My Whitstable

Whitstable is in a great location on the north Kent coast, just 6 miles from the beautiful city of Canterbury, one stop by train from the historic market town of Faversham and close to pretty countryside that provides much of the food served in the town’s cafes and restaurants.  Food is one of the reasons Whitstable has become so popular in the last few years with a great choice of places to eat. The only downside to the restaurant scene is that on week nights many places stop serving at 9.00 pm and at week-ends many restaurants book up very quickly so do make sure you book ahead.

For a late breakfast or lunch The Beach Cafe  is, as the name suggests, a few steps from the beach at 3 Beach Walk whilst Windy Corner Stores tucked away in a residential street (110 Nelson Road) offers good choices for vegetarians as well as meat eaters.

Farm and Harper in the High Street is the latest venture from chef Phill MacGregor, whose food I really enjoyed when he was at Dove at Dargate (and more recently at Elliotts at No 1 Harbour Street).  Open every day for breakfast and lunch and for evening meals on Friday and Saturday you’ll enjoy ‘top notch’ cooking using locally sourced ingredients with friendly service.

Further along the street the Whitstable Produce Store stocks products and produce from over 20 Kentish makers and there’s a pretty garden at the back that can be enjoyed in good weather too, whilst the Umbrella Cafe is a friendly community cafe, with a pay it forward scheme, tucked away behind the Umbrella Centre in Oxford Street, with its own garden.

Eating fish and chips from the wrapper is popular with residents and visitors and on sunny days queues outside  VC Jones often stretch far along Harbour street and you’ll also notice the queues for delicious ice creams outside  Sundae Sundae.

I love the Michelin starred Sportsman that overlooks the salt marshes at Seasalter for a treat. It’s nearly always fully booked and this is likely to continue after being voted as Britain’s second best gastropub in April 2017).  This is probably a good thing for my bank balance.

Probably my favourite restaurant *currently is Harbour Street Tapas that has seen a few changes of ownership and quality over the past few years but now appears to be in a really good place.

I was really pleased when Claire Houlihan with her partner Hamish Stuart and chef Ryan Smith (ex Sportsman) made the move from running gastro pub, the Three Mariners at Oare and the Anchor in Faversham to open the  East Coast Dining Room in Tankerton. Simply furnished the surroundings belie the great cooking you’ll enjoy here. A monthly supper club also offers wonderful food for a reasonable price.

Further along the coast but still in Tankerton Jo Jo’s  has been a favourite with my family and friends for many years. Located in a wonderfully atmospheric airy space overlooking the sea, head chef and owner Nicky and her team serve freshly cooked food with Mediterranean tapas style. Nicky’s brother Jo is in charge of front of house and is always cheerful, appears unflappable and knows many regulars by name. Everything is prepared and cooked in the open kitchen and they book up very quickly.

For beautifully presented Indian food with subtle flavours my favourite place is Krishnabehind an unassuming exterior opposite Whitstable station in Bridge Road.

Wheelers Restaurant Whitstable

Wheelers Oyster Bar in the High Street has been trading in Whitstable for over 150 years. The food is sublime and I bought my husband their cookery book as a hint. I’m also keen that he participates in one of the fish cookery workshops run by chef Mark Stubbs.

Further along the High Street you’ll find the Twelve Taps that bills itself as Whitstable’s only dedicated craft beer bar with twelve Keykeg lines. It also offers an extensive gin list and a courtyard garden at the back.

If you prefer to cook rather than eat out, Whitstable has a great variety of independent shops selling local produce. Just walk to the harbour for fresh fish – and you can buy it from Phil the Fisherman on Saturdays mornings. You’ll find an interesting variety of cheese at the Cheese Box in Harbour Street and you can walk along the high street for locally sourced free range meat. Every 2nd and 4th Saturday the local Whitstable Umbrella hosts a farmers market.

My favourite walk is along the beach from Seasalter past Peter Cushing’s old home and the Neptune pub, one of the few pubs located right on a beach in England. Further along the beach, between the Royal Native Oyster Stores and Pearson’s Arms is The Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre. The staff are really friendly and helpful and sometime resident Labradoodle, Bailey, is a big hit with visitors too. There’s a great programme of events including music, comedy and theatre and ever changing art exhibitions.  

We’re really lucky to still have an independent book shop in the town and I love spending time browsing the great selection, including many cut price paperbacks, in Harbour Books at 21 Harbour Street.

If I have the time I’ll walk further along the beach, past the sailing club to Whitstable Castle to enjoy the beautiful gardens. It’s where I got married  (11 years ago) before it was upgraded thanks to a successful Heritage Lottery Bid. From there I might walk towards Tankerton and wander out along “The Street ‘which appears at low tide and  look back for a different view of the town.

Whitstable has some great shopping opportunities and lots of people have written about why the town has survived and thrived in the recession. As well as two greengrocers, four butchers and two bakers, (plus well know supermarkets) it has a good mix of independent shops selling original and quirky products like  Frank in Harbour Street and Taking the Plunge in the High Street. Also in the High Street, Georges is a Whitstable institution and has been trading since 1970. It’s a treasure trove selling everything from sun hats and buckets and spades to gardening tools and glue!

For original art there are many galleries in Whitstable, including the Fish Slab , a small, artist run contemporary art gallery located in the High Street near the Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery.  Whitstable Framing (5 Oxford Street) next door to the Museum bills itself as the smallest gallery in the town whilst  just along from the Royal Native Oyster Stores you’ll find  Keams Yard on the beach.

If you’re visiting Whitstable I’d recommend to travel by train as parking is at a premium but if you are unable to do that then you can find information about where to park here. Park  at Whitstable Junior School CT5 1DB (open most week-ends and bank holidays) as you enter the town and your parking fee will be split between the school and local charities and it will give you the opportunity to see more of the town’s shops.

*Updated November 2017






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