Best places to eat in St Ives, Cornwall

Harbour in St Ives

This article on the best places to eat in St Ives, Cornwall, was written for and originally featured in Metro in summer 2021.

Not to miss

With more people than ever enjoying staycations this year due to COVID, many of the established restaurants get booked up weeks in advance, which can make arranging a holiday feel like writing a meal plan. If you just want one standout meal to look forward to then don’t look beyond One Fish Street.

It’s been open only a year, if you account for lockdown, and so doesn’t feature in many of the online guides you may come across. You also can’t see inside until you’ve entered through an inauspicious side door and up some stairs, which can be a test of the nerves, but what awaits you is a just-stylish-enough dining room and lots of people licking their sanitised fingers.   

At just 26, solo chef and owner Bradley Monk is a serious new talent who gets his ingredients locally, his inspiration from the east, and his dad to do the prep. What he (and his assistant/dad) delivers is a tasting menu comprising nine plates of wonder food. There’s the textural joy of a bao bun with sticky, Korean fried brill; a wild prawn so meltingly soft you’ll mention it on your postcard home; some crispy Dorset oysters daubed with katsu mayo that are tasty enough to convert non-believers.   

Nine courses cost £55, which is incredible value, and for an extra £37 there’s paired wines and beers if you want to make the night even more, or perhaps less, memorable.

No need to book

The Cornish Deli is an affordable dine-in option for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is both fresh and hearty, there are gluten free and vegan options, and if you’re lucky you’ll meet Phyllis (a local in a town where it can feel like everyone is a tourist), who has been popping in for her hot chocolate every day since owner Mark opened up well over a decade ago.  

Another sit-down option is the Rum and Crab Shack, though you’re really going here for the cocktails featuring their very own Dead Man’s Fingers rum, which is inspired by Cornish saffron cake and which these days you may find in your local supermarket. It’s not plush, but it’s upstairs and has wide-open casement windows, allowing you to enjoy a seagull eye’s view without fear one of them is going to dive down and nab your lunch.  

Cheap eat

If you feel like you can’t visit Cornwall without eating a Cornish pasty then veer off the main thoroughfare just a little and take yourself to The Makers. Go early, because this is another small, solo operation and once they’re gone, they’re gone. If you don’t get there on time then ask for a Bramley apple, rosemary, red onion and chilli jam sausage roll and know that, actually, you came at the right time after all.  

The savoury pastries at The Makers in St Ives are the best in town

Away from the crowds

When the staycation crowds get a little too much for you, on your staycation, it is worth considering a five-mile drive or bike ride to The Gurnard’s Head near Zennor. The views on the way are put-your-arm-around-your-partner’s-waist kind of views, but you can enjoy them alone, like my partner did while I took pictures. Once you’re there you can enjoy wines selected by the owners and three tasty courses for £38. The menu is ever changing depending on supply and the chefs let the ingredients do the talking. On our visit, the mackerel, soy, ginger and rhubarb in my starter said, in a slightly shy whisper, “you’re going to write very nice things about me in your article”, and they were right. The monkfish and short rib and the Tunisian orange cake with pistachio ice cream and pomegranate spoke similarly. Afterwards you can walk off your nattering food in what might be the most scenic beer garden in England.

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