Almost from the minute you arrive in Newcastle, you'll see that there's something different about this city in northeast England. Once a remote outpost of the Roman Empire, Newcastle has a strong Viking heritage from waves of Scandinavian invasion. An important port and manufacturing city during the Industrial Revolution, Newcastle has since reinvented itself as a hub for arts and leisure, but it still retains a culture uniquely its own. And that's reflected in the food you'll find here.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Newcastle, and you can start exploring all the good food there is on offer here. Whether you're looking for the best vegetarian restaurants in Newcastle or are happiest tucking into a big bag of fish and chips, you'll find lots to like. There are plenty of popular restaurants offering fine dining and food trucks tempting you with the best street food in Newcastle, so you won't have to go hungry no matter what you like to eat. Plus, it's never difficult to find a great pub or two in this famously friendly city on the River Tyne.
Newcastle Food: Craster Kippers
Newcastle-upon-Tyne owes its existence to its port, so it's no surprise to find that seafood features heavily on traditional menus here. Craster kippers are smoked herring, and you'll find them on sale in markets and shops across the city. The smoking process was developed by John Woodger in the 19th century to extend the shelf life of these delicious fish, and it's a tradition that continues today.
Kippers aren't as popular in the city as they once were, but traditionalists still stand by them, and as new restaurants emerge looking to pay homage to the old culinary traditions of Newcastle, you'll find them more and more. Fenwick Food Hall is a great place to track down traditional Newcastle food and buy it directly from the people who know local food best. In this popular market hall, you'll find all kinds of great food, from traditional Geordie kippers to award-winning burgers to Spanish tapas. And because Craster kippers are such a good choice for a quick bite, they're an ideal item for a quick meal while strolling around the market itself.
Newcastle Food: Pan Haggerty
Thanks to its northern location, Newcastle isn't exactly famous for having great weather. And while you may enjoy the occasional sunny day here, you can expect to encounter your share of wind, rain, and cold, especially during the winter. So perhaps it's no surprise that some traditional Geordie dishes tend toward the hearty and filling. The intriguingly-named Pan Haggerty is definitely one of them.
A mix of potatoes, onions, and cheese, this dish is usually served with meat, although you can find vegetarian versions too. It's the kind of meal that will definitely fill you up, and it's perfect for a winter day when you need something hot and comforting to eat. You'll find it on the menu in many traditional pubs and restaurants in Newcastle, so it's definitely worth seeking out.
Newcastle Food: Newcastle Brown Ale
No list of Newcastle food would be complete without mentioning the city's most famous export: Newcastle Brown Ale. This dark beer has been brewed in the city since 1927, and it's still going strong today. You can find it on tap in almost every bar in Newcastle, and it's definitely worth trying if you're a fan of dark beers.
Of course, Newcastle Brown Ale is also available in bottles and cans, so you can take some home with you to enjoy later. And if you really want to get into the local beer scene, you can even take a tour of the Newcastle Brown Ale Brewery. This is a great way to learn about the history of the beer and see how it's made, and you'll even get to sample some of the different beers brewed on-site.
Newcastle Food: Northumberland Sausages
Another traditional food that you'll find in Newcastle is the Northumberland sausage. These sausages are made with pork and beef and flavored with sage, thyme, and other herbs, and they make a great addition to any meal. You'll find them on the menu in many traditional restaurants, or you can buy them directly from butcher shops around the city if you don't mind doing your own cooking.
Newcastle Food: Singing Hinny
What is it with traditional food from North East England and whimsical names? This is another Newcastle food with a name that gives you no clue as to what you might get, but once you find out how delicious this item is, you won't mind asking for it everywhere you go.
A singing hinny is a type of flatbread, similar to a scone, that is made with flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. The name comes from the fact that the dough is traditionally sung to while it's being mixed, although you're unlikely to find anyone doing that these days! Now, you're more likely to find them served with tea or coffee as a snack, although they also make a great breakfast or dessert. You can find them in most bakeries around Newcastle. You could also check out Grainger Market on Grainger Street in the city center. This market has been in operation for almost 200 years, so it's a great place to find traditional Newcastle food as well as the latest and greatest in street food in the city.
Newcastle Food: Pease Pudding
This is one of those dishes that will make you feel like you've stepped into a time machine. Pease pudding is based on a medieval recipe for pease pottage, and although it's rare to find it on menus elsewhere in England, it's still not too difficult to track down in the northeast.
This dish is made with yellow split peas, and it's usually served as a side dish or accompaniment to meat. It has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet taste, and it's definitely worth trying if you're looking for something different. Sometimes jokingly referred to as Geordie caviar, this isn't something you'll find on the menu of the best restaurant in town, but if you search around the city center long enough, you'll come across it somewhere. And when you do, you'll be taking part in a culinary tradition that dates back centuries.
Newcastle Food: Stottie Cake
The stottie cake is another Newcastle food that has its roots in medieval times. This large, round loaf of bread was originally made with leftover bread dough, but these days it's more likely to be made with flour, yeast, water, and salt. It's usually served sliced and filled with meat or cheese, making it the perfect lunchtime snack. You can find stottie cakes in most bakeries and sandwich shops around Newcastle, or you can buy them from the Northumbrian Bakery on Stoddart Street.
Newcastle Food: Chevington Cheese
This is not specifically a Newcastle dish as much as it is a Northumbrian one, but either way, this cheese is an iconic part of Newcastle's food scene. Chevington cheese is a unique cheese that's made in the village of Chevington Down, just outside of Newcastle. The cheese is made with unpasteurized milk from cows that graze on the wildflower meadows of Northumbria, and it has a strong, nutty flavor, almost like a hard brie. You can find it for sale in many shops around Newcastle, or you can buy it directly from the dairy farm. As always, Grainger Market is a great place to track it down in the city center.
You may even find it as an ingredient in other dishes around town. Get it along with other fresh ingredients as part of a ploughman's lunch in a traditional pub, and you'll be eating just like a local.
Newcastle Food: Bacon Floddies
Another contender for the Silly Name Award, bacon floddies are far more delicious than they sound. These small cakes of grated potato, bacon, and onion are cooked on a griddle and usually served as a breakfast or lunch food, though you may also find them on the menu of chip shops throughout the city. The sometimes greasy concoctions are the perfect way to recover from a long night out in the pubs and clubs of Newcastle, and they remain one of the most popular traditional foods you'll find in this northern city. They also make a great street food to eat on the go while you explore the city center.
Newcastle Food: Afternoon Tea
This is not so much a traditional Newcastle thing as it is a traditional English thing, but it's a ritual you should definitely try to experience while you're in the area. Afternoon tea is a meal that typically consists of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and cake or pastries, all served with a pot of tea. It's usually eaten in the late afternoon, and it's the perfect way to take a break from sightseeing and shopping. There are plenty of places around Newcastle where you can enjoy afternoon tea, including hotels, cafes, and tearooms. If you want to do it like a true local, you can even buy everything you need to make it at home and enjoy it in your own home or apartment.
Newcastle Food: Coal-roasted Meats
If you want to try something truly unique to Newcastle, then you need to head to one of the coal-roasted meat shops that can be found dotted around the city. These shops specialize in roasting meats over coals, giving them a smoky flavor that you won't find anywhere else. The most popular meats to eat are chicken and lamb, but you'll also find beef and pork on offer. Most of these shops will also sell other traditional Newcastle dishes, such as stottie cakes and bacon floddies, so you can try a bit of everything.
Newcastle Food: Fish and Chips
Again, this is more of a national treat than it is a specifically Newcastle one. Given its coastal location, Newcastle has chip shops that rival any in the country, and this humble dish remains a perennial favorite of locals and visitors alike. If you want to eat like a true local, then you need to head down to the quayside and enjoy your fish and chips with a view of the River Tyne. You can find chip shops all over the city, but the ones on the quayside are definitely the most atmospheric.
Newcastle Food: Magmaloo
The British love of Indian food is well-established. But combine the spicy culinary traditions of India with the bravado of the north of England, and you end up with truly insane food items like the magmaloo.
Magmaloo was invented by an Indian restauranteur in Newcastle when his customers complained that even a very spicy curry like a vindaloo wasn't hot enough. Therefore, the Magmaloo was created to test the taste buds of even the bravest — or drunkest — curry house patron. Be warned; this dish lives up to its name. If you're up to the challenge, you'll find it on the menu of lots of Indian restaurants throughout the city.
Newcastle's culinary traditions are as unique as everything else about the city. Medieval pease pudding and traditional brown ale make for a strange combination with roaringly hot curry, but that's what this city is all about.
Once you're done treating your taste buds, check out the best hikes in Newcastle to work off some of those calories. Then, you can head back to the restaurants and pubs guilt-free.