From the rugged beauty of the Jurassic coast to the tranquil charms of its seaside towns and villages, Dorset’s picturesque coastline boasts a rich seam of pubs, inns and restaurants that serves to-die-for views alongside their delicious cuisine, whether you fancy fish and chips or a Sunday roast.
Boasting a full larder of local produce, from rich cheeses and wholesome meats to quality fruit and vegetables, and of course fish and seafood, Dorset is a cook’s dream. Paired with a magnetic coastal setting, it’s not surprising that flocks of chefs have set up their kitchens here – from the Michelin-starred to the wonderfully rustic - to feed locals and visitors alike.
Here’s a selection of tip-top restaurants and pubs with jaw-droppingly beautiful sea views – dig in!
Watch House Café, West Bay
East Beach, West Bay, Bridport DT6 4EN
Although it calls itself a café, Watch House Café is more about grilled fresh fish and Korean sticky baby back ribs than sandwiches and cake. The only eatery on East Beach itself, here you can dig into wood fired pizzas, seafood specials, fresh pasta dishes and big, bold flavours overlooking the beach and Golden Cap.
Established 12 years ago, there’s a sunny terrace, an inside area with bi-fold glass doors, a patio where you can watch the chefs prepare the woodfired pizza and a top deck – the place to go to get the best view of the sunset, ideally with a carefully-crafted cocktail in hand.
The Noisy Lobster, Christchurch
Avon Beach, Mudeford, Christchurch BH23 4AN
This laid back restaurant lies on Avon Beach and is a haven for fish and seafood lovers, although meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians are well catered for too. The Noisy Lobster lies on a quarter-mile long beach with stunning views over Mudeford Bay and the Isle of Wight, and has seating both inside and outside on their terrace (which is dog friendly), so perfect whatever the weather.
Embracing all things local, much of what they serve is caught by fishermen in Mudeford and Lymington – why not try the ‘seacuterie’, which includes trout pastrami, harissa cured hake, Cajun spiced potted cuttlefish with bone marrow and crab remoulade – yum! It’s best to book in advance, but if you don’t and it’s full when you arrive, fear not – The Lobster Hatch is their takeaway restaurant next door where you can get something tasty to eat on the beach.
Exeter Road, Bournemouth BH2 5AH
Serving modern British and European cuisine, NEO is a luxurious yet chilled out pad that’s perfect for dinner and cocktails. In the heart of Bournemouth, its outside terrace has stunning views over Bournemouth Gardens and out towards the beaches and sea beyond.
Elegant and stylish, it’s ideal for romantic meals and celebrations alike, serving tasty dishes such as twice baked Dorset cheddar souffle, linguine of Devon king crab, and crispy belly of Dorset pork. And as for cocktails… Whether you fancy a butterfly mojito or a barrel aged negroni, there’s a huge menu to choose from. Take them to the terrace if the weather is on your side, followed by a nighttime stroll along the waterfront.
Crab House Café, Wyke Regis
Ferrymans Way, Portland Road, Wyke Regis DT4 9YU
The Crab House Café is a wooden cabin affair that overlooks the Portland Coast and Chesil Beach, and, as you can imagine, specialises in seafood such as fresh local crab served on large wooden boards with your own hammer, nut-cracker and all the other accessories needed (including a bib!).
If you’re an oyster lover, look no further – this eatery boasts its own oyster beds just in front of the café, meaning they are fished from sea to plate within minutes. It really doesn’t get much fresher than that! Winner of lots of awards, all of the fish served is landed within a 40-mile radius. With an inside restaurant and lots of outside seating, it’s a must-visit when in Portland.
The Jetty, Christchurch
95 Mudeford, Christchurch BH23 3NT
Set in the grounds of Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa, the immaculate Jetty boasts stunning views twinned with incredible fish and seafood caught daily at Mudeford Quay. From their tasting menu (scallops and black pudding, anyone?) to their fabulous seasonal local produce menu that’s home to the likes of devilled crab, fillet of plaice with prawns and lobster, and pistachio panna cotta, there’s plenty to choose from at this delectable diner!
With spectacular views from the alfresco terrace over Christchurch harbour, it’s a beautiful spot to spend an evening.
The Cove House Inn, Portland
91 Chiswell, Portland DT5 1AW
This cosy 18th century inn lies on the Isle of Portland in the pretty village of Chiswell and boasts spectacular sea views overlooking Chesil Beach. The Cove House Inn is an excellent stop off when visiting the island, famed for the iconic Portland Bill Lighthouse, where you can fill up on superb pub grub, whether that’s sitting cosily by the fire watching the stormy seas pound the beach or watching the last rays of a sunset outside.
Serving pub favourites such as beer battered fish and chips and burgers made from prime Dorset brisket alongside real ales, fine wines, and an excellent selection of spirits, this is a must for filling hungry tums, whether for lunch or dinner.
Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis
Cobb Road, Lyme Regis DT7 3JP
Michelin recommended and boasting some of the best seafood and views in Lyme Regis, The Oyster & Fish House promises a rather special visit. Big and beautiful windows offer far-reaching views across the harbour and sea beyond, giving you every excuse to settle down and get lost in the moment for a while.
When you return to reality, the top-notch menu is sure to grab your attention, with the likes of pastrami cured monkfish, autumn vegetable bubble and squeak, and grilled Lyme Bay lobster offering up a tempting feast for the senses. If you like what you eat, then why not treat yourself to a culinary experience with Mark’s Kitchen Table, a wonderful opportunity to watch Mark Hix prepare a delicious meal in his own home.
Rachel’s, West Bay
3 The Mound, West Bay, Bridport DT6 4HA
If you’re a seafood aficionado and love the no-thrills excellence of an eatery that knows its stuff, head to Rachel’s, overlooking the harbour at West Bay. From sharing seafood platters and fish tacos to the ‘fisherman’s trio’ and lobster salad, there’s something to delight everyone on the menu, and at a reasonable price too.
This is a favourite haunt for locals and visitors in the know, so it’s worth booking a table in advance if you can, especially for views over the harbour where you can watch fishing boats pootling about. Check out Rachel’s social media page for more information.
The 1859 Pier Café & Bistro, Swanage
Marine Villas, High Street, Pier Approach, Swanage BH19 2AW
Set on the fully-restored Victorian pier at Swanage, The 1859 Pier Café & Bistro is part of the Swanage Pier Trust and is well worth a visit when exploring this beautiful area. A fantastic stop off for a bite to eat after strolling along the pier, you can sit inside or out and enjoy spectacular views over Swanage Bay.
Open for lunch and dinner (dinner Tuesday to Sunday), expect tasty light bites at lunch like afternoon tea, crab sandwiches and Moules marinière, while evenings offer more substantial fare like burgers, seafood baskets (filled with gurnard, prawns, and squid) and a fab children’s menu. It’s dog friendly too (as is Pier Beach), and due to its popular location it’s worth booking in advance.
The Anchor Inn, Bridport
Seatown, Bridport DT6 6JU
Just steps from the beach at Seatown, The Anchor Inn is a firm favourite for craft ales, beers and spirits as well as exceptional food. Running for over 160 years, this first-come, first-served eatery is quite small and doesn’t take bookings, so get there early to sample their seafood specialities or for a tip-top glass of something sparkling from nearby Furleigh Estate.
Head to the terrace in warmer weather for the views, and enjoy a post-meal walk around The Golden Cap Estate, which is just next door.
Oriel on the Quay, Poole
23, The Quay, Poole BH15 1HJ
Overlooking Brownsea Island and Poole Harbour, Oriel on the Quay is a charming family run restaurant with a focus on Mediterranean cuisine. Within the mural-painted walls you’ll receive a warm welcome, and the views are to die for.
There’s a gluten free and vegan menu as well as a specials board alongside their main menu, which features classic dishes such as stone baked pizzas, fresh pasta, and lamb Stifado to name just a few - so there’s lots of choice to whet the appetite. Afterwards, a steady stroll along the waterfront, watching the yachts and boats pitch and dive in the harbour, is the perfect way to spend the rest of the evening.
The Cobb Arms, Lyme Regis
29 Marine Parade, Lyme Regis DT7 3JF
Overlooking the world-famous Cobb just as it meets the harbour, The Cobb Arms has to have one of the most iconic vistas in Dorset. With extensive views over Lyme Bay, this is a wonderful place to rest weary feet after a day exploring Lyme Regis and the surrounding countryside. There’s a real focus on seasonal, local produce from land and sea, and you can stop here for lunch or dinner.
With timeless classics such as cider-battered cod and chips to huge fish sharing boards (featuring potted crab, cockle popcorn, crevettes in garlic butter and smoked salmon), there’s plenty of choice, while their ale, wine, and gin menus are extensive and can be perfectly paired with your meal. Whether you cosy up in the restaurant area or laze on the sunny veranda overlooking Lyme Regis harbour, this is a fantastically atmospheric place to eat.
Shell Bay Seafood Restaurant, Studland
Ferry Road, Studland BH19 3BA
Enjoying tranquil views overlooking Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, and Sandbanks, Shell Bay Seafood Restaurant lies on the edge of the Isle of Purbeck. With extensive outdoor seating, this is the place to go on a warm evening for a spot of sunset watching, while if the weather isn’t quite on your side, there are clear-canopied areas where you can enjoy the view throughout the year.
If Jersey oysters, Kerala seafood curry, whole local lemon sole and ribeye steak float your boat, make sure to pop in during your holiday in Dorset. This is a very busy spot, so it’s worth booking ahead, and also ringing up beforehand if the weather isn’t looking good to make sure that they’re open. If you’re visiting Sandbanks, you can easily arrive by ferry, which lands just 250 yards away – perfect!
Lulworth Lodge Hotel Bistro, West Lulworth
Main Road, West Lulworth BH20 5RQ
If you’ve been hiking for the day along the South West Coastal Path or spending the day relaxing in Lulworth Cove, Lulworth Lodge Hotel Bistro is a must-visit, whether that’s for lunch or an evening meal. The a la carte menu offers tasty fare with more than a nod and a wink to its coastal setting, with Dorset crab and lobster available alongside fish and chips and ribeye steak.
When the sun shines, enjoy the sea views from the sunny terrace with something delicious in hand, such as an English Garden cocktail or a pint of Dorset Brewing Co.’s pale ale. It’s worth noting that both the terrace and the indoor restaurant are dog friendly (as is the beach below). Park in the main car park at Lulworth Cove and make the most of your unbelievable beachside surrounds.
Are your taste buds tingling? Start planning your foodie-themed holiday today by taking a look at our stunning holiday cottages in Dorset.