Lancashire’s 26 hidden gem restaurants and bars just waiting to be tried

Amanda M. Rye

Sometimes the best kind of places to enjoy a meal or drink, are the ones you stumble upon by accident.

This is especially the case if they don’t look like much from the outside, but if the food tastes good, then who cares?

When it comes to trying a ‘hidden gem’, a venue could quite literally fit that description, due to it’s hard-to-find location, but it could also be a place just waiting for you to discover it, in plain sight.

If you come across a family-run cafe, bar or restaurant, it is tempting to selfishly keep it to yourself to make sure you can always get a table, but on the other hand, they deserve to be shouted about to anyone who will listen.

READ MORE: The 50 places in Lancashire you have to eat out at this year

So, with all this in mind, we’ve put together venues across Lancashire (in no particular order), which may either be off the beaten track, so small it’s easy to walk past or ones that serve good, no-fuss food that keep people coming back for more.

Some may not necessarily be ‘hidden’ to the locals who frequent them regularly, but for anyone else, they’re ready and waiting for you to give them a whirl.

Shahzaad, Preston

Venue type/cuisine: Restaurant, Indian

Where: Friargate, Preston

You could easily walk past Shahzaad without giving it as second glance, but we’d advise you absolutely not to do that, as you’d be missing out.

A reliable source even told us “it is actually the last place selling exceptional Tandoori chicken in Preston centre.”

Secret Bistro, Lancaster



The seafood bouillalbaisse at Secret Bistro, Lancaster
The seafood bouillalbaisse at Secret Bistro, Lancaster

Venue type/cuisine: restaurant, French/British

Where: Sun Street, Lancaster

The clue is in the name here and the The Secret Bistro is also tucked away on Sun Street with a couple of other eateries, giving it further intrigue and mystery.

It moved from Morecambe to Lancaster last autumn, after out-growing its former home.

However the quality of the food is no secret, as we discovered when we went to review it in late 2021, enjoying a meal which nailed both substance and style.

Enzo’s, Burnley

Venue type/cuisine: Takeaway, pizza

Where: Colne Road, Burnley

Popular whatever time of day, so much so they sometimes have to stop delivering because they’re unable too cook fast enough to meet the rate of demand.

Alongside side their signature pizzas, there’s also lasagne and meatballs on the menu.

Quite Simply French, Lancaster

Venue type/cuisine: Formal restaurant, French

Where:: St George’s Quay, Lancaster

Step inside this charming French restaurant in Lancaster, with a ‘terrific’ atmosphere.

Expect rustic French food, popping with rich flavours and using the freshest ingredients.

Coco’s Soul Food, Preston



Cocos Soul Food, Friargate, Preston
Cocos Soul Food, Friargate, Preston

Venue type/cuisine: Street eats/ Around the world

Where: Friargate, Preston

Preston just can’t get enough of this place. It’s just so fun and suitable for all budgets and ages.

Coco’s is perfect if you’re not quite sure what you fancy, or you’re with a group who all want something different, because the menu is packed with tacos, platters and signature dips.

LancsLive visited the casual and quick eats venue recently and it left us ‘stunned’.

Brandreth Barn, Burscough

Venue type/cuisine: tea room, light bites

Where: Tarlscough, Burscough

This family-run place is as traditional as you will probably get when it comes to tea rooms and it is ideally located just off the A59, close to Martin Mere.

Being a customer here “is like visiting your favourite auntie, who spoils you rotten when you walk through the door.”

All the ingredients on the menu are fresh, including the eggs, which come from the on-site chickens.

How brilliantly wholesome does that sound?

Nishi Sushi Cafe, Chorley

Venue type/cuisine: cafe, Asian,

Where: Pall Mall, Chorley

If authentic sushi is right up your street, you should head over to Nishi, which was formerly Mag’s Japanese Cafe, and we’re confident you won’t be disappointed – if you can get in!

You’ll find this little gem in the middle of a row of residential terraced houses.

The food is colourful and creative and you can also order to takeaway.

Three Mariners, Lancaster

Venue type/cuisine: restaurant, British bistro,

Where: Meeting House Lane, Lancaster

This pub has an intriguing past, if rumour is to be believed, it hosted prisoners enjoying their last drink with their families before being hanged.

And they had allegedly arrived via secret passages from nearby Lancaster Castle dungeons.

But these days, the pub, which has retained original features and a dining room was later introduced in the 19th century, has stepped out of its grisly shadows and is now firmly known as a cosy, welcoming pub, serving home-cooked meal, washed down with a great range of beers, ales, wines and spirits.

Elvin’s, Lytham



Lebanese-style yoghurt chicken at Elvin's
Lebanese-style yoghurt chicken at Elvin’s

Venue type/cuisine: casual cafe, Lebanese

Where: Clifton Walk, off Clifton Street, Lytham St Annes

Elvin’s is highly-rated, wherever you look and whoever you speak to so we went along to find out why.

And we are happy to confirm this teeny cafe, which is effectively just a serving counter with a little bit of stool-style seating, absolutely lived up to the hype.

Unless you know to look for it, you won’t know it’s there, as it’s hidden away inside Clifton Walk just off the high street in the town centre, nestled between candle shops and vintage clothing boutiques.

Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe

Venue type/cuisine: Dog-friendly pub/ British

Where: Mitton Road, Clitheroe

We especially love how welcoming this pub is to furry friends, with dogs almost as well catered for as the humans.

It’s also set in Beautiful location in the Ribble Valley and perfect to dive into after a long walk to fuel up before heading home.

Quarterhouse, Lancaster



Two of the brunch dishes at The Quarterhouse in Lancaster
Two of the brunch dishes at The Quarterhouse in Lancaster

Venue type/cuisine: casual restaurant, brunch/lunch

Where: Moor Lane, Lancaster

This breakfast and brunch specialist, which also serves small plates and transforms into more of a cafe-bar in the evening, has a prime spot on the cobbled Moor Lane, a stone’s throw from the city’s main shopping district, a short walk from Lancaster Castle and is in view of the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park.

We just adored the food when we visited, with the Scandi-inspired decor giving it a rustic and cool vibe.

The Quarterhouse certainly knows how to ‘do’ brunch culture, and then some.

Upside Down Cafe, Blackpool

Venue type/cuisine: casual cafe, Vegan

Where: Edward Street, Blackpool

This place is trying to spearhead a coffee culture in Blackpool, by doing it in a sustainable and vegan-friendly way.

It’s ideally located just off the main St John’s Square and a few doors down from fellow hidden gem, Stefani’s and street food joint, Common.

Stepping inside is like being in a greenhouse, with gorgeous house plants dotted around. The food is as plant-based or vegetarian as much as possible, and none of the staff eat meat.

Jonah’s, Preston

Venue type/cuisine: Coffee shop, pastries

Where: Birley Street, Preston

Housed inside a shipping container adjacent to Preston market, Jonah’s may be small, but its coffee is raved about on a much bigger scale.

Staff are friendly and accommodating and there’s also plenty of cake and pastry options, including vegan and vegetarians ones.

Jonah’s is often described as “the best coffee in Preston” and we won’t be arguing with that after visiting ourselves. A lot.

Bees Country Kitchen, Chorley



The Bees Country Kitchen in Chorley
The Bees Country Kitchen in Chorley is hard to ignore, the smells wafting out will draw you in

Venue type/cuisine: cafe, homemade Lancashire

Where: Unit 22, Chorley Market

Now this is a proper good find for traditional, homely Lancastrian food and a must-visit if you’re ever at Chorley Market.

It’s comfort food to the max, with hot pots, Chorley eggs, homemade cakes and puddings and so much more on offer at this family-run business.

We went on a cold November day and the food was like a warm hug.

Brizola Bar and Grill, Clitheroe

Venue type/cuisine: restaurant, Greek

Where: Swan Courtyard, Clitheroe

This family-run casual dining restaurant is out of sight in a secluded courtyard.

This Greek haven is the number one and five star-rated restaurant, in Clitheroe on TripAdvisor.

Hailed by many not only for the unique food options but also the excellent customer service, owner Rachael Moreau, says she has become overwhelmed by the support shown to her from the local community.

READ MORE: Innovative Clitheroe shop providing the service the internet never could

Sakura Valley, Leyland

Venue type/cuisine: restaurant, Asian

Where: Golden Hill, Leyland

Sushi, ramen and more traditional Japanese dishes are on offer at Sakura Valley, which has five star ratings on Facebook, TripAdvisor and 4.8 on Google.

It’s compact, with limited seating, giving it that ‘just off the street’ feel you’d expect on a bustling side street in Japan.

Bramley’s Ormskirk

Venue type/cuisine: coffee house, British

Where: Church Walks, Ormskirk

Whether it’s a quick snack, coffee and cakes or a luxurious lunch, Bramley’s coffee house and restaurant in has been serving delicious home cooked fare to the town’s discerning customers for decades.

An average Saturday can see at least 350 meals being served up, whether afternoon teas, snacks, luxurious lunches or breakfasts, to name but a few.

But you have to know where it is to get in on the Bramley’s tasty treat act.

Don’t worry, we’ll let you in on the secret if you promise not to tell anyone – you can either slip down the passageway besides the bank on Burscough Street, or the one on Church Street between Bar Number 12 and the O2 phone shop.

You’re welcome.

Full House Noodle Bar, Lancaster

Venue type/cuisine: casual restaurant, around the world

Where: Common Garden Street, Lancaster

To actually get to Full House, you have to walk through the Oriental Food Supermarket, up the stairs and through a door before you enter the eatery.

Waiting for you when you get here is an unassuming restaurant but the menu is far from it, with eight pages of dishes to whet your appetite.

It is rated the number on Chinese restaurant in the city on Tripadvisor.

Need we say more?

Stefani’s, Blackpool



The perfect margherita at Stefani's
The perfect margherita at Stefani’s

Venue type/cuisine: casual dining, pizzeria

Where: Cedar Square, Blackpool

It has less than 10 tables and feels like you’ve just walked in off the street in Florence or Rome and only the thick, cheery Lancastrian accents that greet you give it away that you’re in England and not Tuscany – it’s fun, relaxed and noisy in a good way.

It has genuine Italian roots through owner Nico Stefani and the blurb in the menu tells you that Nico spent years honing his recipes after becoming fascinated by pizza watching his late grandfather Pepe run his business on the Promenade.

And Nico’s attention to detail pays off as the pizzas are just, divine.

White Lion, Wrightington

Venue type/cuisine: pub, traditional British

Where: Mossy Lea Rd, Wrightington

This pub has a delicious beer garden to match the food and drinks on offer.

A proper traditional pub, the heartbeat of the community, where the menu and specials change frequently and customers love the value for money.

The kitchen is also huge, so plenty of capacity for busy periods.

The Black Dog, Oswaldtwistle

Venue type/cuisine: pub, British

Where: Union Road, Oswaldtwistle, Accrington

Under new management, the Black Dog has swiftly become the place to be in Oswaldtwistle.

There’s regular themed nights and staying true to the name, dogs are most welcome.

Cavendish Arms, Chorley



The sticky toffee pudding with a twist - caramelised banana, toffee popcorn and vanilla ice cream.
The sticky toffee pudding with a twist – caramelised banana, toffee popcorn and vanilla ice cream.

Venue type/cuisine: Small country pub, British

Where: Sandy Lane, Chorley

Sitting just outside Chorley in Brindle Village, this place offers fine food in a cute setting.

The menu is a blend of traditional British dishes and more unusual cuisines, such as Oriental surf and turf, while the sticky toffee pudding is a must.

It’s served with a twist – caramelised banana, toffee popcorn and vanilla ice cream.

YUM.

Antonello’s, Leyland

Venue type/cuisine: casual restaurant, Italian pizzeria,

Where: Hough Lane, Leyland

Antonello’s has been going for 33 years and is showing no signs of slowing down.

It’s one for the locals, but that doesn’t mean those from further afield won’t be welcomed with open arms.

The food is authentically Italian with dishes including risotto, tagliatelle and pizza.

Escape with Coffee and Cocktails, Clitheroe

Venue type/cuisine: casual restaurant, Italian pizzeria,

Where: Market Place, Clitheroe

On top of their extensive cocktail and drinks menu, there’s loose-leaf tea, cakes and tapas on offer and also a good choice of mocktails.

Sit by the window nursing a glass of wine and watch the world go by on the cobbled streets and period architecture outside.

Inside, you’ll find open brickwork, trendy naked bulb lighting, open wood beams and antique style-furniture.

It’s on several floors, with plenty of little nooks and crannies to hideaway from the world for a couple of hours.

Mad Hunter, Lancaster

Venue type/cuisine: restaurant, British bistro,

Where: Meeting House Lane, Lancaster

If the name doesn’t peak your interest, the food selection probably will.

The ever-evolving menu caters for those looking to share a meze or platter to couples in need of a an intimate date to escape from the world for a couple of hours over good wine and food.

Choose from the grill with a burger or ribs or opt for a seafood dish such as mussels.

Abingdon Barbeque, Blackpool

Venue type/cuisine: takeaway, cooked meat deli

Where: Abingdon Street, Blackpool

We just had to include this venue. Whenever we walk past, whether it’s driving rain winds are bright sunshine, there is a queue, but the wait never seems to be too long.

There’s usually at least three freshly-roasted meats ready to be stuffed onto your sandwich, which is easily a meal in itself, judging by the portion sizes.

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