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Not too long ago, Newcastle was a gastronomic desert. But there’s a stop-complaining-and-do-something-about-it-yourself attitude that sums up the dynamic that has driven Newcastle’s rapidly evolving food scene in the past five years. Following on the heels of its coffee revolution, the city continues its foodie renaissance with artisan bakeries, sourdough pizzerias, and one of the North’s best gastro-pubs.
While there is a Michelin-starred establishment in town, it’s the homegrown places that truly shine. These small, quirky hangouts are built on as much love as money. So have a real Newcastle experience, and enjoy the handiwork of individuals who have opened the sorts of places they want to see, making the sorts of food they want to eat.
Cal’s Own (1-2 Holly Ave W) Newcastle joiner Calvin Kitchin got fed up with not being able to find pizzas the way he liked them, so he took matters into his own hands. His pizzeria in Jesmond serves top quality Neapolitan-style pizzas cooked in a Roman wood-fired oven that reaches such a high temperature that the thin crusts cook in a little over a minute. The crisp, flavourful pizzas get you as close to the true taste of Italy as possible—without catching a flight.
The Broad Chare (25 Broad Chare) Two decades ago, local super-chef Terry Laybourne was the one genuine star—aside from the bangingly popular family-friendly Sardinian restaurant Pani’s (still there and still good). Laybourne’s still around, and today you can sample his wonderfully gutsy Northumbrian cooking at The Broad Chare, a terrific gastro pub on the Quayside, a short walk from Hotel Indigo Newcastle. Trust us on this: the Holy Island crab served on thick slices of toast is a winner.
The Settle Down Café (61-62 Thornton St) This café has a back room reminiscent of the parlour at your grandma’s house. The food is earthy home-made fare: hearty soups, inventive sandwiches, and superb baked goods superb supplied by The Sugar Down Bakery.
Quilliam Brothers’ Teahouse (Claremont Buildings, 1 Eldon Place) The Sugar Down Bakery supplies bread to this new Tyneside institution as well. The Quilliams were once featured in indie band Vinyl Jacket! Today, they import around 60 varieties of tea that you can enjoy.
Ernest (1 Boyd St) It’s a haven for local hipsters, but even those of us who have never worn tweed braces or attended a crochet workshop can appreciate the atmosphere. Ernest is housed in Ouseburn, a rejuvenated industrial area whose factory chimneys were featured in the title sequence of classic seventies Geordie sitcom “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads.” They offer a well curated drinks range, including cask beer from Wylam Brewery, and home-made food.
The Ship Inn (Stepney Bank) Just down the bank from Ernest, The Ship Inn serves up the kind of tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes even the most committed omnivore can enjoy.
Dreamworld Cakes (Arch 3, Stepney Bank) For years, couple Bernadett Szucs and Richard Winfield ran wonderful bakery courses around the North East, leaving everyone wishing they would just open a shop. They finally have, and Dreamworld Cakes is aptly named. Szucs trained at Nadell Patisserie, the bakery that supplied the Queen’s garden parties. So even if you don’t like cakes, this is the sort of place to persuade you otherwise.