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 thriving food scene is full to burst with restaurants, markets, breweries and bars. If you're ready to explore, there are copious treats to be had. 

Paco
Special occasion 

Paco
Step inside this Michelin-starred tapas bar and you might think you’re somewhere incredibly cool and swish in Andalucía. This place just doesn’t feel like Bristol, it feels like the real deal. As for the food itself, the menu is stylish with an outstanding selection of tapas, including, of course, knock-out Spanish hams carved to order. Paco calls itself a family-run tapas restaurant where Peter Sanchez and his brigade of chefs are cooking at the top of their game. This place is special, and one of Bristol’s finest.

Kask
Casual dining

Plates of cheese and meat
Sit at the concrete, peachy coloured, curvy bar and marvel at this long-standing, now revamped public bar in Bedminster, South Bristol. Behind the bar, mounted on the wall, are taps that dispense wine – and not just any wine. Kask serves remarkable wines, and the ones on tap switch frequently to give you the opportunity to drink a diverse and splendid selection, all by the glass. They’re all available to take home by the bottle, too, and sensibly priced. Cheese, charcuterie, good bread – you know the drill. It’s a trailblazer for Bristol.

Bokman
Cheap eats, casual dining

Tiny doesn’t cut it – Bokman is miniscule, but as you approach it, just off Stokes Croft, it’s plain to see that this Korean restaurant is very popular. Queues-out-the-door popular. Arrive early and grab a seat. It’s a short menu, and both the fried kimchi rice and beef brisket ramen arrive in blisteringly hot ceramic bowls and continue to cook at the table. Korean beer or plum sodas and soft-serve ice cream complete this extraordinary newcomer to the city’s restaurant scene. Lucky Bristol.

Marmo
Casual dining

Tortellini
Filling the boots of much-loved Bar Buvette is a tall order. Opening in the same space, Marmo have succeeded in this gorgeous building (high ceilings, large windows) giving Bristol a wine list that is exemplary in execution and a wine nerd’s delight. The short, modestly priced and largely Italian influenced menu drives you to order many of the little dishes, switching things around, always with wines to match.

Masa + Mezcal
Casual dining

Mexcal
Often called a cantina, this large urban restaurant space in the heart of Stokes Croft oozes a relaxed, sociable vibe. Whether from a booth or window seat, it’s certainly a fine spot to sit and watch the city come to life of an evening. The menu is split between botanas (snacks), masa (taco), crudo (raw) and asado (from the grill). Bold punchy cooking is accompanied by some fine margaritas. The grapefruit version was pure class but both the passion fruit and tamarind ones demand a return visit.

Little French
Kid-friendly, casual dining

Tucked away from the city centre, Little French in residential Westbury Park is exactly the sort of family-run restaurant Bristol needed. Chef and owner Freddy Bird is a fine cook. Clams cooked with butter and black pepper, served with good bread to mop up the juices, were an example of great ingredients cooked with thoughtfulness and flair. The rabbit braised with brandy and served with a Dijon and tarragon sauce, complete with chips and green beans, made my heart soar. Unpretentious cooking packed full of flavour. The prune and armagnac tart with custard is an oldie and most certainly a goldie.

Wiper and True

Drinking beer
Open throughout the weekend, I don’t think there is a quirkier, more inviting spot than this brewery’s unique tap room. Wrap up warm and brave the elements in the outdoor seating space or sit at the trestle tables among the brewing tanks. A welcoming and original destination that’s very Bristol.

Bianchis
Special occasion

This place is cool. Again, it’s another Bristol restaurant opening in a space that comes with an enormous restaurant legacy – big boots and all that. Cousins Dominic Borel and Ben and Joe Harvey stick closely to their roots, and the menu here is all-out Italian. The head chef is ex-River Café, and it shows. The menu is classic trattoria with pasta made on the premises and fantastic aperitif and antipasti. The wine list swerves any sense of pretension and sparks plenty of interest. An elegant, romantic space located in the hip Montpelier area of Bristol.

Birch
Casual dining

Birch
This unpretentious little Southville restaurant is perfect for a relaxed meal with friends. The menu is based on local produce from local suppliers. Feel free to peruse their largely natural wine list for the perfect pairing with your meal. Book an early table to snag a selection of small sharing plates like Cornish crab toasties, braised pork belly or braised artichoke hearts. Small plates from £3.80.

Casamia
Special occasions

Casamia

Bristol’s most ambitious restaurant was struck by tragedy when chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s brother and partner chef, Jonray, passed away. 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 you can always expect a dazzling succession of small dishes. Try the four-course menu for £48 per person.

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 American-style taproom. It offers fish & chips (£10.50) from Cornish day boats – instead of the standard pub fare of burgers – with spicy panko (Japanese breadcrumb) coatings. For a crowd, try the seafood tapas board (£15).

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, £5.90). 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 & spiced chickpeas cost £4.20.

Lido
Special occasions, casual dining

Lido
A winner for its stunning location alone (overlooking a Victorian lido), but also for the  amazing food with hints of the Moorish and the Mediterranean (take advantage of the set lunch at £16 for two courses).

Thali
Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

Bristol’s popular Thali café in Easton serves up fresh Indian ‘roadside’ dishes using local suppliers and sustainably sourced ingredients. Particularly good for veggies and vegans (there’s a pumpkin olan at £10.50), as well as kids (you can even order ‘baby’ thalis for under-twos). 

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

Flour and Ash

This bare bones pizzeria offers a small, intimate space for communal dining, complete with picnic benches running down the centre. Choose from about eight options of wood-fired pizza and a short but enigmatic drinks list. There’s also a dailychanging menu of homemade ice creams and sorbets. What’s not to like?

Bulrush restaurant
Special occasions

Michelin-starred 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 £55), but you can also eat more simply with the value three-course weekday lunch. Modern British at its best.

Wilson's
Casual dining, special occasions

Wilsons

Newly opened but already in the Good Food Guide, Redland’s new little neighbourhood gem, Wilson's, 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 is based around a weekly changing menu, using ingredients they have grown, gathered or hunted themselves. 

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. Who 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 roasted asparagus with hazelnut butter, burrata with Isle of Wight tomatoes or spelt risotto with purple sprouting broccoli.

Flow
Casual dining, cheap eats, child 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 imaginative vegetarian and vegan dishes, such as braised shitaake pies, hay-baked jerusalem artichokes or salt-baked beetroot. Interesting cocktails, too. The restaurant is open all week from 6pm.

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 Lydney Park Estate wild boar ragu (£18.50). Not the cheapest pasta in town, but the best.

Bravas
Cheap eats, casual dining

This popular little tapas bar, run by Kieran and Imogen Waite, is just down the road from Pasta Loco and Bellita (Kieran and Imogen 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 £3.90), but also have less common tapas such as presa à la plancha (£7.60). 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. The menu changes twice daily, but dishes like Cornish hake and mussels with griddled courgette & cucumber kimchi and celeriac with fermented, roasted & burnt apple soup 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. There's also a five-course veggie and vegan menu for £59 per head. This place deserves a Michelin star. 
 

5 foodie hotspots

St Nicholas Market

A warren of stalls in the city centre. Buy falafel from Eat a Pitta and cheese from The Bristol Cheesemonger.

Hart’s Bakery

Hart's Bakery

Hart’s Bakery opened the doors to this disused railway arch in the city’s main train station in Temple Meads nearly seven years ago. Bristol hasn’t looked back since. Daily sourdough bread is one thing, but sausage rolls, pasties and a dailychanging lunch offering – such as miso & ginger beef with daikon radish, peanuts & spring onion all scooped into a sesame bun, baked on the premises – is another thing altogether. Train journeys to and from Bristol are unthinkable without a quick detour to this station bakery.

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 guest flavours for spectacular seasonal flavours. 

 

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 (Lock Ness Mobster with Patron Silver tequila, peach wine, lemon juice, spritz absinthe and laughing gas) and positively zany (Greenhouse Project: sugar snap Hendricks, British dry white wine, asparagus and celery bitters). No food is served here.

Is there anywhere we've missed? Leave a comment below...

All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of February 2020 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.

Comments, questions and tips

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Allegra Mills
18th Feb, 2020
Snobby’s on Chandos road deserves a spot on this list! The most diverse and interesting wine offering I’ve come across in Bristol and the charming owner is practically a walking wine list. Great date spot too - cozy interiors, low lighting and a very reasonably priced menu of yum pizzas and small plates.
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