The Devonshire coastline is speckled with top-notch restaurants serving mouth-watering meals with superb sea views – here Anna Turns seeks out some of the best
1. FOR GUEST CHEFS
The Seahorse, Dartmouth
WHY HERE? Mitch Tonks and Mat Prowse specialise in cooking fresh seafood simply over an open charcoal fire. Chefs enjoy a cheeky glass of grappa while writing the menu in the classy dining area, regularly welcoming guest chefs including Mark Hix and Angela Hartnett. Mains from around £19 (seahorserestaurant.co.uk). Photo: Ed Ovenden
2. FOR SENSATIONAL SEAFOOD
Oyster Shack, Bigbury
WHY HERE? The River Avon’s tidal road leads to a secret spot where this converted shack once housed an oyster farm. Its heritage, along with beautifully upcycled furniture, adds to the Oyster Shack’s rustic appeal and the menu changes daily depending on the morning’s catch. Shuck the finest oysters and while away the hours al fresco. Mains from around £14.50 (oystershack.co.uk).
3. FOR OFFSHORE DINING
River Exe Cafe, Exmouth
WHY HERE? Catch the Puffin water taxi from Exmouth Marina to this floating restaurant where your food is 'literally swimming beneath your feet' says the manager. From Exmouth mussels to Lyme Bay fish, plus Pebblebed wine from nearby Topsham, get afloat for an all-encompassing Devon dining experience. Mains from around £11.95. Booking is essential (riverexecafe.com).
Read next Top 10 Coastal Hotels in Devon
4. FOR A DAY AT THE SEASIDE
Venus Restaurant, Blackpool Sands, near Dartmouth
WHY HERE? Enjoy coconut king prawns or grass-fed Devon beef burgers in a relaxed setting overlooking a pristine privately-owned shingle beach fringed by pine trees. And if you fancy a dip, paddleboards, kayaks and surfboards can be hired next door. Mains from around £9 (lovingthebeach.co.uk).
5. FOR BEAUTY ON A PLATE
The Elephant, Torquay
WHY HERE? With one of only a handful of Michelin stars in Devon, chef proprietor Simon Hulstone adds a touch of theatre to foraged ingredients, plus produce grown at The Elephant’s farm. Two-course set menu lunch is £16.50, à la carte mains from £15.50, 10-course tasting menu, £60 (elephantrestaurant.co.uk).
6. FOR BEACH PARTIES
Beach House, South Milton Sands
WHY HERE? Cosy up inside this little shack on a blustery day with a vibrant bowl of seafood linguine, or sit on the picnic tables outside to soak up the sun, admire the views of Thurlestone Rock and tuck in to hot chilli Salcombe crab or fresh fish specials. This shabby-chic hut is available for private hire (max 36 guests; BYO). Mains from around £12 (beachhousedevon.com).
7. FOR ACTIVE LIFESTYLES
The Beach House, Woolacombe
WHY HERE? Serving Devon crab, Lundy lobster and River Fowey mussels, the surfy vibe at this upmarket bistro reflects the surrounding Blue Flag beach and all who walk, run and surf on it. Mains from around £9 (beachhousewoolacombe.co.uk).
Read next 10 Best Sustainable Seafood Restaurants
8. FOR SEASONALITY
Noel Corston, Woolacombe
WHY HERE? Take a seat at the chef’s counter while Noel Corston and his wife Nora present a tasting menu to reflect the seasons. Inspired by Noel’s affinity with the sea and the flavours of Nora’s native Mexico, ingredients come from within the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Tasting menu from around £105. Max 16 covers, so booking is essential (noelcorston.com).