A few months ago after a poor experience on a review of a chain restaurant, I made the decision to no longer work with or accept reviews for chains in Milton Keynes. It’s been pretty difficult because as you know, there are a lot of chains here! There have been quite a few new chains open in the last few months and my inbox is regularly filled with requests for review, but I don’t feel I can truly show you the best of Milton Keynes food if I feature reviews of chains. You can go to the same restaurant in different cities and get the same experience! Independent businesses are what makes a place unique. Of course, I’m not saying that I never visit them – to be honest, I rarely do – but if you ask for a recommendation from me or look at my MK food guides, I won’t be recommending Nando’s.
I have been wanting to write this blog post for a while – there are so many amazing places to eat in Milton Keynes and I want to show you how easy it is to find great-tasting food that is often cheaper and locally sourced, all whilst supporting local businesses that give you a unique (and nicer!) experience.
I asked you guys what your favourite go-to chains were to help me to help you find tastier alternatives in the independent business community. I’ll be adding to this post as I find more!
Here are the best independent alternatives to chain restaurants in Milton Keynes.
MK Food Guide to the Best Independent Alternatives to Chains
What’s your favourite chain? Click the links below to find out the independent alternative.
Akasaka, CMK & Wolverton
Instead of: Yo! Sushi
Yo! Sushi is good, but Akasaka’s sushi is even better! If you are looking for delicious sushi then Akasaka is The One. Based in Wolverton and Central Milton Keynes, this little sushi spot serves up lots of Japanese dishes if sushi isn’t your thing. The fish is fresh, high quality and delicious and you get generously sized rolls. Lots of people think that it’s expensive, however, you definitely end up getting more food for your money here than you do at Yo!
An average cost for a meal for two at Yo! Sushi is £30 and you spend the same at Akasaka and get a lot more for your money.
I recommend the salmon and avocado roll and the tuna negitoro roll. You also must try the nasu dengaku – it’s delicious! Akasaka also does takeaway and delivery for selected addresses.
Find it: 24 Stratford Rd, Wolverton, Milton Keynes MK12 5LW and Exchange House, 466 Midsummer Blvd, Milton Keynes MK9 2EA
Bogota Coffee Co. The Hub, CMK
Instead of: Starbucks
Like most places in the UK, there are far too many coffee chains on the high streets. It’s quite sad to see that small high streets have become home to some huge chains which makes it so much harder for small shops to survive. One of my favourite coffee shops in Milton Keynes is Bogota. If you like to go and work in your local Starbucks or Costa but are put off by the coffee (and the price!) Bogota could be your new mobile office. The coffee is truly delicious and there’s a lovely chilled vibe in the café that you just can’t replicate anywhere else.
If you need any more independent coffee shop inspo, check out my guide to the best coffee shops in Milton Keynes.
Find it: 4 Rillaton Walk, Milton Keynes MK9 2FZ
House of Chicken, Bletchley
Instead of: Nando’s
Everybody loves a cheeky Nando’s don’t they? So much so there’s bloody FIVE of them in Milton Keynes. No disrespect to Nandos, because I love chicken and chips as much as you do, however, if you’re after an independent alternative, look no further than House of Chicken in Bletchley. Don’t let appearances fool you – the food is GOOD. The meat is locally sourced and freshly cooked – and you can tell! It is super reasonably priced – much cheaper than Nando’s! We had the meat platter though I would recommend the half chicken as that was by far the tastiest meat. Just don’t forget to ask for your bottle of Peri Peri! Oh, and you MUST try the Pastel De Natas – they are absolutely to die for.
You could *almost* be in a little Portuguese restaurant, it has such a great atmosphere. All of the wines and beers are all sourced from Portugal too. It’s not the prettiest but it’s definitely tasty.
Find it: 200 Whaddon Way, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 7DG
Instead of: Domino’s Pizza
It goes without saying that Louis’ Pizza in Buckingham is the biggest in Milton Keynes! So if you’re after an indulgent meal, don’t dial up your nearest takeaway pizza – head to Louis’.
Louis’ 22 INCH pizzas are ginormous and incredible value for money. At £26 per pizza, you can feed a family of four (or more!) for £6 per person. And honestly, it’s ten times tastier than Domino’s. Though one slice of Louis’ pizza is the same amount of calories as a medium Domino’s. I know where I’d rather spend my calories!
My favourite pizza is the Chicken in the Woods which is topped with chicken, ham, sweetcorn, mushroom and rocket. If you want something meatier, the Meat Market is the one. They also do an excellent vegan pizza so you can cater for everyone. And, you can still do half and half or even quarters with different toppings!
Louis’ delivers after 5pm to Buckingham addresses.
Find it: 53-54 Nelson St, Buckingham, MK18 1BT
Mii & U Oriental Café, Stacey Bushes
Instead of: Wagamamas
Ah, another chain restaurant that I do really rate. However, the price of food at Wagas is actually pretty expensive! My favourite alternative to Wagamamas is Mii & U Oriental Café in Stacey Bushes. It’s another spot who’s appearances do not do it justice. My most-ordered dishes at Mii & U is the Katsu Curry and the Pad Thai, both of which are considerably cheaper than the chain alternative. You can have a meal for two with sides and a drink for around £20 in total which I think is excellent value.
Next door, you’ll also find an oriental supermarket which is great for stocking up on all your Asian cooking essentials!
Find it: Central House, Alston Dr, Milton Keynes MK13 9HG
Nonna’s, Woburn Sands
Instead of: Prezzo
You guys said you loved Prezzo for the special offers and variety of dishes. Well, have you tried Nonna’s in Woburn Sands? This is another of my favourite spots in MK. They always have great offers on and whether you love pizza or pasta, there is something to suit everyone. They also have a fantastic vegan menu (you must try the purple gnocchi!) which is something I know Prezzo also offers.
The pasta dishes are delicious – the Agnolotti alla Lobster is so tasty and fresh! I would also recommend the sharing boards which are full to the brim with meats and fresh mozzarella. Nonna’s is a much tastier alternative because they do seasonal menus. And seasonal eating is always so much better than having the same menu all year round!
Find it: The Square, Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes MK17 8SY
Pin Petch Thai Restaurant, Newport Pagnell
Instead of: Banana Tree
So Banana Tree was the chain I had a review meal at and was not impressed. I know lots of people in MK love it, but I thought for a restaurant serving Thai and Pan-Asian cuisine, the food was bland and overpriced. A few weeks later, I went to Pin Petch in Newport Pagnell and oh my goodness, what a find. Not only was the food fresh, tasty and authentic, but it was half of what we would have paid for our main courses at Banana Tree. Run by Thai staff and chefs, the menu encompasses a variety of cuisines from the east. You’ll find classic Thai curries, massaman curries, pad Thai, stir fry, rendang, satay…
Pin Petch is located at the end of the high street in Newport Pagnell and it’s well worth the trip for dinner! I’d recommend the sharing platter to start (which might as well be a main!) which is full to the brim with spicy ribs, wings, spring rolls, prawn toast, fish cakes and the most beautiful satay chicken I’ve ever had. The red thai curry was also delicious – so vibrant and creamy. And every main course was well under £10. A very worthy alternative indeed!
Pin Petch also has an extensive vegan menu.
Find it: 13 High St, Newport Pagnell MK16 8AR
The Greedy Italian, Fenny Stratford
Instead of: Bella Italia
Another amazing Italian restaurant that I absolutely love is The Greedy Italian! A few of you said you liked Bella Italia but were never impressed with the food (same!) I think The Greedy Italian and Bella Italia are world’s apart but if you love Italian then you NEED to pay this a visit! With service that makes you feel like you’ve popped to a friend’s for lunch, and delicious fresh food and great wines, it’s no surprise that The Greedy Italian is always so busy!
If you are hunting for a good brunch, you’ll find it here too. I recommend eating the crab linguine or lasagne for dinner and the poached eggs, bacon and avo on toast for brunch. Absolutely amazing!
Find it: 79 Victoria Rd, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK2 2NZ
So there we have it – the best independent alternatives to chain restaurants in Milton Keynes!
I’d love to hear what chains you always visit and see if I can offer an alternative. I want to show you that it’s possible to still get great tasting food that’s most of the time cheaper AND tastier than the chains! Of course, we all love a cheeky Nando’s now and again but let’s face it, the service and quality of food you can get at some independents just can’t be beaten.
Which independent alternative will you try?