Does the Magpie Café have the best fish and chips in the country?
You don’t have to look too hard for places to eat in Whitby. There are many cafés and restaurants in town and just along Pier Road there are three (Magpie Café, Terry’s Restaurant and Quayside) and on Baxtergate there are another three (Mill’s Café, Royal Fisheries and Tiffin).
Whitby in North Yorkshire is a holiday resort and a fishing town well known for its fish and chips and the most famous place in town appears to be the Magpie Café. The Magpie has always been popular with the locals, but it became famous when Rick Stein gave it the thumbs up as the best place in the country to eat fish and chips.
No matter whose photo you’re looking at and what year it was taken, there’s always a queue outside The Magpie. That’s what happens when a famous restaurateur, who himself is a fish and chips shop owner, tells the world that you’re the best. People start queuing as early as 11:00 a.m. and if you’re on a time restriction as we were on this occasion, you’ll miss the chance of finding out for yourself if this is indeed the best fish and chips place in England.
Magpie Café History
The Magpie Café is housed in a black and white building which has a long association with Whitby’s fishing and the shipping industries. The building was constructed in 1750 as a Merchants House. A member of the Scoresby whaling family owned the building at some stage in its history and for a while it was the place where pilots would stand and await orders for vessels to be brought into the harbour. The building became the shipping office for Harrowings and was only converted into a café around 1939.
The Café overlooks Whitby harbour and from the dining room you get views of the harbour, Whitby Abbey and St. Mary’s Church.
The Magpie is a seafood restaurant but it does have some meat dishes as well as vegetarian specials. They also take care of people who are wheat or gluten intolerant. I was impressed to see olives, marinated anchovy fillets and ciabatta rolls on its menu, a sign that this typically English resort café takes note of food trends outside of Whitby.
Your intention in coming to the Magpie Café may be to have the fish and chips, but when you see its 14-page menu, decision making becomes tough. There’s a range of fish types which you can have fried, grilled or poached. Then there’s mussels (which always brings an halt to my menu review), fish pies, crab salad, lobster dishes or you can create your own special grilled or poached fish platter. It’s the biggest seafood menu I’ve ever seen, not to mention the extensive hot and cold desserts available.
Those planning a visit to Whitby and wishing to dine at this legendary café should arrive early and allow plenty of time as the kitchen gets really busy at peak season. Opening hours are 11:30 to 21:00 daily.
If you’ve dined at the Magpie Café, did you have the fish and chips and is it the best in England? We’d love to hear your opinion.
The Magpie Café
14 Pier Road
Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO21 3PU
Tel: 01947 602058