Explore Reading is proud to introduce our inaugural Food & Drink Awards – celebrating the best restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars in Reading.
What do you think of when you hear: ‘Reading restaurants’? If your first thought goes to chains that you can find in every town, then you’ve got a little bit of catching up to do.
Over the past few years, Reading’s food and drink scene has begun to grow into something very exciting: independent restaurants bringing bold flavours out of their kitchens, hip London brands choosing Reading to expand to, passionate street food vendors and luxe, special occasion dining spots. And chains aren’t automatically boring, of course, we also have our pick of consistent, high-quality brands who nail food, comfort and customer service every time.
On top of that, we’ve also got a booming speciality coffee shop scene, a much-loved pub culture and more and more places to get quality drinks in a fun, vibrant atmosphere – no ‘Spoons carpet in sight.
So for the first time, we’re honouring all that growth, and the people behind it, with the Explore Reading Food & Drinks Awards 2018 – a celebration of the best small, independent, international, creative and fun restaurants and bars making Reading a brilliant place to eat and drink. Discover the shortlist of nominees below.
How do the awards work?
The Explore Reading awards are chosen by a panel of expert judges, who all know their eating and drinking. This isn’t just a digital popularity contest, we want to ensure every winner is definitely the best in its category, so you can dine out with confidence. See our award criteria and meet the judges.
The People’s Choice Award
It’s not just about us, we want to know where you love to dine out in Reading too. Have your say and vote for Reading’s favourite restaurant in the People’s Choice Award.
Food & Drink Award nominees 2018
Restaurant of the Year
The best restaurants in town. Exceptional food, service, atmosphere, they have it all.
Best New Restaurant
2018’s most exciting new openings. Innovative, excellent and welcome to stay.
Top notch coffee, tasty food and a cosy place to catch up with a friend, or a good book.
Best Cheap Eat
Quick, easy and affordable, without skimping on quality, taste or environment.
Bhel Puri House
Our most brilliant boozers: great beer, welcoming locals and friendly landlords.
Good drinks, fun crowd, banging music. Bars you won’t want to leave.
People’s Choice Award
Reading’s favourite restaurant, chosen by you. Vote now for the People’s Choice food award.
Voting open until: 14 December
The Food & Drink Awards criteria
To ensure our judging process is independent and transparent, all our awards will be judged on the below criteria:
– All nominees must fall within the boundaries of Reading borough.
– Entries in the Best New Restaurant category should have opened within 2018.
– Best Cheap Eat nominees should sell a meal for one person for £10 or less.
Nominees should offer:
– Excellent customer service.
– Quality food or drinks.
– Good value for money.
– A comfortable, inviting and enjoyable atmosphere.
– Overall, the venue should offer a unique experience or add value to Reading.
Meet the judges
Claire founded Explore Reading to stop people saying: ‘There’s nothing to do in Reading’. She was a judge for the 2014 Time Out Shanghai awards and has been reviewing restaurants and bars in Reading since 2017.
Read Claire’s restaurant reviews
Edible Reading is our town’s most authoritative, and most mysterious, restaurant reviewer. They’ve reviewed over 170 restaurants since 2014 and their own annual independent food awards will return in December.
Read about Edible Reading’s perfect Reading weekend.
Reading’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Glen is the founder of cult street food business Blue Collar. He has worked with over 30 chefs for his weekly Wednesday markets and summer food festivals. Read our interview with Glen Dinning.
Sarah Hacker, Reading Councillor
Sarah has been councillor of Battle Ward for eight years and was Mayor of Reading from 2015-2016. She’s the lead councillor for Culture, Heritage & Recreation, which looks after our town’s tourism, entertainment and food services
Read more about Sarah Hacker.
Will Twomey, Head Brewer, West Berkshire Brewery
Builder of breweries & lover of beer, Head Brewer Will knows his way around a pint. He’s been with Yattendon-based West Berkshire Brewery for over 10 years perfecting his beer-making art.
See Will’s award-winning WBB beers.
James Moore, Chairman, Reading CAMRA
Beer enthusiast James has been involved with Reading & Mid-Berkshire Campaign for Real Ale for years. He edited our World Cup of Reading Pubs campaign and also runs the YouTube channel ‘1001 Beers to Try Before You Die’.
Read James’ Reading pub reviews
Hello! I'm Claire, the founding editor of Explore Reading. I'm a Reading native and former digital director of Time Out Shanghai. I founded Explore Reading so no one can say, ‘there’s nothing to do in Reading’, again. When not editing Explore Reading, I'm probably drinking a Manhattan.