Features / Bristol

Bristol’s best food & drink of 2019

By martin booth, Thursday Dec 19, 2019

It has been another bumper year for Bristol’s food and drink scene. Here are just a few of our favourites:

BEST RESTAURANTS

1. Wilsons
24 Chandos Road, Redland, BS6 6PF
www.wilsonsbristol.co.uk

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New four- or seven-course evening menus aim to “truly celebrate British produce and sustainability”. Much of the restaurant’s new daily-changing menu comes from their own farm in Barrow Gurney, with a plat du jour lunch for just £10 one of the best deals in the city.

2. Casamia
Lower Guinea Street, Redcliffe, BS1 6FU
www.casamiarestaurant.co.uk

There is no better Bristol flag bearer on the UK scene than Peter Sanchez-Iglesias. 2019 saw Casamia celebrate its 20th birthday with Peter also finding the time to preside over the kitchen at Decimo in new London hotel The Standard.

3. Box-E
Cargo 1, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WP
www.boxebristol.com

Continuing to do amazing things in a tiny space, this year saw Box-E awarded a Bib Gourmand with the Michelin Guide inspectors praising its “earthy, flavour-packed dishes; served by a super-smiley team”.

4.Bulrush
21 Cotham Road South, Cotham, BS6 5TZ
www.bulrushrestaurant.co.uk
Another of Bristol’s Michelin-starred restaurants, from chef-patron George Livesey, which late this year stopped offering an à la carte menu and now exclusively serves its imaginative tasting menu.

5. Root
Cargo 1, Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WP
www.eatdrinkbristolfashion.co.uk/root

It’s amazing to think that these converted shipping containers started off serving fried chicken. Root is now nationally renowned for serving a vegetable-focused menu using local ingredients.

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BEST PUBS

1. The Bag of Nails
141 St George’s Road, BS1 5UW

Undoubtedly the best pub in Bristol for cat lovers with a menagerie of moggies often lounging on the bar or on a feline-size chaise longue. And a damn fine pub for good beer as well. Those in the know buy their beer in here before heading for a meal at the excellent Chai Shai just a few doors down.

2. The Drapers Arms
447 Gloucester Road, Horfield, BS7 8TZ
www.thedrapersarms.co.uk

Bristol’s micropubs continue to grow in number, with this year seeing the arrival of the Lyons Den in Kingswood. The Drapers Arms is the original and – for many – the best, with brewers mixing with builders at the bar.

3. The Hillgrove
53 Hillgrove Street North, Kingsdown, BS2 8LT
www.dawkinsales.com/page28.html

One of a stable of five Dawkins pubs in Bristol and a very strong contender to be the best of the bunch. “Exactly what an honest boozer should be,” said Good Chemistry’s Kelly Sidgwick in this year’s EatDrink24/7 guide.

4. The Bank
John Street, BS1 2HR
www.banktavern.com

The roasts at this city centre pub are regularly booked up months in advance and there is even more demand for a table now after the team scooped the Observer Food Monthly Awards gong for the best Sunday lunch in the UK in October.

5. The Star & Garter
33 Brook Road, Montpelier, BS6 5LR
www.starandgarterbristol.co.uk

A meat raffle by comedian Dave Chappelle, music from Damian Marley, magic from Dynamo and a DJ set from Roni Size heralded the return of this much-loved pub in June.

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Read more: Bristol pub wins UK’s best Sunday lunch

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BEST BARS

1. The Gallimaufry
26-28 Gloucester Road, BS7 8AL
www.thegallimaufry.co.uk

Whether it’s a bar, restaurant or live music venue is irrelevant. The Gallimaufry remains one of the best places in Bristol for a few drinks, good food and guaranteed food-tapping music. Be sure to check out sister restaurant Suncraft just the other side of the road.

2. Friendly Records Bar
57 North Street, Bedminster, BS3 1HJ
www.facebook.com/friendlyrecordsbar

With anyone from Big Jeff to Geoff Barrow behind the decks, Friendly Records bar is a music mecca. Come for regular live music, and special events including cider vs music pairings, and a music and film quiz.

3. Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf
6-8 Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WE
www.wildbeerco.com/bars/wild-beer-at-wapping-wharf

The flagship bar from one of the Bristol area’s most ground-breaking breweries is unafraid to share their favourite brews from other breweries near and far. Look out for Wild Beer’s truck bar appearing at events throughout the year.

4. Hyde & Co
The Basement, 2 Upper Byron Place, Clifton, BS8 1YJ
www.hydeand.co

Bristol’s original speakeasy and still one of its best. A new menu launched in July was inspired by Bristol’s past and the drinking establishments which have paved the way for the cocktail bars of present day.

5. Small Bar
31 King Street, BS1 4DZ

Bristol’s beer drinking mecca continues to be a favourite, with 31 taps pouring beers from around the world. Kitchen residents Wing’s Diner are worth the trip here even if beer is not your tipple.

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Read more: Community mounts bid to save south Bristol pub

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BEST CAFES

1. Ka:Fei
St Augustine’s Parade
@kafeibristol

Even the England rugby team became fans of Ka:Fei this year

Now in a converted shipping container which replaced their old kiosk and with a new name this year, the cafe formerly known as Just Ground is better than ever and still open at 6.30am from Monday to Friday being a lifesaver for early birds who need their expertly made Extract coffees.

2. Little Victories
7 Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WE
www.littlevics.co.uk

The beating heart of Wapping Wharf from the same team behind the just-as-excellent Small Street Espresso. There’s not many better starts to the day than a toasted banana bread and coffee here, with espresso martinis and cheese boards in the evening.

3. Convoy Espresso
The Paintworks, Bath Road, BS43EH
www.convoyespresso.com

In two converted Airstream caravans, come for the coffee and stay for the cheese toasties. So picturesque that even Martin Parr (whose Foundation is a few hundred yards away) held a photoshoot here this year.

4. Full Court Press
59 Broad Street, BS1 2EJ
www.fcp.coffee

Full Court Press founder Mat North sold half of the business this year to Jonny Simpson – with the cafe remaining the place to visit for the best speciality coffee in Bristol.

5. No.25A Old Market
25A Old Market Street, BS2 0HB
@25a_oldmarket

With coffee from Triple Co, some of the best cheese toasties in town, a fine selection of local beers and comfy sofas, No. 25A continues to be at the heart of the flourishing Old Market neighborhood.

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Read more: Pop-up cafe opens in Easton garage

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BEST SHOPS

1. Zara’s Chocolates
200 North Street, Bedminster, BS3 1JF
www.zaraschocolates.com

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After their first full year in their own shop, Zara’s Chocolates is both bigger and better than ever before – including a brand new mural by Zoe Power. From festive fun to Easter enchantments, the shop now also has a hot chocolate bar from where to peruse the delicious stock always on the shelves and glimpse Zara and her team at work.

2. Hart’s Bakery
Arch 35, Lower Approach Road, BS1 6QS
www.hartsbakery.co.uk

For many, it’s more a cafe than a shop – but Laura Hart has always wanted her business to be first and foremost a bakery. Their one-off creations this year have been more imaginative than ever, from a salted chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake to dukkah sourdough with sesame and hazelnuts.

3. The Bristol Cheesemonger
Cargo 2, Museum Street, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6ZA
www.bristol-cheese.co.uk

Supplying local and UK artisan cheeses, and now also providing a bespoke cheese and wine menu with specially matched drinks. A milk vending machine is being installed soon, allowing customers to buy fresh milk on tap and plastic-free.

4. Two Belly
116 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, BS8 2RP
www.twobelly.co.uk

Cheese and beer. That is the simple premise from Two Belly on Blackboy Hill, who as well as being specialists in these two life essentials have this year hosted some of the best food and drink events in the city.

5. Popti & Beast
94 Mina Road, St Werburgh’s, BS2 9XW
www.poptiandbeast.co.uk

An organic butchers and bakery all in one, serving burgers outside the shop on Fridays and Saturdays, and takeaway roasts on a Sunday.

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Read more: Pop-up gin shop opens in time for Christmas

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BEST STREET FOOD

1. DonDon
www.dondonbristol.co.uk

Ballet’s loss is street food’s gain, as former National Ballet of Japan dancer Makoto Nakamura now serves delicious donburi in an effort to introduce real Japanese food to the streets of Bristol.

2. Momo Bar
www.momo-bar.co.uk

All created from scratch, momos are steamed Tibetan dumplings full of the likes of mixed vegetables, beef and chicken. Try the specials including fried momos for when the health kick can have a day off.

3. Alp Mac
www.alpmac.co.uk

The Alp Mac team got a fresh new look this year, moving from their gazebo into a converted 1974 Mercedes food truck, still serving Bristol’s best grilled mac & cheese.

4. Murray May’s
www.murraymays.co.uk

If you think you know what a kebab tastes like, think again. Inspired by the many different cuisines of the Middle East, Murray May’s cook with fire on a Turkish mangal grill within a converted ambulance.

5. The Little Taquero
www.thelittletaquero.co.uk

Bristol has a serious taste for Mexican food. The Little Taquero team do things properly, serving some of the city’s best tacos on their own soft corn tortillas.

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Read more: 21 of Bristol’s best market stalls and street food

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BEST FOOD & DRINK EVENTS

1. Belly Laughs
Various dates and venues
@bellylaughs2

The second annual Belly Laughs saw a host of comedians performing to raise money for charity – including an entire evening of laughter at almost every food and drink business at Wapping Wharf. Almost 20 venues are hosting events for Belly Laughs’ return in January 2020.

2. Coffee House Project
September 7 & 8, Passenger Shed
www.thecoffeehouseproject.co.uk

Another successful second annual festival, with this year’s event going disposable cup free and featuring a brilliant baristas vs bartenders competition.

3. Bristol Craft Beer Festival
June 7 & 8, Lloyds Amphitheatre
www.bristolcraftbeerfestival.co.uk

Two days of world class beer, great food and live music, with international and national breweries pouring special and one-off brews.

4. Bristol Food Connections
June 12-23, various venues
www.bristolfoodconnections.com

A citywide feast of food tours, creative workshops, panel discussions and much more. One of the joys of this festival is to experience the city’s blossoming food scene outside of the usual BS1 bubble.

5. FoodFireEarth
Various dates and venues
@FoodFireEarth

A supper club from Genevieve Taylor and Jo Ingleby promising “exciting food events based on a shared love of fire and growing stuff to eat”. Events this year have included tapas at New Bristol Brewery and a Greek night at Yurt Lush.

Read more: Bristol’s best new food & drink of 2019

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