Entertainment, Restaurants and Bars in Portsmouth
Most of the ‘night-life’ in Portsmouth is to be found in the Southsea area to the north of the city centre. The area around The Point tends to attract summer visitors out for a drink in the evening but for the most atmosphere inside a pub or bar, you should head for the Old Portsmouth district around the harbour. Portsmouth could not claim to be a centre for fine cuisine. However, there is a good range of restaurants, cafes and bistros to choose from.
Bars and Pubs:
Recommended bars and pubs in Portsmouth include the following. The Drift on Palmerston Road, this has DJs on week-end evenings and has lots of atmosphere with its London-style bars. The Wonkey Donkey is open daily from 10:00 to gone mid-night, except Sundays when it’s open 10:00 to 23:30. This bar also has occasional live music and pub quizzes. Above it is the quieter and smaller atrium Bar. If you are looking for a quiet drink in the day time, the Honest Politician on Elm Grove provides the perfect relaxed environment to ‘chill out’ in. On the Point is the Bridge Tavern, Still & West and the Spice Island Inn all have the sea-faring atmosphere you’d expect in an ancient port town like Portsmouth. All three of these bars serve a good and inexpensive range of food throughout the day.
Bistro Montparnasse on Plamerston Road serves French and seafood dishes to a standard above many other restaurants in Portsmouth. Prices are reasonable, £15 for lunch and £25 for dinner, but it is closed all day Sunday and Monday. Sur-La-Mer, also on Palmerston Road, not surprisingly serves French sea-food and is very good value for money. A set price three-course meal can be had for as little as £10. However, again this restaurant is closed on Sundays.
If you’re after vegetarian fare then visit the Country Kitchen on Marmion Road in Southsea. This restaurant is only open during the day time and is closed all day Sunday.
The Sally Port Tea Rooms is exactly what it says - a tea-room in the traditional sense. It’s open from 10:00 to 17:00 and also serves breakfasts and lunch. Its tea time special is smoked mackerel and horseradish baguette. To make sure you don’t forget you’re in a traditional tea-room, 1940s jazz is usually being played. Sally Port Tea Rooms are on Broad Street in Southsea. If you fancy some jazz with an evening meal as well, try the Wanted Bar & Restaurant on Osborne Road. Open from 11 in the morning to 11 at night you can get a main course here for as little as £4 and enjoy the relaxed jazz and soul music that sets the tone for this high-style bar. If you fancy something more enigmatic, the Agora on Clarendon Road could be what you’re after. The Agora is a Turkish hookah bar located inside a Tudor building, exposed beams and all, that also serves Greek food!
There are several small night clubs in Portsmouth, many of which gain a lot of trade from the naval base ‘when the fleet’s in’. The largest nightclub in Portsmouth is the Time & Envy on Alhambra Road just off the Esplanade to the south of the city. It has two huge dance floors and four bars. Its main nights are Thursday, Friday and Saturday and it is open from 10:00 to 02:00. With its more central location on the Guildhall Walk Bar-8 is the newest night-club in Portsmouth. Its main opening nights are Friday and Saturday. Alongside the resident DJs and their techno/funk evenings, the Wedgewood Rooms, on Albert Road to the east of the city centre, is the main venue for lesser known ‘indie’ and tribute band live performances in Portsmouth.
For live performances the larger and more mainstream acts would use the Guildhall for their venue. This venue is right by the main Portsmouth & Southsea railway station on Guildhall walk in the city centre. Originally built in the late 1880s it was severely damaged during World War II and had to be virtually re-built. With a spectator capacity of 2000 this is the venue that events ranging from touring rock and comedy acts to symphony orchestras, will be booked in to. The Guildhall can also be used for conferences, exhibitions and gala dinner evenings. The New Theatre Royal is a small theatre, seating just over 500 people and with a stage under 100m2 that hosts productions by touring professional companies, as well as local amateur ones. The original theatre was a converted tavern and was in Victorian times the major theatre to the south of England. After falling into disuse and disrepair in the 1960s and 1970s, it was completely, and superbly, refurbished in 2004 and is slowly returning to its former glory. The theatre is on Guildhall Walk. The Portsmouth Arts Centre, in the Central Library on Guildhall Square has the 120 seat Menuhin Theatre. This arts centre runs workshops and classes for the local community; it also hosts occasional performances by local and touring artists and smaller theatrical companies. There is also the Kings Theatre in Southsea, which retains an Edwardian Playhouse feel to it. The theatre hosts touring musical and comedy acts. Portsmouth has a Jongluers comedy club on the Gunwharf Quays, it is open Friday and Saturday 19:00 to 02:00, but you need to be inside it by 20:00!