Put On Your Gladrags Nottingham

A Night Out In Nottingham

Recently my sister and her other half came to cat-sit for us whilst we tootled off to Copenhagen. They’d be here for the weekend and wanted to sample Nottingham night-life. Channelling my inner Rain Man I set to, writing a to-do list that would make the phonebook blush, a challenge of recommending the best bars in Nottingaham.

I was gutted we couldn’t show them around ourselves. It’d be dark, heels would be high, and they’re from the North East so no jackets would be worn – quick information would be a must. This is where my list (with accompanying map, I might add) came in to its own! She may have mocked me for my perfectly aligned tins of baked beans in the past, but no one wants to wander the streets aimlessly knowing full well they’re missing the best bits – goosebumps don’t even look good on geese!

I couldn’t bring myself to put the map in the bin once they’d gone home, I figured framing it might be a bit much but hey –  it would make a good blog post; whether you’re a newbie to Nottingham or even just fancy knowing where our favourite spots are. Now like I’ve said before, this is just my story and not the whole story, but we are nocturnal folly merchants and we do get to ‘play out’ quite regularly.

So, here it is, my synopsis….

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Nottingham Night Life

  1. Cock & Hoop; a fave of Rich’s. Cool little basement bar with a few little cosy cubby holes.
  2.  The Loom; A relatively new bar, looks like a coffee shop at the front, a 1940’s jazz bar at the back. Live music Friday’s and Saturday’s and sharing platters you’re not going to want to share.
  3.  Junkyard; Craft Ales all round. Chink your bottle with any nearby jovial punter – usually 3 parts beard to one part facial features. A friendly unpretentious joint.
  4.  The Hockley Arts Club; MY FAVOURITE! Go now! It’s a hidden entrance mind you, go through a scruffy red gate and around the back. Used to be the managers offices of the Lace and Silk factories – grab an armchair, stroke the nearby yuca plant, indulge your inner CEO! (or is that just me!?) Table service. Don’t have a heart attack when you go to the loo – they’re unisex: you are in the right place (only downside to my favourite bar)
  5.  Tilt; The best cocktail bar in Nottingham, if you can find a seat. They do a happy hour 5-7pm and music later on, usually Blues. This place just makes me happy that the lovely guy who owns it got his dream come true. Think Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
  6.  Revolucion de Cuba; Huge old place, beautiful inside. Acoustic lounge on the top floor and Cuban live music on the main floor, several nights a week. Great atmosphere – grab a Mojito here!
  7.  Cucamara; £1 for a shot of Tequila – what more reason do you want!? No need to hang around, in fact, floor’s a bit sticky so keep those feet shuffling!
  8. The Dragon; Just a normal pub really but I do like the feel of it. Plus, their shot measures are slightly larger at no extra cost.
  9.  The Malt Cross; Cool place. An old dance hall with a Mezzanine area. Not pretentious at all and very relaxed. Live music Friday’s and Saturday’s.
  10.  The Bear and Lace; Gorgeous interiors, grab a window seat and watch the modern day Maid Marion’s stumble up the ‘way’.  A great reminisce for me (used to watch Rich here 15 years ago when it was an Irish bar)
  11.  The Ned Ludd; Craft Ale House. Always warm! (a clear winner for the jacket-hating Geordie)
  12.  Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem; Apparently the oldest Inn in the country (1189AD) where you’ll see all the tourists just wanting to say they’ve been in the oldest Inn. Classic pub. Go to the back and up the stairs to have a drink in the caves. Worth seeing.
Bistro Pierre
Annie’s Burger Shack


Places To Eat In Nottingham

A. Bistro Pierre; The best French restaurant around. A failsafe that I’d recommend to anyone, it never disappoints and you don’t have to wade through a formidable list of high faluted Offal – we’re talking moules-frites, steak frites, bourguignon. Go for their set menu early bird – brilliant value.

B. Calcutta Club; My favourite Indian. Nuff said.

C. Mem Saab; Richards favourite Indian, next door. To be honest, there’s not a lot in it but I prefer the decor at the Calcutta Club, plus they bring you a free chocolate strawberry with the bill. They both do a chuffin good curry though!

D. Harts. The best posh restaurant in town but will set you back £80 for two courses and drinks I reckon. Definitely a special occasion place, but worth it if you can afford it.

E. Turtle Bay. A Jamaican restaurant that is buzzing. I want to conquer their menu one day – it takes me half an hour to choose because everything sounds so good. They also do 2 for 1 on cocktails in their Happy Hour. Booking is essential and if you get a table near the open kitchen, make sure you layer-up with the antiperspirant; it get’s hot!

F.  Zaap. Asian street food which tastes better eaten in a tuk-tuk. Nodding cats and paper lanterns aplenty. Get the Lynx out again though as you’ll stink of a chinese takeaway when you leave. Damn these open kitchens.

G. Yamas. An awesome Greek restaurant if you fancy Greek. No need to worry if you accidentally drop your plate on the floor either – an element which I find relaxes me in all Greek establishments, you know what I’m like!


H. Baresca. Tapas at it’s best. A very on-trend joint with live music too.

I. Rub. Think herbs and spices, not Vicks or Deep heat. Great American food; brisket, pulled pork, ribs etc. There are a few similar joints like this in town but I like the vibe here, the staff are great and a rumour has it they’ve been known to dance on the tables on a friday night. (See my other blog post about it here)

J. Annie’s Burger Shack. Yes, Yes, Yes. That’s not me doing my Meg Ryan impression, that’s me putting ticks in the boxes of my imaginary perfect burger joint checklist (that’s a real thing btw) If you take yours with marshmallows, jam, yorkshire pudding or plain old cheddar, no worries – your taste will be catered for & in a fab atmosphere reminiscent of our New England road trip a few years ago.

K. Das Kino. Gooood pizza and other dough related delicacies eaten amidst table tennis tables (and their players) Warning: could result in indigestion, don’t ignore the age-old chinese proverb: not to ping-pong on full stomach.

L. Jamie’s Italian. A gorgeous 18th Century merchants house for your eye’s to wander upon whilst you consider whether to order a plank or the squid. Seasonal and not your typical Italian menu. We’re talking pumpkin ravioli with crushed Amoretti biscuits, not tuna pasta bake. Super friendly service too!

M. Barburito. If you don’t want a sit down meal but require a tasty parcel of Mexican deliciousness to line the stomach walls for the next cocktail, walk no further.

N. Inferno. When speed is the prerogative, quickly choose your pizza toppings, pay the nice lady and hey presto – 180 seconds later you’re tucking into one of the best inventions to ever leave Naples (alongside the mandolin and the bath obviously). Great pizza. (See my other blog post about it here)

So, there you have it, an extensive, but not exhaustive list of the best bars and places to eat in Nottingham. I’ve heard great things about a few new places in town and maybe they’ll make the favourites list one day but until then, rest assured we’ve done our research – the hips don’t lie! And don’t let me catch you in the fountains with a can of Newcastle Brown, there’s no excuse now.

What do you think to my list? Have I missed one of your favourites? Please leave me a comment and let me know – I’m always up for a good recommendation!


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Christopher says:

    Loved this one Alex. My old hometown has changed such a lot with regard to locals and restaurants. I know one of my old favourites was “The Running Horse” pub on Alfreton Road (number 16 I think) where they had open mic night and showcased some GREAT local guitar talent. One of Nottingham’s greatest exports that I’ve been privileged to witness starting out and moving on to international stardom is the blues guitarist & singer, Ian Siegal (http://iansiegal.com). The place was a real dive but there was real ale and real music.
    Now that was back in the late 80s & early 90s. The pub is still open but under new management so I can’t comment on the quality of atmosphere nor music. maybe you & RikRok could mosey on over there to have a look?

  2. Akexander Lamb says:

    Can’t believe you rate Hart’s over Workd Service and omitted Sat Bains if you wanted to go high end. The rest is oretty accurate mind you.

    1. Alex says:

      My sister could never afford sat bains (plus we’ve never been so I couldn’t accurately recommend it) As for world service/harts debate; if you’d asked me a year ago I’d have said world service-it’s pretty close but I do prefer Harts slightly. Thanks for your comment though ?

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