The Best Restaurants in Bristol
Alright me babber, there are a few things you should know about Bristol before reading this article. One, that the people who live there use words like “babber”. Two, that it’s a city that isn’t afraid of tearing down racist statues and chucking them in the harbour. And three, that it’s a brilliant place full of lots of excellent restaurants. Which meant narrowing down the best restaurants in Bristol for this article wasn't easy.
I’m as guilty of anyone of being stuck in a little London bubble but I went to university in Bristol, spent a good portion of time there eating all the city had to offer, and it’s a place that I still think of fondly. And often. The buzzing food scene there is also something that I think of just as fondly and probably twice as often. With international travel still looking like a no-go to most countries, there's no better time than now to explore the bounty of diverse cities the UK has to offer. That's why I thought it best to revisit Banksy's old stomping ground and write up this guide on the best restaurants in Bristol.
Now, before you get up in arms about all the spots I’ve missed out on, I’d like to add the caveat that I’m a huge fan of the city’s various cafés and bakeries like Hart’s Bakery, Pinkmans, and Bakers & Co. But we've limited this list to the best restaurants in the city for now and a rundown of the top bakeries in Bristol would likely need its very own dedicated guide. Watch this space.
Regardless, I’ve tried my hardest to give you a fair representation of the best places to eat in Bristol – a city that’s got a surprising amount of high-quality tapas joints and a genuine claim to being one of the more underrated food cities in the UK. Bristol has got some of the best restaurants in the entire country, no word of a lie. Here are – in my opinion, and in no particular order – some of the best restaurants in Bristol.
If there are any gems that I’ve missed out on or forgotten, just get in touch with me directly. I’ll either check it out and add it to this list or write you a snarky response about how I wouldn’t go to that terrible hellhole (yes, Za Za Bazaar I'm looking at you) if you paid me. It’s pretty much a 50/50 shot.
With one restaurant situated on Whiteladies Road and the other nestled comfortably among the prams and pushchairs of Clifton Village, Bosco Pizzeria is where you should be visiting on an empty stomach to get your chops around some of the best pizza in Bristol. The Neapolitan-style pizza at Bosco’s is made with heaps of love as well as a rogue’s gallery of high-quality ingredients like mozzarella di bufala, san marzano tomatoes, and earthy salame finocchiona. Both the pizza rossa and pizza bianca are worth ordering – I’d personally recommend getting one of each. Y’know just to be sure.
96 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, BS8 2QX
Wilsons is a bijou bistro in Redland that’s run by partners Jan Ostle and Mary Wilson. Jan is the head chef and responsible for the daily changing menu. Wilsons offers a £50 per head set menu; one of the best bargains in Bristol when you consider the glut of prime ingredients you’ll find strewn on every plate of food. Sustainability is at the heart of everything they do at Wilsons and the dishes – which, just to clarify, taste sublime – are designed to showcase the best of local produce. Wilsons even has its own market garden where they grow much of the fruits and vegetables that you’ll find incorporated into the menu. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat an unforgettable meal in Bristol, there’s no better place than Wilsons.
24 Chandos Road, Redland, BS6 6PF
Chicken is one of those meats that all too often gets misclassified as bland and dry by those who’ve only ever eaten badly cooked chicken. If you ever encounter one of those chicken haters in real life, here’s what you need to do: tell them to “get a bloody grip” and take them to Bokman at the bottom of Nine Tree Hill. This small, independent Korean joint does the goods on a range of different Korean specialities, all worth ordering when you’re looking for a top bite to eat, but the standout dish on the menu is the tongdak – a whole rotisserie chicken stuffed with raw sticky rice. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s the sort of dish that will change the way you look at poultry for good.
3 Nine Tree Hill, Cotham, BS1 3SB
Littlefrench’s head chef Freddy Bird was born in Bristol and, in the summer of 2019, he decided to give back to the city that raised him in rather spectacular fashion through this Westbury Park spot: a restaurant that’s arguably one of the best places to eat in the entirety of Bristol and undeniably the finest place in the city to tuck into simple, honest plates of French cuisine. Don’t go in expecting anything frou-frou or haughty from littlefrench – the vibe here is super friendly with the dishes on the pass being composed of quality British produce given a tres chic French makeover. Prices are sensible, the menu changes to reflect what’s fresh and seasonal, and you can taste the language of love in every bite. Littlefrench is the perfect place to come in the evening for a glass of wine and a few small plates at the bar or a full-on dinner featuring bangers like whole turbot and perfectly grilled pork chop.
2B North View, Westbury Park, BS6 7QB
Founded in 2016 by Raja Munuswamy and Arvind Pawar, Nutmeg specialises in regional Indian cooking and attempts to celebrate the diversity of the country’s food scene with a menu that spans across all of India's 29 states. From a Goan pork cheek vindaloo to a Punjabi chana pindi, the eclectic dishes you’ll find at Nutmeg are a step above your average butter chicken, and Nutmeg is very much a step above your average restaurant. Head on down to Clifton Village if you’re after Indian food that’s been made with immaculate attention to detail.
10, The Mall Clifton Village, The Mall, Clifton, BS8 4DR
The menu at this shipping container restaurant might change on the reg, but you know what doesn’t change? The outstanding quality of the food on offer. Yes, BOX-E might have a name like a Pixar film but it’s one of the best restaurants in Bristol. So show some respect, damn it. There are only 14 seats in the minimalist space, which means you’re going to have to fight tooth and nail for a booking if you’re looking to eat at prime time on a weekend. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth persevering until you get yourself a spot at the table. A meal at BOX-E is one that it’s worth waiting weeks for.
10 Cargo 1, BS1 6WP
Poco Tapas Bar
Sustainability is the focal point of this Poco Tapas Bar but don’t let that fool you into thinking this Stoke Croft joint isn’t a lot of fun, too. You can choose from either the ‘Fish and Game’ or ‘Vegetarian and Vegan’ set menu, both of which celebrate the seasonal bounty and the network of small-scale food producers that Poco works with. As for the food itself? It’s fantastic. A portion of carrot and split pea hummus might not sound all that exciting but trust me that dredging a hunk of sourdough through that sleppo-spiced ochre dip is one of the most delicious eating experiences you’ll find in Bristol.
45 Jamaica Street, BS2 8JP
The menu at Casamia is a lot like a champion featherweight boxer. As in, it rarely stays in the same place for more than a moment and is constantly shifting from one foot to the other when you least expect it. It’s also a lot like a champion featherweight boxer in that it’ll absolutely hammer your gut with flavour every single time you visit. Casamia has got a lovely, shiny Michelin star and while it’s definitely one of the most obvious answers to the question of: “what’s the best restaurant in Bristol?” it’s probably also one of the most correct answers. Headed up by innovative executive chef Zak Hitchman, this Italian restaurant is practically faultless. Eat there.
8 The General, Lower Guinea Street, BS1 6FU
If carbonara on Cotham Hill sounds like your bag then booking yourself a table at Pasta Loco is a must the next time you’re in Bristol. The menu at this pasta palace shifts with the seasons but, at the time of writing, it’s stocked with slammers like an oceanic spaghetti nero with mussels and braised octopus or rich lamb ragù gnocchi with cavolo nero and chimichurri. Those are all words that I really, really like and Pasta Loco is a restaurant that I really, really like. Please come here and fill yourself with gloriously good pasta – you won’t regret it one bit. Or bite.
37A Cotham Hill, Redland, BS6 6JY
Despite what its name might suggest, Jean’s Bistro isn’t really a bistro at all. It’s a family-owned Thai restaurant where the food – which comes liberally doused in an assortment of oyster sauce, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and tamarind – is about as far from the arrondissements of Paris as you’re going to get. And I mean that in the best way possible. The flavours at Jean’s Bistro will set off Catherine wheels in your head while the family feel of the place will cement it as a restaurant you’re going to yearn to become a regular at. It’s hard not to fall in love with Jean’s Bistro and their top tier tom yum. I know that I, for one, am certainly smitten.
441 Gloucester Road, BS7 8TZ
The Burger Joint
The Burger Joint opened up in 2009 and it has firmly cemented itself as one of the city’s best burgers over the last decade or so of service. The beauty of The Burger Joint is that it’s BYOB (Build Your Own Burger) and you can top your 6 oz prime beef patty with everything from halloumi and black pudding to apple and peanut butter. Yeah, the sky’s pretty much the limit at The Burger Joint. My only personal advice would be to stick to just three or four toppings, max. If you go too wild, you won’t be able to taste the actual burger. Which, trust me, you’re gonna want to do.
83 Whiteladies Road, Redland, BS8 2NT
The Kensington Arms
There are only a few things in life I like better than a really good pub but a pub that serves really good food is one of them. I’ve been to some of London’s Best Food Pubs and The Kensington Arms in Redland is capable of matching up to most of those big hitters. The food is pleasantly adventurous – don’t be surprised to see Yeo Valley lamb chops joined by smoked aubergine, gochujang sauce and chimichurri, for instance – and the beers are always the perfect temperature. There’s not much more you can ask for from a pub, really. The Kenny is a Bristolian gem that you’re not going to want to leave.
35-37 Stanley Road, Redland, BS6 6NP
The Thali Restaurant
The main reason to eat at The Thai Restaurant in Easton is, unsurprisingly, the excellent thalis. “Thali” is the Indian word for “plate” and refers to the way that meals are eaten in India where a selection of dishes are served together on one plate and compartmentalised into separate stainless steel containers. The vibrant platters at The Thali Restaurant consist of mains like Keralan nandan chicken, spinach tarka dal, or chana masala and come served with an array of sides including subji, dahl, basmati rice, yoghurt, and crunchy salad. It’s fresh, filling, and simply fantastic eating.
64-66 St Marks Road, Easton, BS5 6JH
The Olive Shed
The Olive Shed is a lovely spot by the harbour where you can sit back and let out a very big sigh of relief. The sort of sigh of relief that helps free your body from any stress and goes great with a portion of crispy golden calamari or patatas bravas with tomato and a punchy aioli. Eating tapas-style is the way to go at The Olive Shed and the romantic ambience makes this a great restaurant to share some small plates with someone you’ve got the hots for.
Harbour, Floating, Princes Wharf, BS1 4RN
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Give a man a bottle of natty wine and a concise menu of seasonally-focussed dishes, and you feed him for a lifetime. That’s how the saying goes, right? I’m a sucker for a restaurant that cares about using locally sourced ingredients and sourcing wine with minimal intervention, so you shouldn’t be surprised that I’m head over heels for Marmo. This Baldwin Street restaurant is run by husband and wife team Cosmo and Lily Sterck and it’s hard to find fault in anything that comes out of their neat kitchen. The plates lean Italian with fresh pasta and primi like gnocco fritto and mortadella knocking it out the park every time.
31 Baldwin Street, BS1 1RG
Rice & Things
Chef Neuville is the man behind Rice & Things and it’s his inspirational story that has, in part, helped make this Caribbean restaurant on Cheltenham Road become a Bristol legend. The other reason it’s become the place in Bristol to get jerk chicken, curry goat, and oxtail stew is because of, well, the jerk chicken, curry goat, and oxtail stew. Heartwarming Jamaican food – packed with traditional herbs and spices like soursop leaves and fresh black mint – is what Rice & Things do best and you’d be wise to bring as many people as you can muster and order as much as humanly possible.
120 Cheltenham Road, Cotham, BS6 5RW
Falafel and sabiches are the name of the game at Falafel King. A game they play extremely competently. As someone who’s made it his mission to round up the Best Falafel in London, I’m fairly confident that I can tell a dud falafel from a delicious falafel and, with that in mind, I’m happy to tell you that the falafels at Falafel King are delicious. It doesn’t matter whether you coddle them in a soft laffa or pillowy pitta, those tahini-drenched balls are always crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and packed with flavour. Add some flash-fried halloumi in there for the ride and you’ve got a wrap that’ll give a meal at any of the other more refined restaurants on this list a run for their money.
6 Cotham Hill, Redland, BS6 6LF
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and Rosemarino is the most important restaurant in Bristol for some Italian-inspired early day eats. Whether you’re tucking into sautéed field mushrooms, parmesan cream, chopped sage, and truffle oil on a book-sized wedge of toasted focaccia or a lemon and ricotta pancake topped with home-cured salmon, pickled cucumber, soft cheese and fresh dill and mustard dressing, you’re guaranteed to roll out of Rosemarino feeling happy and content. Perhaps the best thing of all about eating a breakfast, brunch or lunch at this cosy Clifton classic is the fact that you get to eat somewhere equally glorious for dinner afterwards. Now, that’s what I call la dolce vita.
1 York Place, Clifton, BS8 1AH
Sky Kong Kong
Korean food made using organic, local and seasonal ingredients is what Sky Kong Kong specialises in and, boy, does chef Hwi “Wizzy” Shim put an emphasis on the ‘special’. You’ll never be served the same dish here twice and it’s that freshness and ingenuity which makes a meal at Sky Kong Kong one of the most individual dining experiences in Bristol. Just make sure to get a taste of Wizzy’s kimchi while you’re there – it’s out of this world good.
2 Haymarket Walk, BS1 3LN
The Mint Room
The Mint Room is a real classy establishment. It’s the sort of fine dining restaurant you’ll take your parents to after you’ve graduated from university and want to fool them into thinking you’ve got your life together. Nothing says “I’ve got this, dad” quite like a duck samosa and nothing will make your mum forget that you still come home to do big loads of washing like a luxe lobster biryani. Yes, The Mint Room is pricey but it’s worth every penny. And your parents deserve a treat every now and then, don’t they?
12-16 Clifton Road, Clifton, BS8 1AF
Bristol’s tapas scene is inordinately good for a city that’s objectively quite far from Spain and Bravas is one of the best spots for dishes of Salchichón Ibérico and red prawns. Anyone with a soft spot for Spanish small plates would be an idiot not to at least consider a lunch or dinner at Bravas and anyone clever enough to get a booking will be richly rewarded for doing so. The wine list is strong as an ox with an impressive array of sherries and bottles sourced from small Spanish producers; the gin and tonics are lovingly lethal. There’s nothing not to love about Bravas, folks.
7 Cotham Hill, Redland, BS6 6LD
As the Bristolian offshoot of The Pony Chew Valley (previously known as The Pony and Trap), this bistro from Holly and Josh Eggleton is a lesson in how to make British food heart-thumpingly exciting. From snacks like the unctuous confit trout in goose fat to sturdy plates of short rib with horseradish purée, the food at Pony Bistro thumbs its nose at anyone who thinks of British cuisine as bland and boring. The Sunday brunch menu is so faultless and fiercely lovely that it’s made me – an ardent brunch hater – reconsider my entire stance on that matter. Which, trust me, is no easy feat. The Pony Bistro delivers banger after banger. Get here ASAP.
291 North Street, BS3 1JU
Bristol’s Wapping Wharf is home to some top, top eateries and Bertha’s is the best of the bunch if you’re after sourdough pizzas and negronis that’ll knock your socks off. Bertha’s cook their pizzas at an eyebrow-singeing 500 degrees for 60 to 90 seconds. The result, for you, is a beautifully charred disc of dough topped with high-quality ingredients. My favourite pizza on the menu is the ‘Meat & Heat’, a sweet and spicy combination of tomato, mozzarella, and Cobble Lane pepperoni that’s drizzled in a liberal amount of hot honey. It’s the kind of pizza you’ll want to order two of – one to eat there while it’s ripping hot, and another to take home in a box for breakfast the next day.
The Old Gaol Stables, Cumberland Road, BS1 6WW
Plonked in south Bristol right opposite the stellar Tobacco Factory theatre, Souk Kitchen is a restaurant where the food is as warm and comforting as the ambience. Sample the flavours of the levant with orders of chargrilled halloumi, dolma, and juicy beef and pork keftedes. The best way to tackle Souk Kitchen is by tagging along with a group of mates willing to take on the entire mezze menu. Everything is more than reasonably priced and more than reasonably delicious. Just don’t forget to save room for some freshly fried tulumba. They’re like Turkish doughnuts and they’re, like, incredibly moreish.
277 North Street, Southville, BS3 1JP