Eating and Drinking
If you fancy a bite to eat out in the city of Oxford, then the possibilities are endless! It is filled with a variety of restaurants, bistros, cafeterias, diners, bars, and pubs – all suiting different wants and needs!
A Taste of Home
Living in a new place can be a bit of a culture shock for international students, especially if you are not familiar with European food. Large supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and Tesco on the ring road have “World Food” sections, stocking popular staples from Indian, Asian, Caribbean, and Eastern European cuisines. However, Oxford also has a number of specialist food shops (predominantly along Cowley Road) where you can buy groceries from around the world, often at a lower price than at the big supermarkets. Here are just a few of them.
For Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Korean supplies
- Thong Heng, 6 Windmill Road, Headington, OX3 7BX
- Lung Wah Chong, 41-42 Hythe Bridge Street, OX1 2EP
- Jing Jing Oriental Food Store, 188 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE
- Asian Mama Chinese food, 148 London Road, OX3 9ED
- Shanghai 30's, 82 St Aldate's Street, OX1 1RA
- Red Star Noodle Bar, 187A, Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1UT
- My Sichuan Restaurant, Gloucester St, Oxford OX1 2BN
- Opium Den, 67-69 George St, City Centre, Oxford, Ox1 2BQ
- New Dancing Dragon Bar & Restaurant, 283 Banbury Rd, Oxford, Ox2 7JF
For African, Asian and South American Supplies
- Eastern and Continental Store, 152 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JJ
For Polish supplies
- Polish Food, 168 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1UE
- Polish Food, 34 Cowley Road, Littlemore, OX4 4LD
- Euro Foods, 115 London Road, Headington, OX3 9HZ
For Mediterranean supplies
- Meli Deli (Greek), 51a Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1HP
- Il Principe Italian Deli, 82 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JB
For Caribbean supplies
- Turtle Bay, 28 Friars Entry, Oxford OX1 2BY
- Da Root, 2-4 Windmill Rd, Oxford OX3 7BX For Eastern, Middle Eastern, and Halal supplies
- Maroc Deli, 66 Cowley Road, OX4 1JB
- Simply Fresh, 236-238 Cowley Road, OX4 1UH
- Tahmid Stores, 53 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1HP
- Society Cafe, 16 St Michael's St, Oxford OX1 2DU
- Queen's Lane Coffee Shop, 40 High Street, Oxford OX1 4AP
- The Handle Bar Cafe & Kitchen, 28-32 St Michael Street, Oxford OX1 2EB
- Cafe Loco, 85-87 St Aldate's, Oxford OX1 1RA
- The Bear & the Bean, 98 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JE
- Art Cafe, 14 Bonn Square, Oxford, OX1 1EU
- Gail's Bakery, 21-22 Little Clarendon St, Oxford OX1 2HU
- The Grand Café, 84 High St, Oxford OX1 4BG
- Vaults and Garden, University Church, 1 Radcliffe Sq, Oxford OX1 4AH
- The Missing Bean, 14 Turl St, Oxford OX1 3DQ
- Paul, 138 High Street, Oxford OX1 4DN A warm, welcoming, yet sophisticated bakery which offers quality traditional patisseries. Paul offers an authentic French atmosphere.
- Gatineau, Summertown 209 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7HQ An original and independent bakery in Summertown, which offers French traditional bakeries and bread.
A Taste of Britain
Eating out can be expensive, and not always an option on a student budget. But for those who want to try typically British food without spending a fortune we have picked out some of the nation’s favourite foods.
Fish and chips
Deep fried fish in a tempura style batter with a generous side portion of deep fried potato chips. Traditionally seasoned with salt and malt vinegar. This is can be accompanied by gravy, curry sauce, mushy peas or pickled onions (depending on which part of the UK you come from).
You can find this in takeaway outlets around Oxford, and costs around £6. Dish size varies, but often one portion of fish and chips will feed two people. One fish and chip establishment that offers supreme portions for only a little bit more is Posh Fish!, located on 150 London Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9ED.
The late-night kebab - Grilled lamb meat in spices.
Comes in two varieties, the Doner Kebab, where the meat is ground up with spices and grilled on a rotisserie, and the Shish Kebab where cut pieces of whole meat are marinated in spices and grilled on skewers. Traditionally eaten in a pitta bread. This can be accompanied with chips, salad, mayonnaise or chilli sauce.
You can find these in the evening to early morning, sold from vans (with kitchens inside them) and cost £3-5. They usually park along the High Street, St Aldate’s, St Giles in the city centre and by the shops in Headington. Kabab Kid and Bodrum on the Cowley Road offer halal kebabs.
Cheese on toast with Worcestershire Sauce (pronounced woo-ster).
A very affordable classic snack to try at home. You will need:
- cheddar cheese,
- bottle of Worcestershire Sauce (stocked by most supermarkets – usually on a shelf near the tomato ketchup).
Start by lightly toasting one side of your bread under a grill. Turn the bread over and cover in sliced or grated cheese, sprinkle with Worcestershire Sauce, grill until the cheese has fully melted and begins to bubble. And there you have it - steaming hot cheese on toast!
Fancy cream tea
A pot of tea served with a selection of savoury sandwiches, sweets scones (with jam and cream) and cake. Traditionally cream tea is eaten in the mid-afternoon to keep you going till dinner time. However, it is no small snack, so make sure you arrive hungry. Costing between £10-20, this might be one to reserve for special occasions, or a treat when your parents come to town. **The Grand Cafe, ** 84, High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BG, is one such place in Oxford that offers high tea.
The city centre is a great place to start if you’re looking for a place to drink and dine in a central location. George Street is lined with restaurants and pubs: for upmarket dining visit Jamie’s Italian, a restaurant owned by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Although slightly pricier, it is still affordable so could be a great place to impress a date without breaking the bank, and it has deliciously fresh and filling food. Alternatively, there are many other Italian restaurants located on George Street such as Bella Italia and Zizzi Ristorante, which offer similarly priced food. If you are having to keep a tight reign on the budget then you can cheat a little bit and take yourself off to one of the two Pizza Huts; one located at 61-63 George Street and the other at 10-12 High Street.
For independent Italian restaurants the White Rabbit is worth a mention, the cosy, quaint pub, come Italian diner serves up delicious wood fired pizzas, at a very student friendly price. Run by a group of students in their twenties, it's been voted the best pizza in Oxford and is well worth the visit.
Located both in town, down Cowley Road and in Headington Buongiorno E Buonasera offers fresh Italian food, drinks, desserts and deli items in a warm and friendly environment. Whether it's a slice of your favourite pizza or a sit down meal, you'll often find the Italian societies meeting here.
If you're Vegan or Vegetarian head to the Handle Bar Cafe for delicious brunch, coffee and cakes made fresh every day. The cafes quirky decor and buzzing atmosphere make it the perfect place to go and visit.
Oxford has a great variety of cocktail bars which host a sophisticated, friendly atmosphere to socialise with friends. Turtle Bay, located in Friars Entry, is a lively restaurant inspired by Caribbean beach shacks, which specialises in rum cocktails, jerk chicken and Caribbean food. For a stylish 4-level venue including a cocktail lounge and nightclub, visit TVC - The Varsity Club on the high street. This venue specialises in great cocktails and a sophisticated vibe, plus you can also experience outstanding skyline views of Oxford on the rooftop terrace. Check out The Duke of Cambridge located on Little Clarendon Street which has a large menu of cocktails and a very affordable happy hour with cocktails starting at £4.95.
Oxford is home to many restaurants offering the Wetherspoon’s menu – perfect for students on a budget. There are two located in the city centre: Four Candles is on George Street, surrounded by burger restaurants such as the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, the Wig and Pen and Byron Hamburgers; The Swan & Castle is on Castle Street.
Oxford does exceedingly well with its pubs, most of which offer quality home cooked food. One of the most popular as well as historic pubs is the Turf Tavern. Tucked down a small alley and dating back to the 13th Century, the Turf Tavern appears to be the perfect haven for a weary tourist, or fatigued students. On entering the small green front door, you are greeted by a strong aroma of well rested ales, with over 11 various guest ales at one time plus a range of spirits, ciders and soft drinks. It comes as a great surprise to hear the Turf Tavern offer taster glasses, just to make sure you have made the correct choice. The food menu offers homely, well-cooked food, boasting about its quality fish and chips. After ordering both food and drink at the bar, there is a wide choice of seats in and around the pub, with each area of the garden representing a great atmosphere and mix of guests visiting the famous pub.
Another famous pub is The Eagle and Child, best known for being the popular meeting place of The Inklings, the literary group made up of C.S Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien and other writers.
If you're looking for a slightly more upscale pub then The Trout Inn is the place to go. Located just inside the ring road north of Oxford on Godstow Road the gastropub is an authentic 17th Century pub that has a deep history in Oxford. With its stylish interiors, distinctive features, and links to literacy and historic greats such as Lewis Carroll, Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, Rosamund the Fair, and King Henry II, this pub will open your eyes to a world of fascinating history and culture. Offering a fantastic Sunday Roast this is a great place to go with parents when they come and visit.
Oxford’s Covered Market offers numerous independent cafés such as Brown’s Café, Ricardo’s, Alpha Bar, Oxford Café and the Pieminister. All of them sell wholesome and fresh food at affordable prices, so pop inside for a light lunch.
Located on George Street, George Street Social is worth a shameless plug. This place is well known between students for its quirky decor, delicious cocktails and weekend bottomless brunch. Brunch is from £20 from 11am onwards and your group is given a two hour slot to drink your numerous Proseccos or Bloody Marys along with your choice of Breakfast. The decor includes old school games such as Top Trumps, Monopoly and other board games for a true blast from the past if yourself and friends are after a bit of fun between the drinking.
A multicultural hotbed of cafes and shops, Cowley Road is a great place to visit for someone with a wide flavour palette.
The Mirch Masala is a delightfully friendly Indian Restaurant whose menu holds a wide range of different curries and other dishes, which can all be tailored to your spice tolerance. 137-139 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1HU.
However, Cowley Road offers a host of Indian Cuisine such as:
Akash 212 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4
Al Mumbai 209 Cowley Road, Iffley, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4
Majliss 110 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1JE
There is a variety of multicultural cuisine available, with a number of Chinese restaurants and takeaways such as Chopsticks, and the Rice Box.
Highly recommended Japanese eateries include YO! Sushi, Wagamama and Itsu.
For a Mediterranean dish visit Café Baba which offers delicious tapas cuisine.
Do you fancy trying something different? Take a stroll down Cowley road to Yeti, a fine Nepalese dining restaurant. Opened in 2011, this cute small family run business offers a range of exciting Nepalese dishes, including khasi jhol (lamb marinated with cumin and coriander paste) and swadilo chicken (chicken tikka cooked with ginger, garlic, coriander and the chef's special sauce).
Verde Pizzeria is a family-run Italian restaurant situated on Cowley Road. With locally sourced food used in recipes that have been passed down generations, Verde offers a range of pasta, pizza, fish, meat, and vegetarian dishes.
Greece Greek Taverna is the best place to go for a taste of Mediterranean. Offering a range of great lunches to have during the day to an evening filled with Meze and wine; the possibilities of authentic Greek culinary cooking are endless.
Refresh Café is a great place to go for that well-needed hangover breakfast. A large fry-up accompanied by a tea or coffee will make you depart with merely a fiver, and they’re not leaving anything out: bacon; eggs; sausages; mushrooms; tomatoes; beans; black pudding; and toast will all fill your stomach. The best part is, if there’s something you don’t like you can swap it for extra of what you do like! The volunteer staff are all incredibly friendly.
Other cafes along Cowley Road offering great breakfasts include Tick Tock Café, who offer vegetarian breakfasts and gluten-free sausages, and Cafe Coco also offer brunch, with a range of options including a full english and porridge.
To all sweet-toothed students, behold G&D’s. Established in 1992 by George Stroup and Davis Roberts, G&D’s has over the years become the late-night, mid-day and even early-morning place to get your daily sugar fix. Offering a wide range of handmade ice cream combinations , G&D boasts three branches: George and Davis in Little Clarendon Street; George and Danver on St Aldate’s; and George and Delila on Cowley Road. Students can meet from 8am till midnight every day of the week.
All three branches offer a light, friendly and comfortable setting, perfect for a quiet night out with some friends. Ice cream wise, it is all handmade on location with the ingredients sourced fresh and locally around the Oxford area. Some flavour options include: ‘After Eight Mint’, ‘White Gold’ (white chocolate, butterscotch and cookie dough), ‘Bananarama’ (banana), ‘Oxford Blue’ (blueberry), ‘Smelly Bee’ (lavender & honey) and ‘Hamlet’ (white chocolate & raspberry).
If you thought everything mentioned above couldn’t get better, G&D’s also provide savoury bagels as well as a wide selection of freshly baked goods for you to choose from.
If G&Ds doesn't cut it try Sundaes Gelato for every sweet treat you can imagine, with over 20 flavours of ice cream to choose from. The American themed diner down Cowley Road makes concoctions out of brownies, cookies and cream - it's basically any sweet tooths heaven. Worth mentioning however, that the weekends are particularly busy due to families with young children.
Cowley Road is also a great place to start if you have certain dietary requirements.
Atomic Burger and Atomic Pizza allow customers to personalise every aspect of their meal, making it easy for veggies and vegans, and they also make fresh gluten-free burgers, buns and pizza bases. They can be found on opposite ends of Cowley Road.
Another vegan-friendly place is the Beetroot Pantry and its joint café - here you can pick from large bowls of fresh olives and sundried tomatoes, and bicycle baskets of freshly made bread, or explore the shelves for herbal teas, organic breads, healthy snacks or cooking ingredients. If you want to sit down and enjoy a meal, or alternatively get a box to go, pop next door for an array of fresh salads and wholesome hot meals.
Red Star is the place to go If you’re in the mood for noodles. The staff are extremely knowledgeable about the ingredients used and can use gluten free soy sauce upon request.
Jin Jin Located on the Cowley Road, it's Chinese food is a favourite of the local students. The friendly staff and delicious aromatic food makes it one-to visit. The restaurant is unpretentious and it's modest nature allows the food to speak for itself.
We can’t forget the horde of pubs and bars lining the streets. Right at the beginning of Cowley Road is the popular City Arms, which boasts a wide range of events to ensure you’ll never have a dull night. With £1-a-pint-nights, live music and pub quizzes, it is a pub that can easily be described as having a student atmosphere. If you’re a sports fan then the HD and 3D plasma TVs that host live sport will probably be of interest to you – as well as the pool table, football table and air hockey located in the heart of the pub.
The Cowley Retreat is at the heart of Cowley Road, offering a fantastic range of draught beers and ales, wines and in-house cocktails. It is ideal for a friendly drink with friends or for a weekend warm-up.
The Library An eccentric two floor bar located towards the middle of Cowley Road serving great pub food, cocktails, different types of ciders and vinyl music for all tastes in its basement. Open between 4pm to 12pm.
The Rusty Bicycle is just a skip and a hop away from Cowley Road. With their delicious burgers and to die for pizza, you can't go wrong. Their decor is a mixture of an old tavern and a cabin in the woods. Not only can you order lunch and dinner, but they brunch from 10am-3pm. Cure those fresher hangovers with an Avo-Smash or an Egg Florentine. How could you go wrong? It can be found at 28 Magdalen Rd, Oxford OX4 1RB.
The Truck Store
This cool store is based in Cowley Road. A popular street in Oxford for the younger audience especially. Welcome to The Truck Store. This bundle of charm was founded in 2011, opening an indie record store in Oxford when all the other record shops in town had long been gone. Here you can calmly browse through hundreds of records while music is softly playing in the background. Why not sit down for a rich, foamy cappuccino while you're at it? The Truck Store also put on events where they present both new musicians and settled musicians to the local community. With a friendly, laid back vibe you can easily sit here for hours just feeling the atmosphere.
Bar Aroma is a well-established bar which has knowledgeable and experienced staff who can make you any cocktail to suit your fancy at student-friendly prices! Open from 6pm until 2am except on a Friday and Saturday, which opens an hour earlier at 5pm.
Big Society is another popular bar located on Cowley Road. The pub offers a range of American-styled food, served all day until 10pm. In addition to having an assortment of different cocktails, they have a vast variety of both canned and bottled beers, as well as serving 2/3 pints of draught. If you are in a playful mood, the bar offers ping pong and table football among fun quiz nights. If not, their hip and nicely decorated indoor and outdoor space, is perfect for having an enjoyable drink or two.
Brewdog is a brand new bar that has just opened on Cowley Road. Already known for their array of craft beers and fantastic burger menu they are making a name for themselves. With a choice of comfy booths or long tables for groups as well as an outside seating area they have settled into Cowley Road well.
Close to Cowley Road, St Clements is home to many restaurants and pubs.
La Cucina is an Italian restaurant close by, for people who want to embrace the real Italian experience. It is also good if you have special dietary requirements as it serves gluten-free pasta.
Since Joe Perks closed down last year The Globe has taken over their spot. Still offering the same chilled out atmosphere they offer a variety of drinks including cocktails and a selection of wine.
Be At One Cocktail Bar
About 100m down from The Globe is Be At One Cocktail Bar, with two floors and a daily happy hour this is the perfect place for some sophisticated drinks. With over 100 cocktails to choose from there is something for someone with a sweet, spicy or more bland pallet. This is a must go place in Oxford for those refined drinkers out there.
St Clements is more known for its range of pubs. These include The Port Mahon, which offers home-cooked food and a lively atmosphere where everyone gathers to watch Sky Sports and live music. They also put on a quiz night on Sundays from 8 pm, so go along and wow everybody with your university knowledge! Other pub restaurants include Moya, Angel & Greyhound and The Old Black Horse.