Last updated on December 17, 2022 by Wandering our World
Swanage is a picturesque coastal town in Dorset that is always worth returning too. In the Victorian Era it was a thriving fishing village, before its natural beauty and temperate summers started to attract the rich and famous to their shores.
Since then, it’s become a bustling tourist destination that flourishes in the summer as visitors flock to the pristine beaches here. Tourism has become a key industry, but Swanage hasn’t forgotten its humble beginnings and still hauls in a variety of fresh seafood which gets supplied to the dozens of local restaurants, cafes and pubs to offer freshly prepared meals.
So, don’t go home when you start to feel peckish on your family fun day out. Instead, give some of the local cuisines here a try; we promise you won’t be disappointed.
From gorgeous views and live music to impeccable-tasting dishes, we’ve searched Swanage, high and low, and are happy to share our best restaurants guide with you.
The Eight Best Restaurants In Swanage: Food Worth Waiting For!
1. Down the Beach
A seasonal beachfront cafe where you can dine with your toes in the sand – it’s pet friendly too!
Swanage is known, if anything, for its spectacular beaches. So, it goes without saying that one of the best restaurants in Swanage would have a panoramic view of the pristine coastline right on its doorstep.
Down the Beach is a seasonal cafe that opens up in the warmer months to welcome the droves of tourists to town. It sits towards the end of the Swanage beachfront; you can’t miss it!
The cafe is reminiscent of a small beachfront takeaway. They’ve included a sprawling deck with a few seats to offer you those dining alfresco feels. The only staff are the chefs, meaning it’s counter-serve, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Believe us; the location makes up for it.
They serve a rotating selection of fast meals, but before you think along the lines of your local Nandos, it’s so much more than that.
Their meals have an element of homely goodness that sits so well on a hot Summer day. Burgers dripping in homemade sauce, Baguettes crammed with fillings and humble Fish Buttys.
If you follow them on social media, you’ll also get the first peak at their Sunday specials available for preorder. Their specials often sell out at the drop of a hat, and if that’s not a vouch of confidence in their cooking, we don’t know what is.
So grab the family and a picnic blanket, and bring the dog too! And head Down the Beach for an unforgettable meal.
- Opening Hours: Open 9 am Daily – Weather and Season dependant.
- Location: Burlington Chine, Swanage
2. The Old Harry Bar
A non-profit community-run bar that serves delicious Italian-style pizzas in a picturesque setting. Head here if you’re looking for live music and games nights!
The Old Harry Bar is one of Swanage’s best-kept secrets, often described as a “Gem” in the Studland area. Only a short walk from the town centre, it’s the perfect little place to stop for an easy meal and a good time.
There’s always something happening here, from quiz nights, bingo and the genuine local talents of live musicians; we can see why locals and tourists love it so much. They announce their latest events on their social media and website, so make sure to plan ahead.
Unlike most restaurants in Swanage, The Old Harry is actually run as a non-profit. The staff consists of locals and volunteers who offer great conversation and surprisingly excellent service.
The venue overlooks the picturesque bay and Purbeck hills. A sprawling outdoor area offers the perfect spot to watch the sunset. And, when the winter chill sets in, that outdoor patio comes well-equipped with outdoor heating so you can still overlook the ocean without losing a toe to frostbite.
They serve an arrangement of drinks, ales and ciders that warm the soul and make for some fun occasions.
While they have a kitchen facility, it mainly caters to functions as a private hire. But fret not; you can still grab a fresh, wood-fired Italian pizza to help sate your hunger. The locals often liken it to “the best pizza in town”, but that’s up for you to decide.
And perhaps the best part is that when they say “family-friendly”, they mean it because even your friendly fido is allowed to join in the fun!
- Opening Hours: 5 pm to11:30 pm Mon, Thurs – Sat; 3 pm to 8 pm Sun; Closed Tues & Wed
- Location: Heath Green Rd, Studland, Swanage
3. Love Cake
A quaint shabby chic cafe, moments away from the beach that serves a variety of scrumptious treats.
Let’s introduce you to Swanage’s very own Sweet Tooth’s Paradise. The Love Cake Cafe, found on the High Street, is a stone’s throw away from the picturesque beaches of the coastal town.
Since opening, it’s fast become a favourite for locals and tourists alike, who flock here for breakfasts and sneaky treats throughout the year.
As soon as you walk in, you’l likely be greeted by the friendly staff and the delicious scent of freshly baked cakes. The cafe is cozy and inviting, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is tastefully decorated with plants and vintage-style furniture, which spills over onto the sidewalk to offer guests the chance to dine in the open air.
Love Cake Cafe offers a versatile menu that covers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. While they are known for their incredible selection of freshly baked cakes, visitors are not shy about the excellent quality of their homemade meals!
Their dishes have an elegant touch and are packed full of flavour. Using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients to create a tasteful, artisanal approach to light meals.
Breakfasts consist of a variety of the usual suspects, with dishes likened to a traditional breakfast, granola and more. Whereas lunch is more concise and offers a divine selection of sourdough sandwiches.
For tea, there’s a menagerie of choices. All the cakes are freshly made, and the flavours are unique and tantalizing. You can also choose to have a full Afternoon tea, china plate accents and dainty sandwiches for a set fee.
Enjoy your meals with a refreshing smoothie or a soul-soothing cup of coffee. It’s the perfect place for a special occasion or just a casual lunch with friends.
- Opening Hours: 9 am to 5:30 pm Mon – Sat; 9 am to 5 pm Sun
- Location: 42 High St, Swanage
4. Black Swan Inn
A picturesque pub with a sprawling outdoor area and live music, serving traditional pub grub alongside global dishes.
This small, cozy Inn has been a popular destination for visitors to the quaint British seaside town of Swanage for years. With its picturesque views and friendly staff, the Black Swan Inn provides a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
It’s been described as a “home away from home”, and we’re sure the locals agree because tucked within the Inn’s walls hides a local pub and restaurant bound to surprise you.
A gorgeous garden flows out into the open air, with ample seating to treat your entire family to a wonderful day out. It’s not much unlike your friendly local, with an old-timey interior and a few splashes of decor here and there. But that’s part of what makes it so cozy.
People often claim it to be one of the best restaurants in Swanage, and no wonder. They’re known for their delicious renditions of traditional pub grub and global delicacies. There’s a variety going on here, and it could be overwhelming if you’re not prepared for it.
Firstly, the portions are rumoured to be huge, so even a starter might pass for a full meal. We’d suggest ordering a platter (especially the Mediterranean) to share amongst the table.
When you get to the mains, there’s a menagerie of choices from massive burgers to barbeque and, of course, good old favourites like Fish & Chips. The bar is well stocked too, and serves up a bevy of local drinks to help settle you down after a good meal.
The friendly and professional staff go above and beyond to ensure each guest is comfortable, and the delicious meals are sure to please the palate. With its proximity to some of the must-see sights too, the Black Swan Inn is an ideal destination for those looking to refuel before hitting the town again.
Oh! And be sure to watch their Facebook page for details of their live music events that happen throughout the year.
- Opening Hours: 5 pm to 11 pm Mon – Sat; 12 pm to 11 pm Sun
- Location: 159 High St, Swanage
5. Sea Breeze Restaurant
Although small, Sea Breeze is easily one of the best restaurants in Swanage, known for their traditional English seafood and homely atmosphere.
When looking for an unforgettable dining experience, there’s no better place than Sea Breeze in Swanage. Located on the edge of the English Channel, this unassuming restaurant offers breathtaking sea views and serve delectable dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients.
Sea Breeze serves an extensive menu of delicious seafood dishes and the menu is constantly evolving to keep up with the latest culinary trends, and to ensure that each dish is as fresh and flavourful as possible.
The staff are engaging and welcome guests into this quaint restaurant with friendly smiles. The small venue spills onto the sidewalk to create a small outdoor section and whilst the decor is simple with murals, it frames the beautiful scenery that awaits tourists outside.
With its outstanding atmosphere and exceptional cuisine, Seabreeze Restaurant will surely provide a memorable dining experience that will last a lifetime.
- Opening Hours: 10 am to 4 pm Thurs – Sun; Closed Mon – Wed
- Location: 7 Shore Rd, Swanage
6. The Salt Pig Too
Where a butcher meets high-quality dining, this surprisingly comfortable venue is charming and open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
After a day of exploring, you should take a break and check out The Salt Pig Too. Many locals swear it’s one of the best restaurants in Swanage, and the reviews agree. From a vibey atmosphere to their incredible cuisine, it’s definitely worth a look!
It’s not like your typical restaurant either; in fact, it’s a butchery by trade that just so happens to cook up a mean meal between orders. The butchery stretches out to accommodate tables along the side, where guests can sit and indulge themselves in a freshly prepared meal.
They serve everything from breakfast through to dinner, with a delightful Sunday Roast at the end of the week. Each dish is prepared using local and fresh ingredients, with the seafood being hauled in daily to ensure quality.
The menu changes daily as new produce is brought in, and the creative chefs get to work creating an incredible list of meals for you to enjoy. Burgers, succulently slow-roasted meats, steaks and more, there’s bound to be something on the menu for even the fussiest diner.
The Sunday Lunch is definitely at the top of everyone’s list of favourites too, but the Full English is also up there.
The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, rattling off the day’s specials with ease and giving their utmost best to provide an awesome experience. Despite the location sounding a bit odd, people often say it has a vibrant atmosphere, and we’re inclined to believe them.
The Salt Pig Too is cozy, fun, and serves up an array of fantastic meals! What more could you ask for?
- Opening Hours: 8 am to 6 pm Mon – Wed; 8 am to 11 pm Thurs – Sat; 8 am to 4 pm Sun
- Location: 7A Station Rd, Swanage
7. Shell Bay Seafood
A seasonal waterfront venue overlooking Shell Bay, specialising in divine seafood and a popular destination for holiday-makers and loved up couples to get married.
If you’re looking for something more whimsical, the Shell Bay Seafood Restaurant may have what you’re looking for and then some. Stunning panoramic views of the ocean can be viewed from any point at this venue.
They’ve become a popular choice for tourists and functions, often hosting weddings, and we can truly see why. The unassuming little building sits surrounded by natural beauty and scenery; it’s isolated at the point of Ferry Road, overlooking Shell Bay (hence the name).
Inside, it’s a simple and rustic restaurant with hard edges and pops of colour, giving it a trendy vibe. The staff are attentive, friendly, and used to serving foodies, so you can expect nothing but the finest calibre of service from them.
A sweeping bar greets you as you walk through the doors, that is, if you aren’t stunned by the view first. And the entire place lends itself to a stunning outdoor patio where the sunshine and sea are a mere glance away.
As the name implies, they specialize in seafood, caught daily off the shores of their restaurant and served fresh to the hordes of visitors that flock there. However they’re seasonal, so be aware you won’t be able to grab such delicacies in winter.
Starters are small hints of the indulgent meals to come. Seafood, grilled over open flames, drenched in sauces. Venison paired with an incredible menagerie of fresh vegetables. Succulent Lamb, Curries and more! The menu is worth the visit alone.
It’s easy to see why people flock through their doors, and if we had any complaint, it would simply be that they’re not available year-round. But that’s part of the charm, they keep you waiting for good things, and the wait is so unbelievably worth it.
- Location: Ferry Rd, Studland, Swanage
8. The Pig – On the Beach
A gorgeous scenic dining experience, surrounded by vibrant gardens and serving Michelin Guide-worthy meals to the public for lunch and dinner.
Now we’re a sucker for leaving the best until last. So we’ve hidden this tantalizing Michelin Guide venue out of sight to offer an incredible end to our guide to the best restaurants in Swanage.
The Pig – On The Beach is snuggled into the cozy English countryside in a way that leaves no footprints. If it weren’t for the constantly busy car park, you’d be within your rights to assume it was a lovely old home.
But the reality is much better. It’s a gorgeous 3-star hotel, in clutch with one of the most picturesque venues outside the waterfront. A swelling garden, packed with beautifully aligned fresh herbs and vegetables, spills around the building. Of the greenhouses on the property, one caters to a lovely space for outdoor dining (weather-protected, of course).
Inside, the place holds true to old hotels, with kitschy yore hanging from the wall. This melds its way to the restaurant (which you don’t have to be a guest to dine at). An atmosphere of merriment is constant, with visitors and locals chatting afternoons away over a pint and a good meal.
The young staff are fresh-faced and ready to serve; they’ll be your guides for the evening, leading you to your preferred seat and ensuring a relaxing dining experience.
They’re known for their charismatic renditions of traditional British cuisine, think Pigs in a Blanket, but contemporary. Their ingredients are sourced locally and from their very own garden, which appeals to any eco-activist’s better half. Fresh seafood is brought daily too, alongside beautiful cuts of meat, to create their versatile offerings.
They are open from breakfast (residents only) through dinner and also seem to have a vibrant evening scene where diners can continue the festivities well after the kitchen shuts.
- Opening Hours: 7.30 am to 10.30 am (Breakfast: Residents Only); 12 pm to 9:30 pm Daily (For Public)
- Location: Manor House, Manor Rd, Studland, Swanage
The Best Restaurants In Swanage: Final Thoughts
So there you have it, the best restaurants in Swanage! So make sure to pack some loose-fitting trousers for your holiday to the beach. You certainly don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to dine at some of these incredible places.
So bring the family and get ready for unforgettable memories in this beautiful coastal town’s charming and rustic dining venues.