It may come as quite the surprise to find this county is serious about its food. And the best restaurants in Devon? Almost too numerous to mention. You can flit from a Devon cream tea to a seat at your pick of the region’s Michelin star restaurants. Devon won’t judge you for that, even if you do stop to pick up some artisan fudge on route. The county hasn’t lost its grip on the fish and chip market either. Award-winning, seaside battered and fried goodness is easily found. And then there’s the passionate chefs creating fine dining experiences in pubs, cafe’s and restaurants at every turn. Expect to be well fed…
Sacred Grounds - Exeter
You’d never know this little slice of vegan heaven was here. Tucked away in Exeter’s McCoy Arcade (worth a look if you like your shopping independent and quirky) Sacred Grounds is THE place to brunch in the city. A small, but seasonally changing, menu delivers plant-based goodness – and great coffee, straight to your tastebuds. Sit in the tiny brunch nook or join those who’ve spilled out into the arcade for sweet and savoury waffles, sourdough toast and superfood smoothies. If you’re thinking you could get that at any old brunch spot, check again. Sacred Grounds take their food seriously and are definitely in the gourmet end of the market. If you’re thinking that all sounds very insta-worthy too, you’d be right. Plants, prints and plates that wow put your brunch on the like list, every time.
Orbzii tip: Usually only open for brunch, there’s the occasional pop–up event that shows you what the team can deliver if they were open in the evenings.
Venus Beach Cafe - Blackpool Sands (Dartmouth)
When you’re snuffling out the best restaurants in Devon, don’t discount the county’s cafes. Especially the Venus Beach Cafe on Blackpool Sands. We’ll get back to that location in a moment, but let’s take a minute to appreciate the menu. Get here before 11:30am and you can tuck into artisan sourdough slathered with the cafe’s very own Seville marmalade. If you weren’t expecting that, brace yourself for more foodie fun. The full English is a cut above – with free range and local goodies casually dropping in to say hello. Fancy something a little lighter? Slinging three free range fried eggs and butter into a floury, pillowy roll is pure gluttony, but worth it.
Just don’t forget to enjoy the views too. Perched on one of the best beaches in Devon, Venus makes the most of its prime location.
Orbzii tip: When they’re not making their own orange juice or whizzing up a batch of marmalade, Venus hire out watersports gear too. Handy to know, if you fancy a kayak along this coast.
Hanburys - Babbacombe
Yes, this recommendation is for fish and chips. But, with a potential twist. Taking a seat at the table in Hanbury’s restaurant puts you moments away from a mouthwatering plateful of award–winning chippy goodness. But, if you pop next door to their takeaway and buy your order to go, you can dine in the most glorious car park in Devon. Seriously, whisk those hot chips north to Labrador Bay Nature Reserve. From here, you can feast on your perfectly battered cod and salty chips with the cliffs sweeping away in front of you. Even the best restaurants in Devon will struggle to match that combo. When you’re done feasting? A section of the south west coastal path is waiting to be ambled along, just in front of you.
The Masons Arms - Exmoor
Of the clutch of Michelin star restaurants Devon, you’re likely to be most drawn to The Masons Arms on Exmoor. Mostly because the last thing you’d expect to be served from the kitchen of a country pub is a Micheline star meal. But, for the last 15 years, Mark Dodson has been creating culinary masterpieces while diners sup an ale between courses by the log fire. The full Devon pub experience starts the minute you see the thatched roof beauty on the moor. Once through the doors at lunch, you can tip toe through a smaller menu of Michelin eats. And, at £24.50 for two courses, it’s lighter on the wallet than some places you might chance upon.
Badger’s Holt Tearooms - Dartmoor
In Devon, there are four meal courses in a day. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. You’ll perhaps not manage a full Devon cream tea, every single day of your trip. But, if you can squeeze in just one? Nip over to Dartmoor and head for Badger’s Holt Tearooms. They get the chef’s kiss seal of approval for their 60 year old scone recipe. And, as traditional as their clotted cream, strawberry jam and scone triple threat is, they’re not afraid to break new ground on the dietary restrictions front. Gluten free and vegan cream teas are all on the menu – along with a full menu of cakes.
Orbzii tip: There are strict rules about how a proper Devon afternoon tea should shape up. Layer up your scone with cream first – and then add jam on top, if you don’t want to fall foul of local tradition. Just remember to switch things up if you head over the border to Cornwall.
Number Eight - Bideford
Bideford isn’t the first place you’d head to for a fine dining experience. But you should. And, more specifically, you should make your way straight to a table at Number Eight. That’s if they’ve any space for you. Booked up months in advance (yes, months) the restaurant is clearly making its USP work. They serve just one option – a seven course tasting menu at £75 per head. Ingredients are locally sourced and seasonal, with Devon game, cheese and the pick of the south west’s catch often taking centre stage. There are no Michelin stars here, yet. But the chef – and restaurant’s , trophy cabinet is quickly filling up with foodie awards and nominations.
The Old Firehouse - Exeter
After 5pm, there’s only two things on the menu at The Old Firehouse: a ruddy good time and huge, delicious pizza. Their 14” square feasts come in suitably enormous wicker baskets and are delivered to your candlelit table. Though, prepare to be distracted from your eats. There could be a pub quiz, live music, drag queen bingo or DJ sets happening, depending on the night of your visit. All this takes place in a three-storey, olde world pub just off the High Street in Exeter. Though, once through the doors, the heavy oak stylings, fairy lights and creaky floorboards make it feel more like the Leaky Cauldron than a city centre pub.
Orbzii tip: To pair your pizza with a Devon tipple, ask what the beers on tap are. If there’s anything from Hanlon’s on offer, snaffle it up. This award-winning Devon brewery knows their hops.