The best places to eat in Bristol

Discover the best places to eat in the buzzing city of Bristol. Explore fine dining restaurants, bistros and even a lido with a fabulous Middle Eastern menu.

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
Casual dining

Birch
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.

Casamia
Special occasions

Casamia

Bristol’s most ambitious restaurant was struck by tragedy when chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s brother and partner chef, Jonray, died of cancer. 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.

The Wild Beer Co
Casual dining, cheap eats

Wild beer

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 (£11) from Cornish day boats – instead of the standard pub fare of burgers – with spicy panko (Japanese breadcrumb) coatings. Fish tacos (£11) are terrific too.

Souk Kitchen
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, £6). 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 hummus & burnt chilli butter cost £3.90.

Wallfish Bistro
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 (£7) are the stars. The set lunch at £12.50 for two courses is a steal.

Bell's Diner & Bar Rooms
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).

Lido
Special occasions, casual dining

Lido
A winner for its stunning location alone (overlooking a Victorian lido), but Moro-trained Freddy Bird also cooks amazing Middle Eastern food in his wood-fired oven (take advantage of the set lunch at £16 for two courses).

Thali
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.

Flour & Ash
Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

Flour and Ash

Perfect thin, crisp sourdough crusts with imaginative toppings – such as 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.

Bulrush restaurant
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 £50), but you can also eat more simply with the value three-course weekday lunch (available Thursdays and Fridays). Modern British at its best.

Wilsons
Casual dining, special occasions

Wilsons

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).

No Man’s Grace
Special occasions, casual dining

No Man's Grace

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 as his inspiration and it shows.

Bar Buvette
Casual dining, cheap eats

Bar Buvette

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. You can also enjoy brilliant homemade charcuterie (£7.50) and classic French bistro dishes like tartiflette (£8.50). 

Box-E
Casual dining

Box-E

Part of the burgeoning Wapping Wharf restaurant scene, Box E is a cute pint-sized (18-seat) restaurant housed in a container with a brilliant short wine list. Goodness knows how they find room for the bottles! There are just four seats at the bar for a chef’s table experience (£45 for seven courses). You'll find good veggie options, too, such as crispy polenta, sprouting broccoli, almonds and buffalo gouda (£14).

Flow
Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly

Flow

Another great veggie hangout, if in the slightly less salubrious surroundings of the ‘bear pit’ – the locals’ name for the underground roundabout in the middle of town. It's 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 (£6.50) and cauliflower, with local Homewood halloumi, red grapes, sesame and zhug (£7.50) Interesting cocktails, too. By the way, it's only open in the evenings Tuesday to Saturday.

Pasta Loco
Cheap eats, casual dining

Pasta loco

A 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. 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.

Bravas
Cheap eats, casual dining

Just down the road from Pasta Loco and Bellita is 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 brunch). They do the classics such as tortilla and patatas bravas really well (both £3.50),  but also have less common tapas such as presa a la plancha (£6.95). Good sherries, Spanish wines and liquors are available too. Always packed.

Spiny Lobster
Special occasions, casual dining

Spiny Lobster

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. There's a good value lunch and early evening menu at £15 for two courses.

The Ethicurean
Special occasions, casual dining

The Ethicurean

If you fancy getting out into the surrounding countryside, head for the Ethicurean, a beautiful restaurant overlooking a walled garden with breathtaking views of 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 breakfast or afternoon tea as well. Veggies might like to know there’s a three-to-five course vegetarian feast (£28-44) on Tuesday evenings. Deserves a Michelin star. 
 

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.

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.

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.

Divino Deli

Divino Deli

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

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!

 

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 flower pot to share (£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 18 October 2017 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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