You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Tunbridge Wells restaurants. Sure, you’ve got all of the standard chains; Pizza Express, Wagamama, Côte Brasserie etc. But there are also loads of great independents!
But which are the best restaurants in Tunbridge Wells? I tried to narrow it down to five but that was too difficult, so here are my top ten.
The Best Tunbridge Wells Restaurants
In my opinion, these are the best ten restaurants in Tunbridge Wells…
- Vittle and Swig
- The Beacon
- Zorba Meze Grill
- The Warren
- Soprano/Coco Retro
- The Ivy
- The Small Holding (in Kilndown)
- The Poet (in Matfield)
But I keep changing the order. I can’t decide!
1. Vittle and Swig
Vittle and Swig is my favourite restaurant in Tunbridge Wells. It replaced the previous ‘Camden Quarter’ in late 2016 – just after I moved here.
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, Vittle and Swig’s “contemporary British cuisine” never fails to impress. Their Summer 2019 Evening Menu includes mains such as; Spring Lamb Fillet (£22), Pork Collar & Shoulder Wonton (£22), and Half Lobster (£30).
Vittle and Swig (26-28 Camden Road) is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. On Sunday they have a brunch menu (which is amazing) from 11:30-15:30. They’re closed on Mondays.
Thackeray’s offers a relaxed form of fine dining within a 300-year-old Georgian house in Tunbridge Wells. I believe they used to have a Michelin star!
The popular chef’s tasting menu is £78 per person and currently includes treats such as; Foie Gras Parfait, Roast Scallops, Aged Sirloin of Beef, and more. Mains from the a la carte menu range from £24-35.
Thackeray’s (85 London Road) also offer a great value set menu at lunch (£20 for two-courses, £24 for three). And their evening market menu is a new addition, I think (£25 for two-courses, £30 for three).
3. Kitsu or Kiko
Kitsu was one of the first restaurants I was told about when I moved to Tunbridge Wells. I have to admit, it doesn’t look much from the outside – but the sushi!
The quality of the sushi is enough to place Kitsu #3 on Foursquare for all places in Tunbridge Wells. If you haven’t been yet, you must! But before you go, it’s worth knowing the place is cash only (old school) and BYO alcohol.
Kitsu (82A Victoria Road) opened a second location near the bottom of town (5 London Road) called Kiko in late 2018. The sushi is just as good and the general decor of the place is much nicer.
4. The Beacon
The Beacon, located just a mile west of Tunbridge Wells, is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that my sister-in-law actually got married there!
The restaurant is set in seventeen acres with three beautiful lakes and amazing views over the Kent countryside. The menu’s pretty great too. Mains are in the £20-25 ballpark and they look exceptional.
There’s a summer set menu too (£16 for two-courses, £20 for three) and they do a cracking Sunday roast. If you haven’t paid them a visit, I highly recommend a brief drive out of town to Tea Garden Lane!
5. Zorba Meze Grill
Zorba is the place to go in Tunbridge Wells (actually, Kent) for Turkish. They recently expanded into the shop next door and the rebrand is looking superb.
I love eating loads of different bits and pieces when I go out – so Zorba is perfect. The meat dishes are always exceptional. The staff are friendly. And the place is packed most of the time.
Occasionally, they do special midweek deals. We got a 50% off voucher once in The Times of Tunbridge Wells. But it’s good value paying full price regardless. You’ll find them at 4 Upper Grosvenor Road.
6. The Warren
The Warren can be found on the High Street, opposite The Bedford pub and above Kitch and Mind. You may have walked passed it during the day and not even noticed.
It’s in the evening that the place really lights up! Literally. The huge chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows light up the high street.
The cool thing about The Warren (5A High Street) is that the ingredients come direct from the Crowborough Warren Estate – 600 acres of wood and farmland bordering the Ashdown Forest. It’s home to all of their cattle, sheep, boar, deer, poultry and waterfowl!
7. Soprano/Coco Retro
Soprano opened first, in 2006, bringing tapas and cocktails to Tunbridge Wells High Street. Most small dishes are £6-8. Get a selection and share with friends. Cocktails are £9.
And don’t let the odd-looking plastic French man outside of Coco Retro (7 Vale Road) put you off going in. It’s honestly lovely inside! The gold bar at the front is stunning and the place is much bigger than it looks too, set over three floors.
8. The Ivy
I wasn’t planning on including any chain restaurants in this list. But how could I leave out The Ivy?
When Jamie’s Italian closed in 2017 I was concerned. Not because I loved Jamie’s Italian – I only went there once and it was average at best – but because I thought we might get stuck with another big empty retail unit on the high street. When I heard The Ivy was opening, I knew it would be a roaring success!
The Ivy (46-50 High Street) has a substantial a la carte menu available from 11:30am every day. The majority of main dishes are priced from £15-22. There’s also a set menu (£16.95 for two courses, £21 for three).
9. The Small Holding (in Kilndown)
My final two choices aren’t technically located in Tunbridge Wells, but they’re both amazing restaurants!
I love The Small Holding. I love the food. I love the owners. I love that they grow loads of the food on their own farm and come and tell you the story of your food before you eat it. I love the fact that their “full acre” tasting menu is just £60.
I’ll be honest, I don’t really like spending lots of money eating out. But I left The Small Holding after my first experience of their “full acre” tasting menu just saying over and over, “I can’t believe that was only £60!”
If you want to know more, I recommend reading this recent review by Grace Dent for The Guardian. SPOILER… She loved it too!
10. The Poet (in Matfield)
Last but by no means least is The Poet, which is about 6 miles away in Matfield. I’ll admit that I haven’t been here yet – it’s next on my list – but my wife loves it!
The Poet call themselves a “classic pub with an affordable menu inspired by modern and traditional British cuisine”. But this pub is exceptional, in every department.
The head chef is Petrus Madutlela (who is also a co-owner) and with his team, he produces truly beautiful and delicious food. Mains are around £25 but there’s also an eight-course tasting menu available on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. And it’s only £79.95 for two!