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Bristol, one of the trendiest cities in the UK and of course the old stomping ground of infamous street artist, Banksy, is also awash with local, trendy, bustling restaurants. Whether you’re after a slap-up posh affair, a sizzling pizza or the most fabulous of afternoon teas, Bristol caters for the foodie in us all in any way possible.

So, what are the best Bristol restaurants and where are the best places to eat in the city? Let me tell you…

Utterly Cool and Unique – Beese’s Riverside Bar

Only open during the spring and summer months, and requiring a boat to get to it, Beese’s Riverside Bar is such a novel restaurant experience in Bristol.

The food itself is pretty good, serving the usual bar snacks and ‘pub grub’ such as burgers, sandwiches, salads and chips. And their beer garden is large and sitting right on the riverbank – that’s why it’s only open during the nicer parts of the year as their garden can flood really easily!

Beese's Riverside Bar

But on a sunny day, hopping into their boat (for 50p return per person), and ordering some drinks and a few snacks can be a really great way of spending your day. You can even follow all of this up with a riverside walk in nearby Conham River Park.

So if you’re after a unique restaurant experience in Bristol, look no further than Beese’s Riverside Bar:

Beese’s Riverside Bar
Wyndham Crescent

Fancy and French – Côte Brasserie

Located within one of the poshest areas of Bristol, Clifton Village, Côte Brasserie is everything you should expect from a fancy French restaurant. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why would you want to head to Bristol to eat French food? Surely, that should be saved for Paris, Nice or Provence?

Well, Côte Brasserie is there for when you can’t quite afford to take a trip to France itself. Or when sadly work is calling and so you have to settle for the best French food in your local city instead.

Their chicken dishes are made from corn-fed chickens reared in the heart of rural Brittany, they have fish dishes to suit most seafood lover’s tastes and oh, their desserts are to die for! From gooey chocolate fondants to praline crepes, you’d be hard pushed not to try them all.

When visiting, we were lucky enough to have been offered some food vouchers from the company I was working for at the time. So we had great fun in eating a full three course meal and drinking plenty of French wine. Just perfect!

There are quite a few Côte Brasserie branches dotted around the country, but when in Bristol, make your way to Clifton Village, to discover one of the best restaurants in Clifton:

Côte Brasserie
27 The Mall
Clifton Village

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Relaxed and Charming – The Bristol Flyer

A trip to the UK should most definitely involve eating some proper ‘pub grub’, and The Bristol Flyer, located along Gloucester Road is one of the best pub food offerings in Bristol.

I’d highly recommend checking out their roasts, swiftly followed by some refreshing cider or wine. Although they do have a beer garden, it’s quite small out the back, so you’d be best sitting inside their very roomy bar and restaurant.

Something else I love about The Flyer is how relaxed and chilled it is. Locals come here not just for food, but for some post-work drinks, so you can happily head out to dinner in your jeans if you want to.

So if you’re after the best pub food in Bristol, head to:

The Bristol Flyer
96 Gloucester Road

Zany and Quirky All-You-Can-Eat – ZaZa Bazaar

There are just a couple of ZaZa Bazaar restaurants around the UK (so, technically they’re a small chain). One of the best restaurants near the Bristol harbourside, and looking out over the harbour itself, you may be lucky to secure a table by the window for great views. But I wouldn’t count your chickens on this as it is quite a popular place!

So, you’ve heard of all-you-can-eat buffets haven’t you? You can get Chinese ones, curry house buffets and salad bar buffets. But have you heard of somewhere that offers food from across the globe? Yep, that’s right! You could be eating cheesy Italian pizza one minute, helping yourself to onion bhajis the next and then working your way around the dessert island. Yes, a whole island for desserts!

It’s probably a good thing that they have a 1 hour 45 minute time limit for each table, or you could leave several kilos heavier if you’re not careful. But when the food’s this good, who really cares?

Dessert island at ZaZa Bazaar, Bristol

Insider Tip: Come during the lunch slot and your meal will be a few quid cheaper than during the evening. They don’t have every single food item out during this time, but with so much choice on offer, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything to be honest!

The harbourside is where it’s at for the best all-you-can-eat buffet:

Canon’s Rd

Sizzling Stone-Baked Pizzas – No. 51

Primarily a bar with a decent beer garden, you may be surprised to find that you can get some fantastic stonebaked pizzas at No.51 as well. They have so much choice on offer, from cheesy to meaty to vegetarian-friendly, each with that classic smoky flavour from being stonebaked in the oven.

And as they’re not technically a restaurant, their prices are very pocket friendly! My advice? Come for a cider, stay for the pizza.

Trendy Stokes Croft is where to head for the best pizza in town:

No. 51
51 Stokes Croft

Stonebaked Pizza from No 51, Bristol

Independently Italian – Ciao

Italian has to be one of my most favourite cuisines, and thankfully, Bristol has a few great options in and around the city.

One of my top choices of Italian restaurants in Bristol is Ciao, located near to The Hippodrome.

It’s a small, family-run restaurant, offering a really authentic Italian restaurant experience, and the best bit? Tourists don’t know about this one!

So if you’re after a truly authentic (and romantic) Italian restaurant experience, look no further than:

10-11 Denmark Street

Cute and Chic Cafe – Patisserie Valerie

Although Patisserie Valerie is a large chain and can be found throughout the UK, their Bristol cafes are just as good as the next one.

You’d be highly recommended to taste their hot drinks, cakes and afternoon teas, which are all sublime! And if you order a cup of tea, you’ll be served with your very own cute little pot of it.

If you happen to be combining a visit to Patisserie Valerie with some Christmas shopping, go in search of their Festive Afternoon Tea, which comes complete with a free box of mince pies!

Patisserie Valerie Festive Afternoon Tea

So if you’re in the mood for finding a cute and chic cafe in Bristol, Patisserie Valerie has got to be pretty high on your list. Here are a couple of Bristol locations you can try:

Patisserie Valerie
Cribbs Causeway
BS34 5UR

Perfect Pies – Pieminister

With a couple of pie shops in Bristol as well as others in Nottingham and Leeds, Pieminister is still a local chain selling traditional (yet trendy) British pie and mash.

We Brits are really quite pleased with our pie and mash combinations, so it’s always a firm favourite to recommend if you’re travelling to the UK. From the traditional steak and kidney pie, to marvellous meaty ones (and everything in between), Pieminister has several different types of pie to suit your trendy taste buds. Oh, and their mash is buttery, creamy and smooth. Are you drooling yet?

Pieminister pies are available in a couple of areas of Bristol, so you can treat yourself to pie in the centre and in trendy Stokes Croft:

Pieminister – Stokes Croft
24 Stokes Croft

Pieminister – Broad Quay
7 Broad Quay

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Freakshake Fantastic – The Beehive Coffee House

The Beehive Coffee House in Downend is a small, independently run cafe who specialize in fantastic freakshakes!

The Beehive top their shakes with all manner of things like doughnuts, sauce, sprinkles, marshmallows, chocolate bars, you name it. They even have a “Freak of the Week”, which is a totally special, limited edition shake, varying with each week.

Freak Shakes at The Beehive Coffee House

They also sell homemade cakes, decent sandwiches, and the usual hot drinks, with ingredients all locally sourced from around the city.

So if you’re after an awesome freakshake and one of the best cafes in Bristol, then come to Downend:

The Beehive Coffee House
14 Badminton Rd
BS16 6BQ

Local and Luscious – The Social

Again, primarily a local drinking hole, The Social is a firm favourite for a somerset cider or a gin and tonic; but grab a table in the back and choose from some exquisite meals as well!

Their menus change with each season, as they always prefer to use local produce, so they work with what is being farmed and grown at that particular point in the year.

If it’s on offer at the time, I’d recommend their pan-roasted duck breast, which is utterly delicious. But to be fair, I don’t think you could do wrong with anything on their menu!

And, they like to cater to those who have special dietary requirements, so for the gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian among you, no need to worry. And if you have any other special requirements? Just let them know as they’re more than happy to help.

At busy times, you may struggle to find a table, so get in there quick!

Fabulous Cheltenham Road is where you can find delicious food at The Social:

The Social
130 Cheltenham Rd

Special Street Food – St Nick’s Market

Found within the centre of Bristol, St Nicholas Market (St Nick’s to the locals) is a hidden little secret. This is a typical street food market but with a difference.

Being trendy Bristol, you have the delight of knowing this is the place to come for falafel (huge portions of it), super energy boosting smoothies and posh, locally sourced sausages (big ones and full of flavour)!

Falafel from St Nick's Market, Bristol

If you fancy some street food with a bang, then head to St Nick’s market in the centre. Your only problem will be choosing which stall to buy food from!

St Nicholas Market
Corn St

Dog Friendly – Cafe Grounded

Truly dog friendly food and drinks places don’t come easy, although companies are coming around to the idea of it. One of the best Bristol cafes and a true dog friendly one is Cafe Grounded.

Although you’d expect to only come here for tea and cake, they actually serve decent dinners in the late afternoons and evenings. Their pizzas are particularly good!

And as they’re so well known in Bristol, they have a number of locations dotted throughout the city, including Horfield, Redfield, Fishponds and Keynsham.

I’d suggest browsing their website to find out about each of their branches.

Romantic and Cozy – Italb

As I mentioned before, there are a number of really good Italian restaurants in Bristol, with Italb in Downend also joining the mix.

Similarly to Ciao Amici, their restaurant is also very authentic, and a little off the beaten track.

Italb Italian Restaurant in Downend

Although their restaurant is small, their service and food both pack a punch. Personally I just love it when you get asked if you want grated parmesan on your food (when is the answer ever “No”?)

But Italb’s prices are also really good! Scott and I came here for a three-course meal accompanied with several alcoholic drinks and we only paid £30 including a voluntary 10% service charge. How amazing is that? And I honestly cannot rave about their food enough, especially at that price!

So if you’re after a romantic and cozy dinner date, in one of Bristol’s best Italian restaurants, then once again, Downend is where you need to come:

21 Badminton Road
BS16 6BB

The Best Burgers – Atomic Burger

After a burger and chips? Look no further than Atomic Burger, which has over 20 different types of burger. And the best bit? They’re named after famous TV, film and superhero characters.

Fancy a bit of Forrest Gump? This one is classic and simple.
Drooling over Daisy Duke? Cheese, crispy bacon and BBQ sauce adorns this burger.
Salivating about Scott Pilgrim? Pineapple, mushrooms and jerk sauce will have you on this one.

I could go on. But don’t just take my word for it, check out their burgers yourself!

In their own words, Atomic Burger want to “take you back to that time as a child when burgers could be as big as your head, summers lasted forever and simple things made you smile.” This is probably why their restaurant diner is also decked out with superhero wallpaper (even in the loo), barbie dolls above the windows and action man figures hanging from the ceiling.

Burger time is at one of the coolest Gloucester Road restaurants, so get there now!

Atomic Burger
189 Gloucester Rd

Travellers come to Bristol for the sexy street art, hipster vibe and fabulous free festivals, but stay for the quirky, trendy, exciting foods on offer here. 

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Which place has got you all hot under the collar for food? And is there anywhere I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments…

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11 thoughts on “A Local’s Guide to Bristol: The Best Restaurants

  1. My mouth is watering reading this and looking at the pictures. I don’t know that I’ll be visiting anytime soon but it’ll def. hit my bucket list!

  2. Oh my gosh I have to go just to get fat!! That food looks divine.

    1. Super divine…. I put on several pounds just writing that post!! 😉

  3. This just made me super hungry! I was just in the UK, too. Time for another trip across the pond I think. This is a foodie heaven! x

    1. Haha, it made me hungry to write it!! Yes, you definitely must come back to the UK… although I’m only slightly biased!! 😉

  4. Trisha says:

    These all sound amazing! I especially think the Tearoom sounds like a great place to visit for a quiet afternoon with friends.

    1. The tearoom was definitely a great place for friends and quiet afternoons. So beautiful in there and their afternoon teas are divine!

  5. OMG, those sandwiches and pizza looks so delicious!!!

    1. So delicious Claire!! I’m glad you agree!

  6. I was in Bristol this weekend and absolutely adored St Nick’s Market – great food, huge portions and brilliant value for money!

    1. Excellent, I’m pleased you agree! I love St Nick’s too – such variety as well! I hope you enjoyed your visit to Bristol… as a biased resident, I’m a huge fan of the city, of course! 😉

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