Skip to Content

14 Best Restaurants in Cambridge City Centre

14 Best Restaurants in Cambridge City Centre

Sharing is caring!

Want to know where to find the best restaurants in Cambridge City Centre?

Exploring the parks, waterways, colleges, and museums of this historic city is hungry work so it’s good to plan ahead. Particularly as Cambridge fills up on weekends and during summer with day-trippers on Cambridge tours from London and nearby villages.

Fortunately, the restaurants in Cambridge are as plentiful as you’ll find in the capital and other major cities – with an array of British and international cooking on the table. 

Read on to hear all about the best places to eat in Cambridge.

Map of the Best Places to Eat in Cambridge

Best Restaurants in Cambridge City Centre

Cambridge contains a solid spread of restaurants and cafés to suit all budgets. There is a fair amount of fine dining in Cambridge due to the prestigious status of the university city. But, other joints cater to cash-strapped students and those eager to make their pounds stretch. 

While you don’t necessarily need to reserve tables in advance, it pays to plan your eating schedule around the lunch and dinner rush while in Cambridge.

If you are planning on self-punting in Cambridge, make sure you eat beforehand – or have a reservation in place when you get back to dry land. Some of the best restaurants in Cambridge City Centre even provide picnics to those taking to the river. 

bicycle outside of a cafe

Best restaurants in Cambridge.

1.  The Old Bicycle Shop

The Old Bicycle Shop occupies what was once the oldest bike shop in the country, which closed in 2013 after 173 years of trading. However, in homage to the building’s past, saddles and handlebars have been repurposed as wall art while other bicycle parts are reimagined as ornaments and lamps.

The gastropub is open daily for brunch, lunch, dinner, local ales, and cocktails. A typical menu will feature a selection of British favourites twisted with European and international cooking. 

The Old Bicycle Shop is responsible for crafting some of the best brunch in Cambridge. Options range from housemade granola and American-style pancakes to croque monsieur and eggs on sourdough. Wash it all down with a flat white or brunch-friendly cocktail. Reservations are recommended on weekends. 

See the location on Google

2. The Varsity Hotel & Spa 

The Varsity Hotel & Spa is a boutique property on the banks of the River Cam. It’s topped with a roof terrace granting lovely views over the city, best enjoyed with one of their signature cocktails. 

One floor down, you’ll find the brasserie, SIX, serving light starters, grilled meats, and aromatic dishes cooked in the woodstone oven. Everything is made with high-quality, seasonal ingredients and there are plenty of options to suit plant-based diners. SIX also serves afternoon tea. 

Finally, Riverside Steakhouse is a sophisticated quayside spot for fillet steak, lamb, wagyu, and chateaubriand. In fact, either constitute some of the best restaurants in Cambridge City Centre, so you might want to make two trips to Varsity.

Either way, factor in time for a pre or post-dinner cocktail on the roof. Reservations are recommended for the two restaurants, but the rooftop bar is first-come, first-served.

See the location on Google

beef wellington served at the table at one of the best restaurants in cambridge.

Best places to eat in Cambridge.

3. Trinity Restaurant

For fine dining in Cambridge, look no further than Trinity Restaurant. This stylish contemporary restaurant is a stone’s throw from Trinity College. 

The à la carte menu starts off with Lindisfarne oysters sourced from the spectacular Northumberland coast and served raw, baked, or dressed.

Starters and mains hone in on British cuisine, with a selection of roasted red meats, seared seafood, and vegetarian dishes to reflect the season. Friendly servers will help you navigate the extensive wine and Champagne lists.

While prices at Trinity Restaurant veer on the higher side, the pre-fixe menu is perfect if you want posh nosh on a shoestring. This is available Thursday to Friday, 12:00 pm – 18:00 pm. Bookings are recommended for evenings and weekends. 

See the location on Google

4. Stem + Glory

Serving a 100% plant-based menu, Stem + Glory is one of the best restaurants in Cambridge City Centre for vegans. Menus span lunch, dinner, and pizza plus there’s a separate menu for kids. 

Plates here include nutrient-packed bowls with crispy tofu, gnocchi lashed with vegan cheese, and “fish” tacos using a base of oyster mushrooms. Pizzas are served with seasonal greens and your choice of vegan or no cheese.

Do save room to sample one of the innovative desserts that will impress even the most hardened carnivores in your party. 

Stem + Glory is a light-filled eatery with an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs at work. On the other hand, the patio is perfect for a sunny afternoon. Reservations aren’t required.

See the location on Google

city centre of cambridge with lots of people walking on the pedestrian street.

Best places to eat in Cambridge City Centre.

5. The Tiffin Truck

The Tiffin Truck is one of the top restaurants in Cambridge for Indian food. Menus are inspired by street eats and home-style “tiffin” lunches. Much like the British afternoon tea, tiffin dates back to the days of the Raj where Indian workers would tuck into a light meal in between lunch and dinner.

Dishes are plucked from across the country, with dosa, chaat, and samosas priming your tummy before diving into a spicy fish curry or the “British National Dish” – chicken tikka masala.

The Tiffin Truck is a favourite among local vegans for its variety while the cocktail list is a treat.

Furthermore, the interiors at the Tiffin Truck are super fun and cosy. 

See the location on Google

stack of pancakes with berries on top.

Best brunch in Cambridge.

6. Hot Numbers 

Hot Numbers is a quaint chain of three independent eateries, two of which are in the centre of Cambridge and prove popular with the students. 

These central cafés rustle up some of the best brunch in Cambridge. Buttermilk pancakes are the signature dish with the option to go sweet or savoury.

You can also find avocado on toast, Turkish eggs, street tacos, and classic breakfast baps on the menu. Note, breakfast is served until 12:00 pm while brunch is available until 15:00 pm, and reservations aren’t required. 

If you’re exploring the wider area, you can also visit the Hot Numbers Roastery in Shepreth – specialising in pizza as well as the same brunch menu. 

See the location on Google

brunch with eggs and toast in a bowl with a coffee on the side from the best restaurants in cambridge city centre

Best brunch in Cambridge.

7. MillWorks

In terms of nice restaurants in Cambridge for pretty views and a chill atmosphere, MillWorks delivers the goods.

The restaurant is housed within a converted mill on the waterside of Mill Pond. Industrial-chic interiors afford a peek at the scenery but the terrace is the place to sit if the weather is on your side. 

The menu at MillWorks is predominantly based on North African cuisine with influences from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Consider splitting a meze to make the most of the starter menu before filling up your choice of main – the vegetable tagine and mussels comes highly recommended. 

MillWorks is a great family-friendly place with a kids’ menu while dogs are welcome on the patio. 

See the location on Google

8. Tradizioni

There are a couple of good restaurants in Cambridge where you can indulge in Italian food. However, Tradizioni comes out tops due to its commitment to home-style cooking.

This no-frills eater has indoor and outdoor seating with an incredible vibe among diners (this place has many regulars) and servers.

Pizzas come in a choice of two sizes with an equal selection of meat, vegetarian, and vegan toppings. As well as antipasto pasta, meat, and fish dishes, the house-made lasagnas at Tradizioni deserve special credit.

Plus, in addition to browsing the menu’s own wine list, you are welcome to take your own bottle and pay a small corkage fee. Located 10 minutes from the train station.

See the location on Google

steak on a plate with sauce and a chili on top.

Best restaurants in Cambridge.

9. The Senate Bar & Bistro

Right around the corner from King’s College and overlooking the Senate House, the Senate Bar & Bistro is one of the top restaurants in Cambridge for views. In addition, the patio is ideal for a milder day. 

The menu is modern European crafted from locally sourced produce with an ever-changing spread of specials.

Expect a selection of shareable boards across charcuterie, baked camembert with crispy baguette, and raclette. Mains focus on sustainable fish and slow-cooked beef and lamb, with classic fish and chips being a firm favourite.

Prices are extremely reasonable, considering the quality and location. Reservations are available and encouraged for peak hours, but are not required. 

See the location on Google

restaurant with a long table in a hallway.

Best restaurants in Cambridge City Centre.

10. Fitzbillies

Located next to Silver Street Bridge, the hub for punting tours, Fitzbillies will catch your eye for its old-worldly front dating back to 1920. This artisan bakery is one of the top suppliers of cakes for special occasions and they offer a click-and-collect picnic service if you’d rather eat al fresco. 

However, Fitzbillies is also one of the best restaurants in Cambridge City Centre for afternoon tea. The Trumpington Street café serves the traditional pre-supper spread of finger sandwiches, scones with cream, cakes, and macarons.

All items are made fresh on the premises and tea or coffee comes with free refills. Plus, for £8 ($9.50) you can add a glass of fizz. 

Good to know: Fitzbillies has a second branch at Bridge Street. However, this counter-serve venue only serves baps and scones.

See the location on Google

bike against a city wall in cambridge city centre

Best places to eat in Cambridge.

11. Gonville Hotel 

When it comes to the best restaurants in Cambridge for afternoon tea, your other option is to splash out on a meal at a luxury hotel. Afternoon tea is served to non-residents as well as guests at the Gonville Hotel.

Complete with its own gardens and a beautifully restored facade from 1830, the 4-star hotel is located off Parker’s Piece.

The Terrace Restaurant serves the full works of handmade sandwiches, scones, and sweet treats with the option to upgrade to Prosecco or Champagne afternoon tea. 

Afternoon tea is available from Wednesday to Sunday, from 14:30 pm until 16:30 pm. Booking is mandatory and may be done online or over the phone. As an aside, the Gonville Hotel is a contender if you’re planning a romantic getaway in the UK.

See the location on Google

12. The Olive Grove

Before trying your hand at punting, The Olive Grove is one of the best places to eat in Cambridge for a light yet substantial meal.

This family-owned Greek restaurant serves dips and souvlaki alongside salads, moussaka, and kofta. However, they also whip up peinirli pizza – boat-shaped stuffed pizzas that originate from Turkey. Portions are huge so you might want to consider splitting a couple of plates.

Walk-ins are always accommodated but you can book a table if you prefer. If you like what you taste, you can also pick up pantry items and Mediterranean confectionery from the deli. 

See the location on Google

River cam at dusk in cambridge

Best restaurants in Cambridge City Centre.

13. The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

The Ivy stands out as one of the nice restaurants in Cambridge for decor, ambiance, and high-quality British food in a classy yet informal environment. Beautifully appointed as per an Art Deco style, the restaurant wraps itself around a lavish cocktail and champagne bar where you can watch bartenders in action. 

Menus are available across brunch, lunch, à la carte, and afternoon tea. Plus, they always crack out specials at Christmas. Dishes are based on traditional British food with a modern twist, with blackened cod fillet and duck curry two of the tastiest options.

However, if you visit during autumn or winter, do check if shepherd’s pie is on the menu. In place of the typical beef and lamb, the Ivy prepares their recipe with confit goose, turkey, and “pigs in blankets” – mini sausages wrapped in bacon.

Incidentally, this is the same team who brings you The Ivy in Harrogate – one of the best restaurants in Harrogate

See the location on Google

14. Midsummer House

Considered by many the best restaurant for fine dining in Cambridge, Midsummer House is one of the top picks for a date. This Victorian villa overlooks the River Cam and Midsummer Common, with seating available in the conservatory or out on the terrace.

In general, diners come here for the Michelin-starred tasting menu. This fuses seasonal British ingredients with French gastronomy and may be paired with wine on request. Meat and fish plates are brought to life with the zesty flavours of lemongrass, tarragon, caviar sauce, and truffle honey. 

While there’s not a dress code in place, you’d probably feel more comfortable donning smart-casual clothing. Jeans are fine, though. 

See the location on Google