Looking for the best restaurants in Bristol? Who better to guide you than one of the city’s favourite chefs? Freddy Bird, head chef and founder of new restaurant Little French, and former executive chef of The Lido Bristol, gives us his favourite places to eat out in Bristol.
‘I was born and raised in Bristol but moved to London to gain some experience at The Square and Moro – where my love for cooking over fire was born. I returned to Bristol in 2008 to head up the kitchen at The Lido and have been lucky enough to experience the amazing renaissance of food culture in this great city. Although there are many new places opening up all the time, there are a few places around that I keep coming back to time and time again.’
‘I’m a huge coffee drinker so I’ve got to start my day with one (or three). The coffee scene in Bristol is really booming and you can find great coffee all over the city now; favourites are Spicer and Cole in Clifton Village and Hart’s Bakery at Temple Meads. Hart’s do the most amazing pastry selection too so if I’m feeling peckish I’d find it difficult to turn down their layered pastries.’
Freddy’s Pick: The Best Restaurants in Bristol
Bravas is a wonderful tapas place started by an old sous-chef of mine at the Lido, Imogen and her partner Kieran. The tapas-style of eating is quite big in the city. At Bravas there’s always delicious sherry, food and service – I really like their open kitchen which provides a buzzing atmosphere.
CARGO down on Wapping Wharf is a great place to grab some amazing smaller bites to go or to take home with a bottle of wine or cider – I enjoy the tacos at Cantina (the little sister of Bravas), a block of local cheese or two at The Bristol Cheesemonger and freshly made baos at Woky Ko.
The Mayflower is my favourite pit-stop after a long service. Open until 3am and situated under the bus station, it’s location only adds to its charm and the most delicious and authentic Chinese food. I regularly order their chili squid, steamed tripe and ginger or crispy fried pig’s intestines – I know they sound a bit off the wall but they are seriously amazing.
Freddy Bird recently opened a new restaurant in Bristol’s Westbury Park, Little French. He’s also worked at The Lido Bristol, the Glassboat and Three Brothers Burgers. Find out more about Freddy at freddybird.com
And here are some of our favourites…
Much to the dismay of locals, the lovely Bellita on Cotham Hill closed earlier this year – but its replacement Rock Salt offers new culinary delights. Here co-founders Harris Massey of Dishoom and former Dhamaka chef Kedar Subedi bring together many years of experience to create a unique fusion restaurant which offers both Indian and Chinese cuisine, with sweet and sour chicken sitting alongside their signature lamb raan.
For a really good brunch, head to Rosemarino, a bright and airy award-winning Italian restaurant in Clifton. They’ve won best breakfast and best Italian restaurant at the Bristol Good Food awards for three years in a row, and if you go you’ll soon see why. Their all-day breakfast menu features classic brunch dishes cooked to perfection: Eggs Benedict, spicy Shakshouka and fan favourite ‘Tommy’s 1 Pan’: ham hock with chopped sausage, onions, mushrooms and potatoes, cooked with eggs and served with toasted focaccia. It’s also a lovely dinner spot – the menu changes every day but it’s generally vegetarian friendly, making the most of local, fresh and seasonal produce. Staple dishes include risottos, pasta, gnocchi, homemade bread and antipasti platters designed for sharing.
Originally a food truck in Glastonbury, Thali Cafe now have restaurants dotted all over Bristol. Authentic Indian dishes are served ‘Thali’ style: a way of eating in India where a selection of dishes are served on one big steel plate. Fan favourites include the Goan fish curry, a crispy paneer dish and the spinach daal, served with fresh spinach and a handful of aubergine curry. Fresh ingredients, great flavours, and a relaxed atmosphere – a winning combination. Branches in Clifton, Easton, Montpelier, Southville and Totterdown.
Hidden away in a basement below The Commercial Rooms on Corn Street is The Ox, a stylish and intimate restaurant in the heart of the city. As the name suggests, the menu features good quality, perfectly cooked meat, with prime focus on juicy steaks from the local butcher’s Buxton of Winterbourne. Cousin of popular bars Hyde & Co, Milk Thistle and Pata Negra, The Ox has an impressive cocktail menu too. Go for the early evening deal (Monday-Saturday 5-7pm), where you can enjoy a a 6oz rump steak, fries, sauce and a glass of house wine all for just £15.
Bristol is known for its top class tapas, and Pata Negra offers some of the best. Located in the heart of the Old City, it’s the kind of stylish and buzzing spot you could chance upon in Barcelona, with an ever-changing menu offering a selection of seasonal small plates including seafood, vegetarian dishes and desserts. A popular spot for after work drinks, weekend lunches and relaxed evening dining.
Bosco is a great pizza spot on Whiteladies Road where you can watch your Neapolitan style pizza pizza being cooked on a wood-fired oven.
Opened in September 2012 by chef James Wilkins and wife Christine Vayssade, Wilks gained a Michelin star after just one year. Food is seasonal, inspired by James and Christine’s travels, and the restaurant itself is relaxed yet elegant. Go here on a Sunday afternoon for a stellar roast.
Boston Tea Party
A firm favourite with students and locals alike, Boston Tea Party recently became the first cafe to ban single use coffee cups. They have various branches across Bristol and Bath, but their flagship on Park Street is our favourite – the tiered garden is a dream during the summer months. Their brunch is particularly good, and it’s near-impossible to resist a purchase from their cake display.
Poco Tapas Bar
A tapas restaurant launched with the planet in mind, Bristol’s Poco Tapas Bar was named the most sustainable restaurant of the year in 2016 thanks to its commitment to the zero waste movement. Food is seasonal and changes often, but classic dishes include the likes of deep fried oysters and pork belly with fennel.
With two locations across Bristol, Souk Kitchen serves up vibrant and delicious Mediterranean food for great value – think marinated halloumi, chargrilled meats, falafels and lots of hummus.