Cornwall is known for many delights, from its famed sandy beaches to its pretty villages and unbelievably beautiful sights and surrounds, but one of its most enticing pulls is that of the foodie scene, which boasts epic beach-side eateries and top-rated seafood restaurants – not to mention some seriously tempting Cornish pasty makers and food festivals.
Amidst the ever-expanding list of must-visit gastro pubs, fine dining restaurants, and cosy cafés, sits a select few that have made a mark on the discerning taste buds of AA inspectors, earning themselves a number of Rosettes that mark them as the best. That’s right, in the AA’s 29th Restaurant Guide, a whopping 39 Cornish restaurants have earned themselves a Rosette (or more), proving once and for all that when it comes to good food, our beautiful county delivers time and time again. Locally sourced ingredients, cleverly constructed menus, and creative chefs are just some of the reasons these brilliant restaurants have been singled out.
Ready to get those taste buds tingling? Here’s a tempting taste of the AA guide’s best restaurants in Cornwall for 2023…
Paul Ainsworth at No.6
6 Middle Street, Padstow PL28 8AP
With a Michelin star and four AA Rosettes adorning the walls, Paul Ainsworth’s Georgian townhouse restaurant in the heart of Padstow has become synonymous with impeccable food and service. The à la carte menu features seasonal produce that compliments and enhances one another, whether it’s wines from Cornish vineyards adding depth to a sauce or wild mushrooms bringing a true taste of Cornwall onto your plate. Dine on kelp-cured cod, onion fondant, and artisan cheeses, all while sipping on a glass of wine that pairs perfectly with each dish – dining here really is an experience, not just a meal.
Outlaw’s New Road
6 New Road, Port Isaac PL29 3SB
Making full use of Cornwall’s incredible oceanic larder, Outlaw’s New Road in the pretty village of Port Isaac is a true exploration of Cornish seafood – and buoy is it an adventure worth taking! The seafood tasting menu is a carefully crafted mix of dishes, which vary from the fresh taste of mussels to the depths of flavour only found in seared scallops with cuttlefish black pudding. Each course explores something new, all culminating in a series of sweet treats that leave you feeling incredibly satisfied. Seasonal and sensational, if you love seafood then a visit to Outlaw’s New Road should be at the top of your list - we also recommend enjoying the sights around Port Isaac while you're there!
The Seafood Restaurant
Riverside, Padstow PL28 8BY
Rick Stein has become a household name in Cornwall and beyond and it’s all thanks to this charming waterside eatery in Padstow. Opened in 1975, The Seafood Restaurant was Rick and Jill Stein’s first venture. Now with three AA Rosettes to its name alongside countless other accolades, their flagship restaurant continues to delight as it delivers big and beautiful flavours across all its dishes. Changing with the seasons to maximise the quality of ingredients, you can expect to find a hearty mix of seafood dishes, from a classic fish and chips to a ‘Fruits de Mer’ platter, which really does display the fruits of the sea in all their glory. The restaurant is by the beautiful fishing harbour of Padstow, which makes for a lovely post-dinner stroll.
Harbour Head, Helston, Porthleven TR13 9JA
When dining out in Porthleven, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to deciding where to pull up your plate. Amongst the many impressive harbourside eateries lies one that’s garnered such a reputation that its list of awards is almost as extensive as the menu. Yep, alongside three well-deserved AA Rosettes, Kota and its passionate creator Jude Kereama have collected a series of awards and accolades, including being in Harden’s Top 100 restaurants in the UK. Impressed? Wait till you see the menu! Locally sourced produce with a mouth-watering Asian twist, you can look forward to fresh seafood, succulent pork belly, and a tasting menu that provides the ultimate way to sample your way through Jude’s ingenious creations.
27 Lower Castle Road, St Mawes, Truro TR2 5DR
With a magical waterside setting and superb Cornish fare, Hotel Tresanton is Cornwall’s newest restaurant to earn three AA Rosettes. Nestled by the water in St Mawes, Hotel Tresanton provides a spectacular place to eat when visiting the harbourside village, whether you want a sun-soaked breakfast or romantic dinner for two bathed in candle light. Start your day off with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a bowl of Tresanton granola, stop by for lunch and enjoy the likes of beer battered fish or breadcrumbed squid, or relax into the welcoming atmosphere in the evening and dine on crab tian, whole lemon sole, or beef fillet with fondant potato.
Mullion Cove Hotel
Mullion Cove, Mullion, Lizard Peninsula TR12 7EP
When the view is as good as the food (and vice versa) you know you’re in for a treat, which is exactly what’s in store for you when you visit the Mullion Cove Hotel’s Atlantic View Restaurant. Perched on the cliffs above Mullion Cove, you might spy one of the fishing boats that supply the restaurant with its catch of the day nipping past – the ultimate coastal experience! Indeed, seafood is certainly the star of the show at this clifftop wonder, with steamed mussels, pan-fried stone bass, and home-cured salmon making themselves at home on the menu. If you’re not feeling like seafood, you can indulge in the heavenly flavours of seared duck breast, stone-baked pizza, and roasted crown prince squash – oh, and a helping of locally made Roskilly’s ice cream for the ultimate Cornish dessert! Combine your visit with some stunning walks and explorations around The Lizard for an extra special stay.
Porthminster Beach Café
Porthminster Beach, Carbis Bay, St Ives TR26 2EB
The impossibly beautiful St Ives is known for its vast array of beaches and charming cobbled streets, both of which are home to some of Cornwall’s best eateries. Amongst the mouth-watering list is the waterside restaurant at Porthminster beach, which boasts incredible sea views and a relaxed Mediterranean vibe and menu (with hints of Asian cuisine for good – and delicious – measure). As you sit and peruse the menu, which features an array of locally caught seafood from St Ives Bay, Fal River, Newlyn, and Rock, you can sit and enjoy the reaching views that extend out from St Ives Bay all the way to Godrevy Lighthouse. Alongside the plentiful seafood dishes, you’ll also find a tempting selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes such as Indonesian tempeh curry, which have been lovingly created using produce from their very own kitchen garden and other superb local producers.
The Samphire Restaurant
Fistral Beach, Headland Road, Newquay TR7 1EW
The North coast of Cornwall is certainly famed for its dramatic beachy scenes, and perhaps nowhere more so than the surfing capital of Newquay. Sitting above one of Newquay’s most famous beaches, The Samphire Restaurant combines epic views with a menu that puts the ‘mph’ in Samphire. Soak up sunny scenes in the summer or cosy down in the winter for a gloriously indulgent meal as the Atlantic throws itself on the beach below – it really is a swell spot for some storm watching! If you’re visiting for your evening meal, you can sit down to a menu full of decadent dishes, from charred Cornish mackerel to Cornish rare breed pork belly, with a 50-day aged rib of beef providing the ultimate sharer. You can also take part in one of the UK’s favourite pastimes, the afternoon tea, which features a selection of finger-licking finger sandwiches, cakes, and, of course, a Cornish cream tea with lashings of Cornish clotted cream and jam – the cocktails are pretty spectacular too!
The Old Sail Loft Restaurant
Quay Street, West Looe, Looe PL13 1AP
In one of the oldest buildings in Looe, you’ll find one of Cornwall’s most beloved restaurants to hold an AA Rosette. The Old Sail Loft is a welcoming mix of snug corners and enticing meals full of fish straight from the nearby quay. Where smugglers once sat, you can now tuck into a mesmerising mix of meals, including the very popular bottomless lunch, which includes two spectacular courses alongside all the house wine and draught beer your heart desires. The main menu features delights such as wild venison scotch eggs, Cornish mussels, and the seriously satisfying Sail Loft Surf n Turf, which includes a treacle-cured sirloin (yes, you read that right), south Atlantic king prawns, and triple-cooked chips. Wash it all down with one of their curious cocktails and you’ll be merrier than the rum-pickled smugglers that once walked through these doors.
Fistral Beach Hotel, Esplanade Road, Newquay TR7 1PT
Another restaurant to make the most of Fistral beach’s stunning scenery, Dune provides a fantastic fine-dining experience in Newquay. The promise (and delivery) of an exceptional menu pulls you in, while the sweeping views across the beach and sea beyond will have you relaxing in your chair for as long as possible as you soak up the rugged beauty of North Cornwall. Just like the weather outside, the menu changes seasonally here, ensuring you’re always getting the very best ingredients in your meal, whether it’s a soul-warming bowl of gnocchi or the day boat fish of the day, which comes from the very waters you’re gazing upon.
Hooked! Restaurant and Bar
Tabernacle Street, Truro TR1 2EJ
Ideally placed for a pre-show feast (the Hall for Cornwall sits just around the corner), this seafood restaurant in the heart of Truro will have you hooked on their fresh-out-the-water-fare the moment you sit down and look through the tantalising menu. Crab nachos, hake ‘wellington’, and king prawn tagliatelle are just some of the toothsome dishes that await, as well as a bar stocked full of selective wines, seasonal cocktails, and a lip-smacking selection of Cornish ales, lagers, and ciders.
Make your stay in one of our beautiful holiday cottages in Cornwall extra special with a visit to one (or more) of these AA-recommended restaurants. It really is the best way to see what the ever-growing Cornish larder is producing.