Whether you’re looking for somewhere special for a lazy brunch, or a quick, hearty bite to fuel a day exploring the Isle of Purbeck, Swanage has a great range of restaurants, cafés, pubs and takeaways.
For a quick and budget lunch option, grab a made-to-order sandwich from one of the bakeries or delis, or to sample some of Dorset’s finest local produce served in style, try one of the gastropubs along the high street.
Being right by the sea, expect some culinary treats at seafood restaurants such as Gee Whites – offering outdoor dining with fantastic bay views. And keep an eye out for annual events and food fayres, such as the Swanage Fish Festival, which brings a feast for the tastebuds to town every year. And if it’s sea views and bracing cliff walks that give you your appetite, make sure you visit Durlston Country Park’s SeventhWave café & restaurant for the perfect day out on the Jurassic Coast.
If you like a bit of live music while you eat, there are regular bands and folk groups who play in town, and all the pubs, bars and restaurants come alive with a party atmosphere during the many music festivals that take place throughout the year, including the Swanage Blues Festival and the Swanage Jazz Festival. And for a special evening meal, Chilled Red is hard to beat, with its lovely atmosphere, attentive staff and fine food.
Families might want to opt for familiar favourites, such as the excellent Italian cuisine at La Trattoria, or good, traditional pub grub at one of the many pubs, such as The Red Lion and The Black Swan, or simply a homemade Dorset apple cake in a cosy café – try Love Cake for its delicious chocolate cake and unusual Hummingbird cake. Kids (and grown ups!) will want to stop at Chococo for a special chocolate treat – you can get souvenir-style packages to take home with you or stop in for a warming hot chocolate. You can also book on to a chocolate tasting or making workshop – great for a birthday celebration for both adults and children.
If you’re self-catering or camping, you can pick up everything you need in the Swanage’s two main supermarkets, the Friday market in Main Beach car park, or the selection of delicatessens and health food shops along Station Road. You can often also find local Dorset produce including eggs from nearby Cedar Organic, specialty jams and local meat and fish for sale in the deli sections of cafés. The Salt Pig is a classic example of multi-culinary options, offering dine-in meals in its café, on-site butchery and farm shop, as well as meat box deliveries, which can be ordered online.
For drinks-only, try a very reasonably-priced but highly tasty cocktail at Snack Bar, sip a glass of wine at the beach-side Cellar Bar, or continue your night into the small hours at The Club (formerly Bar One).
Further afield, there’s even more options for local beers and great meals. In the village of Corfe Castle, try Mortons House for a fine dining experience, The Fox for a local ale and The Pink Goat for an excellent brunch or supper. If you’re after quirky, the Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers has a huge range of brilliantly-named, home-crafted ciders (served with a home-made pie and often live folk bands) or for something a little more hearty but with equally great views and atmosphere The Pig on the Beach in Studland is a unique blend of rustic luxury – soak up the sun with a specialty G&T on its rolling lawns that overlook Studland Bay and Old Harry Rocks in the summer, or dine in the pretty conservatory on cooler days.
Combine a bracing beach walk at Kimmeridge Bay with a Sunday roast or homage cake at Clavell’s; find a great selection of pubs, fish & chip shops and ice-cream parlours in the village that’s home to the famous Lulworth Cove; and keep an eye out for pop-up cafés in unusual places in the summer months – such as the Purbeck Pop-Up on the Hill near Tyneham, or the visiting catering vans that do the rounds at the area’s campsites and caravan sites.