This is one of the top five cities in the UK when it comes to Michelin stars. Bristol has three, along with several Bib Gourmands and two Michelin Green Stars (awarded to those establishments who show an elevated commitment to sustainable dining). But eating out doesn’t have to be fancy. If you prefer street food, sharing plates or relaxed cafe vibes, you’ll find it all in every corner of this multicultural and fashionable city. And Bristol’s proximity to the verdant Somerset countryside ensures there’s a wealth of excellent produce on the doorstep. Here is a selection of the best places to eat in the city.
Michelin star hunters look no further. The Bulrush in Cotham may appear unassuming from its understated little blue exterior, but this is a tour de force. Exclusively serving tasting menus (including a vegetarian one), diners here place their taste buds in the capable hands of Chef-Proprietor George Livesey. A simple decor of brick, whitewashed walls and bare floorboards contrasts the creative and deeply imaginative presentation of each dish – this is a good choice for those who enjoy artful edibles.
One of four in the UK, this Kibou is found in Clifton Village, a beautiful Japanese kitchen serving bao buns, tempura, donburi, katsu curries, poke bowls, sushi, teriyaki, yaki udon and more. If you can’t decide or enjoy a variety of flavours, opt for a sushi platter and a set of sharers. There’s a children’s menu too, including popular Japanese desserts like mochi ice cream and apple gyoza. And adults can indulge in a few cocktails or some sake. If it’s a hot day and you’d rather eat your food outside you can order to go (the bento boxes are ideal for this). Taking inspiration from Tokyo, the venue is colourful and stylish, its entrance flanked by two blossom trees.
Expect to be surprised when you dine here because the menus are not published in advance. What you get will depend on the season, the produce and what the inventive team fancy cooking on the in-house fire. What we do know is that it’ll consist of approximately 20 (yes, 20) courses, so you’ll need to set aside around three and a half hours for the experience. You get what you’re given, which is part of the trust dining journey, but means it’s not suitable for those with dietary requirements or a dislike of mystery. Lively and often loud, Casamia is a unique night out.
This restaurant is beside fellow Michelin star recipient, Casamia, And it comes from the same Sanchez family portfolio. Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias brings a slice of Andalucia in the form of vibrant tapas. Dine on the terrace, or at the eight-seater counter overlooking an open grill — the heart of the action. Decorated with period grey tiles and select Spanish prints, there’s a sense of sophisticated heritage, echoed in the menus. Choose the Chef’s Menu for a tour of Spain and be sure to accompany it with one of Paco Tapas’ superb selection of Spanish wines. They also offer chilled sherries served straight from the cask.
Family owned and run, it’s separated into four areas, with each named after the Bianchi sisters: Frances, Anna, Dina and Vittoria. This restaurant is steeped in Italian heritage, Bianchis’ wine list is dedicated to the family patriarch Aldo and the kitchen to Nonna. It’s found in the Montpelier neighbourhood and serves meals comprising up to five courses, fusing flavours from the homeland along with ingredients from the southwest. Lunch deals – with an optional glass of vino – are hard to beat and the rustic-chic interiors provide a sophisticated backdrop for a meal. And if you just want a natter with friends, pull up a chair at the bar and tuck into some antipasti and aperitivos.
Sliding floor to ceiling glass doors looking out onto the large pool that is Bristol’s glamorous lido, provide tables with the best seats in the house. It feels much like being abroad, a far cry from the city’s gritty industrial past. Pop in for a pre-dip breakfast, a relaxed lunch post-swim, or dress up for a tapas evening meal. There are a few seats right beside the water, with most indoors, split across two floors. An Italian clay oven is used for cooking sophisticated dishes like oak-smoked Rubio gallega beef, 36 months aged parmesan malfatti and Devon scallops.
Found in the landmark Grade I Listed Friary Building at Broadmead, this is a convenient place to stop for lunch during a day’s shopping — and a chic outdoor terrace means you can soak up the sun with a glass of vino in hand on a summer’s day. The award-winning interior is set out over two floors and includes a collection of stunning art works. German and local craft beers are served courtesy of the Bristol Beer Factory and the food menu focuses on Mittel-European classics and much loved traditional German dishes inspired by Klosterhaus chef, Bjoern Wassmuth’s own heritage.