Norwich Food Guide: Best Restaurants, Cafes & More
Welcome to my ultimate Norwich Food Guide. Looking for the best spot to tuck into breakfast, lunch, dinner and even a delicious drink? Then read on! This guide has got you covered.
Although I am now a Glasgow dweller, Norwich is my hometown. Since moving to Glasgow over two years ago it seems that a mixture of travel logistics and lack of time has meant that I don’t go back to visit very often. But, when I do, I find myself feeling so nostalgic about this little market town I grew up in, filled with excitement to explore its cobbled lanes and see how the city has grown and moved forward.
And every time I return, it has. The Norwich food scene has changed hugely in the last few years. When I was growing up, Norwich had only a handful of cool foodie spots. Today, it has a thriving food scene, full of awesome coffee roasters, delicious bakeries, a plethora of world cuisines and a smattering of quirky bars.
When I returned home for a week over Christmas 2016, I found myself, in classic Molly style, having to make a list of all of the places Andrew and I absolutely had to visit. What I present to you today is a mix of our favourite new places and some of my tried and true old favourites. Let’s get to it!
Norwich Food: Breakfast & Brunch
Great for a full english breakfast, House Cafe do vegan and vegetarian english breakfasts, too. Also on the menu are delicious cakes (some GF and vegan) and lunch offerings such as sandwiches and salads. The cafe is housed within an intimate little space on St. Benedicts Street, in the gorgeous Norwich Lanes. Be prepared to wait a while for your food, however- this cafe is very popular so it gets busy fast!
The Bicycle Shop
The Bicycle Cafe is another one of my favourites. Like most of the places on this list, it is truly unique and quirky in the best way. Think lots of beautiful plants and succulents, twinkling fairy lights, vintage interiors and mismatched crockery; the canvas for some seriously delicious brunches. The gluten free crepes are particularly great. Keep your eyes peeled for all of the random ornaments dotted about- the typewriter and birdcage in particular. The Bicycle Shop also hold regular music and poetry events. Slight caveat: they don’t sell bicycles. Awkward…
How does poached eggs on toast with guacamole sound? Or American pancakes with greek yogurt, pecans and maple syrup? Amazing? Then you’re going to want to nab a seat at No.33. One of the most popular cafes in Norwich, this eatery also sells mouthwatering cakes, some of which are gluten free. The tea selection is great, too.
Franks bar is one of my absolute favourite spots on the Norwich food scene. It’s actually open from AM to PM so is great for any meal (or drink) of the day, but the brunch is one of the best in Norwich. Think pancakes with poached pear, plum and honey; salmon, beetroot and chive creme fraiche on toasted English muffins and a delightfully decorated space full of quirky little touches. Menu options are clearly marked as vegetarian, vegan or gluten free, making it a great option for every diet. There is also an outside seating area which is perfect for summer drinks.
Norwich Food: Coffee, Tea & Cakes (The Good Stuff)
A relative newcomer on the block, Artel opened in late 2015 and has since become a firm favourite and social hub for the coffee connoisseurs of Norwich. This coffee shop is possibly one of the tiniest in the world, with just a couple of seats, some beautiful fresh interiors and some great magazines to ponder alongside your brew. Their espresso based and hand brewed filter coffee is sourced and roasted from all over the world and served through Aeropress or V60.
Strangers Coffee House
Strangers is a speciality tea and coffee shop in the heart of the Norwich Lanes. It’s home to the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, personally. They currently offer around five different coffees daily from around the world, working closely with some of the top coffee importers and roasting the coffee in their on site roastery. They offer a great selection of milks for the dairy free customer, including oat milk and almond milk, along with a selection of sweet and savoury bites. The Ethiopian Rocko Mountain or the Rwandan Muhara are two of my top coffee picks. Coffee is also available to buy via their online shop.
Biddy’s Tea Room
Biddy’s tea room is probably one of the most adorable cafes in the whole of Norwich. It’s a tea room, yes, but there’s nothing frumpy about it and it’s certainly not overrun with OAP’s. The staff are friendly, the atmosphere is cosy and the delicious treats are aplenty. Think every flavour of tea you could imagine alongside cake- lots and lots of delicious cake. Look out for soups, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, chutneys and jams gracing the menu, too, mostly locally sourced from Norwich food suppliers, or suppliers around Norfolk.
I was introduced to Kofra by a Barista friend. He raved about Kofra, so I knew it would be good. Jose -the owner of Kofra- sources, roasts and prepares coffee from around the world and his passion for the job is evident. Tucked away almost secretively at the back of the shop is a cosy little seating area. Surrounding it is a bookcase full of quirky cooking books, piles of interior design magazines and walls plastered in interesting local artwork. The shop branding is brilliant, too. Think bright, vibrant colours, white washed walls, minimalist light fixtures and shouty capital letters.
Gosling & Guzman
Gosling and Guzman are another new kid on the block. Opened in June of 2016, half a year later and they have already won a shoutout in the Sunday Times food magazine’s top 25 coffee shops in the UK. Fun fact: the owners of Gosling and Guzman are Hayley Gosling, who previously owned one of Norwich’s most popular coffee shops, The Window (Now Artel) and Jose Guzman, the owner of Kofra. Norwich is a pretty tight knit place! Gosling and Guzman holds good news for avoiders of dairy, too- oat, cashew and coconut milk are all available in place of cows milk. There’s also an bakery on site brimming with amazing little treats.
Norwich Food: Lunch & Dinner
What do Moorish do? Falafel! And they do it well. Located on one of Norwich’s prettiest lanes, Moorish is brilliant for a quick, healthy and relaxed lunch on the go for under £10. If you’re gluten free, you can opt for a salad box which includes salad, hummus, three falafels and an extra side of your choice. Otherwise, you can have your falafel in a plain or wholemeal pitta. I had the salad box which was absolutely delicious; Moorish have totally nailed the flavours. Worth noting, though: the portion sizes are huge!
I have a soft spot for this restaurant, because it was where I landed my first proper job aged 15. Back then it was 20 St Johns Restaurant, but a few years ago it was bought over and reopened as the Maddermarket Kitchen. My curiosity got the better of me, so I went to try out their dinner menu. It was really quite delicious, well put together food and cheerful service. A great addition to the Norwich food scene. During the day, the restaurant is beautifully light and airy with a rustic, countryside cottage feel. In the evening, the low lighting makes for a relaxed, easy going atmosphere. The Maddermarket Kitchen also serve a scrumptious looking breakfast menu.
The Waffle House
I couldn’t leave out the Waffle House, could I? It’s a Norwich food institution. Tucked away in the middle of St Giles street, the waffle house sells -you guessed it- waffles! Sweet or savoury, plain or wholemeal; utterly delicious. The Bolognese Waffle is one of their classics, and for good reason, but the Oriental Vegetable and Cashew Stir Fry or the Hummus and Avocado toppings are some personal favourites. If you’re more of a sweet than savoury individual, then you can’t go wrong with the Hot Dutch Apple Waffle. Ahh, YUM!
Brick Pizza popped up in 2016. Their pizzas are made from scratch, by hand, with the best Italian ingredients… and then finished off in a wood fired oven. The specials change weekly, and the menu has some really delicious and slightly unusual flavour combinations- great if you’re like me and you quickly tire of the same old toppings. PS. They’re also on Deliveroo! I sense this becoming a big Norwich food hotspot in coming years.
Blue Joanna is a funky little restaurant and bar (did I just use the word funky?) situated in the heart of the Golden Triangle on Unthank Road. In their own words, they offer: ‘Asian style street food, cool cocktails, vinyl records, live music….& a blue piano.’ Well, what more could one want, really? They also have free live music events on Saturday nights from 9.30pm.
B’nou (pronounced buh-noo), I haven’t yet visited. But it’s on this list nevertheless, because I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about them. Located on St Benedicts Street, b’nou is a little bit different from your average restaurant, because… well, they don’t have a menu. Instead of placing your order from a pre-set menu, the tapas style dishes are cooked one at a time and then brought around to the tables. If you don’t like what you see, you can simply wait for the next dish to be brought round. b’nou are an amazing exmaple of how interesting the Norwich food offerings can be. From their eclectic vintage-modern interior hybrid to the delicious tapas selection and outstanding service, I’m just dying to go! There’s only a handful of tables, so booking is crucial.
East Twenty Six
East Twenty Six is another fantastic tapas bar in the Norwich Lanes. I’ve visited twice now, and both times have involved a whole lot of absolutely delicious food. There’s a great variety of both meat and vegetarian dishes, so the menu can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s always busy and bustling, and makes for a great spot for double dates or large groups. The lighting is cosy and intimate, and the service is swift and unpretentious.
The Belgian Monk
Another institution on the Norwich food scene, the Belgian Monk is the place to go if you’re looking for a great beer or a ginormous pot of mussels and frites. And lets be honest, why wouldn’t you be? Their signature beer is the Belgian cherry beer. It has to be tried, but is very sweet, so I wouldn’t recommend more than one. Outside of their signature drinks and bites lies a staggeringly extensive food menu, with plenty of vegetarian options.
Norwich Food: Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten Free
Tofurei is an all vegan coffee shop who make their own tofu and soya milk. Their cafe is housed in the cutest little space on Pottergate, with gorgeous soft furnishings and arty graphics on the walls. This year, they’ll also be hosting workshops for groups of up to 6 on how to make your own soya milk- awesome! A brilliant addition to the Norwich food arena.
One of my best friends and I have been coming to Wild Thyme for years, even since before it was Wild Thyme (it used to be a vegetarian restaurant called Pulse). The menu is entirely vegetarian with plenty of vegan and gluten free options. On the occasion that I have brought a meat eater to Wild Thyme with me, they’ve absolutely loved the food. Not surprising, given that it is always delicious and packed full of nutrition. You know – the kind of food you eat and immediately feel your body breathe a happy sigh of relief.
The Gluten Free Shop & Cafe
The name speaks for itself. This is a great little haven for the gluten free amongst us. I haven’t yet tried the cafe, but the adjoining upstairs shop is full of delicious, nourishing treats that are impossible to resist.
River Green Cafe
River Green Cafe can be found a little outside of the city centre, moving towards Trowse. The menu is entirely vegetarian with loads of vegan, gluten and dairy free options. Fresh, simple and healthy meals, unprocessed and made from scratch is the name of the game. The flavour combinations are unique and delicious. Think Tofu Jackfruit ‘Fish’ Cakes, Chestnut and Nutmeg Gnocchi and Pistachio and Cherry Vegan Blondies. YES PLEASE.
The Green Grocers
The Green Grocers is a little slice of all the good stuff rolled into one. It’s a community focused cafe serving locally sourced and eco-conscious produce, plus a deli and shop. They also serve Artisan sourdough pizzas every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.
Rainbow Wholefoods can be found just underneath Wild Thyme. Inside is the ultimate health food haven full of every jam, chutney, nut butter, coconut oil, kombucha and chocolate you could wish for. There’s also a great array of protein bars, energy balls, and even a small selection of homemade cakes on the counter. Some of the items are pretty pricey, but should you happen to be in the ‘treat yoself!’ mood, this is the place to pick up some health conscious goodies.
Bia Kitchen (Norwich Market)
Bia Kitchen is a vegan and vegetarian market stall in the middle of the permanent Norwich Market fixture. Row B, stall 54-55, to be exact. I was both delighted and doubtful when I first heard of this stall. Delighted at the thought of a vegan market stall, and doubtful that the Norwich food market scene would embrace its presence amongst its sea of bacon sandwich and fish and chip sellers. As it transpired, the new stall has been a great success! Breakfast and lunch options change weekly, but some examples are the Beetroot, Carrot and Dill Burger and the BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Bap. YUM.
…And so concludes my top picks for drinking, dining and snacking your way through the Norwich food scene! I hope this proves to be useful for you, whether you’re embarking on your first visit to Norwich, or you’re already a Norwich local!