The UK is well known for its pubs. And apart from getting a ‘pint’, you can also get food at most pubs (there is usually no table service though, order at the bar). All pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars are non-smoking. Congregations of smokers can often be found outside all of the establishments listed below!
- The Punter (Northampton Street) is a gastro-pub close to the back of College by the squash courts and does very nice food – during the week you can get a £5 lunch deal! Also has a good outdoor area.
- The Maypole (Park Street) serves an excellent range of drinks and has a late licence on Friday and Saturday (you can buy drinks past 12am). The traditional Johnian option!
- The Mitre (Bridge Street) is directly opposite the side of College. In addition to a large selection of ales, the wine list is extensive and they offer good food (look out for their main course + drink offer at lunch/dinner).
- The Baron of Beef (Bridge Street) is next door to the Mitre and is more intimate.
- The Pickerel Inn (Magdalene Street) is a low-ceilinged traditional pub that can get very busy, but is definitely good for a winter’s night. Good selection of real ales, including the favourite ‘Old Peculier’.
- The Castle (Castle Hill) serves a great selection of beers from the Adnams brewery.
- The Eagle (Bene’t Street) is a large central pub that is beautiful, but usually too choked with tourists to be useable. This is where Watson and Crick famously announced the discovery of the double helix.
- The Bath House (Bene’t Street) is near the Eagle and has the longest row of beer pumps in Cambridge. Can get very crowded.
- The Pint Shop (Peas Hill – off the Market Square): sleek and London-y; a pub for people who don’t like pubs. In addition to wine & beer, they have a menu of gins. The Sloe Gin & Ginger is excellent. Serve bar snacks and have a separate restaurant at the back/upstairs.
- The Anchor (Silver Street) is a sprawling pub overlooking the river that serves good lunches and is an ideal pit stop on a punting trip.
- The Mill (Mill Lane) is a small pub by the river with good ales and serves food. Close to punt rental so can be busy.
- Cambridge Brewhouse (King Street) does in fact brew its own beer and serves food. Has a contrived sort of quirkiness (pots of herbs on the tables, mismatched china, lots of old books stacked in the windows). A good bet for watching big football (soccer) matches.
- The Granta (Newnham Road) is another river pub where you can moor punts.
- Cambridge Blue (Gwydir Street) – excellent ales and food, usually quite busy. Has a nice garden at the rear. Excellent for watching football, has multiple screens.
- The Regal (Wetherspoons) (Regent Street) is part of a national chain renowned for its cheap prices, but the Cambridge branch also includes a large-ish dancefloor. Best suited to large, drunken groups late in the evening. Open ’til 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Though it acts like a club, there is no cover charge. Watch out for your drinks, phones, and wallets. The classy way to end an evening…
- ADC Bar (Park Street), same entrance as the ADC Theatre, is very close to College and serves good-value drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. It often stays open late in term-time.
- All Bar One (Regent Street) is part of a national chain; large and trendy and particularly busy at the weekends.
- La Raza (Rose Crescent) is a café and lunch venue during the day, which becomes more of a bar in the evenings: open till 2AM, often with live jazz. The Graduate Union hosts club nights here every Tuesday.
- Brown’s (Trumpington Street) is a renowned Oxbridge venue that has a wide range of British food, and is great for long lunches. They also mix a delicious cocktail, and have happy hour every Sunday – Wednesday after 4pm.
- 2648 (Trinity Street) serves super sugary drinks but has a decent Happy Hour with two for one cocktails (£9).
- Hotel du Vin (Trumpington Street) does actually good cocktails in a town virtually bereft of such a thing. Mad pricey though and way down past the Fitzwilliam Museum.
- Six (inside the Varsity Hotel, St. John’s Rd) also does decent drinks. There’s a rooftop bar, but it’s only enjoyable about two weeks out of the year when the weather cooperates.
- Novi (Regent Street) serves decent food during the day and more of a bar later in the evenings with various cocktails and open until late.
- Cambridge Wine Merchants (Bridge Street) their College-adjacent location includes a wine bar.
- Cindies (Petty Curry), hasn’t actually been named Cindies for over a quarter of a century (the current name is Ballare), but the DJ (and everyone else in Cambridge) still calls it Cindies. It is the undergrad pickup spot and the most popular place in town on Tuesday/ Wednesday nights. Known for cheesy music and for only playing 45 seconds of each song.
- Fez (Market Passage) is set up with a Moroccan atmosphere. Open every night of the week, Monday and Wednesday are student nights, and Sundays are indie nights run by fellow students. Often bring in well-known DJs.
- Revolution (Downing Street) Buying their student card for £4 gets you various deals throughout the week. Restaurant & bar on ground floor with three club floors and roof terrace.
- Lola Lo (Corn Exchange) is a faux-Tiki themed club with two dancefloors (one of which lights up) and a roof terrace. It hosts several student nights and is usually a fun place to end a night.
- Life (Sidney Street) is another club that goes by a name that it no longer actually has (its most recent iteration (as of September 2018) is ‘Vinyl’). It’s an extensive underground club in the city centre, busy with students on Thursdays and Sundays. It has a fun atmosphere and runs an LGTB+ friendly night on Tuesdays.
- Aromi (Bene’t Street) while technically a café, as they don’t serve dinner, is possibly the most popular place to eat in Cambridge. There’s constantly a line out the door. Serve pizzas, panini, arancini, various Sicilian desserts, and coffee. Lives up to the hype but a miserable pain to wait in line for.
- Hong Kong Fusion (St. John’s Street) is probably where you’ll go when hungover, especially if you sleep through Buttery lunch.
- Bridge Street houses a lot of restaurants, most of which are chains (Cote, Caffe Rouge, La Tasca, Byron, Wildwood, etc.). See below.
- Bella Italia (Bridge Street) is a chain Italian restaurant. Food is alright.
- Byron (Bridge Street) purports to do “proper” burgers, which means they all cost like £11. The milkshakes are great.
- Wildwood (Bridge Street) does wood-fired pizzas. Great outdoor terrace.
- Galleria (Bridge Street) is worth a visit for the views over the river, but this privilege is reflected in the prices.
- Pizza Express (Jesus Lane) is the nicest branch of this chain in Cambridge (there’s another on Regent Street) with an oak-panelled dining room.
- Franco Manca (Rose Crescent) excellent pizza, £7–£10)
- Bill’s (Green Street) has straightforward, very tasty food, plus a friendly atmosphere and colourful decoration. Excellent breakfast stop, especially early in the morning. Inexplicably includes guacamole on its mezze board…
- Rainbow Café (in a “cosy” basement off King’s Parade) is a great spot for vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free food lovers but isn’t cheap.
- Cambridge Chop House (King’s Parade) and the St John’s Chophouse (right out the back of College, by Cripps) are both relatively swanky and thus one of the better options for when parents visit.
- Efes (King Street) is a Turkish restaurant with great mezze.
- d’Arry’s Wine Shop (King Street) is, despite its name, actually a restaurant and does very good contemporary British cuisine with a nice wine selection too. Main courses are between £13 and £21. Good place to impress a date, or your parents.
- Twenty-Two (Chesterton Road) serves extremely good food but is pretty pricey. There is only a set menu, but it never disappoints! Reservations necessary.
- Midsummer House (Midsummer Common) is the only 2 Michelin star restaurant in East Anglia.
- The Olive Grove (Regent Street) serves Greek Cypriot food.
- Al Casbah (Mill Road) – Algerian & Mediterranean fare at a good price, though the service is not always up to snuff.
- Cambridge has a few Thai Restaurants with Sala Thong on Queen’s Road, The Wrestlers pub on Newmarket Road and Thaikhun in Quayside.
- There are a number of Indian Restaurants, many of them on Castle Street (close to College). These include The Maharajah and Cocum. Also in the town centre is India House (Newnham Road) and Tiffin Truck. There is an equally large collection of Indian restaurants in the Mill Road Area.
- Las Iguanas (Quayside) is a chain serving pan-Latin American food in a cheerful atmosphere and has cocktail happy hours most days. Mexican food can be found at Nana Mexico (Regent Street; Lion Yard). (Take note: decent Mexican food is rare in the UK outside London).
- There are a number of East Asian Restaurants. Sticks’n’sushi (Wheeler Street), itsu (Sidney Street) and Wasabi (Petty Curry) are popular for sushi. If you’re into Japanese noodles, then Yipee on King Street isn’t bad (if a little heavy on the MSG). Wagamama (St Andrew’s Street) is a national chain restaurant providing tasty, if inauthentic pan-Asian food at reasonable prices (£12 for a main – free green tea). Seven Days (Regent Street) is a Sichuan restaurant. Zhonghua Traditional Snack is a dumpling house by the Grafton Centre.
- Fast Food is not absent in Cambridge. McDonald’s is in Rose Crescent, Burger King at the Grafton Centre and Pizza Hut on Regent Street. Gardenia’s (Gardie’s) in Rose Crescent is a favourite post-drinking spot to pick up Greek food and chips. The alternative to this is the Van of Life (aka, Mister Burger’s Van, aka Trailer of Life), which is parked on the College side of Market Square. The van on the other side is the Van of Death (aka Uncle Frank’s). Enough said.
Cafes and Coffee Shops
Though there is an impressive number of libraries in which students can study, some like to escape the confines of them and the College. Cambridge has a variety of different cafes and coffee shops which welcome book-laden students looking for an endless supply of caffeine and a little corner in which to work. Coffee in the UK is improving in quality, although it’s still be far from what Europeans and Antipodeans are used to.
- Fitzbillies (Trumpington Street and Bridge Street) Cambridge institution famous for it’s sticky chelsea buns, if you need a serious pick-me-up during exam blues. Many students frequent the cafes for a few cups of (reliably good) coffee while they work on their dissertations. The restaurant side in the Trumpington St branch also serves lunch every day (pricey, but generally delicious).
- Bould Brothers (Bridge St, opposite the Round Church and Forecourt plodge) St John’s local; great coffee (and recently featured in Vogue!)
- Michaelhouse Cafe (Trinity Lane) is located inside a (deconsecrated) church. The high ceilings and stained glass windows offer a beautiful view while you study.
- Harriet’s (Green Street) does afternoon tea and scones. Popular with tourists.
- The Locker (King Street) is an Australian-inspired cafe with the best smashed avo in town according to our resident Aussie expert. Has a great upstairs area and does a 10% student discount. On the weekends, laptops can only be used upstairs.
- Espresso Library (East Road) is a bit further out from the city centre, but the perfect escape on the weekends when the tourists have flooded Cambridge. They offer food, hot drinks, and a relaxing space to catch up with a book or a friend.
- Hot Numbers (Trumpington Street, Mill Road) popular (good) coffee shop, nice place to sit down with food or coffee and do some work.
- CB2 (Norfolk St) is right behind the Grafton Centre and another good escape from the crowded city centre. The cafe is large and welcoming with delicious hot panini sandwiches.
- Cambridge is also home to various chain coffee shops including Caffe Nero (King’s Parade, Market Street), Costa Coffee (Market Hill), Starbucks (Market Street), and, better, Pret a Manger (Petty Curry, Market Street).