Harbour Lights Cafes. Dotted around the island in various locations, our favourite is on the sea front at Peel. A visit combines well with a trip to the House of Manannan, Peel Castle or a stroll up the coast path overlooking the castle. They serve generous portions of British style wholesome lunch food, from soups to roasts. They are also worth visiting in Port St Mary and there is another in Douglas on the High Street.
The Sound Cafe. Drive towards Port St Mary and then follow signs for Cregneash (a historic village worth a look in its own right). Continue through the village and you’ll reach the southern tip of the island. Keep on driving until there’s no more land and you’ll reach a newly paved car park and visitor’s centre. This is a great place to see seals and other marine wildlife as you look across the water to the Calf of Man. A swim isn’t highly recommended here as the tidal currents are very fast as the water is squeezed between the Calf and the main island. Once you have tired of exploring the many rocky outcrops, seeing the monument or the smugglers steps (disclaimer: they may not actually by smugglers steps, but it gets the kids’ imaginations going!) then head inside the cafe which features a great view out over the sound, a nice hot drink and sometimes has exhibitions on. It is also well worth a visit if the weather is terrible as you can view the full power of the water in the Sound from behind inch thick glass while nestled up with a lovely cup of tea or hot chocolate.
The Tea Barn, Sulby Glen. The Sulby Glen in the north of the island is a picturesque steep sided valley. So steep sided in fact that the top of the valley features one the island’s biggest reservoirs following its damming. The cafe is located three quarters of the way up the valley, just before you climb above the dam. It can be found by either turning off the mountain road (left if you’re coming from the south) by Snaefel (you’ll know it as there is a giant sculpture of a loghtan sheep) and driving down the valley or driving up from Sulby at bottom of the Glen. The cafe is immediately after the first bridge you’ll reach on the right hand side. There’s a tiny slip road and you can park behind. The staff are very friendly, everything on sale is gluten free and there’s even a craft shop upstairs at certain times of the year. This is a great place for a cream tea after a walk on the hills. If you are intending to visit between December and February it is worth checking first, as it can be shut during the winter months.
A-Cafe. A popular lunch time spot for Douglas’ professional office dwellers. A very plain exterior and interior hide a very reasonably priced, but tasty Chinese lunch stop. Try the Wonton noodle soup, it’s certainly the best thing on the menu (their other noodle soups are good too). It’s great spiced up with a spot of their special chilli sauce. Watch out, it’s powerful stuff! The cafe is located at the south end of the pedestrianised high street, on the left hand side as you approach from the main shopping area.
Filbey’s. If you’re after great seafood, this is the place to go. They also do a good steak and have a very pleasant outlook onto the marina in Peel.
The Boatyard. Another local favourite in Peel. You’ll be assured of a quality meal.
The Abbey. A delightful restaurant in Ballasalla next to the ruins of Rushen Abbey. The chefs here are capable of some very good dishes indeed. It’s also quite entertaining to drive through the ford just outside (obviously not recommended if the river’s high!) for those looking for a little excitement before their meal. Not a cheap option, but well worth it.
The Forge. It’s pub grub but with a difference. Fantastic ingredients and homemade details galore (they even make their own ketchup!) and friendly staff ensure you’ll have a great meal. It’s worth saying it’s pricier than your average gastro-pub, but well worth it for the quality of food. This is located on the main road between Ballasalla and Douglas. You’ll find it on the right hand side as you drive from Ballasalla, in a dip in the road.
La Piazza. A very reasonably priced Italian restaurant at the south end of the promenade on the sea front in Douglas. It’s not fine dining but you’ll leave well satisfied. There’s usually a very cheerful atmosphere which makes for a pleasant evening.
Samphire. Tasty food, a little on the pricey side for portion size, but a very good option if you cannot get in elsewhere. Samphire is located on the quayside in Douglas, overlooking the marina.
Barbary Coast. Located in the end unit on the quayside in Douglas, Barbary Coast can most easily be described as a privately owned independent version of Nandos. More refined flavours are present in their dishes than their chain counterpart and it’s a good option if you fancy something from the grill. It is, however, not as good as The Forge, but also not as expensive.
Tesco. Shop here for all your usual items. This is located on the first left off the roundabout (then follow the road) as you come into the Douglas south of the Quayside/marina.
Shoprite. This is the place to buy local meat. Shoprite are supplied by Ballcushig Farm, a collective of local Manx Farmers specialising in lamb, beef and pork. It is worth saying there are no poultry farms on the island so any chicken will be imported regardless. Shoprite also sell a small selection of Waitrose branded products. Shoprite is located just outside Douglas (Onchan) and Port Erin.
Robinsons World Food Market. Speciality foods are the order of the day here. They sell a great variety of spices and ingredients for curry and much more. The best reason to visit, however, is their excellent fish counter which always has good stocks of what the local fisherman have brought in. A great place to buy trout, ray wings, squid and much more.