Where to Eat in Cheltenham During the 2016 Festival

When thousands of punters descend on Cheltenham for the highlight of the National Hunt calendar, it goes without saying that the town gets pretty busy. When the crowds are swelling, you need to know where to eat.

Don’t descend on the same tourist traps as the others, or demean yourself to a dirty side-street kebab. Read my punter’s guide to eating in Cheltenham during the festival – where you’ll found some delectable dining options whether you’ve won big or had one to forget.

Eating in Cheltenham… if you’re feeling flush

If you’ve hit a rich vein of form during race day, you might want to push the boat out. In that case, I recommend Le Champignon Sauvage. Jay Rayner called his experience there “one of the best meals of my life” and I’m not going to argue. It’s the Vautour of the Cheltenham dining scene.

Big hitters will also enjoy Prithvi, which currently sits #1 on TripAdvisor’s guide to Cheltenham. It espouses an Indian approach to fine dining and requires booking ahead, particularly during Cheltenham Week. Perfect for an innovative dining experience – if not a late night option for soaking up the day’s booze.

Eating in Cheltenham…. If you broke even

With mains priced between £10-18, The Tavern (part of the Lucky Onion Club) on Royal Well Place certainly isn’t expensive and its exposed brickwork and leather interiors, positively oozes Cotswold cool. Its food is seasonal, local and bloody tasty, while the array of ever-changing guest ales, bottles and wines means it’s the perfect place to sink a few before, during or after. The Lucky Onion Club have also recently opened another venue at Town House No.38 Park, who open their doors for the first time for brunch, supper and cocktails with guest chef Mark Hix cooking supper on 16th March. Be sure to check it out this week!

Sushi fans will love Kibou on Regent Street, which is an absolute gem and adds a touch of Japanese magic to the town centre. You’ll fall head over heels for the Japanese chicken katsu curry and wonder how a landlocked town like this can access such fresh fish.

Finally, The Railway is a specialist sausage kitchen, which is exactly as magical as it sounds. There are 13 different bangers on offer and a range of different mashes and accoutrements to choose from, and all for £9.50. Wurst is best.

Eating in Cheltenham…. If you had a bad day at the races

Bar and Wok on High Street is an inexpensive Asian-inspired restaurant that doesn’t scrimp on lip-smacking taste. Walk down high street and you’ll find Real Burger, an intimate joint that boasts Cheltenham’s best burger, while the florid, fragrant Thai flavours at The Vine provide a veritable taste sensation.

Paparrito’s is the best Mexican in Cheltenham, no question. You can sit down or takeaway and always be sure of a fresh, lip-smacking and (very) generously-portioned burrito, taco or salad. The guacamole will make you forget about that runner which pulled up lame. Top grub and you’ll get change from a tenner – what’s not to like?

If you need to ease your hangover

Every morning you’ll need that special something to ease your aching head. Stop a local in the street and ask for the best breakfast in the city and there’s every chance they’ll talk about The Curious Café on Bath Road. Its décor’s a little ramshackle and its ‘squeezy’ interior does get a little cramped during busy racing weekends, but it’s well worth a visit.

Boston Tea Party cafes are synonymous with hip and happening West Country towns and their brunches come packed with all those huge portions, fresh vitamins and happy calories a punter needs to overcome the previous night’s excesses.

Another brilliant breakfast boutique is The Beehive at Montpellier Villas, which for the princely sum of just £15 throws in morning transport to the festival to boot.

The Southam Gold Cup Café is outside of the city – Southam is the final village between the course and the city in the North – and lays on a hearty breakfast feast for punters. All funds raised at the café go towards rebuilding the community’s village hall, and I’ve found before that eating here is a great way to enjoy a slightly more rural side of the festival.

What’s more, it’s a great option if you’re driving. You can park up at the café for just £5 and then take the 20-minute stroll to the course, avoiding the stress and traffic of the main car parks. Perfect.

If you’re not driving and fancy a few beverages after a well earned win, take a look at the best places to enjoy a tipple at Cheltenham Festival!

Find out who to back at Cheltenham

Ensure you’re fully clued-up before you bet on the big races. Over on our Cheltenham Festival Tips page, our expert tipsters have crunched the stats and done their homework so you don’t have to. Find out the trends and tips ahead of Cheltenham races here.

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