Bangor was touted recently as becoming the new foodie destination of Northern Ireland. Something I can get 100% behind but with an equal amount of scepticism. From what I remember restaurants in Bangor were all about stuffy pub grub, lean steaks, and traditional British seaside fare. Which does make sense given the tourist draw of our delightful seaside city in Northern Ireland. But, beyond your usual plethora of takeaways, food in Bangor has been fairly limited when it comes to introducing new and exciting cuisine.
But now Bangor is apparently catering to foodies, and foodies are generally more discerning. Then there are the self-proclaimed ‘foodies’ who are at least more adventurous in finding new and exciting eating experiences to talk about. This is exactly what Bangor needs to achieve for such a commendation. However, they do seem to be heading in the right direction.
The Covid Effect on Bangor Hospitality
While Covid has been nothing short of hell for hospitality in Bangor, it also forced businesses to evolve and to adapt to fit the realities of these trying times. During the stricter Covid restrictions in Bangor there was a re-emergence of outdoor markets which created the now fortnightly Market Fresh to the seafront at Queen’s Parade. Then there was the unlikely lease of life to Bangor Wednesday Market which was hyped even further with a surprise visit from Prince Charles.
With the doors firmly shut on indoor dining, outdoors was the new indoors, and local businesses and restaurants in Bangor looked to diversify with outdoor dining alternatives. There was the Salty Pup Food Truck at Bangor Pier, the Guillemot Kitchen began trading in the local markets, and, with the success of the Olive Tree Bakes market stall, they continued to open the Olive Tree Artisan Cafe on the seafront.
At the same time, home kitchens were repurposed early on during the pandemic to cater to wider families, people in need, local communities, and these skills in turn spawned small catering businesses and delivery services such as Fanfan’s Kitchen: Proper Thai Food (sorry, shameless plug).
Bangor 2.0: Flagship Centre and the Queen’s Parade
But the most exciting foodie draw is yet to come to Bangor, something that kind of spawned this whole labelling of Bangor as Northern Ireland’s next “foodie destination”. This was a pop-up food market penned for the newly renovated Flagship Centre in Bangor. And with prime real estate and probably the best views over the seafront in Bangor, we all have our fingers crossed that this will at least bring Bangor into the millennium (given its predecessor was already faltering in the 1990s). Then there is Queen’s Parade.
I don’t want to hype the new Queen’s Parade development yet, because it‘s still miles in the future, and, well… there’s been a lot of disappointment in the past. At the same time, it has brought a bit of optimism to the seaside town/city that “maybe we can have nice things”. Then there’s the Bangor Waterfront Development. But to thrive, and not just survive, as a tourist destination, the flagship needs to be decades ahead of its predecessor, the Queen’s Parade needs to at least be on par with Belfast’s Victoria Square, and (hopefully) the investment will quickly recoup itself.
For this, we also need innovation, something that (along with red tape) has been Bangor’s downfall from the very beginning. Where even recently the town had a neon sales sign torn from a toys shop for not respecting the local character. So I’m sure the newly established Phat Bastrd Burger, which this year was awarded ‘Best Burger in Northern Ireland’ at the NI Takeaway Awards, has the council pulling their hair out. So it is a time of contest and contradiction, a tug-of-war of sorts, for Bangor town/city right now. Let’s just hope we can finally reach this millennium.
Bangor Restaurant Reviews
In starting this blog, we intended to share reviews of restaurants and takeaways in Bangor. But life, as always, gets in the way. We also spend all our pennies on travel, we have a general aversion to social stuff, and we just live to cook at home (can follow our food stuff here). In short, we don’t really eat out, and if flavours don’t punch us in the face then we’re generally not interested (we love our spicy food). So our reviews would be no better than scrolling through the listings on TripAdvisor and whatnot.
But we did dabble locally when grounded by Covid, at a time when the restaurants in Bangor had just wakened from their forced hibernation. It probably was not the best of times as our experiences proved. Anyway, The Salty Dog had a great duck salad, the Indians were all pretty much the same, and, well, we didn’t get too far. But this list will hopefully inspire us to do so, and it is here for you to do the same.
Bangor Food Guide
I’m going to list this from top to bottom sharing only the businesses in Bangor town/city centre. Starting from the top of Bangor at Castle Park and Bangor Abbey which is more or less opposite the main arrivals at Bangor Train Station and Bangor Bus Station terminals. Then it’s down Bangor Main Street including the wee side alleys and bits in between. Before reaching High Street, which is where most bars/cafes/restaurants in Bangor are found, and of course the scenic Bangor Seafront and Marina area. Note, Bangor is a small city, so every listing below is within 500-metres or so of any other. All restaurants in Bangor are also an easy dander of the central stations. And here’s our guide on where to stay in Bangor.
Traditional Northern Irish Food in Bangor
As we’re a tourist blog, I’m starting with the essential eating list and the traditional Northern Irish staples that have dominated the menus of this sunny seaside destination since back in its tourism heyday (our traditional Northern Irish food guide here). At least they generally feature on the menu, along with contemporary takes using locally sourced ingredients etc. These are all found in the restaurants in Bangor, as well as pubs and bars, chip shops, cafes, and bakeries. And I’ve split them up the best I can.
Traditional Restaurants & Pub Grub in Bangor
There’s a lot of crossover between restaurants/pubs/nightlife in Bangor, so I’ll stick to the more amiable restaurants here, where the focus is on food, rather than the pints. A special mention should also go to The Boat House Dining (Bangor’s upscale dining), and maybe Jamaica Inn (not on the city centre list but found just further round on the coast towards Ballyholme).
- Ava Wine Bar (Upper Main Street)
- The Goat’s Toe (Lower Main Street Lower)
- Teddy’s Bar and Restaurant (Castle Street)
- Café Essence (Hamilton Road)
Marine Court Hotel (Quay Street)
- The Salty Dog Hotel & Bistro (Seacliff Road)
- The Boat House Dining (Seafcliff Road)
Bars, Pubs and Banter in Bangor
Mainly found on Bangor High Street, the focus here is on draft pints and alcohol. Behind the bar will be the standard draft pints of beer and cider, bottled alternatives, then a wide range of spirits and mixers. However many bars will also serve a list of pub grub, tapas-style snacks maybe, or KP Nuts and pork scratchings at the very least. (I’ll highlight those with proper menus/dining in bold).
- The Imperial Bar (Central Avenue)
- Wolsey’s Bar and Restaurant (High Street)
- Fealty’s (High Street)
- Jenny Watt’s (High Street)
- Betty Blacks (High Street)
- Donegan’s (High Street)
- Hop House (High Street)
- Rose & Chandler (Queens Parade)
- Rabbit Rooms (Queens Parade)
Fish and Chips in Bangor Northern Ireland
There are surprisingly few fish and chip shops these days (how much I miss Pauls and Nibble) as they are found more in local areas/suburbs of Bangor, there is Colin’s nearby on Castle Street. Most chippies are scattered in suburbs and residential areas of Bangor so there aren’t as many as you’d expect in the centre of town/city. I’d also include Colin’s Chippie here found over opposite Bangor Abbey on Church Street which isn’t included in city centre boundary. The local delicacy is the pasty supper (here for our chip shop guide). Most chippies are takeaway but I’ll highlight in bold those with proper dining options.
- The Station Diner (Abbey St)
- Captain’s Table (Main Street Lower)
- Millar’s fish & chips (High Street)
- Café Cod (Queens Parade)
Cafes and Breakfasts in Bangor Northern Ireland
Bangor is well known for its many central cafes because they’re continually changing and popping up all the time. These cafes are normally open in the earlier hours of the day, and will hopefully offer Northern Ireland’s iconic Ulster Fry (our battle of British breakfasts here). There’s also a great cafe in the (free entry) Bangor Museum, and, for fancier fare, just round the coast there’s the Starfish at Cairnbay Lodge, which are both included in our Cafe tour of Bangor and Beyond. I will again highlight in bold those with a focus on a traditional (or close to traditional) Ulster Fry. Black pudding ftw.
- Café Taste (Market Street)
- The Red Berry (Main Street Lower)
- Kook (Main Street Lower)
- Neros coffee house (Main Street Lower)
- King Street Kitchen (Kings Street)
- The Happy Coffee Bean (Kings Street)
- Roka Coffee House (Hamilton Road)
- Coffee Rustler (Central Avenue)
- The Marine Coffee House & Eatery (Queens Parade)
- Guillemot Deli (Queens Parade)
- The Bearded Goat (Gray’s Hill)
Bakeries in Bangor Northern Ireland
Ever had a crisp sandwich? Me either. But you might be able to find one in the local sandwich shops. Tayto crisps the obvious choice in Northern Ireland. Anyway, bakeries are also great for local staples like tray backs and whatnot, as well as the wider British bakery fare including sausage rolls, sandwiches, and, have you ever had a crisp sandwich? Many here will be simple purchase/takeaway options but I have included sit-in dining options in bold. There’s also a Greggs and a Subway Sandwich.
- Heatherlea (Upper Main Street)
- AlBe’s Gluten-Free Bakery & Chilled goods (Central Avenue)
Central Bakery (Central Avenue)
- Sunflower Sandwich bar (Central Avenue)
- Subway (Central Avenue)
- Greggs Bakery (Central Avenue)
- Simple Simons bakery (Kings Street)
- Sandwishes (High Street)
- Olive Tree Artisan Café (Queens Parade)
Asian Restaurants and Takeaway
Like near every town or city in the UK, most restaurants and takeaways are Asian these days. This includes some long-standing Chinese and Indian restaurants in Bangor that offer the usual anglicized Cantonese and south Asian cuisine. But more recently a wider mixing pot of ‘ethnic’ restaurants has emerged inspired by southeast Asian cuisine, including Thai, Malaysian, Filipino, and even pan-Asian Wagamama-style street food in Neko. Many are takeaways so I will highlight the restaurants in Bold.
Indian Restaurants in Bangor Northern Ireland
Again an anglicized version of Indian and South Asian cuisine with curries, chicken tikka masala, and our typical order of extra hot vindaloo, because, while Phaal has heat, it always lacks in flavour. Again, similar across the board with Yaks Nepalese being the only exception (our Yaks review here). To date, no roti joints or thali style menus.
- Star of Bengal Indian Restaurant (Abbey St)
- Yaks Nepalese & Indian Restaurant (Abbey St)
- Green Chilli Restaurant (Dufferin Avenue)
- Bangla Bangladeshi & Indian dining (Upper Main Street)
- Bokhara Restaurant (Kings Street)
- Spice Island (High Street)
- Chillies takeaway (High Street)
- Khyber Pass takeaway (High Street)
Chinese Restaurants and Takeaway in Bangor Northern Ireland
The British take on Chinese/Cantonese cuisine, with most menus covering Chinese curry, sweet and sour, Beijing Duck (Peking Duck), and the usual anglicized Chinese favourites. All fairly similar and no sign of Dim Sum/Yum Cha, Bao Buns, Noodles, or much-craved Sichuan flavours, yet. Fingers crossed (check our guide to Sichuan hot pots at home).
- LiLi’s Chinese takeaway (Abbey St)
- Dragons Kitchen takeaway (Abbey St)
- Panda House Chinese takeaway (Abbey St)
- New China takeaway (Dufferin Avenue)
- King Fu takeaway (High Street)
- City Best takeaway (High Street)
- Marerosa Chinese takeaway (Abbey St)
Southeast Asian in Bangor Northern Ireland
This is where Bangor has been pulling its pace lately introducing a more dynamic and diverse food scene in our lovely seaside city. In fact, all but one of the list below (Blu Buddha) opened post-Covid. First was Tuk-Tuk with pan-southeast Asian inspired dishes, then Camille Thai, a Thai-inspired restaurant chain, and then Kalye Filipino Street Food which also oddly specialises in Japanese Ramen, Chinese Bao Buns and Taiwanese bubble tea. No Bicol Express I’m afraid.
- Kalye Filipino Street Food (Dufferin Avenue)
- Camile Thai restaurant (High Street)
- Blu BBQ (High Street)
- Tuk Tuk (Gray’s Hill)
Other International Cuisine
All the other stuff!
Pizza in Bangor
- Little Wing Pizza (Main Street Lower)
- Dominos Pizza (Abbey St)
- Piccola Pizza (High Street)
- Mario’s takeaway (High Street)
Chick n Pizza Town(High Street)
- Dolce Vita Pizzeria (High Street)
- Porky’s Smokehouse (Abbey St)
- STKD Burger (Abbey St)
- Tom’s Dining Rooms (Hamilton Road)
- Bebe Adrianos (High Street)
- PHAT Bastard Burger (High Street)
Ice-creams, Milkshakes and Sweets
- Munchies Sandwich and Dessert Bar (Market Street)
- Barry’s Lemontops (Upper Main Street)
- The Yogurt Tree (Hamilton Road)
- Black Box Donuts (Main Street Lower)
- Mauds (High Street)
- Manhattan Milkshakes (High Street)
- Nugelato (High Street)
- Valentine’s Espresso bar & cakery (High Street)
- Caproni (Queens Parade)