10 of the best places for al fresco dining in Devon
- Credit: The Cove Restaurant
Make the most of spring sunshine and celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions by dining outdoors with friends and family. Devon has an array of popular seafood eateries and well-kept secret venues that offer delectable dinners in spectacular coastal, countryside or city settings.
If you love locally caught, fresh seafood then Rockfish is the place to be! All restaurants serve seasonal catch from waterside terraces and decks which offer a casual and friendly dining experience. To dine al fresco, choose from restaurants situated in Dartmouth on the The Embankment, Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour, Exeter Quay or The Terrace at Brixham.
Due to the seasonal availability, your server will recommend the best of the day's catch and write it on the table! Try grilled royal bream fillets served with roasted peppers and romesco sauce or Lyme Bay mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and parsley.
Kayaking or strolling along the canal banks in Exeter? Why not stop for a pub lunch at Double Locks?
The pub, famous for its spectacular Sunday roasts, has a spacious, dog-friendly beer garden with a decking area offering spectacular views of the canal. A marquee and stretch tent are also available for reservation bookings. Seasonal ingredients means a varied menu with a range of pub classics including rump steak, battered cod or Ploughman’s lunch.
There could be nothing more idyllic than sitting by the quayside on sunny afternoon with a cold drink in hand, watching the boats go by.
Nestled in the Yealm estuary, opposite the equally beautiful Newton Ferrers, lies the village of Noss Mayo. Here you’ll find a cosy but contemporary waterside pub, The Ship Inn, which is packed with character. Build up your appetite by strolling through scenic wooded hills and the estuary paths leading to the village before making a pit stop at the pub.
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You can choose pub favourites from the bar menu, or go for something a bit more sophisticated, like the seared scallops or fillet of seabass from the main menu. Local (and excellent) drinks are the speciality here, so try a glass of rosé from local producers Sovereign Wines or a refreshing sip of Salcombe Gin with a speciality tonic.
If you’re looking for something a bit special, opt for the award-winning Cary Arms & Spar for a truly magical dining experience. Located on the Jurassic Coast at the stunning Babbacombe Bay, this ‘coastal chic’ restaurant offers spectacular views from the sun garden terraces.
Recommended in The Good Food Guide and in the Michelin Eating out Guide, be tantalised by seasonal menu specials full of local produce, such as succulent steak or Lyme Bay lobster.
A popular wedding venue in North Devon, Sandy Cove Hotel also doubles as The Cove Restaurant, which is perfect for the casual diner.
Food can be enjoyed outside on the terrace which overlooks the dramatic coastline. Ideal for romantic evenings, or a night out with the family. Try some wood-fired specialities such a fresh mackerel, panuozzo (flatbread made of warm pizza dough) or kid friendly pizza, calzone or al forno pasta.
Relaxed vibes and stunning harbour views, The Plymouth Stable is the perfect setting to catch up with friends over delicious sourdough pizza and a plethora of delicious ciders. No need to book for this restaurant – just turn up and grab a spot.
The menu is deceptively small but packed with absolute powerhouses of pizza! Opt for a sharer platter to start and then go big with The Blazing Saddle pizza loaded with locally sourced beef, bacon and veg topped with homemade garlic aioli. There’s also a vegan option so no one misses out on flavour! There’s a dizzying amount of ciders so get a recommendation from your server based on your preferences.
If you’re hankering after fresh local seafood, it can’t get fresher than the Crab Shed! Crab is caught by fishing boats and landed on the quayside right by the restaurant on the South Devon coast.
This fun and friendly venue offers its crab in all varieties – sandwich and salads for quick lunchtime treat or dressed crab as a main course. The linguine in a creamy crab bisque is particularly tempting with a glass of dry Prosecco.
For outdoor dining you can choose the waterfront terrace or one of their ‘breakfast bars’ but seating is limited so make sure you book in advance.
Need a break from shopping? Situated in the historic city of Exeter with fantastic views of Exeter Cathedral, this daytime and early evening restaurant is a great find for brunch and breakfast lovers.
Formerly named Tea on the Green, this charming Tudor venue has a spacious outdoor dining area set on the beautiful cobblestones.
Enjoy high tea the traditional way with delicately prepared sandwiches, cakes and scones in the large outdoor seating area. A favourite at the café is the Sunday roast, and if you have room, dare to try a decadent dessert – sticky toffee pudding or Eton Mess.
Situated in the beautiful wilderness of Dartmoor is the picture postcard village of Widecombe in the Moor, home to the aptly named Rugglestone Inn.
The Grade II listed building constructed out of local logan stone is located near a small stream and is a tranquil setting for a delicious pub lunch for weary walkers. Outside is a large sheltered garden with picnic tables great for families, trekkers and dog walkers.
Be prepared for mammoth sized, home cooked meals such as the Rugglestone Platter (a Devonshire alternative to Ploughman’s lunch) or hearty beef and ale pie with a generous side of chips and potatoes.
Style and substance is the name of the game for this modern family run restaurant on the English Rivera. A large outdoor dining area with overhead patio heaters is a plus for those not so warm spring evenings.
Fresh seafood is staple here but make sure you try the Cornish charcuterie – a selection of cured meats and condiments - before you delve into the fish of the day with rosemary fries. If you plan to visit on a Sunday, go order the pork belly roast, you won’t regret it.