IN LOVE WITH MARGATE
There is so much to sea in this artful, fun-filled town
Margate’s a playful place with an unfading charm living a colourful life. And we’ve listed our favourite places so you can make the most of being beside the seaside.
Angela’s & Dory’s
Sparkling fresh fish bought from the boats each morning, cooked simply and perfectly. That’s Angela’s. It’s been hailed as St. John by the sea, and we agree. Its little sister around the corner, Dory, serves small plates. A table at either is winning at life.
Sargasso is a winsome wine bar with food that takes the term seaside to another level. Perched against the sea wall of Margate’s harbour arm, it’s so close to the briny that they sometimes have to close for fear of waves washing your delicious vino and seafood dishes away.
Buoy & Oyster
If you love cracking crab claws, slurping plump oysters, and winkling juicy meat from mussels, then this is your cloud-nine nirvana. Mega-fresh seafood, a great drinks menu, and smiles-all-the-way service make Buoy & Oyster a firm Margate favourite.
Camp is Margate’s new queer bar and community space, and it’s tonnes of fun. Their colourful calendar of events includes the ever-popular pop culture quiz, the drop-in-and-chat book club, and their gorgeously weird and wonderful drag cabaret nights.
Forts is a top-notch coffee stop over on Cliff Terrace. They serve a mean cup of joe alongside stacked sandwiches, brilliant beers and any other delicious treats they feel like rustling up. The alfresco space out front is a great while-away-the-day hangout.
Margate is a long way from Mexico in many ways, but you can get a taste of those sun-drenched Latin vibes at Mariachi. This cantina-styled cocktail bar serves highly crafted tequila and mezcal-based drinks and Mexican-inspired street food. We say sí, por favor.
Wildes is the kind of local corner café you hope pops up in your town. The warm orange façade and potted plants pull you in. The cosy home-like vibes ensure you settle in. The fantastic food and banging cocktails keep you coming back for more and more.
George & Heart
Margate’s Old Town has some serious history, and the George & Heart is one of its most charm-soaked buildings. This lovingly restored 18th-century coaching inn is hospitality heaven. Think cask ales, botanical cocktails and cheffy Kent-centred dishes.
Ramsay & Williams
If licking a drippy ice cream cone by the sea makes you feel nostalgic, then the best place to buy your ices is Ramsay & Williams. Their vintage shop next door is packed with olde worlde delights. And their adjoining art gallery showcases great local talents.
House De Ville
If you’re a sustainably minded shopper, and you find yourself in Cliftonville, head down to House De Ville on the High Street. It’s a consciously curated collection of vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories beautifully presented by owner Jemelia Whitaker.
Margaux is a lovely independent clothes store on the edge of the Old Town at the end of Love Lane. They do a great line in loungewear, swimwear, skincare, bags and socks to complement their main womenswear collections.
The name says it all. Positive Retail upholds strong ethical principles. They work with a community of sellers to create a clothes retail experience that’s about shopping local, loving people, and staying circular. Find stylish preloved fashion for women and men.
In true Margate style, WerkHaus isn’t your run-of-the-mill clothes shop. They say they sell ‘trans-seasonal modern utilitarian womenswear’ – which you can translate as menswear for women (with pockets). They also stock carefully chosen vintage pieces.
AARVEN is a treasure trove of ethical homeware and jewellery handmade by artisans around the globe. Wander in and discover woven tableware, hand-carved wooden utensils, Kenyan Stools, Ghanaian masks, Khotso blankets and much, much more.
If browsing indie bookshops gives you a thrill, we know one you’ll love for sure. Compact but thoughtfully stocked, The Margate Bookshop deals in new and second-hand titles and does teas and coffee, too (in case you intend to browse a while).
One thing Margate has plenty of is seaweed. And Haeckels use it as the base for all their skincare products. In fact, they pick it by hand on the beach just steps away from their shop. Why seaweed? Well, turns out it’s great for your skin and the planet. Win-win.
We wouldn’t blame you for not associating Margate with caves. But then it is a place full of surprises. Once a chalk mine, this subterranean wonderland is now a great all-weather visitor attraction. We also love that it’s a non-profit investing in local schools and groups.
Some seaside towns have shell grottos, but few are as insanely big and fancy as this. Get ready for your mind to be well and truly blown. The fun fact is that no one knows who made it and why it’s there… mysterious. Where to find it? Grotto Hill, of course.
You could say Margate wouldn’t be Margate without Dreamland. This fantastic fun palace has been a local icon since the 1870s. As well as the amusement park rides for thrill-seekers, the venue also boasts a great line-up of big-name acts for music lovers.
Turner Contemporary Gallery
You can’t miss this building – it’s the row of shiny boxes on the seafront, built on the site of a house where Turner (the painter) once stayed. Inside, the exhibitions are likely to be equally edgy and impressive. And you can contemplate the art in the café, with its harbour views.
Carl Freedman Gallery
Founded by the art curator Carl Freedman, this pushing-the-boundaries gallery promotes the work of emerging British and international artists across three industrial-looking gallery spaces. You won’t find pastoral landscapes, but you will find your thoughts provoked.
Can you fill a whole museum with stuff about crabs? Apparently, you can, and it’s eye-opening. You’ll learn how crabs affect our lives in many ways, from maintaining the oceans to developing new medicines. It’s worth more than a sideways glance.
Old Kent Market
Once a cinema, The Old Kent Market is an indoor celebration of Kent’s passion for food, drink and culture. Find independent purveyors selling burritos, bagels, herbal remedies, old-fashioned sweets and more. There’s even a coffee shop and a pub to boot,