Oxford is one of our favourite cities. Its picturesque beauty and great food digs have us coming back time and time again. As we quickly approach our first Wriggle offer in Oxford, we asked Minna, long-term resident and blogger at I Basically Travel, to share her favourite food and drink spots.
Oxford’s Cowley Road is a vibrant home to a wonderful selection of independent restaurants and cafes. Whether you want a quick lunch or a long leisurely dinner, you can almost eat your way around the world there. The following places are all my regular haunts, which I love revisiting time after time for different reasons.
Pizzeria da Mario is a little piece of Italy right in the middle of bustling East Oxford. The lovely cooking aromas greet you as soon as you step in as the pizza oven is right by the door. (The main kitchen is hidden downstairs.) If you are seated upstairs you can watch your pizza being made from scratch and brought to your table. The friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere and the traditional décor that has remained the same as long as I can remember remind me of the cosy little trattorias in Italy. This is a place for eating, talking, and laughing out loud!
Mario’s extensive menu includes risotto and fish dishes as well as daily specials in addition to an impressive selection of pizzas and pastas. As the portions are really generous, I often skip the starters and only have one of their lovely thin-crust pizzas before a dessert, which in my case is usually a tiramisu that simply melts in your mouth. I have been to Mario’s for a quick bite to eat as well as for birthday celebrations: this place is a great all-rounder.
G&D’s is Oxford’s own chain of three ice cream cafes. George & Delila with its large seating area and free WiFi is a great place to work or simply enjoy a cup of coffee with something a little bit naughty. The ice cream is made on the premises of another G&D’s café and goes beautifully with cookies and waffles, too. In fact, sharing a waffle sunday with all the trimmings is almost a must! However, it’s not just about ice cream: the filled bagels, which even have a tasty vegan option, are a good lunch-time bite. The easy-going feeling and long opening hours mean this central location is also an ideal spot to meet up with friends.
Red Star Noodle Bar serves a great variety of Pan-Asian food in a no-nonsense manner with fast, efficient service. Its location is also handy for a pre-gig meal as the O2 Academy is just opposite. The menu ranges from edamame beans and noodle soups to curries, stir fries and bento boxes. Huge blackboards on the wall list specials that include healthy options, and those who like a chance to get their photo on the Wall of Fame can take the chilli chicken soup challenge. My own all-time favourite is yasai bento: deep fried aubergines, mushrooms, courgettes & sweet potatoes served with a curry sauce, steamed rice, miso soup and vegetable dumplings. A perfect meal in a box.
Mostro Coffee is an ideal place for lovers of music and good coffee. It’s located inside Truck, an independent record store, and serves fantastic flat whites (When you’ve been to places whose idea of a flat white is a mug of hot milk with a hint of caffeine, you appreciate the real deal!) Besides wood roasted coffee from UE Coffee Roasters and tea from Jeeves & Jericho, both with an admirable ethical policy. You can also buy a slice of home-made cake and listen to whatever tunes are being played in the music store. The seating area is quite small but big enough for a moment of musical caffeine heaven and maybe a bit of internet time.
Minna has been living in Oxford for about 17 years and has a great selection of regular haunts. Her blog, ‘I Basically Travel‘, takes readers on a cultural quest from Edinburgh and Rotterdam, to Rome and Monaco, exploring food, sights and adventures of all sorts.