Baker’s Cottage guests sometimes ask us for recommendations for places to eat in Chester. It’s not an easy question to answer – there are so many options! It all depends what type of food you like and what kind of ambience you’re looking for.

I usually send them this list of our go-to restaurants – you can’t go far wrong with any of these.

Photo: The Architect restaurant in Chester
Photo: The Architect bar and restaurant

The Architect | 54 Nicholas St, CH1 2NX | Tel: 01244 353 070

The Architect is part of the Bruning & Price family, along with two of our other favourites – the Harkers Arms by the canal and the Grosvenor in Aldford. Although they are part of a chain, each pub has been individually designed and has its own unique atmosphere.

It’s a smart-casual place that you can dress up for if you’re in a celebratory mood or just go as you are.

The Architect has a large garden and terraces with plenty of outdoor space so it’s ideal for al fresco dining on warm summer evenings.

The varied menu is updated daily and usually has a couple of vegetarian and vegan options.

It’s a good idea to book ahead for a Friday or Saturday evening. The Architect sits across the road from the racecourse so it’s also very very busy on race days.

Photo: Atina Kitchen
Photo: Freshly cooked fish at Atina Kitchen

Atina Kitchen | 103 Foregate St, CH1 1HE | Tel: 01244 320894

We’ve had several delicious meals here. It has a casual, eclectic vibe and a quirky secret courtyard at the back for hot summer evenings. It’s a nice spot for a get-together with family or friends.

The mediterranean inspired menu changes by the season and always has some intriguing and unusual dishes along with the old favourites. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for. There’s also an interesting cocktail menu.

Photo: Chez Joules french bistro at Christmas
Photo: Dinner at Chez Jules

Chez Jules | 71 Northgate St, CH1 2HQ | Tel: 01244 400014

An independent French bistro in a beautiful classic half-timbered building between the Storyhouse theatre and the city walls at North Gate.

We like the the buzzing atmosphere and the classic seasonal French menu. The vegetarian options are limited, but usually delicious.

Photo: La Fattoria Italian restuarant
Photo: Pasta at La Fattoria

La Fattoria | 25 Lower Bridge St, CH1 1RS | Tel: 01244 317330

You’d be forgiven for walking right past La Fattoria – it’s in Lower Bridge Street, slightly out of the city centre and not in one of Chester’s classic half-timbered buildings. But don’t let the unpretentious exterior fool you – La Fattoria is our favourite Italian and the fact that it’s often fully booked tells you everything you need to know.

On Fridays and Saturdays you can get a table if you’re prepared to eat earlier or later than usual, or book over the phone at least a week ahead. Sometimes, if we’ve left it too late to book a table, we pick up pizzas and a chef’s salad to take back to Baker’s Cottage.

When our kids were little they loved watching the pizza chef spinning the pizza dough (best seen from a table near the front). It’s run by an Italian family, is lively, friendly and has a style all of it’s own. The pizzas and pasta set the standard for any other Italian we go to – and not many make the grade!

No need to dress up, the mood is relaxed and informal.

    Photo: the Old Harkers Arms by the canal
    Photo: in the Old Harkers Arms

    The Old Harkers Arms Russell Street, CH3 5AL | Tel: 01244 344 525

    The Old Harkers is a sister pub to the another one of our favourites, the Architect. You’ll find it in a converted warehouse on the canal and we love the atmosphere and the food. It can get packed on weekends so either book ahead or try it on a weekday.

    Photo: Piccolino Italian restaurant
    Photo: Piccolino's Italian restaurant

    Piccolino  |  33 Pepper Row, Pepper Street CH1 1EA | Tel: 01244 312 123

    Piccolino is one of the few chain restaurants that we sometimes eat at in Chester. We love the gorgeous environment – the vaulted polished copper ceiling adds a sense of occasion to any meal.

    This is one of the smarter restaurants on our list – one for when we might want to dress up a bit for a special meal.

    The menu is authentically Italian, as the name suggests, with a good choice of wines and cocktails.

    Photo: Porta from the city walls
    Photo: Blue cheese cheesecake at Porta

    Porta wine and tapas bar Northgate Street, CH1 2HT tel: 01244 401178

    We like Porta for its relaxed simplicity, no bookings – just turn up for drinks and tapas. The tapas is the best we’ve had – served in the traditional way, each dish appearing as and when it’s ready. You can order more as you go, but we recommend that you leave room for their amazing cheesecake made with blue cheese!

    The little courtyard tucked in under the city wall steps was a pleasant sheltered spot to cool down on a hot summer day.

    At popular times you’ll see people queuing outside since they don’t take bookings – a sign of just how good it is. They have a bar upstairs so you may be able to have a drink while you’re waiting – that’s if the bar’s not full too. My advice is to get there early if you want to eat on a Friday or Saturday evening.

    Photo: The Ship Inn, Handbridge
    Photo: In the Ship Inn

    The Ship Inn | 18 Handbridge, CH4 7JE tel: 01244 678400

    The Ship in Handbridge is one of our locals and a pleasant spot for a drink or a meal on our way back from the city centre.

    They have a contemporary upstairs dining room with views over the park and the river, but we generally prefer the warm, buzzy atmosphere in the bar downstairs.

    The menu combines traditional English pub favourites with some interesting vegetarian and vegan options. A good choice for a Sunday lunch – but you will need to book ahead.

    A big bonus is that it takes us less than 10 minutes to walk home to Baker’s Cottage afterwards!