Our Favourite Restaurants Near the Cambridge Corn Exchange
The iconic Corn Exchange is one of Cambridge’s most popular music and arts venues, having played host during its long and varied history to everyone from David Bowie and Pink Floyd to Take That. Today it’s still the focal point of the Cambridge arts scene, and whether you’re planning an evening out to watch a band, a show, or perhaps something a little more unique, it stands to reason that you might also want to know where to grab a bite to eat or drink before, and/or after.
Zizzi (16 Bene’t Street, CB2 3QN)
An Italian chain with a grand reputation for serving food that’s as filling as it is tasty, Zizzi is located on Bene’t Street, in the historic King's parade right next to the Corn Exchange and the Cambridge Arts Theatre. With design elements inspired by the city’s enthusiastic cycling community and Mortlock’s bank, Zizzi might be a chain, but the location is truly a sight to behold - a unique architectural wonder. The food, meanwhile, if affordable and plentiful, with authentic Italian dishes very much the order of the day. From Pizza, pasta and risotto to salads and indulgent desserts, if you’re in the mood for a big pre or post-show dinner, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Sticks’n’Sushi (Wheeler Street, CB2 3QJ)
Located just a short walk from the University of Cambridge and, of course, the Corn Exchange, and across from the ever-popular Pint Shop in the thriving restaurant district, Sticks’n’Sushi serves a balanced mix of sushi, grilled delicacies, and colourful salads. The food is fresh and the presentation is innovative and sensorial, with a touch of luxury that you won’t find at your local Yo Sushi. With the quickfire nature of sushi making it a perfect pre-show meal, the restaurant is enduringly popular with Corn Exchange visitors. It’s also worth visiting for the building itself - the grandiose, blackened yellow brick house of the Guildhall, which has, in its 150-year history, housed criminals, nuns, indoor markets, books, reading rooms, and art students.
Smokeworks (2 Free School Lane, CB2 3QA)
One of the Telegraph’s top 10 BBQ restaurants in the UK, Smokeworks is ideal for messy and decadent pre-gig dining with the smoked, pulled, brined and seasoned classic BBQ food paired perfectly with a range of craft beers, bourbons and thick milkshakes. Fast food with a difference, gig-goers can enjoy everything on the menu for just under £30 with the ‘works’ platter and experience a little bit of everything the deep south US-indebted wings, ribs and rarebit. Possibly not the best stop for vegetarians, but for the carnivores, there are few better options in the UK, let alone Cambridge.
Steak and Honour (4 Wheeler Street, CB2 3QB)
Speaking of carnivores, who doesn’t enjoy a juicy burger, particularly as part of a big night out? Steak & Honour started life as a mobile service, with its trademark, artisanal burgers served out of the back of a fleet of vintage Citroen wagons. In 2017, however, the venture decided to set down some roots on Wheeler Street, right night door to the Corn Exchange. The food is locally sourced and delivered in an honest, no-frills manner that reflects the original ethos of the brand - compact, personable and immediate. No reservations are taken though so you might want to turn up early.
The Cambridge Chop House (1 King’s Parade, CB2 1SJ)
Earning its pride of place in the heart of the city centre, 50 yards from King’s College Chapel and the Arts Theatre, the Chop House is a no-nonsense establishment serving up traditional British food, tasty local ales and a unique vintage atmosphere. As it’s run by the same independent company that owns Smokeworks, you know the meat is going to be good and the steaks here are second-to-none. The restaurant also serves a number of more unusual cuts of meat and locally sourced vegetables, all presented by a team that really knows their food. Prices are also very reasonable and there is an excellent pre-theatre menu that would go down perfectly before a gig at the Exchange.
Don Pasquale (12 Market Street, CB2 3NJ)
Now settling proudly into its fifth decade, Don Pasquale has survived the test of time thanks not only to its loyal local clientele and fans from afar but to its endlessly inventive and ever-changing menu. A proper, family-run Italian restaurant that has become a staple of Cambridge’s fine dining scene, Don Pasquale has formed the hub of the Cambridge market square since 1973 and boasts a triple threat of a-la-carte dining on the upper floors, a Pizzeria on the ground floor and a Gelateria in the basement. Truly everything that is special about Italian food in one place with an exceptional atmosphere and a prime location just a short walk from the Corn Exchange.
Jamie’s Italian (The Old Library, Wheeler Street, CB2 3QJ)
A partnership between Jamie Oliver and his Italian mentor, chef Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie's Italian has won legions of fans thanks to its simple, healthy and authentic Italian cuisine, inspired by Jamie’s favourite comfort food. Made with care and delivered without fuss, Jamie’s Italian is a family-friendly chain that uses only the freshest pasta and classic, stone-baked pizza alongside an exhaustive wine menu. Based in a beautiful grade II listed building, with a magnificent domed ceiling and pillars that span the whole height of the room, the Cambridge restaurant is ideally located for anything from a casual dinner with friends or a working lunch to an intimate meal or a big celebration. It’s proximity to the Corn Exchange also means it’s perfectly placed for a pre-gig meal to line your stomach or a post-gig nightcap.
Cambridge is a city that has been attracting cultural icons for generations and the Corn Exchange is one of its most enduringly popular and eclectic live venues. Whether you’re catching the latest band, taking the family to see a touring show or rewarding yourself with a good laugh at one of the Exchange’s many comedy nights, the options above prove that you won’t need to rush from one side of the city to the other to catch the opening number after dinner.
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