When I was recently invited to eat my way around Newcastle upon Tyne, as you can imagine, I jumped at the chance. I’d never visited the city before and wasn’t sure what to expect. I discovered a vibrant compact city in a fabulous riverside setting with many beautiful buildings, old and new, not least the Sage Gateshead music venue pictured below. Lively bars and exciting young breweries, superb street food and an eclectic range of excellent restaurants line the streets. So where are the best bars and restaurants in Newcastle? What places to eat in Newcastle should not be missed?
I visited Newcastle uponTyne as a guest of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative. All views and opinions are my own (or those of the locals I meet along the way). The weight I gained is all mine!
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With the help of Amy, the charismatic owner of Triple A Food Tours, the NewcastleGateshead Initiative and a local member of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) here’s our guide to some of the best food and drink in Newcastle and Gateshead.
The best places to eat and drink in Newcastle’s city centre
Standing proudly in the centre of the city a statue of the 2nd Earl Grey on top of a tall column is a handy orientation point for any newcomer to Toon, as Newcastle is locally known. Grey’s Monument looking down on the bustling streets below, was built in 1838 in recognition of the passing of the Great Reform Act by Charles Grey a few years earlier. The same Earl Grey who reputedly leant his name to the famous tea. The streets that radiate from the monument are all worth exploring but first, we’ll head south along Grainger Street to the market.
What to eat and drink in Grainger Market, Newcastle
Fresh oysters, craft ales and Indian street food are just a few of the tasty delights you’ll find at Grainger Market, a vibrant indoor market in the centre of the city just a stone’s throw from Grey’s Monument. It first opened in 1835 and is now home to a wide variety of local businesses. This colourful treasure trove of over 200 shops and businesses was voted ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’ in the Great British Market Awards last year.
Whether you’re vegan or not, don’t miss out on a tasty treat from SnackWallah. Inspired by the street food found in a village near Mumbai, where Ravi, the owner grew up, SnackWallah offers a wonderful range of healthy vegan dishes, perfect for a quick snack or light lunch. Many, including myself, consider it one of the best places to eat in Newcastle.
Ravi’s pani puri were the indisputable edible highlight of my trip to Newcastle. I highly recommend that you too dip a crispy ball of puri stuffed with a delicious chaat filling, in flavoured water with little balls of fried chickpea flour called boondi floating on top. Quickly pop the whole thing in your mouth for a divine taste explosion. Imagine coriander, ginger, chilli, dried mango, potato, cinnamon, cumin, chickpeas, black rock salt and more, dancing on your tastebuds.
Snackwallah, Unit 42, Alley One, Grainger Market, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 5QG
Above: Pani puri, costing just £3 for 3 balls of heaven
La Casa Delicatessen
Whether you’re looking for Iberico chorizo made from free-roaming acorn-fed pigs or a fabulous bottle of red wine to pair it with, Olga and Angel from La Casa Delicatessen will have just the thing. They opened La Casa in 2015 with the aim of bringing the finest of Spanish produce to Newcastle and, through the online shop, the whole of the UK. YOu’ll find them next door to SnackWallah at Unit 41.
La Casa Delicatessen, Unit 41, Alley One, Grainger Market, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 5QG
Above: Spanish fine foods at La Casa Delicatessen
Lindsay Bros Fisheries
For fresh fish and seafood including these succulent oysters from Lindisfarne stop by the Lindsay Bros FIsheries stall. They’ve been supplying the people of Newcastle with the freshest of fish since 1936.
Above: Lindisfarne oysters served with a slice of lemon and a dash of Tobasco sauce.
Lindsay Bros, Unit 24/25, Grainger Market, Nelson St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5QG
The Firebrick Brewery based in the Blayden Business Centre, Blaydon-on-Tyne opened a bottle shop and bar in Granger Market earlier this year. This local independent brewery launched back in 2012 by Alistair Lawrence soon became a popular choice amongst beer connoisseurs. They now offer over a dozen keg and cask beers as well as some seasonal favourites. All their beers are also available in bottles or cans. However, I recommend you think bigger and try a beer flight before filling up a growler (4 pints) with your favourite tipple to take home with you.
Firebrick Brewery, Unit 80, Garinger Market, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5QG
These are just a few of the wonderful food and drink options in the market. I’m sure if you look around you’ll soon discover more.
Around a couple of corners from Grainger Market, down Friars Street this fabulous restaurant was once home to the Dominican Order, the Blackfriars. This atmospheric building dates back to 1239. In fact, the dining room is said to be the oldest in the UK. Today, it’s a great place for lunch, dinner, afternoon tea or a Newcastle Gin in The Parlour Bar.
Blackfriars, Friars Street, Newcastle NE1 4XN
Above: Afternoon tea in The Parlour Bar at Blackfriars
Below: Newcastle Gin
Kaltur Wine Bar & Restaurant
If starting at Grey’s monument, head south along Grey’s Street and this leads into Dean Street where you’ll find this welcoming Spanish wine bar and restaurant, Kaltur. This is the big sister of the original Kaltur on nearby High Bridge. We visited the Dean Street branch and enjoyed a fabulous charcuterie and cheese platter overflowing with chorizo, sobrasada, Iberico ham. goats cheese, smoked cheese, manchego, quince jelly and much, much more for £16 a board.
Kaltur, 19 Dean St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1PQ
Above: Spanish cheese and charcuterie deli board at Kaltur
The French Quarter
Just a few minutes walk from Kaltur, another not to be missed restaurant takes us to The French Quarter. Step inside and you’re immediately transported to France both with the score and the traditional French cuisine, wines and craft beers on offer. We enjoyed a very fine dessert and wine pairing flight – three mini desserts paired with three wines – as part of a walking tour with Triple A Food Tours.
The French Quarter is another hot contender for the best restaurant in Newcastle. I was most impressed by their wine flights. There are several suggested flights or you can select your own flight from any of their wines that they serve by the glass. It’s an excellent way to discover their superb wine selection.
The French Quater, Arch 6, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SA, UK
Fenwick in Newcastle opened in 1882 on Northumberland Street just a minute or two’s walk from Grey’s Monument. This is the flagship store of this family-run chain of department stores. The renowned Food Hall is a fabulous place to pick up edible or indeed drinkable gifts for others or as a treat for yourself be that your favourite cheese, chocolates, fresh fish, meat or a bottle of bubbly.
With over a dozen eateries, not to mention their famous Food Hall, a visit to Fenwick’s is a must on any trip to Newcastle. I had a fabulous meal at Fuego, a tapas restaurant conveniently next to the Food Hall. They have a fabulous range of small dishes on offer inspired by Mediterranean cuisines, plus hand-stretched, thin-crust pizza which you can select from their Pizza Rosso range using a tomato and basil sauce or their Pizza Bianco range all with béchamel sauce.
Above: Gambas a la plancha with garlic and chilli
Below: Churros with hot chocolate sauce
Porterhouse Butcher and Grill
Also by Fenwick’s Food Hall, Porthouse Butcher and Grill has an excellent reputation. I haven’t eaten here myself but it’s on my list for a return visit. Designed to showcase only the highest quality meats from Himalayan salt-aged beef to organic Wagyu. Whether you are here to eat in the restaurant or to buy meat to take home to cook yourself, you can watch the chefs at work cooking on a charcoal-fired Josper grill and chat to them about the best cuts and techniques. Of course, you can also just order your food and tuck in!
Salt Water Fish Company
Similarly, Salt Water Fish Company is both a fishmonger’s and a fish bar with counter seating and an open kitchen, at Fenwick’s. Pop by for a few oysters or something more substantial, pick up cooking tips and recipes and then purchase the ingredients you’ll need for a fishy feast at home.
Fenwick Food Hall, Northumberland Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7AS
Back at Grey’s Monument, look upwards to the west and you’ll see the lights of Thailand or to be more exact Chaophraya, the next best thing. Of all the countries I have visited, the cuisine of Thailand is my favourite but I’ve been disappointed with many Thai restaurants in the UK. Not so at Chaophraya, one of my favourite restaurants in Newcastle. We had a sumptuous feast here. Having devoured the spread before me with my eyes, I tucked into one colourful and tasty dish after another.
We started with the classic selection of Thai chicken tacos, chicken satay, chicken spring rolls, tempura prawns and spicy duck salad. All delicious but the tacos were sublime.This was followed by lamb massaman, crispy chicken with cashew nuts and a spicy roast duck dish with steamed jasmine rice. These starters and main course were from the ‘Yom’ set menu costing £35 per person.
With several of us all sharing, we also ordered a papaya salad and grilled sea bass. It was all superb but the roast duck (pictured bottom left) that really stole the show for me.
I also thoroughly enjoyed my ‘Made in Thailand’ cocktail of vodka, coconut rum, pineapple, lemongrass, coriander and ginger beer. There are several branches of Chaophraya but I was very sad to see that there are non in the south of England. I will definitely be revisiting Chaoophraya next time I’m in the area.
Chaophraya, 15 Upper Level, Greys Quarter, Eldon Square, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7AP
Real Ale in the City Centre
Real ale drinkers won’t be disappointed by the plethora of micropubs and breweries that have sprung up in recent years around Newcastle. With names such as Tipsy Toad, Split Chimp and Wobbly Duck, there’s a distinctive animal-themed pub nomenclature in the city. The Town Mouse in St Mary’s Place, just north of Grey’s Monument was the Newcastle CAMRA Pub of the Year for the last three years running. While just around the corner, in St Thomas Street the aptly named Mean Eyed Cat chased down The Town Mouse to share joint first place this year. Both establishments offer an excellent range of keg and cask beers and as well as ciders on tap. I’ll be stopping by them both next time I’m in Toon.
Triple A Food Tours
There’s no doubt in my mind that the best way to discover a new city is by joining a food-themed walking tour. I visited six of the above establishments on a fingerlikingly good walk with the lovely Amy, the effervescent owner of Newcastle’s Triple A Food Tours. In a few hours, one sunny day in October, she lead us around the city streets visiting one superb eatery after another. Our tastebuds travelled to France, Spain, India and back to Newcastle as we ate and drank our body weight in one delicious treat after another. Where exactly you’ll visit depends on the day as no two tours are alike but wherever Amy takes you won’t be disappointed.
You can read about the tour I did in this Newcastle Food Tour Review.
Below: The last stop on our Triple A food Tour at The French Quarter. From right to left in the order I devoured them, Île flottante (soft meringue cloud, crème anglaise, caramel and almond flakes), crème brûlée à la vanilla, mousse au chocolat maison. These were paried one of their sweet wine flight of Muscat de Rivesaltes, Domaine Cazes, White Pineau des Charentes, Drouineau and Red Maury, Mas Amiel
Beyond the City Centre
Newcastle is a compact city and it’s just a short walk to reach the bars and restaurants beyond the city centre.
To the south-east of the city centre, Quayside flanks both sides of the River Tyne with the north bank in Newcastle and the south in Gateshead. They’re linked by several impressive bridges including the Tyne Bridge and the pedestrian-only, Gateshead Millenium Bridge (pictured below). It’s a fabulous area to spend an evening with cocktails bars, pubs and restaurants lining both river banks. As the lights grew dim the bridges and buildings light up to form a stunning setting for an evening out, be it with family, friends or that special someone.
If you are in the area on a Sunday between 9 am to 4 pm do check ut the weekly market which includes some excellent food trucks and local produce stands.
Beyond Quayside, about a mile east of Newcastle’s city centre, you’ll find the Ouseburn Valley. Once a desolate industrial blot on Newcastle’s cityscape, the area has been reinvented and is now a thriving community of artists, designers, chefs and brewers and I’ll be telling you more about it very soon. Watch this space!
How to get to Newcastle
We travelled by train first class with LNER from London’s Kings Cross to Newcastle. The journey takes about 3 hours and with comfy leather seats, complimentary snacks, drinks and WiFi, the time flew by. I was also pleased to see power sockets and USB charging points at every seat. How did we manage without them!
Where to stay in Newcastle
We stayed at Hotel du Vin on the edge of Quayside and Ouseman, about a mile from the city centre and I couldn’t fault it. My room, the service and the breakfast were superb. Plus the walk into Toon along the riverbank was lovely whatever the time of day.
For somewhere more centrally located, INNSiDE is a rather swanky new hotel. It has some spectacular views of the River Tyne and its famous bridges and the city centre is just a stone’s throw away.
My thanks to the people of Newcastle and Gateshead for feeding me so well and making me so welcome, not least Amy of Triple A Food Tours and all at the NewcastleGatehead Initiative.
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