The best places to eat in Bristol

Discover the best places to eat in the innovative city of Bristol. Explore brilliant breweries, bistros and even a lido with fabulous Middle Eastern cuisine.

The best places to eat in Bristol

Bristol's fabulous food scene is full to bursting with restaurants, markets, breweries and bars. If you're ready to explore, there are some delicious treats in store for food conscious visitors. 

Birch

Birch

Best for: Casual dining

You’ll find Sam Leach and Beccy Massey in their unpretentious little Southville restaurant every evening from Wednesday to Saturday. Sam, who used to work at St John in London, bases his weekly changing menu on local produce and veg from their allotment. Becky serves and chooses the largely natural wine list. Book an early table to snag one of Sam’s amazing sharing pies, and leave room for his fabulously wobbly custard tart. Small plates from £6.

Birch website

Casamia

Casamia

Best for: Special occasions

Bristol’s most ambitious restaurant was struck by tragedy when chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s brother and partner chef, Jonray, died of cancer a year ago. Peter has done his memory proud, moving the restaurant to glamorous new premises in the former General Hospital and lifting the cooking to an even higher plane. The £98 set menu changes seasonally, but expect a dazzling succession of small dishes such as a Spanish take on carbonara made from squid, and a quiche that conceals a gorgeous light-as-air foam.

Casamia website

The Wild Beer Co

Wild beer

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Wapping Wharf is the new epicentre of Bristol’s food and drink scene, and at its heart is this popular Somerset brewer with its American-style tap room and restaurant. It offers fish & chips (£10) from Cornish day boats – instead of the standard pub fare of burgers – with spicy panko (Japanese breadcrumb) coatings. Fish tacos (£8) are terrific too.

The Wild Beer Co website

Souk Kitchen

Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining, child-friendly

Serving one of Bristol’s most interesting brunch menus, Souk Kitchen (in Clifton and Southville) offers dishes like spicy shakshuka (eggs poached with tomatoes, peppers & onions, £5.50) or Turkish beans on toast (£4.75). The Southville branch is a useful pre-theatre pit stop if you’re heading to an event at the Tobacco Factory opposite. Meze such as houmous with spiced chickpeas & burnt chilli butter cost £3.90.

Souk Kitchen website

Wallfish Bistro

Best for: Casual dining

A great little Clifton hangout occupying the site of Keith Floyd’s first bistro, and named after the snails he used to serve – which are still on the menu. But it is Seldon Curry’s time spent with Mark Hix in Dorset that most defines his cooking: simple fish dishes such as the freshest Portland crab on toast (£8) and grilled plaice with brown shrimps (£18) are the stars. The set lunch at £12.50 for two courses is a steal.

Wallfish website

Bell's Diner & Bar Rooms

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

A Montpelier institution that’s now in its 40th year, and currently in the capable hands of Sam Sohn-Rethel, who has cooked for some of Bristol’s best restaurants. Deeply flavoursome Med-inspired tapas, such as chicken oyster pincho marinated in chipotle with harissa yogurt (£4), rub shoulders with a brilliant wine list full of off-the-beaten-track gems. Don’t miss the salt cod fritters (£5.50).

Bell's Diner & Bar Rooms website

Lido

Lido

Best for: Special occasions, casual dining

A winner for its stunning location alone (overlooking a Victorian lido), but Moro-trained Freddy Bird also cooks amazing Middle Eastern food – such as monkfish with slow-cooked cauliflower (£18) and duck breast with chard, raisins, yogurt & pine nuts (£19.50) in his wood-fired oven (take advantage of the set lunch at £16 for two courses).

Lido website

Thali

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

Bristol’s popular Thali cafés serve up fresh Indian ‘roadside’ food using local suppliers and sustainably sourced ingredients. Particularly good for veggies and vegans (there’s a dairy-free thali at £9.50), and for kids (you can even order ‘baby’ thalis for under-twos). Branches in Clifton, Easton, Montpelier, Southville and Totterdown.

Thali website

Flour & Ash

Flour and Ash

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

Perfect thin, crisp sourdough crusts with imaginative toppings – such as marinated aubergines with mozzarella, basil & local Westcombe ricotta (£12) and ox cheek & red wine ragu (£13) – will appeal to pizza aficionados. Branches in Cheltenham Road and Westbury-on-Trym offer kids’ portions and a great selection of ice creams, making them ideal for families.

Flour & Ash website

Bulrush restaurant

Best for: Special occasions

Bulrush just seems to get better and better. Chef George Livesey’s classical training with the Roux brothers shows in his elegant eight-course tasting menu (there’s also a veggie version, both £48), but you can also eat more simply with the value three-course weekday lunch (available Thursdays and Fridays). Modern British at its best.

Bulrush website

Wilsons

Wilsons

Best for: Special occasions, casual dining

Newly opened but already in the Good Food Guide, Redland’s new little neighbourhood gem Wilsons is all you want from a local bistro: Jan Ostle’s short, clever menu bears witness to the time he spent at the Clove Club. The deceptively simple food could be a prettily presented ham hock terrine (£7) and roast chicken with ventreche and girolles (£16). Don’t miss the gorgeous crème brûlée (£6)  

Wilsons website  

No Man’s Grace

No Man's Grace

Best for: Special occasions, casual dining

Down what has become one of Bristol’s foodiest streets, Chandos Road, (Wilsons is up the road and Michelin-starred Wilks just opposite) No Man’s Grace started life as a dessert bar but has now become more of an all-rounder, turning out spectacularly elegant small plates at incredibly reasonable prices. Chef John Watson cites top US chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry is his inspiration and it shows. (You can still pop in for a pud such as white chocolate and almond cheesecake and passionfruit sorbet (£9) and a matching wine though.)

No Man's Grace website

Bar Buvette

Bar Buvette

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Close your eyes and (apart from the Bristol accents) you can almost imagine you’re in Paris in this stylish little city centre wine bar. The wines - all from small (in production, not height) artisanal winemakers are mainly natural i.e. low or no-sulphur and made without chemical sprays or additives. Brilliant homemade charcuterie (£7.50) and classic French bistro dishes like tartiflette (£8.50) too. 

Bar Buvette website

Box-E

Box-E

Best for: Casual dining

The latest addition (at the time of writing, November 2016) to the burgeoning Wapping Wharf restaurant scene, Box E is a cute pint-sized (18 seat) restaurant housed in a container with, goodness knows how they find room for the bottles, a brilliant short wine list. Just 4 seats at the bar for a chef’s table experience (£45 for 5 courses). Good veggie options too such as crispy polenta, sprouting broccoli, almonds and buffalo gouda (£14).

Box E website

Flow

Flow

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
Another great veggie hangout, if in the slightly less salubrious surrounding of the ‘bear pit’, the locals’ name for the underground roundabout in the middle of the town centre. Well worth the detour though for original and imaginative vegetarian and vegan dishes such as salt-baked beetroot hummus with spelt and fennel seed crackers (£4) and cauliflower, with local Homewood halloumi, red grapes, sesame and zhug (£7.95) Interesting cocktails too. NB only open evenings Tuesday to Saturday

Flow website  

Pasta Loco

Pasta loco

Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining
Cosy little pasta joint on Cotham Hill run by Ben Harvey whose brother Joe cooks at Bellita, the more casual offshoot of Bell’s Diner, opposite. (Bristol is nothing if not incestuous!) There are some good starter dishes too but it’s really all about the regularly changing pasta options such as bucatini with cream, black pepper and gorgonzola (£11.50) and pappardelle with Lidney Park estate wild boar ragu (£18.50) Not the cheapest pasta in town but the best.  

Pasta Loco website

Bravas

Best for: Cheap eats, casual dining
Just down the road from Pasta Loco and Bellita, a popular little tapas bar run by Kieran and Imogen Waite (who also own the very congenial Bakers & Co up Gloucester Road which is a great spot for a brunch). They do the classics such as tortilla and patatas bravas (both £3.20) really well but also have less common tapas such as presa a la plancha (£6.95). Good sherries, Spanish wines and liquors. Always packed. 

Bravas website

Spiny Lobster

Spiny Lobster

Best for: Special occasions, casual dining
Until recently owned by celebrity chef Mitch Tonks, proprietor of the award-winning Seahorse in Dartmouth, Spiny Lobster was bought by his staff and still offers the same menu of simply prepared super-fresh fish, mostly caught off the Devon coast. Many are cooked over an open fire. Glam, grown-up and quieter than many local restaurants Spiny Lobster is a good place for a romantic dinner. Good value lunch and early evening menu at £15 for two courses.

Spiny Lobster website

The Ethicurean

The Ethicurean

Best for: Special occasions, casual dining

If you fancy getting out into the surrounding countryside, head for the Ethicurean, a beautiful restaurant overlooking a walled garden and breathtaking views over the Somerset hills. Dishes like herring, celeriac and herb emulsion and pork belly, carrot and sauerkraut represent the high-end, almost Scandi-style cooking of brothers Matthew and Iain Pennington but you can pop in for morning or afternoon tea and cake too. Veggies might like to know there’s a 3-5 course vegetarian feast (£28-44) on Tuesday evenings. Deserves a Michelin star. 

The Ethicurean website
  

Five foodie hotspots

St Nicholas Market

A warren of stalls in the city centre. Buy falafel from Eat a Pitta, cheese from The Bristol Cheesemonger  and pulled-pork rolls from Grillstock.

St Nicholas Market

Hart’s Bakery

Hart's Bakery

Brilliant cakes, pasties and epic sausage rolls make Hart’s a must-visit before catching a train at nearby Bristol Temple Meads.

Hart's Bakery website

Bristol Sweetmart

Want to cook worldwide cuisines? You’ll find every spice you could possibly need in this Aladdin’s cave of a shop in Easton.

Bristol Sweetmart website

Divino Deli

Divino Deli

Friendly family-run Italian deli at the top of Blackboy Hill in Clifton. Fantastic focaccia sandwiches.

Divino Deli website

Swoon Gelato

Swoon Gelato

This well-named Italian gelateria, opposite College Green, churns out swoon-worthy ices and sorbetti. Try the riff on a Magnum – Swoon on a Stick!

Swoon Gelato website

 

Bristol's best bar

HMSS

Tucked away in an unlikely location beside Clifton Down shopping centre HMSS is one of Bristol’s coolest bars which opens, tardis-like into a cosy drinking den. Cocktails range from the relatively conventional (espresso martinis and negronis, all around £8/£8.50) to the inventive (Old Bristolian with cider brandy, a walnut-cardamom infusion and sherry) and positively zany (Bill & Ben: gin, sauvignon blanc, lemon juice and a cucumber-rose-thistle infusion served in a giant flower pot to share for £25.) No food. 

Is there anywhere we've missed? Let us know in the comments section below...

All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of the 01 November 2016 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com.

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