12 pubs to try for Sunday lunch in Devon

The Rugglestone Inn (c) Major Clanger, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Rugglestone Inn (c) Major Clanger, Flickr (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

The Sunday lunch is an enduring British institution that’s incredibly important to get right. We’ve chosen 12 places in Devon that will guarantee sublime stuffing, mouth-watering meats and Yorkshire pudding perfection.

Remember to practice social distancing on your visit and book ahead wherever possible to avoid disappointment.

1) London Inn, Shaldon 

Head down to the Devon coast across from Teignmouth and you'll find this pub that offers a relaxed environment capable of satisfying both contemporary and traditional tastes. As a warm-up we recommend the London Selection where you can sample several starters including mango and brie parcels and crispy squid.

In addition to the choice of three roast meats, the spinach and ricotta cannelloni and the roast cod with potato gratin offer your taste buds a less traditional option. Whether you're dining in the nautically-inspired interior or outside with a view of the bowling green, your eating experience will be equally exceptional.

2) The Kings Arms, Georgeham

After a day out at Putsborough Beach or Saunton Sands with your pooch, drive a couple miles in land to this dog-friendly 17th century pub that has been utterly revived since closing in 2010.

The pub really feels like a community hub for the village and it will be bustling inside and out meaning booking is very much recommended. Roasts are as carefully presented as any other dish on their regular menu yet that doesn't mean portion sizes are small: any sort of appetite will be amply taken care of.

3) The Rugglestone Inn, Widecombe in the Moor

Set in the thick of Dartmoor National Park, this grade II listed building is a former cottage and has all the homely charm you would expect of such a property, right down to the collection of dogs, ducks and chickens that roam both the interior and garden area.

Although there isn't a Sunday roast available, traditionalists still have plenty to choose from including steak and stilton or beef and ale pies. Of the pub's three main rooms, lunch is served in the old bar area where you should keep an eye out for artwork by former tarot card artist Pamela Colman Smith.

4) The New Inn, Goodleigh

For over 14 years, owners Julie and Justin Gardner have been providing rural North Devon with exceptional seasonal fare and well-kept ales in a traditional village pub setting.

When you arrive for your lunch between 12pm and 3pm, a range of dishes on an ever-changing blackboard - including usual British meals as well as food from further afield - will give you the trickiest of Sunday eating conundrums. Whatever you settle on won't disappoint, and we recommend returning regularly to see how the meats, fish or vegetables have changed.

5) The Bridford Inn, Bridford

This 17th century free house is based in an elevated position of Dartmoor's Teign Valley, giving the pub's gardens extraordinary views of the surrounding hills and countryside. That alone is enough to warrant your visit but the huge range of food and drink available make the pub one you should call a regular.

Over 60 gins and around 20 local ciders provide the refreshment to a Sunday menu - served between 12pm and 3pm - that offers roasts, house burgers, a pie of the day and even sandwiches for a lighter bite. As a little bonus, if you stay within The Bridford's stone walls after 5pm, you get free pool.

6) The Tytherleigh Arms, Axminster

Grab a beer from either the Otter Brewery or Branscombe Vale, take a seat in the understated, contemporary interior of this 16th century former coaching inn and wait in anticipation while head chef Nick Topham prepares one of his typically creative, high-end dishes.

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Try the hand-picked Devon crab with caramelised apple gel to start before moving on to either the roast belly of Tremlett Farm pork, a sirloin of Devon Ruby beef or a pan-seared fillet of cod with bok choy. If you're feeling up to it after your decadent Sunday lunch, drive the 20 minutes to the Jurassic Coast, the UK's only wholly natural World Heritage Site.

7) The Black Venus Inn, Challacombe

Thought to be the only pub in the country with this name, this 16th century inn located in Exmoor National Park is one you won't soon forget. Its position in Exmoor makes it a handy base to explore the area and their website even indicates a couple of routes that will take in the Packhorse Bridge or Challacombe Church.

Once you've returned leg-weary and hungry, an extensive menu gives you an incredible degree of choice. Sandwiches or ciabattas are available for those on the go, while a duck breast with port and thyme jus is ideal for more discerning eaters. We'd say your best off finishing the meal with a selection of six local, English and French cheeses.

8) Elizabethan Inn, Newton Abbot

Owners Nick and Anne have been developing the Elizabethan's reputation for "good, honest Devon food" - much of which they make in-house - since 2002. As they're surrounded by farming communities, quality produce is always on the doorstep and their utilisation of that has been key to their success.

Their Sunday set menu offers three courses for just £18.50 and we know what we would choose: we'd start with a chicken liver parfait with their own red pepper and apple chutney followed by a roast with locally-sourced beef sirloin and finish with two scoops of their homemade ice cream. Can it get much better than that?

9) The Molesworth Arms, Pyworthy

Only as far back as 2015 this beautiful stone building was boarded up and its potential seemingly wasted. Since then, however, new owners have astutely renovated the whole place, paying great respect to its existing stone floor and fireplace while adding fresh touches of colour.

All their food is sourced from producers based within a ten-mile radius of the pub while they grow much of their own fruit, veg, herbs and cut flowers. Head chef Martin uses these local ingredients in his unfussy Sunday menu - usually only roasts - which will be provided to you by knowledgeable and attentive staff.

10) Peter Tavy Inn, near Tavistock

Before heading in to explore the western reaches of Dartmoor, why not stop in this 15th century pub with a fascinating history that involves brushes with the film industry - part of Run Wild, Run Free was filmed here - and with the criminal underworld: allegedly Frank Mitchell met his girlfriend at the premises while serving at Dartmoor Prison.

Inside ancient wood beams, mixed interestingly with exposed brick and flagstone flooring, creating an environment that is ideal for a roast stuffed shoulder of pork and a pint of the pub's own Peter Tavy IPA. There's even a surprisingly large vegan menu, giving you just one more reason to visit.

11) The Beer Engine, near Exeter

Aiming to welcome "drinkers, diners and dogs alike", this 19th century inn is Devon's oldest working brew pub and when you take your Sunday visit you can even see their downstairs brewery in action.

To bookend one of their numerous variations of roast - you can have beef, chicken, pork, triple meat, a nut roast or even small portions of any of them - you could try the Beer Engine scotch egg to start and then end your meal out with their own strawberry mess. Just 15 minutes out of Exeter at Newton St Cyres, it's the perfect escape from the relative hubbub of the city.

12) The Pyne Arms, East Down

For just £9 you can get an extremely well-portioned roast at this pub on Exmoor's fringes that was the hamlet's post office until its conversion in the 1950s.

Off the A39 between Barnstaple and Lynton, The Pyne is a little remote but still a countryside gem you won't regret seeking out. Presentation of all dishes on the Sunday menu - a choice of three roasts supported by a few other mains and starters - is exemplary and more in-keeping with a fine dining restaurant.