Oxford is a stunning city, surrounded by beautiful architecture and history. It has been home to royalty and scholars and since the 9th century has always been an established town.
Did you know it’s also home to some delicious restaurants too? The city’s best selection of independent restaurants can be found in East Oxford, especially around Cowley Road.
East Oxford is home to some of the best Indian and Bangladeshi food in the city, with a growing amount of Nepalese restaurants in recent years, so if you like spice, Oxford is the place!
If you’re a student living in Oxford, it’s important to know where’s best to get your foodie fix. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 7 places you need to visit whilst living here!
1. Oli’s Thai
About a 5-minute drive from the centre of Oxford, this delicious Thai restaurant is known for its small but daily changing menu.
Oli’s Thai is often fully booked months in advance, emphasising its sheer popularity! Trust us when we say, it’s totally worth all the hype.
The restaurant has a very intimate setting with lots of natural light and wooden interiors, guaranteed to make you feel right at home when tucking in.
Named after the owner’s young son, this restaurant has featured in “Best Restaurants In Oxford”, “UK’S Top 100 Restaurants 2017”, UK’S Top 100 Restaurants 2016, and 2015!
Recommended dishes include the confit duck ‘panang’, the deep-fried sea bass with basil and chilli, not forgetting the aubergine curry, which always gets fab reviews from visitors.
They always have super yummy specials on offer daily too, so keep your eyes peeled for the specials board when visiting Oli’s Thai!
2. Big Society
This venue is a very trendy pub/bar/hangout, perfect if you’re a student studying in this city!
Located on the bustling Cowley Road, you’re surrounded by a good number of bars if you fancy a drink after a bite to eat too.
Big Society serve delicious food all day until 10pm, with a tantalizing menu filled with American style food including hot wings, cheeseburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken and many more!
They’re generally known for their great value, tasty food, and chilled vibe for all.
Fancy playing a few games with your mates? Big Society have ping pong and table football available all day every day, and it only costs you £2 for ping pong and 50p for football, what a bargain!
We’d thoroughly recommend the Vegan Burger on the menu, made from a kidney bean, spring onion and mushroom patty with rocket, red onion, vegan burger sauce and vegan cheese.
If you’re feeling extra hungry, you’ve got to try the House Dog, a massive smoked bockwurst sausage in a sourdough roll with onions, cheese, ketchup and mustard.
3. The Nosebag
If you’re in the mood for some good quality, hearty, home cooked food, The Nosebag on Michael’s Street is the place for you!
Although they have a reputation for being strictly Vegetarian, they cater for absolutely everyone, providing fresh ingredients from local suppliers.
Some great news for cake lovers, The Nosebag bake their very own cakes offering a whopping 12 different varieties of fresh scones every day, pass us the clotted cream and jam please!
The managers of this eatery have over 45 years’ experience between them and that shows with fine quality food and excellent service.
For a tasty lunch, we’d recommend the chard, sweet potato and peanut stew served with rice and a side salad. For dinner, why not try the smoked salmon and dill fishcakes with lemon & mayonnaise, served with salad or vegetables on the side.
This is the best place in Oxford for a nice bit of tapas, with a buzzing vibe to match! Based once again on the lively Cowley Road, Arbequinna is hailed as “tapas heaven” and here’s why…
For starters, their menu is absolutely bursting with delicious meals, with a whole bunch of variety you’re spoilt for choice when visiting here!
We’d thoroughly recommend the salt cod croquetas with aioli, and the seared onglet steak with cauliflower puree and crispy shallots.
Other highly rated dishes include the crispy chickpea salad and the butterflied sea bass if you fancy some juicy fish.
The bubbling atmosphere is what really adds to the atmosphere here though, with friendly smiley service, you’re bound to want to come back when your tummy is rumbling!
5. Gino’s Spaghetti House
Everyone loves Italian food! Gino’s Spaghetti House is just minutes away from the new theatre and the Oxford Playhouse, offering authentic Italian cuisine.
This restaurant is family-run and a firm favourite with locals, students and tourists, the portions here are absolutely huge too which is even better!
Gino’s offers a bustling yet low-key atmosphere, perfect for a bite to eat after a hard day of studying for some chill vibes.
For a starter, we’d urge you to try the calamari or the antipasto all’Italiana, a selection of cured meats and olives designed to tease your palette before the main.
In terms of main courses, there’s a vast array of pasta and pizza for you to devour! Menu highlights include the calzone al prosciutto which is a juicy folded pizza with tomato sauce, parma ham and mozzarella.
For pasta dishes, you’ve got to try the gnocchi and the carbonara, because everyone loves a timeless Italian classic!
6. Za’atar Bake
This restaurant is an absolute hidden gem on Cowley Road and describes itself as the Arabic bakery & café!
If that’s not enough to reel you in, wait until you catch a glimpse of their menu, with some delicious and unique flavours on offer.
This Middle-Eastern bakery uses traditional methods to create authentic, healthy and delicious dishes.
Their famous Mannakeesh (flat bread served with different toppings) is by far the most popular dish, giving everyone a real taste of traditional middle Eastern cuisine.
Our personal favourite varieties of the Mannakeesh include the soft stuffed cheese and the lahmeh tajeen, consisting of Palestinian style minced meat with onions, tomatoes, and red bell peppers for a slight tang.
Za’ater Bake also have some truly amazing all day breakfasts on offer, if you’re in the need to nurse that dreaded hangover!
Breakfasts include oven baked eggs with plenty of different ingredients that add a huge amount of flavour and pizzazz to each dish.
7. Polish Kitchen
Serving a varied amount of tasty home-style Polish dishes on Rose Hill is Polish Kitchen Oxford, a compact yet relaxing eatery.
Their irresistibly tasty food comes at good value, with the highest quality of ingredients and incredibly generous portions.
Polish Kitchen have some amazing home cooked soups on offer for lunch, including the Gulaszowa, made from sautéed pieces of pork in a pepper and mushroom sauce and served with a nice hearty chunk of bread.
For a main course, why not try the kotlet schabowy, a tender pork cutlet coated with breadcrumbs served with a range of polish salads and mash potatoes or fries.
The pierogi ruskie is a national favourite dish of homemade dumplings filled with Polish white cheese, potatoes and onions. This dish is traditionally garnished with polish bacon but can be served with butter or sour cream if you are vegetarian.