocating for sustainable fishing in the UK. They source their seafood from small fishing boats who sell their catches along the markets in the southern coast. Whatever is caught, is served; so don’t expect a menu to be made out well in advance. And that’s what makes it so exciting, Mother Nature chooses what you’re having for lunch.
The restaurant has a no-fuss boathouse feel with concrete flooring and raw, natural materials and nautical touches. Naked Edison bulbs dangle from the ceiling and there’s a miniature clawfoot tub packed with ice and the most recent haul. The langoustines are plucked from Scotland’s icy lochs, and the cod used in their renowned fish & chips is caught in the North Atlantic and frozen within 24 hours at sea to maintain freshness. Have the briny cold-water oysters, the grilled Isle of Skye scallops that were scooped up by free divers, and the Scottish rope-grown mussels that have simmered in white wine and shallots. And pray to Poseidon they have razor clams.
The ingredients The Scallop Shell uses are so hyper local, they can even tell you which farm the potatoes came from that day for your prized fish and chips. Which should make it no surprise that their fresh sourdough loaves are from the Bertinet Bakery, down the street. Order a bubbly Blanc de Blanc to rinse it all down.
The second stop on our local’s recommendations on the best restaurants in Bath:
Sotto Sotto Italian Restaurant
10 N Parade, Bath BA2 4AL, United Kingdom
Getting in and out of Sotto Sotto seems to be just as intriguing as the restaurant itself. It involves mastering a curved iron staircase, which can be quite entertaining after that one extra glass of Brunello, especially on a soggy British night. But the moment you step foot inside this underground restaurant, it’s like being wrapped in a warm embrace.
Soft lights skim across rustic stone walls and barreled ceilings, and at once, you feel like you’re in an old-world wine cellar. It smells of fresh bread and simmering sauces coming from somewhere in the back. Tomatoes, garlic, basil and probably holy water because the aromas are just that divine.
The menu is a mash up of rustic Italian ingredients and elegant touches, like juicy heirloom tomatoes, creamy buffalo mozzarella and salt-cured pork belly. But it’s elevated with the additions of goat cheese mousse, wild boar and venison salamis and of course, truffle cream. The pastas are handmade and cooked to perfection before being tossed in rich, savory sauces. The wine list is primarily Italian (thankfully) and offers everything from crisp whites to bold reds and perfectly fizzy bubbles.
Word to the wise, this is a very popular restaurant in Bath, so you’re going to need a reservation.
The third stop on Rebecca’s recommendations for restaurants in Bath:
Yak Yeti Yak
12 Pierrepont St, Bath BA1 1LA, United Kingdom
This is a truly inspiring story, and a favorite of Rebecca’s (our local insider, remember?). The owners of Yak Yeti Yak split their time between the UK and Nepal for years before taking the leap and permanently putting down roots in Bath. But the one thing they missed the most about life in the Himalayas, was the food lovingly made from what they deem to be, “the world’s least-known culinary heroes.”
This authentic Nepalese restaurant is a fusion of bright colors, sweet aromas from exotic spices and genuine warmth and hospitality. It’s also a love letter to the jungles, the mountains and the beautiful people who call Nepal home.
Their time-honored recipes date back hundreds of years, like the succulent Yak Yeti Yak lamb that is marinated in garlic, turmeric and aromatic spices. The kesariko dhai, a saffron-infused yogurt, paired with an order of bite-sized steamed ground pork momos as well as an impressive array of vegan dishes like aloo tamar, fermented bamboo shoots braised with juicy tomatoes, potatoes and velvety black-eyed peas.
If mobility allows, sit at the traditional low tables on cushions and have a traditional Nepalese beer. Timur is a wild and rare Himalayan spice that infuses a tingly citric flavor profile to the Nepali craft lager, Kuwa. If pale ales are more your style, order the delicious Golden Everest. This is a special restaurant celebrating the vibrant intersection of culture and cuisine.
The fourth stop on Rebecca’s list of the top restaurants in Bath:
The Ivy Bath Brasserie
39 Milsom St, Bath BA1 1DN, United Kingdom
Elegance, sophistication and a whole lot of whimsy; that pretty much sums up the vibe. The Ivy Bath Brasserie is in the old Natwest Bank (that’s the National Westminster Bank for all the Americans) on Milsom Street, and the building itself dates back to the late 1700s. Luckily, they had the good taste (or good fortune) to keep the delicate plastered ceilings that were all the rage from that era.
The restaurant itself is spread across two floors and is airy, adorned with an eclectic mix of antique mirrors and artwork, ornate chandeliers and filled with luxurious banquettes that create cozy and personal dining spaces. We went during the holidays, and it was a dreary evening, otherwise we would’ve headed up to their rooftop terrace. Instead, we admired the elegant Christmas tree and festive holiday décor which was just as over the top.
Read Five ways holiday travel will absolutely change your life
The menu is a nod to British refinement, with dishes like Severn & Wye smoked salmon on dark rye bread, and a creamy duck liver parfait served with caramelized hazelnuts and a bright apricot chutney. But it also includes traditional comfort foods like a hearty shepherd’s pie. A rich concoction of slow-braised beef and lamb sourced from local, award-winning Larkhall Butchers on the edge of Bath, is topped with a dense dollop of cheesy potato mash, fragrant herbs and bathed in a red wine sauce. The desserts are decadent and the cocktails, well…they’re divine. It’s equal parts class and creativity with this iconic restaurant, qualities that will never go out of style.
The fifth stop on Rebecca’s list of the restaurants in Bath that we simply must try:
15A George St, Bath BA1 2EN, United Kingdom
Here’s the funny thing about Clayton’s Kitchen, it’s quietly harboring a culinary powerhouse, and you’d never know it by the relaxed and inviting informality of the place. But it is Clayton’s Kitchen after all, not his formal dining room. And what is a kitchen if not a gathering place, where we nourish our bodies and relationships? Where we savor cherished moments and recipes.
Chef Robert Clayton earned his first Michelin star at the tender age of 25, he was one of the youngest chefs ever to do so. His second star would come just two short years later at the storied Bath Priory. Clayton’s Kitchen is all comfort and familiarity, with white-washed walls and rustic wooden tables surrounded by mismatched chairs.
The menu is a shining example of local and seasonal ingredients, with dishes that are unfussy and full of flavor. From the succulent traditional roasts to the duck fat-fried chips (fries for the Americans), every item on the menu is prepared with care and attention to detail. The roasted Cotswold chicken breast is both tender and juicy, served with pea and mushroom risotto and topped by crispy parsnip shavings are a harmonious trifecta of textures. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, order the sticky pudding with honeycomb ice cream drizzled in a butterscotch sauce. If you don’t, order the British cheese and biscuits board, where can you indulge in locally made assortments like Wyfe of Bath, Bath Soft, Wookey Hole Cave-Aged Cheddar and Bath Blue.
The sixth locals' favorite on the restaurants in Bath list is:
The Green Bird Café
11 Margaret's Buildings, Bath BA1 2LP, United Kingdom
Bring your appetite and your patience, because The Green Bird Café doesn’t allow bookings and you’re certainly going to have to wait for a table. The sun-drenched café is fresh and youthful with Norwegian minimalistic charms, white shiplap walls and lots of quirky touches like a stacked lumber coffee bar. If you can’t sit in one of the two outdoor seating spaces, cross your fingers and hope for a table in the expansive bay window.
The produce is sourced locally and dictates much of what is served that day. Think plump Isle of Wight tomatoes, citrus and berries in the summer and snappy root vegetables in the winter months.
In a place where stick-to-your-ribs food is commonplace, The Green Bird Café has made harvesting all the rage. You won’t regret the creamy Turkish eggs sprinkled with razor-thin green onions, toasted pine nuts and chili oil, or the perfectly roasted chorizo and spiced sweet potato hash topped with vibrant microgreens and a velvety poached egg.
The soups are rich and decadent, drizzled with a ribbon of olive oil and accompanied by slices of crusty sourdough bread and butter. If you’re a mushroom lover, have the wild mushrooms on toast, I’m still kicking myself for not ordering that too. But if you’ve got a sweet tooth, try anything with the berry compote, but especially the French toast. Still not convinced? I guess I should mention that The Green Bird Café has been the recipient of the Best Breakfast in Bath Award too.
The seventh on the list of can't miss restaurants in Bath:
The Circus Restaurant
34 Brock St, Bath BA1 2LN, United Kingdom
So this one made this list not because our local insider, Rebecca frequents it, but because she’s had so many guests who absolutely rave about it. The Circus Restaurant in Bath certainly has the pedigree, the accolades, the address and of course, all the Georgian finery…but the one thing it doesn’t have is pretentiousness. The awninged façade actually has a bit of a Parisian café flare.
The chef and owner, Alison Golden along with her husband and partner Geoffrey, believe in allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. And that’s one factor that has made this independent restaurant a staple on the Bath foodie circuit since opening in 2008. But it’s more than that. You will be hard-pressed to find a restaurant anywhere who’s stumping for local suppliers the way The Circus Restaurant does. In fact, they proudly advertise them on their website. And there’s nearly 30 to thumb through.
Order the mussels, they’re plucked from the River Fowey in Cornwall and are served swimming in a delicate cider and sage broth. Whatever the fish of the day is, you want it. It’s so fresh, local bass fisherman in South Devon have been known to carry their catches straight up from the beach to holding tanks, before they’re delivered to the back doors of fine establishments like this one.
The flat iron steaks are seared to a cool medium-rare and the richly braised lamb shoulder is perfectly balanced with a smooth potato purée. Every course is a perfect balance of flavor and texture, including the wine pairings. The Circus Restaurant has even hand-picked their growers, keeping their selections to small batch, family-owned wineries. Really, when a restaurant makes this kind of effort, how could you not want to go?
The eighth recommendation on our list of great restaurants in Bath:
14 London Street, Bath BA1 5BU, United Kingdom
Bath has an impressive array of innovative vegan and vegetarian restaurants, but this isn’t one of them. Hudson is for the carnivores in the bunch. Many locals, including Rebecca, staunchly believe it’s the best steakhouse in Bath with the finest grass-fed meats being delivered by local butchers, Terry & Son. They’re so local, I can’t even find a website for them, although you will find them mentioned as a beloved supplier for many of Bath’s top restaurants.
The steaks at Hudson’s are all hand chosen by the butchers and then dry aged for 30 days. A process that sucks the moisture out of the meat while the natural enzymes begin to break down the collagen in the muscle fibers, creating a more tender and beef-forward flavor profile.
Hudson is a little dark and moody, like any good steakhouse should be. Its floors are worn to perfection, the wooden tables polished to a warm glow, the wine glasses gleam against the flickering Victorian fireplaces and dimly lit chandeliers. The award-winning wine list reads like a who’s who of the most notable regions in the world. France, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Spain, Chile, Lodi, California – wait, what? I’m not sure about that one either, but let’s try to stay focused.
Pair the fragrant rosemary focaccia (it’s made in house, you know) with a buttery marbled rib eye that has been flame-licked to perfection. Add the earthy portobello mushroom caps and the creamy mashed potatoes with caramelized onion gravy, and you’ve got yourself an impeccable meal. Dessert? You won’t have room. Head downstairs to the bar and order a cognac instead.
The ninth stop on our restaurants in Bath recommendation list:
3-7, Milsom Place, Bath BA1 1BZ, United Kingdom
There are lots of great Indian restaurants in Bath, but Bandook Kitchen is the new kid on the block. And it's an ode to Indian street food. You can smell the heady aromas of coriander, star of anise, cloves and exotic herbs the moment someone opens the door. And if you can smell the food before you know where it’s coming from, that’s a leading indicator of just how good the restaurant is.
Hunter green banquettes and muted brass light fixtures are set against dark wood paneling and whitewashed stone walls. It’s warm and welcoming, and if it hadn’t been a few days before Christmas, we’d have made use of that fabulous patio.
It's a good thing the tables are so big, you need the space for all the small shareable plates you’ll inevitably order. The crockery is mismatched, the small plates a vibrant assault of colors and textures from a heap of classic lamb biryani to spicy tofu chili, crispy squid Koliwada, succulent Bombay tiger prawns and crunchy tandoor-grilled broccoli. There’s Grandma’s chicken curry and the authentic Railway lamb curry. This recipe was served to first-class passengers on long train journeys during the British Raj from 1858 to 1947.
Wash it all down with house cocktails like the Pineapple & Cardamom Martini or the Kolkata Spritz, a perfumed blend of Amaro, kumquat, coriander and sparkling wine. Or the underage crowd favorite, a Thums Up (that’s basically a Coca-Cola to all the Western Hemisphere-dwellers who’re scratching their heads).
Check out more things to do near Bath, UK
Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last ten years. Her work has been featured in Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, Vegas.com and LasVegas.com. She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.