A few dinning establishments stand out from the crowd in Oxford and are always packed. If you like Thai food make sure you visit Chang Mai Kitchens (Bangkok House also do a good value 5.5 GBP lunch menu). For bistro style cooking try the great atmosphere in Quod, converted from an old bank or the famous French Chef, Raymond Blanc's Le Petit Blanc. When hunger strikes it is probably best to head to the area known as Jericho (centred around Walton Street), George Street (off the high street) for chain pizza places or for ethnic food the Cowley Road to the East of Oxford.
Shanghai 30's, Oxford This decadent bijou Chinese, located opposite the Christ Church Garden on St Aldates in Oxford, is a favourite boho haunt of posh students and loved-up couples. Shanghai 30s has a vintage Chinois interior, and the decor is retro-luxe featuring wood-panelled walls, deco furniture and candlelit tables. Atmospheric and intimate, Shanghai 30s is perfect for business dining, afternoon cocktails and cosy dinner parties, and the kitchen at Shanghai 30s specialises in Sichuan, Peking and Cantonese cuisine. Locals love the Qi Family chicken coated with sliced almonds, crispy fried and served with a lemon sauce; the beef in honey black pepper sauce marinated with brandy; and the sweet and sticky crispy fried custard cream buns for dessert.
Door 74, Oxford Just a few second’s stroll from The Plain on Oxford’s famous and central Cowley Road, Door 74 is the perfect European bistro with all the charm one would expect. With its modern boho styling, all chichi chandeliers and verdant palms, eclectic art and old fireplaces, Door 74 is extremely well suited to the Oxford crowd; the moneyed students and the yummy mummies, the bookish bohemians and the fashionable foodies. Thumbing its nose at the numerous nearby chains with their conveyor belt food and characterless interiors, Door 74 is an escape from the boring and the bland, offering an ever changing and original chalkboard menu featuring home-cooked dishes that conjure up flavours and aromas in the diner’s mind before they even reach the table. Expect plenty of Mediterranean inspiration as well as French brasserie sophistication and even a touch of Scandinavian freshness too. Of particular note are the kitchen’s absolutely unmissable desserts – divine!
Fire and Stone, Oxford Pizza lovers in the Oxford area will already be familiar with this Italian institution on George Street which spans two floors and is famous for its pizza toppings which take you on a journey across the globe from Bombay to Byron Bay. Fire and Stone’s exotic pizza toppings are guaranteed to impress the most adventurous foodies, and the restaurant itself is a grand space decorated with marble floors, plum-coloured walls and plenty of glass, mirrors and bright colours. We prefer the loungey atmosphere of the downstairs dining room which comes complete with a backlit bar and booths – but the whole restaurant is a child-friendly space that is also suitable for business dining and group celebrations.
The Randolph, Oxford Among Oxford’s most renowned dining destinations, The Randolph Hotel’s eponymous restaurant is as popular with the locals as it is with residents of the five star hotel. Typically Oxfordian, complete with views of the city’s infamous spires and the Ashmolean Museum which stands just across the road, The Randolph is a traditional, attractively decorated restaurant with majestic mouldings, gilt framed portraits and roaring fireplaces all reminiscent of a grand baronial hall. The Randolph boasts two AA rosettes plus a wealth of other distinctions from those in the know, all earned not only thanks to the surroundings but for the exacting service and triumphant all-British cuisine. Post-dinner enjoy a drink in Morse’s Bar, named after the city’s most famous detective.
Malmaison Brasserie, Oxford Malmaison Brasserie in Oxford – once people were plotting to get out. Now they’re paying to get in. Set in a one-time prison where bad guys were detained at Her Maj’s pleasure, Malmaison Brasserie (part of the supersexy, supercool Malmaison hotel group) is now dedicated to your pleasure instead. The Brasserie has its own unique atmosphere that’s a bit gothic and funky, very much stylish and modern. The menu boasts simple favourites prepared with consummate skill, like signature dishes.
Gee's Restaurant, Oxford Located in the famous Victorian conservation area just north of Oxford, Gee’s Restaurant has found its way easily into the hearts of the city’s locals. Restored to all its former glory by owner Jeremy Mogford, Gee’s is quite the landmark, recognisable in its quirky charm, filled with light inside, making the most of the dining room’s collection of original Gary Hume art works. Within the conservatory dining room, guests are treated to classic food with a strong British influence, sophisticated and unfussy, created with local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible. A favourite of Oxford’s great minds – poets, philosophers, artists and dons – Gee’s is the intelligent choice for a faultless dinner in the city of the dreaming spires.
Spice Lounge, Oxford Located in trendy Summertown in Oxford, the Spice Lounge is a firm favourite with local curry connoisseurs. The chef is passionate about fresh ingredients and fragrant spices so the food here is packed full of authentic flavours. The menu features classics like lamb bhuna and chicken tikka masala, but we recommend the delicious dishes from the clay oven like succulent tandoori prawns. Why not try one of their signature dishes, like minced lamb curry served as hot as you like. The dining room is sleek and contemporary, with slate floors, subtle lighting and brown leather chairs – perfect for low-key lunches and laid-back dinners with family and friends. In the warmer months, diners can sit outside on the terrace and enjoy an alfresco biryani!
Annora, Oxford Situated in the tranquil village of Iffley at a stones throw from the Iffley Lock Annora serves contemporary Continental Thai and Indian cuisine as well as a wide rage of menus in its traditional pub. Annora has managed to win a lot of hearts and awards in the first two years of operation. This award winning restaurant believes in freshness of ingredients and simplicity of cuisine. Don’t miss the must eat Grand Sunday lunch buffet serving a wide selection of international salads, cold cuts and starters with an extensive selection of Indian 7 thai curries and traditional roast and trimmings.