Local bar owner Katie Mather uncovers the gems of Clitheroe's food and drink scene
Tired of the city? Hop on the train and be in Clitheroe, the Ribble Valley’s buzzy food and drink spot in less than an hour.
The market town of Clitheroe has a castle. That’s the first thing anyone tells you about it. And yes, it does, but it has always made the perfect base to visit some of the most highly regarded food and drink destinations in the North West: Northcote, The Parker’s Arms, The Freemasons, The Inn at Whitewell, The White Swan, La Locanda.
But Clitheroe itself has a growing foodie scene, and over the past few years this vibrant little town has become a hotspot for great cocktails, delicious food and local produce. Clitheroe Food Festival has always been a big date in the culinary calendar around here, but with its thriving thrice-weekly market and plenty of independent bars, cafes, shops and restaurants dotting the pretty high street, you’ll find local provenance and carefully curated menus (many with plentiful vegan options) everywhere you go. Grab some train beers, and let’s go.
Read on for the inside scoop on the best places to eat and drink in Clitheroe.
A micropub in the classic style, The Ale House is a pallet-wood-clad bolthole perfect for playing cards, chatting nonsense and drinking pints of delicious cask beer.
Simon Forster who runs the bar really loves big ABV craft beers, so check out the fridges when you visit for some real treats. He’s also big into his bourbon, so make sure you scan the top shelf too — and try the moonshine. Not homemade, don’t worry. Dog friendly.
12-14 Market Place, Clitheroe
Since opening during the lockdown, The Beer Shack has become a go-to place for beer fans. A welcome addition to the Clitheroe pub scene, it’s a wood-and-industrial-fixtures sort-of place filled with character and DIY ingenuities.
Stocking craft beer from big names and local heroes, there’s an Untappd menu by the bar to underline the seriousness of this drinking lark. Plenty of folk log their beers here, so if you’re one of them, you won’t be alone.
Out the back door is a surprisingly large beer garden, and in the summer there are often acoustic sessions to make good use of the sunny space. On cooler days, the upstairs room is a cosy spot for an afternoon sesh. If you’re not a beer fan, don’t worry. There are gins, wines and soft drinks, and a cheese and charcuterie focused snack menu too. Dog friendly.
22-24 King Street, Clitheroe BB7 2EP
Arguably everyone in Clitheroe’s favourite place to eat. A Greek bistro in the centre of town on a pretty little courtyard, Brizola serves Mediterranean classics with freshness and care.
There’s a great vegan menu, the specials are always enticing and the homemade hummus is divine. The lamb kleftiko falls off the bone into rich, meaty gravy spiked with pomegranate. The feta and oregano fries are out of this world, and if you can’t decide what to get, the sharing platters are always a good shout.
What’s also lovely about this place is how transported you feel. It’s like having a little trip to Naxos every time you visit.
2 Swan Court, Castle Street, Clitheroe BB7 2DQ
Clitheroe Market is the perfect combination of old-school Lancashire market stalls and high-quality local produce. It’s not a collection of overpriced bourgeois snacks or an equally un-useful barrage of bulk-bought tat, it’s what a market should be. Well-stocked greengrocers selling beautiful, colourful veg. Butchers who can give you any cut you want, and tell you where it came from and what to do with it. A fishmonger who knows everything about everything they’re selling. Delis packed with home-cured bacon, ham and local eggs. Brownies and cakes. Floral arrangements. A cheese stall full of dairy goodies, gorgeous duck eggs and artisanal European bread. And then there’s the Asian Street Food stall, with samosas to die for and the Horse Box, serving hot sarnies made with bacon and sausages sourced from the market itself. It’s open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Make sure you visit. Dog friendly.
Station Road, Clitheroe, BB7 2JW
Corto is a turquoise blue bastion of good vibes, great drinks and tasty snacks a few steps from the train station.
Run by two beer, natural wine and cider fans, its focus on perfect quality and low intervention spans ale, sour beer, wine, cider and non-alcoholic bevs. There are regular music, art and tasting events too, and a gallery showing work by local artists.
The small rotating selection of six rotating keg taps and one cask line highlights all that’s good and well-brewed, as well as providing a permanent home for Never Known Fog Like It, Rivington Brewing Co.’s cult classic, all killer pale ale. If you get snacky, there’s a short menu of bar snacks, including house-fermented pickles, grilled cheese, Portuguese tinned fish, sourdough bread and oil and, when tomatoes are in season, pan con tomate with the heftiest anchovies you’ve ever seen. Dog friendly.
36 King Street, Clitheroe BB7 2EU
The posh sister bar of The Ale House, The Dispensary is a maze of cosy drinking dens built painstakingly from the empty shell of a former Victorian pharmacy. The attention to detail is stunning, from the exposed stonework in the main seating room to the tiling in the bathrooms.
But enough about the decor. You can rely on The Dispensary to provide you with a stunning range of craft beers and, if you’re into it, they also serve Ayinger Hell, one of the best lagers in town. The gin selection is bonkers too, and being an apothecary-based bar you’ll be served your spirit with perfect garnishes in beautiful glassware. What a treat. If you get hungry, you can grab a cheeseboard.
35 Moor Lane, Clitheroe BB7 1BE
Delightfully composed and stunningly decorated whatever the season or special occasion, Esc CC (often known locally as “Escape”) is a deceptively large cocktail and coffee bar. It’s the sort of place you visit when you’re “out-out”, a place you can get a cracking cappuccino in the daytime (and maybe a slice of red velvet cake) and a porn star martini in the evening.
You’ll have a favourite cocktail, of course you do, but please look at the menu while you’re here. Cocktails designed by the team are pun-tastic, and always delicious. Currently the Pisco Stu is winning hearts all over town — it’s bright blue, made with Pisco, named after the best minor Simpson’s character and garnished with a tiny mirrorball. Dog friendly in the daytime.
10 Market Place, Clitheroe BB7 2DA
Pleasingly old-fashioned and smelling of freshly roasted coffee, Exchange Coffee is a great place to while away a rainy afternoon with a hot drink and a spot of lunch.
The coffee served here is sourced from communities and cooperatives around the world, and the beans are roasted right there in the shop. On most days you’ll see the roaster in action, filling the café and shop with the most delicious coffee aromas. While they do offer take-out, if you’re staying in there are three vintagey rooms to choose from, plus board games to borrow to amp up the wholesomeness even more. Find a comfy corner and settle in.
24 Wellgate, Clitheroe BB7 2DP
Yet another newcomer to the Clitheroe high street - this town is in a boom stage, we love to see it. Georgonzola is a super cute deli packed with everything you need to create the perfect picky tea.
Cheesemonger George’s encyclopaedic cheese knowledge means you’ll get the ideal wedges for your cheese board, plus some absolutely banging extras to jazz it up. Pickles, sourdough, venison salami, incredible cured and dried meats are all here for the snacking, plus, for afters you can grab some Bullion bean-to-bar chocolate.
Georgonzola also sells artisan pasta and independent spirits made by UK producers, and as if you had to ask, there is also a good selection of wine to drink alongside your cheese and treats. Dog friendly.
15-17 Lowergate, Clitheroe
Two food and drink destinations in one.
The Food Hall is an indoor market-style shop, selling all kinds of artisanal food and drink. Whether you’re looking for local meat and cheese or a specific type of Italian breadstick, this is a place to lose yourself in. You can also enjoy a drink here, and it’s perfect for people watching.
Holmes Mill is also a prime people-watching spot, being that it is the largest bar in Clitheroe and attracts drinkers from all over the country with its range of 40 cask beers and newly revamped menu of hearty dishes including fish and chips, proper pies, sliders and black pudding croquettes known here as “bobbins”.
It’s an impressive space, thoughtfully built and restored from a factory — the old steam-powered engine still commands attention in the Engine Room. Dog friendly.
Greenacre Street, Clitheroe BB7 1EB
If you’re looking for the sort of Instagrammable brunch you’d expect in Ancoats, get yer'sen to Jungle for the best coffee in town. Run by Adam and Ramzan, two of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet, it’s a haven of perfectly-brewed Atkinson’s coffee and small-plate food with an emphasis on fresh flavours and vibrant veg.
There’s a lot to love about Jungle, including the eclectic playlist, but one of the best things is noticing the cafe turn from day to night as you work away on your laptop. Time to order a beer, which they serve along with a small wine selection, cocktails and, in the winter, mulled wine and boozy coffees. Dog friendly.
6-8 Moor Lane, Clitheroe, BB7 1BE
Parlour is a city cocktail bar that’s somehow found itself in a rural market town. Some of the best margs (rimmed with volcanic black salt) are here, as are famously peculiar and endlessly photographable cocktails served with bubbles full of dry ice, candy floss topped champers, and a killer espresso martini.
Perhaps it’s also worth mentioning that if you fancy a beer to chase your cocktail down with, they sell those cute Red Stripes in the stubby bottles. Maybe that’s not a seller for you but it’s definitely one for me.
It’s best to book if you’re heading here since it’s small and has that exclusive vibe. Don’t blank your booking. You will be called out.
9-21 Wellgate, Clitheroe BB7 2DP
You will never regret heading into Sauce Box. Despite the inevitable hangover, you will always have a good time.
Sip class cocktails mixed by Heidi and owner Ben garnished classily or with Haribo and glowsticks, if you prefer. It’s a tiny place hidden away in plain sight on Moor Lane, with irresistible hotspot-late-night-dive-bar vibes. The frequently-changing menu takes inspiration from everywhere, shaking it all together into potent cocktails in a rainbow of colours, but if you’re into the classics, they’ve got you. You can get a dirty martini here that’ll blow yer socks off.
Oh, and shots. You’ve got to try the rum selection here, neat. It’s the only way. Dog friendly.
31 Moor Lane, Clitheroe BB7 1BE
Tom’s Table is a cosy and delightful little restaurant hidden up a ginnel off the high street with views over Pendle Hill - which you can enjoy on an outside table if the weather’s good.
Owner Tom Drinkall’s food marries French bistro no-nonsense flavours with quality local produce and classic British cuisine. Everything is made in-house, from the sauces to the bread, and since he was a pastry chef in a previous life, Tom creates a beautiful afternoon tea.
Try the rarebit. Just do it.
Lee Carter House, Castlegate, Clitheroe, BB7 1AD
A newcomer to the high street, Violet's is a friendly cafe with a bit of a difference — children are actively encouraged to visit.
Whether hosting a birthday party or simply serving up a towering pastrami sandwich (with all the toppings and sauces, of course), this is a place for smiles, cheery conversations and games. Also, the cakes are outstanding — and there are always vegan and gluten free options.
For a town filled with young families, there are few places to take little ones where they truly feel welcome. Violet’s makes sure that even the youngest Clitheronians get their babycinos and homemade soup in style.
10-12 Castle Street, Clitheroe BB7 2BX
Follow Katie on Twitter @shinybiscuit
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