What is Brighton’s Best Restaurants?

We are a group of four local food- and restaurant-lovers who champion Brighton’s independent restaurants through an annual awards ceremony – Brighton’s Best Restaurant Awards – and an associated restaurant festival, OctoberBEST. As individuals, we are regular diners about town, enjoying everything the city has to offer from high-end restaurants to street food.

Brighton’s Best Restaurants is Andy Lynes (food journalist and author), Patrick McGuigan (food journalist and author), Euan MacDonald (founder of 60 Second Reviews) and Suzanne Lindfors (copywriter and restaurant PR).

Why was Brighton’s Best Restaurants Awards established?

We established the awards in 2015 to create a definitive and impartial annual list of the city’s best restaurants. We believe this list, which is announced every spring, accurately reflects the current best places to eat out in Brighton and Hove.

How do Brighton’s Best Restaurants Awards work?

At the start of every year, we invite a select panel of judges to tell us the best restaurant meals they’ve enjoyed over the last 12 months. The restaurants they name are entirely their choice – they don’t pick names from a previously compiled shortlist. From these votes, we compile what we believe is the definitive annual list of Brighton’s Top 20 restaurants.

We announce this list (plus those restaurants in 30th to 21st place) at an annual invite-only awards ceremony in central Brighton.

Other awards, including Best Front of House, Best Wine List and Best Chef, are also given out on the night. These are also voted for by our independent judging panel.

Who is on your judging panel?

Our panel is a carefully curated group of local food writers, restaurant owners, chefs, food lovers, business leaders and more, all of whom boast an in-depth knowledge of Brighton’s independent restaurant scene, and who actively support it by dining out regularly. We ask members of our panel to not reveal publicly that they are judges so restaurants can’t attempt to influence votes.

Can restaurants vote for themselves?

No. Anyone on our judging panel who works for or is closely tied to any specific restaurant cannot vote for that restaurant. Judges are contacted privately via email, meaning restaurants cannot direct their customers to an online voting form via social media or email newsletters. Between the four of us, we have a good grasp of who works where in Brighton and so, any attempt by a restaurant’s member of staff to vote for their place of employment, or for their own restaurant, will be disregarded from the final tally.

Can I be on your judging panel?

If you are a local foodie who loves to dine out in Brighton and Hove, and you aren’t linked by employment or family ties to a specific restaurant, we may consider you to be part of our panel. Please drop us a DM via Instagram or email us at brightonsbestrestaurants@gmail.com explaining who you are and what you do, detailing some of your favourite recent meals and why. We will aim to get back to you as soon as possible.

What is OctoberBEST?

OctoberBEST is an annual restaurant festival which is directly linked to the award winners of that same year. Our top 30 restaurants – as decided during the Brighton’s Best Restaurant Awards earlier in the year – are invited to participate. During one designated fortnight in October, each restaurant offers diners a special £25 menu which best showcases their food. It’s a great opportunity for restaurants to attract new customers, and for diners to try somewhere new at a discounted price.

How can my restaurant be involved in OctoberBEST?

Your restaurant will only be invited to participate in OctoberBEST if it was voted into the Brighton Top 30 list at the Brighton’s Best Restaurant Awards earlier that same year. We occasionally invite restaurants which were previously on the list to take part, or new ones we think more diners should be aware of. These additional choices are entirely at our discretion. Restaurants cannot pay or lobby us to participate in the festival.

What is your policy on comped meals and freebies?

While we receive a lot of invites for free meals, we rarely accept them. We occasionally accept invites to dine at new restaurants or to attend launches – this is a good opportunity for us to check out new places. Unlike food bloggers, we as a rule don’t accept regular free meals in return for reviews or mentions on our social media channels.

So what about those meals positively written about on your social media channels?

The vast majority of meals we post about on our social media have been paid for in full by us as individuals. We choose to post about some meals simply because we’ve enjoyed them! Any meals which are the result of an invite or are gifted are clearly marked as such. We are not, as a collective, restaurant reviewers or critics. Any meals we don’t enjoy, we simply don’t mention.

Is Brighton’s Best elitist? 

Brighton’s Best is not elitist. While it’s true that we limit who can vote for the awards, our panel is made up of a wide range of people with roughly fifty per cent chefs, restaurateurs and other hospitality professionals and fifty per cent of what we call our ‘Dedicated Diners’, mainly made up of enthusiastic and knowledgeable Brighton and Hove-based restaurant goers, as well as local  bloggers and food writers. 

We encourage all our voters to think about any restaurant experiences that they’ve loved, be it a fantastic pizza or an amazing multi-course tasting menu so that we can reflect as much of the city’s diverse dining scene as possible. Anyone who really loves eating out is welcome to apply to join our panel, just drop us an email at this address brightonsbestrestaurants@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you. 

We also open up some awards categories, like Best OctoberBest Menu and Best Takeaway to a public vote held via our social media platforms and we will continue to look for ways to further open up the awards to the wider Brighton and Hove restaurant-going community.

Brighton’s Best serves both the hospitality industry and diners in different ways. The awards night itself is by invitation only and is an opportunity for the Brighton and Hove hospitality industry to let down its hair and network with each other and our sponsors. The annual OctoberBEST restaurant festival is a chance for the city’s restaurant goers to enjoy the very best of the city’s restaurant scene at very affordable prices and to hopefully discover some new favourite destinations.  

Why do the same restaurants feature in your list every year?

Although some restaurants do appear year on year, there are in fact only seven places in our current rankings that also appeared on our inaugural top 20 in 2016. We extended the list to a top 30 a few years ago in order to help increase the variety of places we feature. 

We don’t guide our panel in any way with shortlists or limit what sort of restaurants can be voted for, so our list does genuinely reflect the best meals our voting panel have enjoyed in the 12 months or so prior to the awards. We are fortunate in Brighton and Hove to have a number of long standing restaurants that have consistently maintained high standards of food, service and ambiance and that continue to delight our voters, so it’s only natural that Brighton’s Best Restaurant Awards reflects that.  The list has evolved over time, as our voting panel also continues to do with new members joining each year. We are proud to say that each year, the list has included all the major and noteworthy new openings in the city as we and the panel continue to explore and support our dynamic local independent restaurant scene.