There are so many restaurants to choose from in Reading. From chain restaurants lining the riverside at the Oracle to smaller, independent cafés and restaurants tucked down Reading’s quieter streets, there really is something to suit everyone. Here are my picks for enjoying good food in and around Reading.
Patisserie Valerie – for a great cooked breakfast
Situated on Broad Street, just on the corner of the Oracle shopping centre, is well known for its beautiful cakes displayed in the wood-framed window. But it also offers a fantastic breakfast menu, too. Try the huge All Day Breakfast if you’re feeling hungry – there’s a vegetarian option, too. They also serve cream teas and light meals, including lasagne, salads and spaghetti carbonara if you want something a bit more filling. They do have some gluten free options, too. This is where we go for our breakfast meet ups. It gets busy at times, but there’s extra seating downstairs.
Picnic Foods – big, healthy salads
is easily missed, on Butter Market – but it’s absolutely worth seeking out if you’re ever in Reading. Sandwiches, sausage rolls, cakes, pastries and salads are served each day. Portions are generous – and you’ll get a beautiful, big salad box for around £5. My favourite so far is the salmon fishcake salad with gherkins and herby mayonnaise. Lush! The board changes regularly, so keep a lookout for new dishes, which are always creative, healthy and colourful. Staff are really friendly and chatty, too. There’s seating inside as well as outside – or if it’s a nice day, eat your lunch on a bench in nearby Forbury Gardens, the site of part of the old Reading Abbey. Definitely one to visit – a regular for me.
The Spring Inn – traditional British food
is a short drive out of Reading at Sulhamstead – a few minutes off the M4, junction 12. It’s a modern, traditional countryside-style pub, with a British menu with flavour twists here and there. The Sunday lunch is gorgeous, usually with a choice of beef, chicken or pork. We also love the battered fish and chips as well as the short rib steak and ale pie with mash. They do a children’s menu, but I also love that they’ll make a children’s sized portion from most of the main meals, too. There’s plenty of seating in the garden, as well as inside, and it’s also dog friendly too, so there’s no need to leave your pooch at home while you go out. The Spring Inn is our favourite place for a good old-fashioned traditional family pub lunch.
Wolf – Italian street food to grab and go
It’s easy to complain about the amount of chain restaurants in a town, but if they’re doing something right then that’s good. And in Broad Street really are. They’re one of a small chain of four restaurants serving Italian street food. Quite often they’ll be someone standing by the door with a tray, giving out samples of food for people to try as they walk past. Pop in and try something new – a piada wrap filled with steak, Parmesan and veggies, or a pasta bowl with a tomato bolognese that has a lovely sweet, slow-cooked flavour to it. They’ll make you a pizza or a big salad if you like, too. You get to customise it, adding your favourite flavours – I love the chicken and ham salad with jalapeños and black olives. It’s good to have this kind of street food in Reading, and it makes a change from all the snack bars and cafés dotted around the town serving pre-packed sandwiches and crisps. Plus, you can grab something quick and go, or sit down and eat something hot and hearty.
Pho – for spice
on King Street, near The George Hotel, specialises in Vietnamese food. It’s one of a chain of Pho restaurants all around the country, and has an authentic, bustling feel to it. You can order a big bowl of noodle soup with slow cooked beef brisket, aromatic herbs and bird’s eye chilli slices for under £10. The pho is fully customisable – the beansprouts, coriander, Thai basil and chilli slices are served on a separate plate for you to add as you wish, so if you don’t like spice, just leave the chillies out and slurp away. The pho is really filling, but they do offer starters which include spring rolls with a choice of dips – and also Vietnamese curries, rice bowls and other dishes on their main menu. There’s a kid’s menu too. It’s great here in the summer, but imagine a steamy bowl of pho here in the winter. Gorgeous.
Jo lives in Reading and runs the blog , a food blog dedicated to good comfort food. You can find out more on her blog, or follow her on Instagram .