21 Things You Need To Eat In Cambridge Right Now

All the most unmissable food in Cambridge.

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1. Sausage and mash at The Granta.

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This riverside pub with a generous outdoors area is popular with students, and locals after a relaxing pint. It serves an all-day menu of pub grub to soak up all the daytime drinking. There’s sharing platters if you’re after a pick-me-up, but I prefer sticking to the heartier main plates. Their sausage and mash holds a special place in my heart for seeing me through many a dark and cold winter night.

2. A Full English at The Eagle.

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This historic city centre pub is where science buffs announced the splitting of the atom – but you don’t need to know about science to enjoy the hearty pub grub served here all day long, in ye olde surroundings. On Benet Street a stone’s throw from the market square, this pub, famous for its history, has adorable corners to cosy up in. Start your day with a Full English in one of the window seats, complete with a view of Cambridge's streets for a quintessentially British dining experience.

3. Custard tarts at Norfolk Street Bakery.

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Hidden-away on Norfolk Street, moments from the noisier Mill Road with its bars and pubs, this internationally-inspired bakery makes fresh bread daily, and fancier sweet treats. The new owners specialise in British and Portuguese baking, so there’s unfamiliar sights as well as your typical bloomers. I just adore their enormous custard tarts, with their rich glazed filling and perfect filo pastry.

4. Fish and chips at The Anchor.

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This iconic riverside pub has just launched its new seasonal spring menu, so you can either stay traditional with their generous portion of fish and chips, or try something new like their chilli and garlic clam linguine. There’s a select amount of outdoors seating, in view of the punting on the river Cam, so arrive early for a decent spot! Otherwise there’s tables indoors with a decent view of the river too.

5. Steak at The River Bar.

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This dressier steakhouse has wonderful views over the river, towards Magdalene College. Natural light floods in from the statement windows, and to enjoy the view in a traditional setting, there’s no better time of the week to go than for Sunday Lunch. Inside, it has a simple, clean look, but against the river, you needn’t have fussy interiors to feel like you’re somewhere special. My personal favourites are the steaks, which kick with intensity and flavour because they're made from guaranteed 28 day dry-aged beef. They're also served in a frying pan!

6. A chocolate bar you make yourself at Chocolat Chocolat.

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This luxurious chocolate shop also runs making and tasting classes so you can get your hands dirty (note: your hands covered in glorious gooey chocolate) and make your own bar! If you’re time-pushed though, grab a bag of chocolate buttons with a cute little Chocolat Chocolat sticker on the bag from the shop, which is open all day.

7. Authentic Greek food from Gardies.

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You’ll find this Cambridge institution along one of the cute cobbled pedestrianised streets that winds past college grounds, from the market square. By day it’s a civilised Greek eatery, by night, a drunk pitstop for the city’s best kebab! Be sure to notice all the photos on the wall of students past and present that have loved this place. Don't miss a takeout portion of houmous and falafel for an alternative snack as you peruse the streets.

8. Pork belly at St John's Chop House.

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This traditional British dining room has plush banquette sofas, and feels a little dressier than most restaurants in Cambridge, but it's well worth a visit for the incredible meat and the clever modern touches, like in-table wine coolers. If you go, order the pork belly: with it's perfect balance of fat and meat, is the best thing on the menu.

9. Homemade granola at Stickybeaks.

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In their own words, Stickybeaks is “a great place to eat and meet in Cambridge”. This is probably thanks to the brilliant homemade cakes that change daily and suit long overdue catch ups with friends. For something healthier though, tuck into a homemade granola pot: they're packed full of gorgeous seasonal fruit, are much lighter and will help keep you energised if you're on a day-long foodie binge.

10. Freshly baked croissants at Grad's Cafe.

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This might be Cambridge’s best-kept secret. With breathtaking views over the river Cam, you don’t need to be a student to enjoy a snack here. Far from it, everyone’s welcome if they’re in on the secret, and all hot drinks are Fairtrade certified too. I'd expect no less from one of the world's leading universities! And the freshly baked almond croissants are a steal at £1.40.

11. Rustic sausage rolls at The Pint Shop.

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On the fringes of the market square, new opening Pint Shop feels like something from an old fashioned movie. There’s beaten wooden tables, exposed metal piping, and the daily-changing artisan pints are scribbled on a big blackboard. And the food is on an equal bar to the booze.

Go upstairs to the dining room with views out over Cambridge, and chow down on some of the best meat cuts in town. Or if you're only after a pint rather than a full sit down meal, the sausage rolls offer a condensed – but equally high quality – foodie experience.

12. Venison steak at Cambridge Chop House.

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This is another one for a special occasion, both in terms of the view and the food. The meat is just melt-in-mouth, but it’s really all about the views. From the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, you can see Cambridge’s most impressive college, King’s College, in all its glory, towering above the street. You’ll pay for the views as much as the food on your plate, but this is the real deal. My menu pick is the venison steak, a richly intense and lean meat that's something out of the ordinary.

13. Burgers at The Mill.

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Another riverside pub, The Mill’s guests often sit outside on the Millpond, a natural grassy patch at the end of ‘The Backs’, which is the stretch of river famous for its breath-taking views of colleges. Sit indoors for a traditional yet intimate pub atmosphere, or take a beer out to the grass to while away a sunny Saturday afternoons. If you're anything like me, you'll need to commit to their giant double-size burgers to soak up some of that midday Millpond drinking.

14. Brunch at Hot Numbers.

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This simple coffee shop and live music venue is named after the record store that existed on the adjacent street. Hipsters will love how the building reimagines an old Victorian brewery, and their unmissable brunch features an avocado on toast to turn the sternest of heads, and deliciously fluffy pancakes topped with blueberry compote. Excitingly for bed-heads, brunch runs until 3pm daily.

15. Dumplings at Zhonghua Traditional Snacks.

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This friendly Chinese restaurant specialises in dumplings. It’s small, so you'll need to arrive out of peaks hours to get a table within a reasonable time. This place is well worth the wait though. Run by a small group of Chinese women, the food is as authentic as you get and the dumplings, arriving in clusters of ten, are deeply more-ish.

16. Chelsea buns at Fitzbillies.

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This cutesy bakery was founded in 1921. Every time I walk past, I'm still amazed by the gold sign outside the Trumpington Street branch, which still has the original lettering on it from when it first opened in the Twenties! Ninety years later, Fitzbillies dodged a temporarily closure and now has a second site on Bridge Street. Both serve brunch, salads, sandwiches and afternoon tea, but their original iconic Chelsea buns are to die for: the in-house-made dough makes them spring back to life after every cinnamon-infused bite.

17. Noodle soup at Yippee Noodles.

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Fancy a change from Wagamama? This casual Asian eatery has a similar focus, but their own unique take on Asian cuisine. It’s similarly ‘fast-casual’, so you’ll not need all night, but just like at Wagamama, you’ll feel energised and rejuvenated after any of their bowls of noodle soups, which are both comforting and full of the freshest ingredients.

18. Local meat cuts at dArry's.

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A fuss-free restaurant that specialises in high quality cuts of meat, sourced locally. They do delicious puddings too, and barrel-age their own drinks. On the roof, there’s a ‘liquor loft’ for elevated drinking in the summer. My personal fave is the rib eye steak, a sustainably-sourced 10oz that comes with dauphinoise potatoes and chargrilled vegetables.

19. Health-kick salads at Urban Larder.

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Urban Larder has more of a big city vibe than some of Cambridge’s time-worn, family-run places. There’s everything from counter salads and banging toasties (I love any of the ones oozing with cheese), and – as the name implies – things for your larder to take away, like oils, chutneys, jams and coffee beans. It's my favourite place to find thoughtful, ingredient-led salads that swerve convention and try something new.

20. Pappardelle chicken pasta at Galleria.

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Look closely from Magdalene Bridge and you’ll notice the intimate outdoors seating area at Galleria, with its unique river views. From the street, this restaurant doesn’t shout about its terrace, but these views are a lovely backdrop to lunch or dinner.

On the menu, there’s a focus on seasonality, and on modern fusion dishes. The chicken pasta in particular is a delight. It's made with thick-cut pappardelle pasta, which derives from the word "pappare", meaning to gobble up – which in this case is very fitting!

21. Vegetarian ghoulash at The Rainbow Cafe.

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A beacon of Cambridge’s conscious eating scene, this vegan and vegetarian café specialises in homemade food from all over the world. Much of the menu is also gluten-free, and the café insist that they can name each and every ingredient in each dish, to support eaters with intolerances. The globally-inspired food is made fresh on-site daily, and even the wines and beers are natural. I love the vegetarian ghoulash, it's full of brightly coloured veg to live up to the cafe's name.