Shortlist: Ten Restaurants In Poole That Locals Love!

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Last updated on October 18, 2022 by Wandering our World

Poole’s Blue Flag beach is what usually draws people to this town, but with one of the largest natural harbours in the world and a stunning coastline, there really is so much to do here. Of course all the outdoor adventure is bound to make you work up an appetite, and luckily, the restaurants in Poole aren’t going to let you down.

From celebrity chefs and fine dining, to homely dog friendly pubs, Poole has a diverse yet impressive food scene.

So maybe you’ve taken the ferry to Brownsea Island for an afternoon walk or had fun with family at Splashdown Waterpark, and your stomach is beginning to rumble. Rather than step foot in the first restaurant you see, or the first one that appears online, we’re going to help you out!

We know this place well, so have compiled what we feel are the ten best restaurants in Poole. Whether your budget is big or small, or you’re looking for live music or a local favourite, one of the ten below will be perfect for you. Bon appetit! 

Chef adding drizzle to fine dining plate
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The Ten Best Restaurants In Poole

1. Zim Braai

Something you don’t come across much outside of London are restaurants that serve up African cuisine. So imagine our delight when we found Zim Braai in the centre of Poole!

With beautiful murals on the wall, carefully chosen tables and seating, and the golden glow from lights and candles, this place gives you the feel of the sun setting and creates a wonderful ambience.

Kick things off with the vegetable samosa (they have several vegetarian and vegan options) or Slow Cooked Ribs. Then work yourself up to a flavour frenzy with the Braai (BBQ). The Braai Burger and the Mountain Burger (vegan option) are both delicious and served with fries.

There are many curries and speciality dishes to fill out the menu, but it’s the grill items here that steal the show. Such as the Slow Cooked Beef Brisket which is carefully chargrilled, marinated and smoked for over 36 hours!

There is a whole host of wine, cocktails and soft drinks available to compliment your meal too. And if you ask nicely, the staff may open a bottle from their lovely wine wall if nothing on the menu catches your eye.  

Address: 99 Commercial Road, Poole, BH14 0JD

Selection of bbq items
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2. Drgnfly

Eastern tradition fuses with a western style in this Pan Asian Restaurant. Drgnfly is delicately decorated from their window design to a blossom tree archway. All so this place has simple reminders of where the food originates from. However once your food arrives no reminders are necessary – this is Asian food at it’s best.

Perfect for a date or a group of friends, you can experience sophisticated Japanese food and other Asian cuisines right here in the heart of Poole.  

Take your time and start by nibbling on the prawn crackers served with chilli jam, or try the vegetable tempura. Dumplings, Bao buns, stir fry and curries – with plenty of options for each – will be sure to fill you up.

Drgnfly may just have the best sushi in town too. All sushi is lovingly hand made to order, so there may be a wait of about 20 minutes. That’s just enough time to sample some Saki of course!

Address: 1 Bournemouth Road, Poole, BH14 0EF

asian dishes
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3. The Poole Arms

Seafood lovers rejoice! The Poole Arms is a pub that, while serving the usual classic British pub dishes, also specialises in everything seafood!

Located right next to the museum and harbour, this is the perfect place to stop in for lunch during your busy day of sightseeing. Throughout the year there are plenty of events happening just outside. Bike night every Tuesday in the summer draws in bikers from all over Britain, while there’s Poole Harbour Festival for live music and Poole Seafood Festival too. The Poole Arms really is right in the heart of the action.

Wood panel walls & bar with pews for seating dominate the interior of this pub, creating a very cosy feel. Whilst the seating available outside gives you a chance to enjoy your meal with great views of the harbour, or watch any entertainment happening on the street.

But what about the food? Well the menu is filled with delicious dishes, but we would recommend the Salt & Chilli Squid followed by the Smoked Haddock Pie. If you’re looking for something to share with friends, then a good option is the King Prawns in Garlic served with crusty bread.

Fine wines and cask ales are available to go with your meal too, and in September there’s a Cask Ale Week which gives you a chance to try some limited edition ales. Tasty!

Address: 19 The Quay Poole Harbour, Poole, BH15 1HJ

seafood sharing
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Galaganov

4. Stefanos

There’s no beating a candle lit dinner at times, and what better place to have one than at Stefanos Greek Taverna.

Music in the background, art filling the walls, candle lanterns, and Greek cuisine, all create a romantic, authentic, cosy and friendly vibe here.

If you’ve been to Greece, you’ll be sure to recognise some regional dishes on the menu alongside firm classics.

Regardless, we will do our best to guide you through our evening so you know what to expect from this wonderful family run restaurant. For starters, order some of the house red wine; it is delicious. The sharing platter of Meze will accompany the wine perfectly. For a main we had Moussaka (beef & lamb) and Stifado (stew).

It’s almost a shame the homecooked food is so delicious and filling as we would have loved to have had some room to try something from the grill or seafood selection. Next time we come we will make sure we’re even hungrier!

Address: 110 Bournemouth Road Parkstone, Poole, BH14 9HY

Mediterranean dishes
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5. The Rope and Anchor

The menu will rope you in, the ambience will have you anchored. Yep it’s a ‘Dad Joke’, but we all do them at times…..

But seriously, welcome to one of the best gastropubs in Poole. We have always been a big fan of places like The Rope and Anchor. They’re cosy, relaxed and serve quality food at fair prices, so we couldn’t wait to see what this place had to offer.

What to expect? The Sunday lunch is so filling you’ll have no room for dessert and the same goes for the Mushroom Burger with chips, onion rings and slaw.  

They hold ‘Cheese and Wine Wednesdays’ which we’ve been told are great fun, and if you buy any bottle of wine, you’ll receive a free cheeseboard!

Occasionally in the evenings there will be live entertainment such as Elvis tribute nights, karaoke competitions and parties to celebrate the 80s & 90s.

There are a range of ales available on tap and a complete wine menu, so you’ll easily get in the dancing mood after a few! Definitely one of our favourite restaurants in Poole.

Address: 4 Sarum Street, Poole, BH15 1JW

Cheese board
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6. Custom House

Is Custom House a café, bar or bistro? Well as we found out, it’s all of them!

Conveniently located right next to the harbour, the outdoor seating is ideal for enjoying a glass of wine and watching the world go by.

If you’re out for a morning walk and have built up an appetite then stop in and enjoy something from the breakfast menu, which of course caters to vegetarians and vegans too!

For lunch or dinner, you could opt for nachos to accompany a draft beer or a burger for something more filling. The Japanese Vegan Curry and Wild Boar Ragu were great, and show the wide range of dishes on offer. In fact this place serves loads of international cuisine, along with classic comfort food.

And keeping things local to Poole, Custom House use ‘Full Circle’ coffee and a range of teas from Dorset.

Live music is a regular occurrence in the evenings, with their acoustic nights adding to the already laid-back seaside atmosphere here. This is definitely one of the best restaurants in Poole!

Address: The Old Custom House, The Quay, The Custom House, Poole, BH15 1HJ

Beer and burger display
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7. Dylan’s Cafe

If you’ve got a big day ahead of you, maybe exploring Brownsea Island or going for a coastal walk, then you are going to want a filling breakfast.

Well you can’t get much better than cosy Dylan’s Cafe. A place where dogs are welcome, so it’s perfect if you’ve got a dog walk planned.

Set in a courtyard with great outdoor seating, this peaceful cafe serves up some of the best breakfast in Poole. The most popular dish here is probably the all day breakfast; your plate will be bursting with sausage, egg, bacon, beans and hash browns.

There’s lots more too, and the Eggs Benedict is presented so well you may forget you’re at a cafe and not a fancy hotel. Naturally there are vegetarian/vegan options along with lite bites and plenty of teas & coffees. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to relax midday then we recommend Dylan’s Savory Cream Tea, especially as the cheese scones are exceptional.

There’s a variety of cakes and refreshments available too. So no matter if it’s breakfast or lunch you will leave satisfied and ready for the rest of your day!

Address: Huntick Rd, Lytchett Minster, Poole BH16 6BA

Eggs benedict breakfast
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8. Rick Stein, Sandbanks

We couldn’t not include Rick Stein’s restaurant – owned by one of the UK’s most famous chefs.

If you’re looking for fine dining in Poole, this place is hard to beat. The location alone, next to the sea on the Dorset coast with unrivalled and uninterrupted sea views, is worth the visit. But let’s be honest, everything is stylish here – from the seating to the food.  

Rick is known worldwide for his seafood dishes so don’t be surprised that the majority of the menu compromises of fish. For a full experience, we recommend asking for the ‘wine flight’, the sommelier will guide you through the best wine to match each of your 3 courses.

If you want to stick to things you may be familiar with, we recommend the Steamed Scallops followed by the battered Cornish Cod with Chips.

There are vegetarian/vegan options but the choices aren’t extensive – they specialise in seafood after all. But there’s no doubt dining here is a real experience, the food is very good, and the views unbeatable.

If visiting earlier in the day there’s a breakfast menu and set lunch menu available, alongside a selection of coffee and teas. Without a doubt, this is easily one of the best restaurants in Poole.

Address: 10-14 Banks Road, Sandbanks, Poole, BH13 7QB

Red wine
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Veres

9. The Foundry Arms

Of course fine dining isn’t for everyone, and some of us have budgets we need to keep to. And one of the best restaurants in Poole for reasonable prices and hearty food is The Foundry Arms!   

The menu is filled with classic British dishes served in generous sized portions. In fact if you order the Full English Breakfast you’ll struggle to finish your drink!

Beef or Veg Lasagne, Fish & Chips, Sausages & Mash and Slow Cooked Lamb are just some of the very filling options. If you’ve got any room left, there are a list of desserts available on the specials board which tend to change as they’re homemade.  

This place is more than just food though. It’s one of the most social restaurants in Poole. During the weekends there will be live music, whilst Sunday is always ‘Shenanigans’ day with bingo and raffles. 

Address: 58 Lagland Street, Poole, BH15 1QG

English breakfast display
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Pichitnapakul

10. Pulcinella

Our list wouldn’t be complete without telling you where some of the best Italian food in Poole is!

Wooden interiors are always appreciated by us, and Pulcinella have created a warm atmosphere with their’s. Everyone seems to always be in a good mood here, maybe because they’re eating incredible Italian food and being served by super friendly staff!

It’s no secret with locals that this is a special place, so it’s always best to call ahead and reserve a table. The menu is extensive but not complicated, and it’s well laid out with clear descriptions so everyone should be able to find something they want.

All of the classic pizza and pasta dishes are available, but we feel the Etna Pizza with Pepperoni, as well as the Spaghetti Carbonara require a special mention. There is a fantastic wine list by the glass or the bottle too, because you can’t have Italian without wine right?

Address: 79 Commercial Road, Poole, BH14 0JB

Wine and pizza display
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    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.