Play Hard

13 reasons to visit Roker, Sunderland

Coffee pods and bottomless brunch, quirky taprooms, sinful dessert joints and a gin bar with a sea view… this coastal town has plenty of banging beachside boltholes.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 10.06.2023

COLE KITCHEN

St George’s Terrace, Roker, Sunderland SR6 9LX

Hip breakfast spot Cole Kitchen is here to start your day off right with a cup of speciality coffee or loose-leaf tea, good vibes and its own ‘breakfast sandos’ – a simple yet stellar creation that, frankly, we can’t get enough of.

Think everything from your classic combos – smoked streaky bacon, fried egg, sausagemeat patty, cheddar and house chilli jam all wrapped up in a brioche – to more innovative concoctions, like the Mumbai: spiced potato and onion rosti with fried egg, cheddar, rocket, coriander chutney and house masala ketchup.

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Image credit: Izz Eats Out

SIX

6A Pier Point, Marine Walk, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PP

This elegant charcuterie-style restaurant and wine bar is perched right on Roker beach front – making it an inimitable destination for your next wine night with the girls.

Offering a range of small plates and tapas (choose any six with a bottle of wine for £45), as well as epic sharing boards – with quality meats, cheeses, seafood, veggie options and all the trimmings sourced from local suppliers.

You can pop in for a coffee and their wine selection is banging, but if vino isn’t your tipple of choice, there’s also an extensive cocktail menu to work your way through, too.

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LOVE LILY

1 Pier Point, Marine Walk, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PP

You’ve probably been drooling over Love Lily’s insane pancakes, ice cream sundaes, stuffed cookies, traybakes and frozen lattes on your socials for months now without even realising – we know we have.

Not that this breakfast bolthole is only for the sweet-toothed, mind you. Their brunch plates are the hearty kind that’ll sort you out whatever you were up to the night before – with everything from full Englishs to avocado on toast in the offing.

Better still, they’re dog-friendly – so, after a long walk along Roker beach, you can bring your pups who brunch, too.

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TIN OF SARDINES

Pier View, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PR

Roker’s sea view gin bar is there for whatever you want, whenever you want.

Classically quirky in style, Tin of Sardines is as welcoming to morning dog walkers looking to warm up with a brew as it is to date night diners or group gatherings looking to unwind with a G&T come nightfall.

It’s the location that really sets this beachside bar out from the crowd, though; breathing in the sea air and early beach vibes as you settle down to brunch (it can be bottomless), or watching the sunset with loved ones over tapas and a bottle of wine is a daily special here.

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DOWNEY’S FISH & CHIPS

3 Marine Walk, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PH

Is a visit to a beach town even a real visit if you don’t get fish and chips and sit along the seafront? Nah, we didn’t think so.

In Roker, there’s nowhere better than Downey’s – a renowned, family-owned seafood restaurant offering takeaways for those sandy strolls or space to eat inside if that sea fret rolls in.

Serving up quality versions of all your chip shop favourites – as well as their very own ‘Mighty Fish Dog’ (if you know, you know) – expect a fish supper experience that’s slicker than your average.

Psst – they offer 10% off every Tuesday, too.

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FAUSTO COFFEE

Marine Walk, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PL

If you’re a keen cyclist and fancy starting your day off with a ride along Roker beach, then Fausto Coffee is your ideal post-saddle spot – this cool cycling café is self-proclaimed family-friendly, dog-friendly and lycra-friendly.

Specialising in house-roasted, single-origin artisan coffee, sipping one of their brews along with a cheeky slice of homemade cake or a toasted bagel along the seafront will have you feeling back to your best in no time.

Don’t feel you need to make tracks when the sun goes down, though – Fausto’s offering extends to wood-fired pizzas, cocktails and locally-brewed beers come evening, all of which you can enjoy looking out at Roker Pier.

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ROSA GELATO

Pier Point, Marine Walk, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PP

If your sweet tooth forever needs satisfying, then you need to visit Rosa Gelato on Roker’s seafront.

After all, it’s a tradition as old as time itself – after your fish and chips, every visit to the coast must be accompanied by an ice cream, come rain or shine. Although Rosa’s doesn’t just serve up any old ice cream…

Oh, no. Their artisan gelato, created by Ciccarelli’s, comes in every flavour imaginable, and plenty more besides. Better still, it’s accompanied by all manner of devilishly divine treats – think sinfully sweet sundaes, Willy Wonka ice creams (complete with golden tickets), waffle pops, cookie dough pies and milkshakes that even come with doughnut accoutrements.

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THE CLIFF

Mereknolls Road, Roker, Sunderland SR6 9LG

There are pubs and then there are pubs. The Cliff is the latter.

Warm and welcoming, with smart décor and a wide range of drinks to enjoy, The Cliff is the kind of seaside spot you’d visit with all the family for hearty pub grub and a catch up.

There are plenty of sandwiches and light bites to nab throughout the day, as well as all your British pub classics and desserts. You’re always sure to catch one of The Cliff’s regular special offers or themed days, too, which keeps things entertaining.

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THE MAD HATTER

113 Sea Road, Roker, Sunderland SR6 9EQ

Drop into this quirky café and you may well feel as though you’ve fallen down the rabbit-hole.

But luckily, just like Alice, everything here handily falls into either the ‘Eat Me’ or ‘Drink Me’ category – so even if it doesn’t make sense, you’re sure to enjoy yourself.

From hearty Sunday roasts, curries and steaks to homemade quiche, pies, sausage rolls, cakes and scones (most of which are eccentrically decorated), The Mad Hatter provides the ultimate made-with-love, comfort food hit.

Their themed afternoon teas are a thing of beauty, too – be sure to visit around Halloween.

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VAUX BREWERY

Unit 2, Monk Street, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0DB

Further inland than all the others on this list, Vaux Brewery is well worth the short detour from Roker beach.

Having relaunched the iconic Sunderland brand back in 2019, Vaux opened their hip Monk Street brewery and taproom shortly after the pandemic, with 10 keg lines and two casks plus a range of bottles, cans, wines, spirits and cider, as well as plenty of non-alcoholic options, to enjoy every Friday and Saturday.

Expect cool, urban vibes and quality serves.

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EMMY’S COFFEE POD

Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PL

If you love a pick-me-up on the go as you stretch your legs along the sand, then we’d recommend stopping by this peculiar-looking pod.

Offering a cuppa and a chat to her loyal customer base – as well as free dog treats and water for those thirsty pups – Emmy’s Coffee Pod is the perfect pitstop to refuel along Roker beach, with a fully-stocked dessert cabinet making sure your blood sugars never get too low.

When the weather’s bright, why not take a pew in the pod’s small seating area? Sit, sip and take in that refreshing sea air and you’ll feel your stress just slip away…

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MARINA VISTA

3rd Floor Marine Activity Centre, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PW

While a popular spot among Roker locals, Marina Vista remains something of a hidden gem to visitors in the area.

Perhaps it’s because of their rooftop location, which offers pretty breath-taking views over Roker Marina, just a few minutes’ walk from the seafront.

And while they’re not reinventing the wheel here, this family-owned restaurant knows what it does and does it well – serving up quality creations of all our favourite Italian and Mediterranean dishes within a friendly atmosphere at reasonable prices.

If you’re visiting, try the seafood here – it’s sourced locally from Sunderland Fish Quay, with a freshness that really makes its flavour pop.

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COAST

Pier Point, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PL

Having only opened last month, stylish café-bar Coast is already making waves in this seaside community.

Open seven days a week, Coast offers a high-end bar experience to enjoy at reasonable prices, with a range of draught beers, lagers, wines and cocktails to sip and savour, as well as coffee, cake and (bottomless) brunch deals.

Sit out on their terrace when the sun shines and soak up those sensational sea views out to Roker pier. Better still, head down from 6pm every weekend and enjoy live music with your serves, with DJs spinning until late.

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