Looking for places locals love to eat in Oxford? You know you’re onto a good thing if you stumble upon a restaurant with a loyal and local clientele in Oxford – repeat visitors is an indicator that the food and service are worth checking out yourself.

    There are hidden gems frequented largely by those who live nearby. Often, however, such favourites are tucked away, distant from the city centre and hard to find. We’ve taken the legwork out of your search to show you these foodie treasures and where to find Oxford’s best local food scenes.

    1

    The Covered Market Oxford

    Take a bite of an Oxford sausage

    • Food
    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Photo

    The Covered Market has been right at the heart of Oxford’s shopping scene since 1774, and is located between High Street, Market Street and Cornmarket Street – each also renowned for their shops. Nowadays, the grand old structure houses over 40 stalls. It’s a great place to find gifts, souvenirs, fashion and food. 

    Look out for local butchers selling Oxford sausages, with their distinctive spicy kick. The market’s narrow halls get particularly packed on Saturday afternoons, so go early or pick another day for a more enjoyable experience.

    Location: Market Street, Oxford OX1 3DZ, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

    Map

    photo by Charlie (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    High Street

    Exploit the convenience of this street for your Oxford culinary adventure

    • Food

    Oxford’s High Street is central, easy to reach, and is where you can find extra convenience when you’re feeling peckish with its choices of restaurants. In many UK towns and cities, you tend to find the same selection of chain restaurants replicated over and over. Not so in Oxford.

    Here, find the likes of Quod at the Old Bank Hotel and The Ivy Oxford Brasserie which lure locals as well as visitors. Other High Street restaurants are housed in historic buildings – Shezam serves Indian food from the 1st floor of a 17th-century property. Up the road, Chiang Mai Kitchen cooks up a Thai storm from a base that’s a century older.

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    3

    Gloucester Green Market

    Grab some of Oxford’s best street food

    • Food
    • Budget

    The Gloucester Green Market features around 20 street food stalls, bringing a wide range of global cuisines to this neighbourhood of Oxford. Everything is prepared fresh and cooked on site. Alongside the street food are a host of other stalls selling antiques and other vintage finds, pottery, clothing and fresh produce.

    Among the street food businesses based at the Gloucester Green Market are Signature Curry, specialising in delicious Goan flavours, Tippan Tappan, bringing a touch of Nepalese spice to the table, and tasty Italian pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven.

    Location: 78 The Heyes, Oxford OX1 2BU, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm (closed from Sundays to Tuesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 249811

    Map
    4

    Cherwell Boathouse

    Savour European food in a very English setting

    • Families
    • Food

    Cherwell Boathouse prides itself on its seasonal menus, making the best of local produce throughout the year. The restaurant occupies a prime spot right on the River Cherwell, serving classic European dishes with a contemporary twist.

    Cherwell Boathouse’s riverside location makes it extra special. Hire one of its handcrafted wooden punts, as locals and visitors have done for over a century, to experience one of Oxford’s timeless pleasures. Relax in idyllic surroundings as you wait for your lunch to go down.

    Location: Bardwell Rd, Oxford OX2 6ST, UK

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 9.30 pm, Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 552746

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    5

    Gee’s

    Dine Mediterranean style in this light and airy conservatory

    • Food

    Gee’s is a local Mediterranean grill in Oxford that opened in 1897 as a garden centre selling plants out of an elaborate, architect-designed greenhouse. About 85 years later, permission was granted for a change of use and for a brief spell, this historic place was home to top chef Raymond Blanc.

    When Blanc moved on in 1987, the present owners opened Gee’s. This thriving neighbourhood restaurant is situated to the north of the city centre in leafy Park Town. It serves classic Spanish and Italian fare cooked on a charcoal grill. Weekend brunch is a must in such an atmospheric setting.

    Location: 61A Banbury Rd, Park Town, Oxford OX2 6PE, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from noon to 10.30 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 10.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 553540

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    6

    Kazbar

    Share a tableful of tapas with friends

    • Families
    • Food

    Kazbar is one of the places locals love to eat in Oxford, specialising in Spanish and Moroccan tapas. Step across its threshold and the interior transports you to North Africa with its kilims, lanterns and mosaic tables. As the friendly wait staff usher you to your table, the ambience is already beginning to work its magic.

    The food draws from the best of each country’s cuisine, serving a fusion menu of octopus legs, spiced chickpea cakes and slow-cooked pig cheeks. Grab some mates and order a selection – these dishes are just crying out to be shared.

    Location: 25-27 Cowley Rd, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1HP, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 5 pm to midnight, Friday from 5 pm to 12.30 am, Saturday from noon to 12.30 am, Sunday from noon to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 202920

    Map

    photo by Christian Guthier (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    The Coconut Tree

    A Sri Lankan success story in Oxford

    • Food
    • Budget

    The Coconut Tree is a Sri Lankan restaurant chain that has been delighting Oxonians for several years. This youthful chain opened its first restaurant in nearby Cheltenham after a group of friends moved down from London. The St Clements premises in Oxford followed soon afterwards.

    Its no-frills approach, where you’re presented with kitchen roll instead of fancy napkins. Candles in coconut shells decorate the tables, appealing to those looking for an authentic South Asian experience. The food is allowed to shine, with a wide range of vegetarian and vegan dishes to satisfy even the fussiest diners.

    Location: 76 St Clement's St, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1AH, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Wednesday from noon to 10.30 pm, Thursday–Saturday from noon to midnight, Sunday–Monday from noon to 10 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 421865

    Map
    8

    Oli’s Thai

    Eat well for less at this student favourite in Oxford

    • Food
    • Budget

    Oli’s Thai is a local-favourite Thai restaurant that you can find in Cowley, at the heart of Oxford. This wallet-friendly option doesn’t skimp on taste and receives consistently rave reviews as a result. You’ll need to reserve well ahead as this tiny place books up weeks, sometimes months, in advance for those hoping to eat in.

    The menu changes slightly from week to week. Nevertheless, you can expect to find at least a couple of its staple mains: decent aubergine curry, the confit duck Penang and fried salmon or sea bass. If you have a sweet tooth, save room for one of its delicious custard tarts.

    Location: 38 Magdalen Rd, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1RB, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Friday from 5 pm to 8 pm (closed from Sundays to Tuesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 790223

    Map
    9

    Spiced Roots

    Experience a surprising variety of Caribbean flavours

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Spiced Roots is a great place to try flavours that make up Caribbean cuisine. Located in Cowley, its menu draws heavily on Rastafari Ital influences, in the form of dishes that are natural and from the earth. As veganism as a movement grows in popularity, so does this place.

    Menus constantly evolve but you can rely on some decent jerk chicken, curried goat, and one-pot black rice and ackee combo. The restaurant’s popular rum bar serves up both classic and more unusual cocktails.

    Location: 64 Cowley Rd, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1JB, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 5.30 pm to 11 pm, Friday–Saturday from 5.30 pm to midnight, Sunday from 1 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 249888

    Map
    10

    No.1 Ship Street

    Treat yourself at this intimate and cosy brasserie

    • Food
    • Couples

    No.1 Ship Street is a modern British brasserie in Oxford. This award-winning independent is a perennial favourite thanks to its sophisticated surroundings. The service is attentive and, set over 2 floors, you’ll have a good chance of bagging a table even though this place is one of the most popular in the city.

    The hardest part will be to whittle down your food choices from the extensive a la carte menu. Mains include dry-aged beef, succulent lobster and melt in the mouth lamb shank, while the dessert menu’s cookie dough skillet is great for sharing.

    Location: 1 Ship St, Oxford OX1 3DA, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from noon to 10 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 806637

    Map
    11

    Moya

    Seek something out of the ordinary in Oxford

    • Food
    • Couples

    Moya is a Slovakian restaurant in Oxford that brings something different to the table. While most towns and cities aren’t short of Asian, Italian and American eateries, few can claim rustic Slovakian as part of their repertoire. If you’re tired of the same old chain dining scene, this Oxford independent will be a breath of fresh air.

    Located just across the Magdalen Bridge from the city centre, it takes little effort to reach. Proving that the boiled cabbage and stodge perception is a myth, the menu excites with dishes such as tender pork shank, Halušky dumplings and Szegedin goulash. Come hungry – this is filling comfort food at its best.

    Location: 97 St Clement's St, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1AR, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 5.30 pm to 11 pm, Friday–Saturday from 5.30 pm to midnight (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 200111

    Map
    Julia Hammond | Contributing Writer

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