With over 60 new food and drink openings in 2016, and a further 64 predicted in 2017, Bristol is bursting at the seams with exciting new bars and restaurants rivalling London as the UK’s food capital. Whilst I am extremely excited to see which of these new businesses flourish (and try every one of them), it got me thinking about all of the great restaurants and bars that started it all. Without them, Bristol’s foodie scene just wouldn’t be the same and certainly wouldn’t be where it is today. So we’re about to pay tribute to the OGs who set the scene and have set the bar so high for our newcomers.
1-3 York Road, Montpelier, Bristol BS6 5QB
Hidden in the little streets of the flamboyant and bohemian Montpelier district, Bell’s Diner has come to be one of the most treasured destinations in Bristol. Established in 1976, the restaurant remains true to its neighbourhood roots and would, without a doubt, make Shirley Anne Bell herself, proud. Taking over the legacy of this restaurant in 2013, Sam Sohn-Rethel and his team have consistently surprised our palates with dishes brimming with character. Bell’s Diner is a little haven for intimate evenings sipping drinks and eating delicious food.
The Grove, Bristol BS1 4RB
Without a doubt one of the best restaurants in town, Riverstation has been a pioneer in the Bristol foodie scene. Established in 1997, the restaurant has been an immense source of inspiration in terms of the quality of ingredients restaurants choose to use. Crafting delicious meals using locally sourced ingredients, every bite has a tantalising freshness. With a menu that changes by the day, and a venue bursting with personality and cultural heritage, it’ll be hard to topple these guys!
37-38 St Stephens Street, Bristol BS1 1JX
Being myself Italian, I couldn’t resist to mention Europa: one of my favourite places to eat when in need of comfort. Founded in 1990, this well-established restaurant has accumulated years of praise winning the hearts and stomachs of many. Bringing back flavours from his home country, Italian chef Pietro Tallo has been an invaluable force to the city’s food scene, teaching Bristol’s foodies a thing or two about what really makes a true and authentic Italian dish. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, just like Italy’s kind hospitality.
The Olive Shed
The Floating Harbour, Princes Wharf, Bristol BS1 4RN
With a killer view overlooking the Harbour, the Olive Shed has got to be up there with Bristol’s established big names. Starting its journey in 2001 the restaurant has quickly gained notoriety for its tasty olives and deliciously crafted food. If you’re planning a date with someone who is spectacularly indecisive, make sure to pay the Olive Shed a visit: they literally have everything! Tapas, a light lunch, dinner, cake, you name it! They even have their own little shop where you can indulge in buying organic and locally produced products.
The Clifton Sausage
7 Portland Street, Bristol BS8 4JA
Perhaps not as old as its fellow counterparts, the Clifton Sausage has quickly made its mark on Bristol’s foodie scene since 2002. Set in the heart of the charming Clifton village, this warm and friendly establishment has captivated our attention with their mouthwatering and exquisitely executed English classics. The menu also boasts a list of banging bangers ready to satisfy anyone’s meaty and veggie cravings. Be sure to pay these OGs a visit as their food is out of this world!
25 Zetland Road, Bristol BS6 7AH
Unfazed by the competition, Greens is still going strong with years of experience and a seriously ardent clientele. Set just off of the famous Gloucester Road, this little restaurant has been at the heart of Bristol’s foodie scene for many years. With its cosy atmosphere and warm welcoming, it is always and truly pleasurable to dine at Greens. Taking inspiration from traditional English cuisine, the chefs reimagine British classics by infusing their dishes with tasty international flavours that will leave your senses overwhelmed with delight.
44 Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1HQ
Probably one of the few restaurants that have remained pretty old school in their ways, San Carlo has been going strong since 1996. Bringing years of expertise to Bristol’s culinary table, the restaurant offers some incredible tastes of Italy. With its grand decor and team of extremely friendly waiters, the restaurant is without a doubt, a perfect venue for an evening spent eating good Italian food. If you find yourself in this neighbourhood be sure to pop in even for a quick lunch! They’ve got a fantastic menu of Cicchetti — the Italian equivalent of Spanish tapas.
112 Princess Victoria Street, Bristol BS8 4DB
Home to Keith Floyd’s first restaurant, the Wallfish Bistro took over this cultural heritage home in 2013 and made it into its own. Taking inspiration from the Westcountry, the restaurant has had a remarkable amount of commendations for its contemporary cuisine. With a decadent menu and a beautiful list of wines, it is no surprise that the Wallfish Bistro is one of our favourites!
The Old Bookshop
65 North Street, Bristol BS3 1ES
A local’s all time favourite since 2011, the Old Bookshop has had several years to build its reputation as the best and quirkiest pub in Bedminster. It takes a lot of courage to approach an English classic and turn it into something new! With a pretty wacky vintage decor, the Old Bookshop serves up ethical and sustainable food sure to make you come back for more! Our favourite: the cured salmon, sauce gribiche, and salt & vinegar potatoes.
1, Clifton Arcade, Boyces Avenue, Bristol BS8 4A
Bringing you one of the best cakes and breakfasts since 1993, this little cafe was bound to find its way in here! With a venue that caters for anyone’s mood, Primrose Cafe has been the ultimate pit stop for many’s afternoon spent in the Clifton Village. Using only local, sustainable, and ethical ingredients, these guys know what they’re doing and boy can you taste it. Be sure to pop by if you haven’t already!
32, St. Nicholas Street, Bristol BS1 1TG
A true OG of Bristol’s Foodie and Boozie scene, Mr Wolf’s has a remarkably unique story behind its origins. Founded in 2002 by Adam Wolff and his father, the establishment was far from what we know it to be today. It all started aboard a tin yellow wagon serving up veggie noddles at festivals. The Wolff’s noodles quickly hit the spot for many foodies and inspired them to set camp in the heart of Bristol with a noodle and smoothie bar. The establishment flourished into a live music venue perfect for boozie mischief. Loved by many, Mr Wolf’s has become an all-time favourite and a must-see destination for visitors. Watch this space and be sure to pay them a visit for a taste of history as these guys have gone back to their roots, serving up the famous noodles that started it all!
51 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3QP
Shamelessly admitting this, I have spent more time at No.51 than in my own home. Bringing the streets of Stokes Croft one of the best and booziest nights in town, No.51 prides itself on a food-oriented heritage. Friendly and always up for a good laugh, the guys behind No.51 are true gems serving up amazing pizza’s and burgers. My favourite: the beef burger and the salty seagull pizza!
34 Portland Square, Bristol BS2 8XG
Hidden from prying eyes, Cosies has been the ultimate destination for locals and visitors since the 90s. With its true reflection of Bristol’s historical underground scene, Cosie’s gained notoriety for its parties and superb drinks. Filled with character, the cellar is the perfect place for a pint with friends, and an excellent venue to get loose to the best music Bristol’s got to offer! With vaulted ceilings like that, it’s always a cosy affair.
The Rummer Hotel, All Saints Lane, Bristol BS1 1JH
Brimming with history, The Rummer has been a source of inspiration for many entrepreneurs. Revamped in 2005, the bar has consistently pushed the boundaries! With intimate cellars, a micro-distillery, and a library of parliamentary debates, the Rummer is our all-time favourite!
The White Lion Clifton
Sion Hill, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4LD
Keeping up with times, the White Lion firmly continues to be a key player in Bristol’s bustling boozie scene. Out with the old, in with the new, the White Lion has transformed from what it once used to be. Serving up tasty drinks with the best terrace in town, the new White Lion is sure to leave its guests flabbergasted! A fantastic view with fabulous food and drinks to boot!
Hyde & Co
2 Upper Byron Place, Bristol BS8 1JY
Proudly upholding its cultural heritage since 2010, this prohibition bar has remained an all time favourite for locals. With its low-lit and speakeasy-style bar, this establishment is a true homage to the old school gentleman’s clubs. Serving one of the best and strongest cocktails in town, ‘the Countess’ is by far our favourite cocktail!