Bristol’s food and drink scene has exploded in recent years, with brand new venues opening seemingly every week. Fine dining, casual eateries, street food, cosy cafés, trendy bars…there’s something for everyone in the UK’s sixth largest city – and if you’re looking for something quirky, you won’t be disappointed. For those looking for dining with a difference, here’s our rundown of our favourite cool restaurants in Bristol…
Where else can you grab a bite to eat surrounded by an insane amount of pop culture memorabilia? Grab a table at Atomic Burger, and you’ll not be short of things to look at: the walls, ceilings and menus are bedecked with comic book and cartoon pictures and toys, there are retro music videos playing on the TV screens, and the bold, bright colours add to the overall buzz.
The menu continues along the same vein, and you’ll have fun working out where the names of the dishes came from. As you’ve probably worked out, the menu has a strong burger focus, with everything from The Dead Elvis (American cheese, Swiss cheese, fried onions and bacon) to The Elizabeth Shue, topped with a messy concoction of Camembert, prosciutto, crispy onions, red onion, BBQ sauce, chipotle sauce, ketchup and pickles.
Under The Stars
Under The Stars is one of a handful of places in Bristol where you get to drink and dine on a boat. Permanently moored in the city centre, this café-bar has a relaxed 1920s style and a choice of the bar area below deck or the open air top deck, depending on the weather.
The theme of the food is just as relaxed as the setting: a choice of tapas dishes or pizza, with influences drawn from across the Mediterranean. On both menus, expect a combination of the traditional and the more exotic. Pizza fans can choose everything from a classic Margherita to a combination of goat’s cheese, black olives, leeks and balsamic vinegar. On the tapas front, enjoy the popular patatas bravas or chorizo in red wine, or opt for other inspired dishes like the harissa chicken thighs or the white asparagus with brandy cream, garlic, chestnut mushrooms, and baby leeks.
The Old Bookshop
The Old Bookshop on North Street is pretty much permanently busy. A bar that also offers up food and live music, it’s got a fantastic buzz and a seriously quirky interior. Head inside, and you’ll find lights made from trumpets, taxidermy (both good and bad) and more, with a vintage style that’s seriously chilled.
On the food front, there’s plenty of choice for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diners – and their weekend brunches and Sunday lunches are not to be missed…
Spoke and Stringer
You’ll find Spoke & Stringer right on the waterfront on Bristol’s Harbourside, with outdoor seating and huge windows that overlook the water lapping against the jetties. Serving up breakfast, lunch and tapas dishes is only part of what they do: Spoke & Stringer is also a shop selling bike and surf apparel and equipment.
From Wednesday through to Sunday you’ll be able to order from a menu inspired by a number of European countries. Brunch is a leisurely (and very Instagrammable) affair with tantalising choices that include steak and eggs with parmesan polenta chips and a zingy chimichurri, or marinated sardines on a thick slice of toasted ciabatta with sumac slaw, cooling tzatziki, red onion and dill. Or head over at lunchtime or in the evening for their pintxos and tapas dishes: crispy polenta with blue cheese and roasted figs, rich lamb meatballs with pistachios and apricot, and creamy jamon and manchego croquetas are just some of the dishes to whet your appetite.
The Cauldron in St Werburghs has been incredibly popular since it opened in 2016 – and their unique selling point is certainly unique! All of their dishes are cooked over fire pits, on grills, in a wood-fired oven or in one of two huge cast iron cauldrons which give the place its name. There’s no gas here – instead, the team focus on traditional cooking methods from across the globe.
As all of their produce is sourced locally where possible, menus at The Cauldron change all the time – sometimes multiple times a week. But book a table, and you’ll find dishes like steaks with your choice of sauce; cod cheek, chorizo and butterbean stew, or vegan tagines spiked with flavourful dried fruit and nuts.
The Thali Café is a Bristol institution – and the Montpelier branch was the first Thali restaurant in Bristol. Serving up healthy and nutritious Indian dishes, it’s decked out in bold, vibrant colours with mismatched furniture and Indian-inspired décor pieces that give it a fun and friendly feel.
The main focus of the menu is on thalis: a selection of dishes all served on a metal tray in individual stainless steel bowls, to give you plenty of variety when you eat. Try the tender and warming braised Lucknowi lamb or the creamy spinach and fenugreek paneer – with these and the other main choices served with potatoes, rice, dal, yoghurt and salad.
We’ve only just scraped the surface of the cool restaurants in Bristol: a city where you’ll also find restaurants-cum-art-galleries, eateries in converted shipping containers, and those who grow their own ingredients on-site. Where would be your favourite choice?