As the Christmas season fast approaches, we’ve rounded up our top picks for festive eats, no matter how you’re choosing to celebrate
If the idea of turkey dinners and Christmas pud doesn’t appeal, take your taste buds on an international adventure with a visit to one of these top spots
A reliably delicious choice for a meal out, De Luca is one of the longest-running restaurants in Cambridge. The secret to its enduring success is its indulgent, classic Italian food, but the upstairs piano and cocktail bar definitely helps keeps the punters coming back, too.
This Christmas, the restaurant is once again adding a seasonal spin to its menu, offering dishes like baked turkey breast stuffed with sausage meat and dates, plus panettone with pistachio and white chocolate creme for pud. It’s priced at £25 for two courses at lunch, or £32 for three courses at dinner – add a glass of prosecco for an additional £4, and don’t forget to mosey up to the top floor bar for a digestif.
La Latina Bustaurante
On a grey, wintery day, bring a little Latin sunshine to your life with a trip to Cambridge’s first and only restaurant on a bus.
You’ll find La Latina Bustaurante parked up at Cambridge Retail Park, providing a burst of colour and a breath of fresh air.
Hop aboard this beautifully refurbished double-decker bus and take a seat for your feast, which should include the full trio of La Latina’s specials: tostones, empanadas and arepas. The perfect antidote to dry turkey and sprouts.
This family run restaurant in the heart of the market square is offering an Italian festive feasting menu from late November until 23 December. As is traditional on Italian Christmas day, you can begin with an antipasti board laden with cured meats and cheeses, or go for the hearty option: a steaming bowl of minestrone with meatballs.
Main courses, meanwhile, include a fragrant lamb shank with rosemary on garlic mash, or a turkey escalope in a cream of porcini mushrooms, white wine and sage.
The decadence continues on the dessert list, which features panettone bread and butter pudding, and chocolate and dark rum-soaked raisin mousse topped with crushed amaretto biscuits. It’s priced at £29.90 for three courses at dinner time, or £25.90 for lunch.
The Tiffin Truck
The sibling restaurant of fine-dining spot Navadhanya, The Tiffin Truck on Regent Street takes a more relaxed approach, offering Indian street food and craft beers.
The tapas-style menu means you can try lots of dishes in one sitting, from classics like masala dosa to lesser-known gems such as sambar vada, a lentil doughnut in a hearty stew.
For something a little different, you can also enjoy TT’s twist on an afternoon tea, and there’s a range of Indian spiced cocktails on offer, too – ours is a chai martini.
Fans of Spanish food should get this excellent Green Street eatery on their radar, pronto. It opened its doors in the spring of last year, under the same ownership as both Cambridge burger restaurant Butch Annie’s and the acclaimed Drakes Tabanco in London’s Fitzrovia, and has been quietly building up an army of loyal fans.
Stop in for a chilled glass of fino and avail yourself of the excellent tapas menu, which includes chorizo swaddled in rich red wine and honey sauce, fluffy, crunchy patatas bravas with creamy aioli, authentic Spanish tortilla and iberico pork cheeks with buttery mash and crispy shallots. Is your mouth watering yet?
For quick catch-ups with friends, refuelling mid-shopping spree or a moment of tea-and-cake induced calm among the festive build-up, these lovely cafes will hit the spot
A Cambridge coffee house that needs no introduction, Hot Numbers now has three branches, but it was Gwydir Street where the story began. Named after a long gone record shop on neighbouring Kingston Street, visitors are greeted with a happy hum of customers, the sounds of jazz and the sweet aroma of freshly-ground coffee beans as they step through the doors.
The food ranges from virtuous (smoothie bowls), to indulgent (thick wedges of cake, syrupy pancakes), and musicians often perform live in the evenings.
With trips to the Lion Yard increasing at least tenfold for most Cambridge dwellers in the lead-up to Christmas, you’ll be needing a nice calm sanctuary to caffeinate and refuel in. Perfectly located on the ground floor of the centre (opposite JD Sports) is Jamaica Blue, a cheerful eatery with great coffee and an all-day food offering.
From eggs benedict with jerk pork belly at brunch to a hearty lunch of chunky lamb moussaka or a vegan burger, it’s the ideal spot for a bite mid-shopping spree or a conveniently placed catch-up with friends.
Vinyl, board games, cocktails, coffee and cake combine at Mill Road’s Relevant Records, a favourite hang-out for Romsey towners. Downstairs is a mid-century modern living room crossed with a record store, while upstairs is a cosy cafe and gig space.
Expect hearty brekkie (we love the Mexican: a comforting bowl of steaming potato, melty cheese and chorizo), handmade pizzas, ice cream and chunky sausage rolls.
Everyone knows that Quayside’s fun in the sun, but it’s lovely in the winter, too – all twinkly lights on the river and cosy bars and cafes. One of our favourite spots in this corner of Cambridge is Café Foy, a cute-as-a-button independent eatery known for its epic toasties, scotch eggs, home-made cakes and brunches.
If you’re planning a group night out, the cafe is offering a special drinks and Christmas canapes menu, which we think would make the ideal start to a festive knees-up in town.
Out of town treats
Although Cambridge town centre is full of excellent places to eat, venture just a little further afield and you could discover some hidden gems
The Rupert Brooke, Grantchester
Conclude a blustery ramble on Grantchester Meadows with a pint and a hearty lunch at The Rupert Brooke, one of Cambridgeshire’s loveliest rural pubs.
Unexpectedly modern inside, this smart venue boasts a beautiful conservatory dining room, striking rooftop terrace and a large, open-plan dining room, and the team is going all out with festive food and fun this year.
For groups, there are the Christmas party packages, plus you can spend the big day itself there, enjoying a feast of smoked salmon mousse, roast turkey, sticky fig pudding and more, while someone else slaves over a hot stove and does the washing up for you.
The Three Hills, Bartlow
Ward off winter chills and retreat to The Three Hills, a venue that is the stuff cosy country pub fantasies are made of.
Surrounded by gorgeous countryside on the Cambs-Essex border in Bartlow, this historic inn welcomes you in with roaring fires, leather armchairs and a book-lined snug, making staying for hours easy and leaving very unappealing.
Lucky, then, that there’s a series of luxurious bedrooms across the car park, if you simply can’t tear yourself away.
The pub is offering a Christmas party menu (starting at £24 for two courses), featuring vegetarian delights, a classic turkey dinner, plus a rather tasty-sounding mulled berry creme brulee for dessert.
The Old Crown, Girton
A treat for Girton dwellers, but worthy of visitors from much further afield, The Old Crown got new owners and underwent a dramatic renovation in 2018, before coming under new management in the spring of this year.
Happily, the quality has stayed consistently excellent, and this lovely country pub has settled into its groove, offering gorgeous interiors and elegant meals.
The Christmas menu, available from late November and priced at £26 for lunch and £30 for dinner, includes braised ox cheek with horseradish mash, veggie wellington, and brioche and butter pudding with white chocolate and orange.
68 Market Street, Ely
This newly launched Ely restaurant focuses on locally sourced and seasonal produce, with a menu created by renowned chef Stuart Tuck.
Taking a creative approach to vegetarian cuisine, the festive menu is available from 4 to 21 December (£27 per person for three courses) and includes dishes such as jerusalem artichoke soup with salsify chips, chestnut and squash wellington with celeriac dauphinoise and winter greens, and a sugar plum brulee. This restaurant has excellent eco-credentials: it promotes zero food waste and the building is carbon offset.
Brix & Mortar, Whittlesford
This Whittlesford gem, which is open from brunch to dinner, specialises in seasonal dishes cooked over fire and inspired by produce from the area.
The Christmas menu is priced at £25 for two courses and £30 for three, and includes juniper smoked trout with orange and fried capers, or a Brix & Mortar take on the classic roast turkey with cranberry, rosemary roasties, sausage and bacon stuffing and wood-fired winter veg. The desserts are to die for, too, like chocolate truffle cake with milk crumbs and caramel ice cream.
Dine & dance
A cosy cocktail den on Trinity Street, 2648 has plenty of treats to tempt you in this winter. From quiet Monday evenings playing board games, to dancing the night away at the weekend, this underground venue has it all.
There’s a new cocktail menu, plus new food choices – we’ve got our eye on the beef nachos and the arancini. For the festive season, 2648 is offering Christmas sharing platters that can be enjoyed either in the main venue or in the rather cool Secret Library and tequila den.
The venue is also putting on a Xmas disco every Wednesday and Thursday in December – so if you fancy a bop, head on down there to dance off all those turkey dinners.
To top it all off, the team behind Wildwood Festival is bringing its enchanted woodland vibe to the bar, in the guise of Disco Underground, featuring none other than Mr Seb Fontaine.
For a truly indulgent dining experience, turn your feet to one of these celebrated local restaurants. After all, if you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you? Hotel Felix
Girton’s glamorous Hotel Felix is a gorgeous spot for a Christmas feast, a romantic minibreak, an office party or a New Year’s Eve night out.
The festive dining menu (priced from £22.50 for lunch, £38.50 for dinner) is available from 1 to 24 December, and includes Christmas classics like roast turkey with all the trimmings alongside indulgent crowd-pleasers, such as slow-cooked beef cheeks with truffle mash potato, plus veggie options like a mushroom and tarragon torte.
If you’re entertaining kids over Christmas, check out the afternoon tea with Santa (8 and 15 December), or if just you want to get away from it, you can bag a Boxing Day escape for £65 per person. Call 01223 277977 or email Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org for info or to book.
The Telegraph called it “clever and charming” while The Guardian’s Jay Rayner said you simply “won’t want to leave” – it can only be Parker’s Tavern, a restaurant so singularly crowd-pleasing that it became the jewel in Cambridge’s restaurant scene within weeks of opening its doors.
Stylish interiors, killer cocktails and a decadent (but fun) menu make it a winner every time, and the festive season is no exception.
For larger groups, there’s the ballroom, with echoes of a college dining hall, which can accommodate up to 200 people. Get dressed up and enjoy a Christmas feast that includes pheasant wellington, roast Norfolk bronze turkey and Christmas pudding trifle.
Restaurant Twenty Two
A sleekly restored Victorian town house on the banks of the Cam, Restaurant Twenty-Two has been flying since being acquired by owners Sam Carter and Alex Olivier in spring last year.
Bold flavours, exciting ingredients and dishes inspired by the seasons are what diners can expect from a visit to this restaurant, as well as a team so knowledgeable and passionate that it’s impossible not to be swept up in the enthusiasm.
Treat yourself this festive season and book in for an extra-special lunch with friends (three courses for £32.50 set menu or five-course tasting menu for £50). If there’s a large group, you can take advantage of the upstairs private dining space, the Chesterton Room, which seats up to 12 people.
Hotel Du Vin
Great food, great wine and a handsome location on Trumpington Street make for a winning combo this Christmas at Hotel du Vin, where there are lavish dinners, party nights, overnight stays and more in store. We love the sound of the festive afternoon tea (chocolate truffle Christmas pudding and champagne? Yes, please!), and the New Year’s Eve gala, which includes a slap-up feast, DJ and dancing until the small hours.
You can also enjoy the three-course menu (27 November to 24 December), with duck liver parfait with plum and figgy chutney, daube of beef provençale, and chocolate and clementine yule log with coconut ice cream. It’s priced at £29.95 Sunday to Wednesday and £34.95 Thursday to Saturday.