Things are so uncertain for people in the hospitality industry right now.
It is hard enough at the best of times owning your own restaurant or bar, or even working in one. As a former bartender and waitress, I spent many recent years as a server and I have made lots of friends in the Bristol hospitality industry and these friends are now in trouble. Many of my friends will lose their jobs during and after this crisis, we need to support the industry as much as possible, because it is a huge sector of the economy.
Bristol is a beautiful and friendly city, it is full of independent shops, restaurants and bars which make it super unique as a place to live. Like many people before me, I fell in love with this city and I love the people in it.
I have written this list of the best places to eat in Bristol, maybe at a bad time, but I wanted to bring to light some of the gems of the city, places that we could potentially lose to Coronavirus if we are not careful.
Masa and Mezcal – the Mexican dream
Masa is the name for the dough used to make tortillas and mezcal is a delicious Mexican spirit – think smoky tequila. This relatively new restaurant and bar specialises in Mexican food! Not just Mexican food, but THE BEST Mexican food! There are plenty of authentic dishes to choose from and the kitchen is 100% gluten free. Masa and mezcal is authentically Mexican, they’ve really done their research, but the menu also showcases local produce and some more creative dishes. Masa has a wall of mezcals for your tasting pleasure, they serve sampling boards with different mezcals and the knowledgeable staff will happily guide you through the different ages and tasting notes.
The staff are super friendly and always around to lend a hand. The service is incredible and the cocktails are to. die. for.
A couple of their members of staff have recently raised thousands of pounds to trek through Jordan for 5 days, raising money for refugees – an incredible company!
The Alma Tavern – best roast dinner
The roast dinner, an English favourite and an absolute classic. Looking for an amazing roast is sometimes quite the chore, so take my word for it and head for the Alma. This up market pub is located on Alma Vale road, just off of Whiteladies road. It’s a great place for a drink or a meal any day of the week, they often have live events – quizzes, music and the like – and they have a fantastic sun-trap beer garden. That’s not all! They also have an upstairs THEATRE – yes, a theatre. The theatre has small productions on all the time which are totally worth checking out after we are freed from our lockdowns. I can’t rave about this pub enough. The best part of the Alma in my opinion, though, is the roast dinner, it is always sublime, there is a great selection of drinks to complement and come rain or shine, the atmosphere in this pub is forever a winner.
Mayflower – the best Chinese
This Chinese restaurant is famed in the Bristol hospitality industry for its late night opening hours, mening that after a long late shift, you can pay the lovely people at Mayflower a visit for some hearty Chinese food!
I have seen some sights in the Mayflower past midnight, but if you can handle the company, you are in for a treat. The late opening times aren’t the only good thing about the mayflower, the food is also to die for. I have eaten a lot of Chinese meals in my life but this one is the best. I love the urban location of the restaurant, you are surrounded by graffiti, something Bristol is famous four, and it is smack bang in the middle of the city, right next to the iconic bear pit roundabout.
Gambas/bravas – incredible tapas
Tapas is probably my favourite way to eat. I love having lots of little bits to try, because I love to tantalise my taste buds and try lots new things!
Both Gambas and Bravas are classic Spanish tapas, with Spanish wine, aperitifs and incredible menus.
Bravas is located on Cotham hill, just off Whiteladies road. It is a tiny establishment which is ALWAYS full! I seriously recommend booking a table at Bravas because I’ve been turned away many times! Bravas saves bar stools and window stools for walk ins, but there is still rarely free seats in this incredible restaurant. The atmosphere here is second to none, busy staff calmly flutter around the tables, giggling with customers – it’s a fantastic place to be. On top of all of this is the main event, the food! The food is incredible, Bravas specialises in authentic Spanish tapas. Every year the company (Season and Taste) takes their staff away on a Spanish holiday to learn more about the food and the culture, meaning everyone is totally up to speed with the way the restaurant should be running.
Grab yourself a sherry and enjoy some seriously good tapas with friends.
Gambas is Bravas’ sister restaurant, it is located in the trendy district of Wapping Warf. Gambas is the Spanish word for prawns, they serve traditional Spanish tapas as well as some gorgeous prawn dishes making it worthy of its name.
Poco – the best for local produce
Poco is a cute little coffee shop by day and a super funky bistro in the evening. This place rocks tapas like a local, the dishes are small plates created with only local produce in mind. The ever changing menu reflects everything that is Bristol and the south west and they are not afraid to shout about it! They even write the local businesses that they have been working with on the walls – I love to know where my food is coming from and clearly so do many other people because this place is mostly full. Make sure to book a table so you won’t be disappointed!
Café Cuba – the hidden gem
Located in the cool district of Stokes croft, this hidden gem is often overlooked by locals, but it has the best mojito outside of Cuba. It will transport you. You will feel like you could be sitting by the beach on a warm Cuban evening, even if it is gently drizzling outside in the UK. Try this place if you’re craving some hearty Caribbean food and a handful of laughs over a (very strong) mojito, this place is summer in a restaurant all year round.
Dela – Insta haven
Dela has gone through some changes in the past couple of years. They started out as a fully functional restaurant, they then changed it up to more of a café style, and then now, they do a little bit of both.
Located in Easton, off of St Marks road, this is a gem of the neighbourhood with lofty ceilings and plenty of plants, it has a dreamy aesthetic – very Instagramable and trendy AND serves delicious coffee and pastries, what more could you want?
Noa – the best sushi in town
Noa has the best Sushi in Bristol! (Bold claim). Noa is located in the middle of Clifton Village. It can be quite hard to find this restaurant because it is so tiny and underground. Trust me, if you want fresh delicious sushi for a decent price in Bristol, it’s totally worth travelling up to Clifton Village to sample some of the goods on offer here.
It is some of the best sushi I have ever had and I always go back for more. I pray this restaurant makes it through the Covid pandemic because I would be so sad to see it go.
The Ethicurean – a countryside delight
The Ethicurean is located a little further outside of Bristol, Wrington is about 30 minutes away from Bristol city centre, but this restaurant is still very much worth a mention and 100% worth the journey. It is set in the countryside, nestled amongst stunning walled gardens where produce for the restaurant is organically grown.
This is countryside fine dining, the ingredients used in the carefully created menu are of the best quality, I have never tasted anything so naturally delicious.
This place really showcases the ingredients, instead of trying to be too fancy with food.
Zankys – local Italian
This tiny Italian restaurant specialises in Sardinian food. It is located in Horfield, past Gloucester road and serves stunning authentic Sardinian food and wine.
The owners are lovely and the atmosphere is always inviting. This restaurant is one of the little known great places to eat in Bristol, but give it a try it might just surprise you. Attentive staff, interesting wines, delicious food and a cosy atmosphere, Zankys is the perfect date night destination!
11. Bristol Cheesemonger – best food shop
Although not primarily a restaurant, this tiny cheese shop is my favourite place in Bristol, mainly for my love of cheese, this passion is shared with the lovely people who own and work in the shop. When the weather is nice, little chairs and tables are set up outside and you can eat seasonal cheeseboards and drink local wines in the English sunshine.
My favourite thing about this shop is that it massively supports local produce. Of course in my opinion cheese from the south west of England is the best cheese anyway (cause that’s my hometown), but they truly showcase these cheesemakers in store and on their social media accounts.
The Bristol Cheesemonger is still delivering locally and throughout the UK so get online to get your cheese fix.
12. Bianchis/Pasta Loco/La Sorella – greatest pasta
This is three places but they’re all so good, I had to include them all! Pasta Loco is the original restaurant in the small chain, located on (one of my favourite foodie roads in Bristol) Cotham hill, this restaurants popularity from the beginning has been astounding, during the peak of their popularity, Friday and Saturday nights were fully booked months in advance, but it is so worth the wait. The pasta is all hand made in house and prepared with the utmost care and precision. This is the closest you’ll get to authentic Italian food in England, truly incredible.
Bianchis and La Sorella are newer sister restaurants, Bianchis serves up a flashier menu whist La Sorella is a deli/restaurant and they are all an excellent place to indulge in a little aperitivo.
I cannot stress enough the struggles that these independent places will have been facing over the last few months and in the months to come, we must support our local hospitality industry if we want to keep this once thriving industry alive!
If there are any more great restaurants that you know in Bristol, or if you have any questions, send me a message at email@example.com OR send me a message on Instagram or Twitter with the handle @gbgoesplaces for both.