Whilst I still have plenty of exploring to do within the Bristol food scene and this list is subject to change, these are a couple of places I have particularly enjoyed so far. I always welcome any recommendations, so if you have any please do let me know!
Brigstow Bar & Kitchen
Without a doubt, Brigstow is one of my favourite places in Bristol. They just get it right. Constantly. Situated on the harbourside, the place feels like a hidden gem, tucked into an alcove. A suntrap during the warmer months with fantastic views looking over towards the SS Great Britain – you cannot visit here without ordering a Gin & Tonic – it’s just the rules (the front of house team would agree with me I think). Alternatively, now that the summer is over, an intimate and cosy restaurant awaits you. The chefs strive to serve amazing cuisine with a difference (Brigstow was recently listed as a new entry in the Good Food Guide 2016). The menu’s at the restaurant change regularly with the seasons and the kitchen team’s ideas; they also hold special food events, having previously hosted ‘Steak & Lobster’ nights, head-to-toe pig dinners and their ‘Shellfish & Seafood’ evening; often showcasing the finest in local produce; the best part being you won’t need to bankrupt your wallet to enjoy yourself here. The Sunday roasts are also very popular and worth checking out. Why not go down and say hello to the wonderful gang down there, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. The only snag is that I might be propping up the bar chewing everyone’s ear off.
FUN is the order of the day at Pizzarova with a capital ‘F’. What started out as a Landover travelling the South West serving up sourdough delights; Pizzarova has grown and now the guys have two permanent sites in Bristol, one on the glorious Gloucester Road and a crate down at the Whapping Wharf development. The process is simple, choose from the classic ‘Lady’ margarita pizza, indulge in their creative monthly special or simply build your own! They have a range of toppings for you to choose from and if you really cannot decide then you can have them all! Pizzas are then thrown into their ovens for roughly ten minutes and then all that is left to do is enjoy. This is fast food that is not only very reasonable on your pocket but also fresh and delicious. Keep an eye on Pizzarova’s social media for exciting news and events, they offer up ‘Free Pizza Friday’s’, pizza parties as well as sometimes giving out their now famous but elusive ‘pink cards’ – these entitle the holder to free pizza, for you and your friends, FOR LIFE. Do I need any more reasons to love them?
The Library Wine bar
I heart the Library. Personally, everything about this charming little wine bar is just lovely. Situated on Cheltenham Road by the beautiful arches – I couldn’t think of a better place to spend an evening sipping on delicious plonk. Unpretentious and welcoming, dim lighting and candles make this bar intimate and romantic. Owner Louise is a girl after my own heart and will treat you as though she has known you for years, happily chatting away and giving advice and help on what to drink. This is a venue I can happily visit in Bristol solo because there is always a friendly face to talk too. Perfect for drinks with the girls, date nights or somewhere special to treat mum and dad; The Library often hold wine tasting evenings, alongside tapas Tuesdays, wine and cheese Wednesdays and Aperitivo Friday’s. Faultless if you ask me. (Tinder dates take note).
Souk is a unique restaurant which serves Eastern Mediterranean and North African cuisine and it is fantastic. Their restaurant is vibrant and colourful and very relaxed; whilst the food is simply delicious. They do serve brunch, lunch and dinner although I would recommend getting a group of pals together for your visit and ordering plenty because you will want to try everything on offer here. You’ll feel like you are on holiday whilst taking in the Middle Eastern feel of the restaurant. It is different from anywhere else in Bristol which is one of the reasons I love the place. I would highly recommend trying the Ghalieh Mahi – the Persian fish curry but guarantee you won’t be disappointed in any of the menu options. They have restaurants in Southville and Clifton.
I’ve got so much time for the guys down at Burger Theory. What started out as creative burgers being served at festivals and food markets has turned into a full blown love affair in Bristol, with the gang setting up permanent shop at Kongs on King Street (and now also back at The Golden Lion); I can safely say I have never had a bad experience here (and I have eaten a lot of burgers in my lifetime). The menu changes regularly and uses surprising combinations that work incredibly well, there are plenty of options to choose from and fantastic vegetarian options without taking away delicious flavours. Brioche buns save these bad boys from falling to pieces (as happens so often with burgers) and all of the produce used is local to Bristol so you can rest assured it is as fresh as possible, I personally think this is reflected in the taste as well. I have a lot of love for the Prairie Girl fried chicken option (you must try it to become part of the movement), The Don and The Hairy Beast are also pretty insane. Did I mention they also do Kimchi fries? Say no more.
If steak is your thing and you haven’t visited The Ox already, I urge you to go. If you have visited before, then go again. The team behind Hyde & Co. and the Milk Thistle etc. have served up another blinder with this restaurant. The venue situated on Corn Street is tucked away under the Commercial Rooms and down some steps; you wouldn’t know it was there unless you spotted the understated sign above the doorway. This place does meat and lots of it, extremely well. It is also worth noting that the wine list is impeccable with some fantastic reds to accompany your meal. Whenever I visit it feels like I am part of a secret dining society, tucked underground with dim lighting and a polished interior; it almost feels prohibition-esque like a lot of their secret cocktail bars. I would recommend this restaurant for special occasions and specifically for date night, it is intimate and cosy and you can chow down on amazing food here. Ladies, you can impress your fella by picking this place too – they might not even know it exists. They also have restaurants in Clifton and in Cheltenham.
Stepping away from fine dining but not too far from The Ox is team Tuk Tuck. Serving from their home on St. Stephen’s street, this is epic Asian food that is not only extremely reasonable but incredibly delicious. The Bibimbap is fantastic and I never feel guilty ordering it because it is healthy (admittedly I smother mine in hot sauce) and all of the ingredients are fresh. They also do salad boxes and curries along with a choice of sides. This is perfect to pick up of a lunch time or on your way home from work – alternatively there is some seating in their modest restaurant. Find them on Deliveroo and Wriggle Bristol where they often have fantastic deals on their meals.
Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Living in Bristol we are extremely lucky with the amount of speciality cocktail bars on offer to us; however I think HMSS is a little different to the others. Whilst I am not saying it is better as I do like prohibition themed secret bars, this place brings the fun a bit more. The bartenders all partake in having a good time whilst serving up one-of-a-kind drinks for you to enjoy and these are drinks that you will not have seen anywhere else before! Upon arrival you find yourself in a public phone box at the entrance, before taking a seat in the cosy bar area. The atmosphere on the weekend is a party one with singing and dancing actively encouraged! This is a great place to visit for a night out or to start off your celebrations before moving on elsewhere, it is also perfect for birthdays or if you fancy somewhere different with a lively atmosphere.
I have already made my thoughts known on the blog on how I feel about Pasta Loco – but if you need reminding, this place is a game changer on the Bristol food scene. Chef Ben Harvey is the genius in the kitchen, changing the menu almost daily for punters. Expect serious pasta dishes with artistic flair and incredible combinations. Dom is the brains out front working alongside his enthusiastic team they bring the vibe and amazing cocktails to match. Nothing is too much trouble for these guys and the value for money is outstanding. Expect high end food and wine at prices that will make you want to return again and again. Trust me on this.
Understated and charming is how I would describe Bar Buvette. What originally started as a pop-up is now a permanent fixture on Bristol’s Baldwin Street due to massive popularity; the owners were taking a winter break from their restaurant in France and decided to bring their wealth of knowledge and experience of the best French wine and cheeses over to us lucky Bristol punters. The restaurant is minimalist, almost looking half-finished, although I think this plays a part in its charm. Extremely reasonable, they have select wines by the glass and bottle on offer alongside fantastic cheeses, meats, olives and small bites, plus a regularly changing menu which hangs on a blackboard on the wall. If you love the best of everything French – pop into this little gem.
Under the Stars
Nestled smack bang in the centre is Under the Stars, although step on board and you will feel as though you are somewhere else. The boat is docked on the harbourside and has both seating inside and on the top deck (the perfect suntrap in the summertime). At night, take your pick from their amazing tapas and pizza selection and sit inside the vessel to enjoy a friendly atmosphere where they often have live music acts playing. They have a fully stocked bar as well all at reasonable prices. A bit of a novelty, a perfect place for a pit-stop or a romantic dinner if you are in the centre. They often have great tapas deals running on Wriggle Bristol as well.
Oh how I love Bravas. A Spanish eatery serving some of the best tapas in Bristol, it is extremely authentic. So much so that you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled across a small restaurant in Spain. It is intimate with tables stacked closely together (you could have a conversation with your neighbouring diners if you wish) and seats at the bar for if you want to spend an afternoon working your way through the wine list and the food menu (the perfect sort of afternoon if you ask me). Forever busy, booking is strongly recommended. The menu has lots to choose from and the gang at the restaurant do their homework, check out their Instagram @bravasbristol to see pictures from their latest European jaunt. They have also just announced their ‘Bravas Gin club’ – every last Friday of the month you can indulge in a G&T and complimentary pintxos. MASSIVE TIP: you MUST order the fried aubergine molasses. You’ll thank me.
Bulrush is something special. I have already written about them on the blog but the restaurant is worth shouting about because it really is beautiful, fresh, innovative food, presented beautifully in their modest venue. If you are not a meat eater, they can cater for vegans and/or vegetarians and to be honest I do not think there is anyone they could not cater for whilst still keeping the dishes amazing. It is worth mentioning that the staff make this place a joy to be in but also because they are all deeply passionate about what they do and the food you are eating, it also helps that they are extremely friendly. Keep an eye out for pop-ups and special events they might be taking part in around Bristol.
If it is fine dining you are after, then look no further than Adelina Yard. The restaurant is tucked away on Welsh Back near King Street and it is a delight. The chefs here work really hard to serve classic dishes with a twist using their creative flair and try to make as much as possible in house. Meticulous planning goes into their menus and they also offer a ‘Chef’s tasting menu’ – ten courses of bespoke dishes carefully planned for your table, it does not get much better than that. The staff welcome you with open arms into the modern restaurant and depending on where you are seated you can have a view of the chefs at work or the beautiful waterside towards the rear of the establishment. This is a perfect place to bring people to impress, with unique and beautiful food without pretention.
Seafood fans and foodies will really enjoy Wallfish Bistro in Clifton. The aim at this family run restaurant is to provide a great culinary experience using the finest produce in the Westcountry and although they have classic British dishes on the menu, I would encourage you to order a seafood dish on your first visit; purely because it is fantastic. Choose from Dorset crab, lobster, lemon sole or mackerel to name but a few and tuck into oysters or scallops to start. If you are lucky enough they might also be running their seafood platter on the specials menu. It is also worth noting they do brunch at Wallfish, which can be enjoyed with a Bloody Mary or Bucks Fizz. This is a cosy venue perfect for dinner with friends or family whether it is a special occasion or meeting up. Couples will love the romantic setting and delicious food also, and aren’t oysters aphrodisiacs?!
Zitto & Bevi
If like me, you have been to Italy, you will know just what the small osteria’s dotted inside the small streets and alleyways are like, a place where people pop in to socialise and gather for simple yet tasty food and drinks. If you have not been lucky enough to visit, then you can get a taste at Zitto & Bevi. Tucked away in Stokes Croft on Nine Tree Hill, the gang here have got it so, so right. I was impressed with how authentic it felt and couldn’t fault its charm. Depending on what time of the day you visit, you can take your pick of the menu, with small plates and finger food for during the day and more substantial meal choices for the evening. I sampled the olives, bruschetta, polenta, mozzarella and tomatoes all whilst sitting facing the window, soaking up the atmosphere. It was 10 out of 10. Oh, and the best damn Negroni sbagliato I have ever tasted.
Pata Negra is my go to place for when I am entertaining friends or for a night out) – because this venue has it all (not to mention a BANGING wine list and a self-service wine machine, HELLO). Spanish inspired, the décor is chic and sexy, with opulent little touches. If you are coming to dinner, their tapas selection is fantastic (order the tuna tartare), perfect for groups as you’ll want to order lots and share. The atmosphere is always lively with the sound of music and chatter filling the first floor. However, if you are just after some boozing, the second floor, Noche Negra is the place to be – serving amazing cocktails and DJ’s on Friday and Saturday nights, it is perfect for pre-drinks or to stay and make a night of it throwing some shapes! Pata Negra also does excellent lunch deals, with three of their delicious tapas dishes for just £10. A great venue to eat, drink and play.
The Urban Standard
Situated on both Gloucester Road and North Street, I have loved the Standard ever since it first opened its doors. Open all day and late into the evening, this bar and kitchen offers cocktails, wines, spirits and quality food in a laid back setting with an industrial warehouse style feel. I found it to be very modern and cool. Brunch, lunch, small plates and dinner options are covered whilst they aim to keep it local, and they also serve up a great Sunday roast dinner. With dim lighting it is a great place to meet for a drink or for a bite whilst North Street also has outside seating.
Three words to describe these guys? BAD. ASS. BAGELS. Not your average bagel place, Bagel Boy specialise in creating amazing combinations using locally sourced ingredients. With plenty to choose from, you will struggle to pick a favourite. There are over 30 different options of fillings, ranging from meat, deli, vegetarian and chicken. Best of all, it’s a steal! With lunch deals for a fiver or dinner for a tenner (including a side and a drink) you can’t argue with that! My particular go to bagel has got to be the ‘Mario boy’ consisting of a home-made beef patty, Serrano ham, mozzarella, tomato, leaves and pesto mayo. YES. Sit in at their spot on St Nicks, Gloucester Road or North Street (they are also found at Bar Humbug on Whiteladies Road). I challenge you to get your mouth around one.
The ethics behind everything that happens at Poco is one of the main reasons this restaurant is one of my favourites. Being part of the Sustainable Restaurant Association means all the food served is sourced for quality and can be traced back to the farmers and producers; it is fresh with non-processed ingredients and is the best of the season. Poco offers a gluten-free menu and they are happy to explain and provide information on how they source organic produce. Subjects that are all close to my heart. More importantly, the tapas are delicious. The menu changes frequently with the seasons however the classic dishes such as saddleback pork belly with fennel, deep fried oysters and labneh with buckwheat and rose are available year round and are glorious. For more information on how they are one of the best sustainable restaurants, do visit their website. Or better, go for dinner and have a chat with one of their passionate staff.
If you are on the hunt for gelato-based loveliness, look no further than Swoon. I had to try it to believe the hype and let me tell you, I was making noises and smiling like I’d just won the lottery whilst walking down Park Street eating it. It is THAT good. I almost want to order it on Deliveroo every evening. A fun and lively gelato joint where you can grab and go or sit in, they are open until late so you are able to get your fix and they have a big assortment of goodies for you to try. Made the traditional way with high quality ingredients, the end result speaks for itself. I am a big strawberry and prosecco flavour fan but with all the choice you will just have to keep returning and work your way through what’s on offer (it’s a hard life I know). Keep an eye on their Twitter account as they often run polls for the next flavours us gelato loving lot would like to see in store.
No.25a Old Market
If I could create a café using my imagination and the stuff of dreams, I think it would look like No. 25a Old Market. From the genius’ behind No.12 Easton, this is another opening to grace this part of Bristol; the café and its interior is minimalist and beautiful, with laid back hip-hop providing the background soundtrack when I stopped by. Upon arrival you will realise the place is bigger than it seems from the outside, with a basement area providing comfy sofas. Upstairs, you will find a wall of delectable goodies to purchase, some of which include coffees, teas, chocolate, pasta and plenty more. Opposite this is the chiller, where you can pick up local cheeses and meats. Not leaving anything out, there is also a selection of freshly made cakes to choose from the counter top and pastries which are supplied by Farro Bakery. These guys know their coffees and word is that they have just obtained an alcohol licence— so whether you are popping in for a caffeine fix or looking for something a bit stronger they have got you covered. OK, so leaving the best bit until last; if all of the above has not persuaded you to pop in and see these guys yet, let me just leave you with three words – OX CHEEK TOASTIE.
I couldn’t not add Rebel Roll to my Bristol Picks. I heart them. Formerly Magic Roll, they are now based fairly central on Redcliff Street. Leon and Alex are guys after my own heart when it comes to food; experimental, always striving for quality and above all else everything is done with a great sense of humour, it’s all fun and games! They are open early doors for those of you who want to grab breakfast, however lunchtime is when the magic happens. A great and varied menu (which is subject to change sometimes with weekly specials making appearances) with plenty of rolls for you to choose from, you absolutely wont come away hungry. For me though, it is the burgers that steal the show here. I may even put it out there and say they are the best in Bristol. They don’t just look mighty, they taste amazing and are not for the faint hearted. Think big, juicy and cheesy. The Krabbipatty is something to behold (I had to eat mine with a knife and fork) but it was worth every flippin’ minute of dribbling down myself.
The Pony & Trap
A charming rustic pub with outstanding food and service is what can be expected when visiting The Pony & Trap. Located in Chew Magna, with beautiful countryside surroundings and views, it is worth the journey out. Josh and Holly Eggleton bring diners a warm welcome and an ever changing menu using only the freshest South West produce, which has either been foraged for and/or supplied locally to the pub. With their own working farm also on site the food that arrives on your plate will not have travelled far at all and this farm to fork ethos is only one of the reasons the restaurant is so special. Al A Carte lunch and dinner menus are available alongside the tasting menu and wine flights, with the restaurant also running special events and one off tastings. I would highly recommend The Pony & Trap if you fancy superb food in unpretentious settings – wonderful for a special occasion or if you just fancy escaping the city for a while, it is a real delight.
Oowee diner certainly has generated quite a buzz in Bristol since it opened, which is impressive when most of the publicity generated has been by through word of mouth and reviews, rather than lots of self promotion or social media posts – as I write this, they still do not have a Twitter account (although their Instagram is something to behold @oowee_diner). This tiny establishment can be found in Montpelier on Picton Street where they are serving up seriously dirty burgers; think perfectly juicy beef smothered in as much cheese as you can handle, this is the stuff of dreams. These bad boys are extremely reasonable as well, with burgers coming in roughly at £8 a go. The Double C seems to be the big hitter at the moment (I have tried it and it was incredible) however, there are other chicken and meat options to choose from. There are also lots of menu choices when it comes to fries, whether you would like marmite and cheese, garlic butter (I had these and they were delicious), chicken, steak or squid, these portions come in a big box topped with whatever you choose and are easily enough for two people to share unless you can stomach them all yourself. My tip? Get there early, order and go for a beer whilst you wait and then enjoy the shit out of it. Filth like this needs to be appreciated.
This little piggy went down to Whapping Wharf and now can’t stay away from Pigsty. Occupying one of the crates in this modern development are the pork loving lot, which was founded by three brothers and their mate. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner they can cater for whether you want to grab a bacon or sausage bap on the go or come down later in the day for some serious pig. I can vouch for the Whole Hog and Pig Mac baps, both of which are just delicious but the hog croquettes and scotch eggs are also serious contenders for Bristol’s best porky treats. If you really can’t decide, why not do what I did and order the pig board? That way, you get a taster of everything on the menu and you wont be the little piggy squealing all the way home because you missed out.