It’s never a struggle finding somewhere to eat in Nottingham. The city center is bursting at the seams with eclectic restaurants serving every cuisine imaginable.
From tapas and Indian street food in Hockley to fish and chips and mighty meaty feasts in Queen Street, there’s plenty in plain view. But it’s worth taking a detour off the main streets where you might just stumble across a little gem that’s off the radar.
Whether you’re after cheap and cheerful chicken wings and cocktails in a lively atmosphere or something more relaxed and intimate we have found the elusive spots that are definitely worth seeking out.
Life by Lorentes
ViDa by Lorentes is slightly off the beaten track in the Lace Market in an area where the footfall isn’t the highest but seek out the underground hideaway and you will be rewarded with authentic Spanish tapas. The 50-seater restaurant’s rustic setting whisks diners away to Madrid, Valencia or Barcelona for a holiday experience with tapas, paella and sangria.
There’s four different varieties of paella to choose from. The squid and king prawn comes with black squid ink rice while the courgette and mushrooms paella is vegan-friendly. And don’t forget to scrape off the ‘socarrat’, the tasty toasted rice at the bottom of the pan.
It’s the real deal, cooked fresh to order, so you’ll have to sit tight for 30 minutes or so but it’s easy to fill the time with an array of traditional tapas. Padron peppers, spicy chorizo with cider, and pan fried tiger prawns with garlic and white wine get our vote. A jug of sangria is just the job for washing it down – failing that a glass (or bottle) of Rioja.
Location: 47 Stoney Street, Nottingham NG1 1LX
Even though this tiny restaurant is right in the heart of the city centre, it’s tucked away down an alleyway and would be very easy to miss apart from an A-board at the entrance in Long Row. The narrow passageway leads to an unassuming white brick building, where upstairs lies a Japanese-inspired restaurant.
The decor may be minimalist but the food is maximum flavour, earning the restaurant the Best Newcomer crown in the 2019 Nottinghamshire Food and Drink Awards Chefs grill skewers over hot coals in the tightest of spaces and there’s always something new and exciting to try delighting meat eaters and vegans alike with an imaginative assortment of food and drinks.
Expect old favorites such as beef and black garlic mustard or seasonal specials such English asparagus with kimizu and biber pepper. The desserts are not to be missed. Who can resist matcha cheesecake with lime meringue?
Location: 1A Cannon Court, Nottingham, NG1 6JE
The award-winning vegetarian and vegan restaurant has gained an army of fans since relocating to bigger premises under the archway of Eldon Chambers and is currently basking in the glory of being named one of the best plant-based restaurants in the UK by The Telegraph.
The converted redbrick mill is the perfect backdrop, stylish yet comfortable, for vegan food with a difference. Forget vegan junk, this is on a fine-dining level, with expertly crafted dishes appealing to vegans and non-vegans alike.
Choose from two menus. The ‘classics’ delivers faux camembert, topped with garlic and rosemary and Nottingham Terrine with salted carrot and local cabbage, served with house piccalilli and maple-butter glazed volkornbrot (German bread). The seven-course tasting menu takes it to another level at £60 a head with proper posh vegan dining starting with an amuse bouche and an optional wine pairing for another £40.
Location: Eldon Chambers, Wheeler Gate, Nottingham NG1 2NS
BOHNS Best Burgers
The signature Rump Rub might not have won after making the finals of the National Burger Awards in April but it’s still a winner in our eyes. It’s just one of the burgers on the menu, which has it covered for beef lovers, chicken fans, veggies and vegan tastes.
Pubs, cafes. restaurants, takeaways, street food vendors, global chains, everyone it seems can churn out a burger but few are as outstanding as the smash patties, seasoned with BOHNS’ rubs and spices. The home-made sauces – amongst them chorizo ketchup and jalapeno and raspberry jam – are bang on.
Located below BrewDog in Broad Street, Hockley, the rustic eatery with a cool soundtrack and delectable cocktails, it’s often referred to as a hidden gem. One diner said: “We would never have found this hidden gem had we not looked on the internet.”
Location: 20-22 Broad Street, Nottingham NG1 3AL
There’s really no excuse not to stumble across BUNK somewhere in the city center because there’s actually three of the underground wings and cocktails joints. Lively, quirky neon-lit surroundings attract a cool young crowd.
Chicken wings are the specialty and groups can tuck into 100 pieces for £66.90 but if you want to keep them all to yourself you can order just ten. Veggies aren’t left out as Quorn and tofu nuggets are on the menu.
To spice up the wings, the dozen or so sauces range from teriyaki to ginger, chilli and garlic. But if you’re brave (or stupid) enough to order the naga viper chilli prepare for it to blow your head off.
Cocktails come with Love Hearts, Parma Violets, Drumsticks’ Refreshers and glitter sticks but there’s classics too such as Cosmopolitan and Long Island Iced Tea.
locations: 19 Stoney Street, Nottingham NG1 1LP; 32 Lower Parliament Street, Nottingham NG1 3DA; Basement Hydrogen Building, 31 Wollaton Street, Nottingham NG1 5FW
This restaurant could not be more central, overlooking Old Market Square, but there’s still a sense of mystique due to its location on the first floor of the Flying Horse Walk building. Last year an inspired transformation saw a stock room turned into a dynamic and elegant Italian restaurant, with a sensitive restoration of the 14th century surroundings where neon lights and a gleaming Fiat 500 car complement the old wooden beams and leaded light windows.
Fresh and exciting flavors have diners coming back time and time again. Staples including fillet beef, parmesan pillows and burrata remain on the menu but there’s always something new and seasonal to try so it never gets dull.
Service is charming, the atmosphere is warm and lively, incredible wines and limoncello shots for afters… what’s not to like? Oh, and if you’re lucky enough you might get a tour of the incredible caves underneath the restaurant that have been turned into an exclusive haunt for events.
Location: 1st Floor, 15 Flying Horse Walk, Nottingham NG1 2HN
You wouldn’t chance upon upon the fine dining restaurant if you didn’t know it was within the boutique hotel at the top of Standard Hill. The good news is you don’t have to be staying there to eat in the intimate 2 AA rosette restaurant where photos of some of the famous guests hang on the walls.
Afternoon tea is popular with sandwiches made with Hambleton Bakery’s bread, home-baked scones, a delicious array of mini cakes and tarts and the chance to make it a sparkling affair with a glass of bubbles. Sunday lunch is also worth savoring with roast sirloin of Derbyshire beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the traditional accompaniments.
The rest of the time an à la carte menu gives diners the chance to sample food made with really good ingredients, nothing too shocking or fussy – just really tasty, well-cooked food. It’s well worth the climb to the top of the hill for Hart’s spring mixed vegetable salad with quail eggs and chargrilled rump steak, triple cooked chips and watercress salad.
Location: Standard Hill, Park Row, Nottingham NG1 6GN
Iberico World Tapas
Some people have struggled to find the restaurant that’s rated one of the best in Nottingham. Hidden in the atmospheric basement of the grade II listed Shire Hall law courts and jail, the striking Moorish setting, is away from city center crowds and hubbub.
There’s nothing criminal about this intimate and romantic location that’s ideal for date nights and to impress – and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Going strong for 15 years, it’s the only restaurant in Nottingham to have Michelin’s Bib Gourmand accolade, which stands for good quality, value-for-money food.
Spanish-inspired tapas with an international influence are served including evergreen favorites of shrimp and inside out chicken wings with yuzu sweet chilli. Ox cheek, cured salmon, lamb, mackerel and cauliflower are crafted into delicious dishes with an Asian, Moroccan and Spanish twist. Take advantage of the early bird express menu for a very reasonable £15.95.
Location: The Shire Hall, High Pavement, Nottingham NG1 1HN