Bristol is the largest of all the cities in South West England and will soon be one of your favorite places to visit. It is a beautiful city that is home to more than 400 greenspaces and gardens that are perfect for walking around, as well as incredible art galleries and museums. One of them is even displaying the oldest dinosaur skeleton in all of Britain (and one of the oldest in the world) which was found right here in the city!
The city has a population originating from 187 countries and there are about 91 different languages spoken. With so many cultures and ethnicities, you can only imagine what kind of foods are being served in the bars, cafes and vegetarian restaurants in Bristol. There is even more offered in the eateries selling the best street food in Bristol as well!
You can tell that this city is serious about its food and every meal is worth celebrating. They even have a local tradition of eating Sunday Roast every week. This meal, eaten for Sunday lunch after church, is just one of the many great dishes that you can eat here. There are so many more foods worth trying and we've gathered a list for you below.
Bristol travel tip: No matter what your plans are in Bristol, don't slow your day down by carrying around extra gear. Store your bags safely in Bristol at a luggage storage facility. Then, see the sights and sample the food!
Bristol Food: Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's Pie is a pretty popular dish that isn't only found in Bristol restaurants but in eateries around the entire United Kingdom, and it is sure to be a favorite among meat eaters. You might have heard of it before but if you haven't, you can expect a savory dish similar to a casserole that is served warm. Common ingredients include mutton or lamb meat, carrots and onions with Worcestershire sauce and a thick gravy. The meal is seasoned with spices like black pepper, parsley and marjoram.
This already sounds delicious but we aren't done yet! Before being baked in the oven a thick layer of buttery mashed potatoes is added on top. The dish dates back to the 18th century when shepherds in England and Scotland created it. Shepherd's Pie really gained popularity when mincing machines were more accessible in the 1870s.
Bristol Food: Toad in the Hole
Despite the fact that the name is a bit odd, Toad in the Hole is a traditional delicacy in Britain, although at first it wasn't very popular and was mostly eaten by the working class. It doesn't actually have anything to do with toads but was given its name because the way that is it prepared makes it resemble frogs looking out of a hole.
The dish was first created in the 18th century after batter puddings made an appearance. To make this meal, sausages are placed in a Yorkshire pudding batter with a few treats on the side. It is usually served with mashed potatoes, onion gravy and vegetables.
Bristol Food: Jamaica Street Stores
Trying food in a new city doesn't always have to be a specific dish; sometimes just eating something made from locally sourced produce or using ingredients from local suppliers can be enough to give you a taste of the city. If this is what you're interested in, we suggest ordering anything from the Jamaica Street Stores in Stokes Croft.
They offer all sorts of small plates that you can either eat on your own or share with a friend. You can grab a sweet deal on some high end food if you visit them for lunch! No matter what you eat you are sure to love it and they are one of the best restaurants in Bristol for eating locally.
Bristol Food: Rock Cakes
Let's add something sweet to the list! Rock Cakes are a traditional type of English cookies that resemble scones but are often smaller and stiffer. They usually go along with Afternoon Tea. Ingredients include flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, butter, milk and vanilla extract. Dried fruits like raisins or sultanas are also added in.
Once these ingredients are mixed together they create a lumpy dough that is placed into the oven until it reaches a golden brown color. The result is a tasty treat with a light and crumbly consistency. Try them fresh out of the oven since they taste the best when they are still warm!
Bristol Food: Afternoon Tea
While you eat your Rock Cookies you just have to drink Afternoon Tea at the same time. This isn't only a Bristol treat but a tradition! If you want to do it right you need to have the Afternoon Tea between 3 pm and 5 pm. This British tradition was started in the 19th century by the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Stanhope. She would often experience feelings of dread and unhappiness in the evenings and drinking Afternoon Tea in her private chambers helped to cheer her up.
The fun thing about this treat is that there isn't just one kind of Afternoon Tea; in fact, there are three! Firstly there is Cream Tea which is always served with cream, scones and jam. Next is Light Tea which you would drink with some small sweets and scones, and finally, Full Tea which is combined with a full course of sweets, savories, scones and a dessert to finish.
Bristol Food: Full English Breakfast
You might not know this, but Bristol is actually a huge fan of breakfast. To create a traditional Full English Breakfast you will need to have all sorts of foods like sausage, bacon, beans, eggs, mushroom and grilled tomatoes. This is a meal that will definitely fill you up so make sure that you are hungry!
You can order a Full English Breakfast from the dining room of most Bristol restaurants and one that we recommend is a place called Rosemarino. You know that they have great food considering that they have won the Bristol Good Food Awards three years in a row! They have an all-day breakfast menu and like to use local produce as much as possible.
Bristol Food: Bubble and Squeak
After hearing the name of this dish you probably don't know what to expect. Apparently, it was given its name because of the noises that it makes while being fried or the noises that your stomach might make after eating it! The origins of this meal begin sometime around 1806 and was a common meal during the Second World War since it is easy to make, even when food is scarce.
The main ingredients for this meal are green vegetables and potatoes. The vegetables that are used change and might be different depending on which Bristol restaurant you go to. In the past, cabbage was used for Bubble and Squeak but today the head chef might opt for Brussel sprouts or another alternative instead. The type of vegetable that you use will change the flavor of the dish but not much else since it will be mashed together with the potatoes anyway. Once the combination of the potatoes and veggies is fried, the dish is ready to be eaten! In most cases, cold meats are served with it.
Bristol Food: Sourdough Pizza
Bristol has adopted foods from around the world, and much of the inspiration for the local cuisine is from Italy. Although pizza isn't an exclusive Bristol-only dish, it is a great choice for when you don't know what to eat for dinner. If you are searching for the best pizza you absolutely need to try a tasty Sourdough Pizza.
One of the best places to eat this dish is Bertha's Pizza in Wapping Wharf. They offer a creative but short menu full of inventive flavors with both meaty and vegetarian options. Try The Woods which is made with onion chutney, mushrooms, black garlic and smoked almonds.
Bristol Food: Mince Pie
Mince Pie, sometimes called Mincemeat, is another meal that meat eaters will enjoy and you should be able to find it in all of the best restaurants in Bristol around Christmas time. This seasonal treat is often associated with the holiday because of its rectangular shape which reminds people of baby Jesus' manger. This is why you might see the dish being served at Easter as well. In the past, the executive chef or whoever was cooking the meal would add spices and various ingredients to show off their wealth.
Traditionally the dish is made using several ingredients that are both sweet and savory. Some examples are lard, ground meat and cheese. Today you can find some dried fruits included as well. What you end up with is a delicious plate of spices and dried fruits surrounded by a crumbly shell of pastry.
Bristol Food: Beef, Ale and Blue Cheese Pie
Just because you've had one pie doesn't mean that you've tried them all, and this pie is completely different from the Mince Pie mentioned above. A Beef, Ale and Blue Cheese Pie is sure to be unlike anything that you've tasted before so don't miss out on your chance to try it while you are in Bristol!
The ingredients for the meal include potatoes, cabbage, butter, red onions, garlic and wholegrain mustard. It is a great dish for lunch or dinner so consider trying one for your next meal! The best place to order from in Bristol is a spot called Bristol Lovett Pies.
Bristol Food: Sausage Rolls
Although this treat isn't exclusive to the city it is a popular dish in many Bristol restaurants. There is just something delicious about mixing meat and pastry and once you try these sausage rolls they are sure to be a new firm favorite.
Ground pork sausage is most often used for this meal. After the meat is prepared it is rolled into a pastry crust and then baked until the crust is light and flaky. It makes for great breakfast food but can also be eaten throughout the day as a snack.
Bristol Food: Pasta
You might be surprised by how big Italian cuisine is here, but there are actually a lot of nice Italian restaurants in Bristol. From all of the menu items available, we definitely recommend the pasta and since there are so many varieties there is sure to be one that you like. If you are looking for the best Italian restaurant in Bristol we can't name just one, but actually have several that you should check out.
Pasta Ripiena and the sister restaurant Pasta Loco, which are owned by two local cousins, serve some of the best food in the local pasta world. You won't find the same menu at both. Instead, each place has a certain specialty; Pasta Ripiena focuses on stuffed pasta while Pasta Loco is more about original dishes or meals made with a unique twist. They are both very popular places to eat and can book up for weeks at a time, so save your spot before your trip to Bristol!
Bristol Food: Tapas
Aside from Italian dishes, Bristol is also somewhere you can find Spanish food. Tapas are small plates of food that are often served alongside drinks in bars and they have a pretty unique history. They were originally placed on top of drinks and used to keep the flies out, which is why they are called Tapas which means " to cover" in Spanish!
Over time, this snack has evolved into a more sophisticated dining experience and is sold in lots of Bristol restaurants. If you want to have the full experience you can go to a Tapas bar! One of the best restaurants in Bristol for Tapas is a spot called Poco Tapas. It's a lovely place to go and the food they serve changes seasonally. You can order anything that you want and feel good about it since they were named the most sustainable restaurant of the year back in 2016. Consider getting something off the tasting menu and a drink from their wine list to go with it.
Getting a Taste of Bristol
The Bristol food scene is quite diverse, with options like a pie made of meat to sweet desserts and some of the best seafood in Europe. Everywhere that you go you in the city centre and beyond will be close to food, so stop by any food truck, cafe or bar to try something new!
There are even two Michelin starred restaurants in Bristol along with several vegetarian and even vegan restaurants, so no matter what your diet is you will be able to find something delicious to eat. After eating all of these modern European dishes you might need to recover; why not go on a walk around the city? Near Bristol Coach Station you'll find the Bristol zoo gardens to wander though. If you are interested, check out this guide to the best hikes in Bristol.