Nottingham Food Tour in a Day

By Alec Frusher

Toast for Breakfast

Start your day at the charming Toast cafe. It sits in the same characterful part of Derby Road as the Michelin-starred Alchemilla and fried chicken newcomer Mollis. Toast provides a range of options to suit everyone. It’s quaintly situated amongst the old brick arches of a Victorian coachhouse. Fuel up with their large full English breakfast (with an excellent vegetarian alternative available), go healthy with some organic muesli or opt for complete decadence with their waffles topped with bacon and maple syrup. Before you leave, remember to look at their range of produce from great local suppliers, from dog biscuits to honey!

Tough Mary’s

As you wander toward the city centre, stop at Tough Mary’s, one of the city’s top bakeries. You can pause for a drink if you weren’t sufficiently caffeinated over breakfast or stock up on some of Nottingham’s best bread.

Could their hazelnut pain au chocolat be the best in the region? I think so. Their savoury options are also great; soup and cheese toasties are the warm offerings, but their sandwiches are equally good.

Their fillings continue to be exciting and vibrant with slow roast lamb with mint yoghurt and slaw alongside butter bean with preserved lemon, chilli, chard and labneh for the vegans. All served between their amazing focaccia!


As we continue downhill, we reach Angel Row and views of the Market Square and Council House. Amongst a corridor of fast food, we take a sharp left into a seemingly uninteresting alleyway. In truth, you might have already seen a queue if you’re around midday as we’re attempting to get a table at the city’s most in-demand restaurant, Kushi-Ya (GFC World Restaurant of the Year 2020/2).

I have been lucky enough to follow their journey from the start. The team behind it are ex-chefs from another excellent eatery, Iberico, but their passions brought them to open this Japanese restaurant in 2018. More recent visits from national food critic Jay Rayner and various awards mean it’s harder than ever to snag a table! Lunchtimes are first come, first served, but if you want an evening meal, you’ll need to book well in advance.

It doesn’t help that their minimalist setting seats around ten tables, and their lunch deal is still one of the best-value meals in the city despite their demand. For £15, you get one snack, two skewers and some rice. The skewers are the signature here, cooked over small charcoal grills. To start, you need to have their incarnation of the prawn toast, a juicy prawn wrapped in crisp pastry, a far cry from your local takeaway. Any of the skewers are recommended, but the most popular is probably their beef with black garlic. See if you can resist their inventive desserts; the ‘Tira-miso’ is particularly memorable.

The Castle, or maybe Fothergills?

As we move into the afternoon, let’s shimmy past the slew of Maid Marian Way Indian restaurants and take note for a future visit. The Cumin, Memsaab, Calcutta Club, Kottaram… the list goes on, you’re spoilt for choice! Just past Nottingham’s equivalent of the curry mile, we arrive at Nottingham Castle and Robin Hood Statue. Take in the grounds with a walk before choosing a cosy, nearby pub venue for a post-lunch drink.

The Castle is the smallest of the three, but there is no shortage of food and drink options, both real ales and a range of craft beers. The food is quite varied, with pub classics alongside quesadillas. Look out for their 2-4-1 pizzas on a Tuesday.

Adjacent is another option, Fothergills. A little more spacious and food-oriented, it will be packed on a Sunday for their popular roasts.

Not far away is a slice of history with the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the purported oldest inn in the country. However, the evidence doesn’t even point to it being the oldest in Nottingham. Let’s not start that debate!

Everyday People

Crossing back into the city down Castle Gate, we pass Nottingham institution, World Service, fine-dining aficionados who have been amongst the best in the city for many years. It’s not our evening’s venue though as we continue up into the buzz of the Creative Quarter. Sticking with the lunchtime theme, we’re travelling back to Japan, in a very contemporary style.

Everyday People is a restaurant from the team behind Homeboys, the popular street food vendor. Their offering has changed over the years since opening in 2021, but has settled on specialising in ramen. Its aesthetic is firmly in the hipster camp, clean tiling and light wood furnishings and natural wines dominating the drinks list. My tip from there is the Vino Verde, natural wine but lots to love for everyone as well as being a great pairing with the food here.

I love a small menu, and here there are just four bowls to choose from, with a few sides to tempt you too. My favourite is probably their Tan Tan, a deliciously rich, deep broth flavoured by sesame. It’s topped with pulled lamb shoulder, with freshness coming from some pak choi greenery. Dig down for perfect homemade noodles. The Tonkotsu and Shoyu are equally brilliant; if you’re with a group, you’ll be arguing over who chose best.

Hockley, The Lace Market and bed!

As the day draws to a close, you’re in the perfect spot for a post-dinner drink, if you can manage it, close to Hockley and The Lace Market where there are numerous cosy pubs or trendy bars to satisfy all tastes. I think you’ll be going home full, happy and having discovered some real city gems.

The author:

Alec lives in Nottingham and writes the 'Frusher on Food' blog, focusing on his home city's food scene.