21 Bristol harbourside restaurants and cafes you won't want to miss

Sometimes you just can't beat a good view

Updated on 28 June 2021 • Written By Rosie Conroy

21 Bristol harbourside restaurants and cafes you won't want to miss

Like lots of trendy areas now, Bristol Harbourside started out life as a thriving industrial area – playing host to a busy dock – and has been modernised into a buzzy home for shops, bars and restaurants. What was once an area devoid of attractions is now one of the most exciting areas of the city and is well worth visiting next time you find yourself in Bristol.

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Bristol residents and tourists alike flock to this fashionable area during the day to explore the quirky shops in Wapping Wharf, while the evenings see the area become a food and drink hotspot. A particularly popular spot by the harbourside is CARGO, a retail yard made from converted shipping containers, which plays host to a range of exciting independent eateries. A big pull for a lot of the restaurants on Bristol Harbourside is the fact that they are close to the water. This means that when summer rolls around and it’s warm enough to sit outside, harbourside drinks and al fresco become a must.

We’ve done the (very demanding) job of working out the best Bristol Harbourside restaurants for you, so that next time you’re in the area you shouldn’t be hard pressed to find somewhere serving up delicious food. Whether you’re looking for a traditional British pub lunch or something a little more exotic, we’ve got options to suit every taste. We’ve also included a section on our favourite harbourside cafés for when you’re just on the hunt for a coffee and cake rather than a substantial meal. We’ve included restaurants at all price points too, so that there’s something for all budgets.

Take a scroll through our favourite Bristol Harbourside restaurants below, and let us know if you think we’ve missed any hidden gems. We always love to know the inside scoop from locals.

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Best Bristol Harbourside Restaurants

With everything on offer from top notch street food to fine dining restaurants with stunning views of the water, there is plenty to get your teeth into when it comes to Bristol Harbourside restaurants. These are our picks of the best restaurants in this fashionable area of the city.

Root

Why: Putting veg at the centre of each dish, Root is a casual small plates restaurant in Bristol’s harbourside development which has a seasonally-led menu. There’s the occasional bit of fish or meat, but mostly this is all about colourful, crunchy local veg – like a plate of herb and chilli dressed tomatoes with an almond sauce and pickled fennel, or charred hispi cabbage with cheese sauce and an onion crumb.
Where: Unit 9 Cargo 1, Gaol Ferry Steps, BS1 6WP

ALUNA

Why: With contemporary interiors, a modern pan-Asian menu, and a cracking cocktail list, ALUNA makes the perfect pitstop at Bristol Harbourside. Treat yourself to a chicken katsu burger, sweet and sour pork or a platter of gyoza, before washing it all down with one of the speciality drinks. We’re talking glittery additions and glasses topped with toasted marshmallow foam – these aren’t your ordinary cocktails. Each weekend ALUNA also does a bottomless brunch in Bristol.
Where: 4 Broad Quay, BS1 4DA

Tare

Why: For something a little bit posher than your average, Tare serves up a five-course set tasting menu, which is ideal if you’re looking to impress a date or celebrate a special occasion with friends. Menus flex with the seasons but you can expect combos like duck with spring greens, black garlic and barley or cured trout with local wasabi, apple, and radish.
Where: 14 Museum Street, BS1 6ZA

Three Brothers Burgers

Why: Sometimes only a burger will do to satisfy a really intense hunger, and we’ve found the perfect place to get your fill. Three Brothers Burgers serve up incredible combos at really reasonable prices. From beef and chicken to halloumi and mushroom, there are options for all kinds of burger lovers. One of our favourites is the Buttermilk fried chicken burger, which is served with special seasoning, lettuce and spicy mayo in a glazed brioche bun. At £8.25, we think it’s great value and there’s the option to add all sorts of delicious sides too. Deep fried pickles, anyone?
Where: Welsh Back, BS1 4SB

The River Grille

Why: For Harbourside views you don’t get much better than The River Grille (part of The Bristol Harbourside Hotel), with its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the water. What’s more if you visit at lunchtime on a Saturday, or for dinner on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday you’ll be treated to live music – either a live pianist or a jazz trio, depending on the night. All that ambiance deserves some good food to go along with it, and luckily The River Grille delivers. Choose from one of their menus (a la carte, set, pre-theatre, Sunday lunch) and treat yourself to their signature modern food. Expect dishes like blackened cod with wilted pak choi and chilli and ginger dressing, or a veal chop with wilted summer greens and roasting jus.
Where: Prince Street, BS1 4QF

No 1 Harbourside

Why: This South Western gem has a three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, meaning you can dine in comfort knowing that everything you’re eating has been carefully sourced and that the team are taking steps to reduce their waste and minimise their energy usage. When it comes to the food there’s a regularly-changing menu that reflects what’s in season, to make the most of the best ingredients. Mains are priced between £10-16 and typically include dishes like Cornish mussels in cider cream, chicken pot roast, and fish and chips.
Where: 1 Canon's Road, BS1 5UH

Las Iguanas

Why: After something quick and easy? Las Iguanas is your place. This casual Latin chain restaurant is the ideal place to sprawl out with the family or to meet pals for some drinks after work. The menu is split into sections for nibbles, tapas and mains from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Peru – so there’s quite the plethora of options. Go safe with guacamole, nachos and fajitas or try something a bit different with a creamy Brazilian chicken and crayfish stew, or Havana club and Jerk BBQ spiced ribs.
Where: South Building, BS1 5UH

Woky Ko

Why: As the holder of one of our coveted Bronze Awards, you know you’re in safe hands dining at Woky Ko. Created by MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen, this casual Asian eatery is housed in a small (but perfectly formed) shipping container right on the edge of Wapping Wharf. On the menu you’ll find a range of plate-styles, from small tapas-sized serves to sharing boards and individual mains. A couple of our favourites have to be the Korean fried chicken with kimchi and gochujang, and the chicken Singapore vermicelli noodles.
Where: Unit 7, CARGO, Wapping Wharf, Gaol Ferry Steps, BS1 6WP

Za Za Bazaar

Why: If you’re the type of person who can never make up their mind when faced with a menu, you might just be in luck. This ‘world banquet and bar’ seats a whopping 700 people and is designed to look a little like a food market, with Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Italian and American cuisines all included. Za Za Bazaar's design is eclectic and the food options can be a little hectic, but if you’re with a mixed group and have kids along for the day it’s a great one-size-fits all option.
Where: Harbourside, Canon's Road, BS1 5UH

Prezzo Bristol

Why: The beauty of a chain restaurant is you know what you’re getting, it’s a safe bet. This particular branch of Prezzo is in an old Lead Works, so encompasses the industrial chic feeling of the Harbourside area and serves up all the usual Italian options. Start with an antipasti board of Italian meats or go for caprese salad; and for mains why not choose one of Prezzo’s comfortingly familiar pizzas or pastas.
Where: Anchor Road, BS1 5DB

Riverstation

Why: At Riverstation, everything is made in house – whether that’s the bread you start your meal with or the ice cream you tuck into as a finale. This SquareMeal Bronze Award winner is housed in the former headquarters of the riverside police, affording it front-row seats to views of the harbour. If sampling their menu for dinner you can expect starters such as pan fried scallops with watercress and pickled apple, and for mains there’s typically a selection of crowd-pleasing classics with a twist; like steak served with a shallot and parsley butter or a skate wing finished with paprika.
Where: The Grove, BS1 4RB

Paco Tapas

Why: Run by Michelin starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, you know you’re going to be getting dishes a little bit more special than your average Patatas Bravas at this Bristol-based tapas bar. There’s huge emphasis put on seasonality and the very best ingredients at Paco Tapas, which translates to plates on offer that are bursting with colour and flavour.  A recent favourite of ours was the monkfish and Manteca with burnt butter, anchovies and parsley sauce, but classics are done really well here too, like the perfect Spanish omelette or a simple tomato salad that has just the right balance of acidity throughout the dressing.
Where: 3A, The General, Lower Guinea Street, BS1 6SY

Aqua Welsh Back

Why: Aqua deal in crowd-pleasers, with a menu made up of a comforting array of carbs and familiar favourites. As the name might suggest their specialty is seafood, but with a modern Italian twist. There’s focaccia to nibble on, fritto misto for starters and smoked haddock risotto for mains. This is the perfect spot for a mixed group, as there’s sure to be something everyone fancies thanks to the safety of an Italian menu.
Where: Welsh Back, BS1 4RR

BOX-E

Why: Another restaurant within the CARGO development, BOX-E has been winning plaudits since it opening inside a pair of shipping containers in 2017. The 14-seater restaurant, run by a husband-and-wife team, has an open kitchen and serves a regularly changing seasonal menu which showcases sustainable British produce. Dishes rarely drift over the £20 mark, making BOX-E an appealing harbourside option if you're looking for something a little more special without breaking the bank.
Where: Welsh Back, BS1 4RR

 

Prince St Social

Why: This modern bar serves up crowd-pleasing dishes throughout the day, even catering for breakfast. There’s attention paid to dietary requirements too, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on offer, as well as staff being able to tell you a full list of allergens on request. To start why not tuck into crispy squid rings with sweet chilli and mayo, or a crayfish cocktail topped with creamy avocado and that signature Marie Rose sauce. When it comes to mains there are kebabs, burgers and salads, as well as pub classics like bangers ‘n’ mash and roast dinners.
Where: 37-41 Prince Street, BS1 4PS

FiSH

Why: The boat that was formerly home to the Glassboat Brasserie had a rehaul during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown and has now become FiSH - a restaurant focused around serving the freshest seafood around, which has normally been landed by day boats from Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Where better to enjoy some of the finest fish in town than in a boat bobbing up and down in the harbour.
Where: Welsh Back, BS1 4SB

The Stable Bristol

Why: Hello, who doesn’t like pizza? This popular Industrial-style pizzeria specialises in organic sourdough pizzas and cider. Toppings are typically locally-sourced and include things like slow-roasted pulled beef and Naga harissa marinated jerk chicken. If you’re a purest no need to panic, there are also some classic combos like the original favourite: the Margherita. Prices vary from around £8.50 to £13 and there are vegan and gluten-free options available too. 
Where: Canon's Road, BS1 5UH

Spitfire Barbecue

Why: What's better when sat outside during the summer than a barbecue? Spitfire Barbecue prides itself on using the finest quality meats to create a full-on Texas BBQ experience right on the harbour's edge. Expect double stacked burgers, spice-rubbed brisket and killer ribs, and don't worry if you're unlucky with the weather - the inside of the restaurant is just as buzzy as its terrace.
Where: 1 Hannover Quay, BS1 5JE

Best Bristol Harbourside Cafés

Sometimes you don’t want a full on three course meal, and that’s where the humble café comes into its own. Serving up tried-and-tested favourites like soups and sandwiches our pick of Bristol Harbourside cafes are all cosy little spots that make the perfect places to grab a quick lunch, take your laptop for an afternoon of working on the go, or meet up with pals at.

Arnolfini Café Bar

Why: Based inside Bristol's famous Arnolfini contemporary art gallery, the Arnolfini Café Bar spills out onto an al fresco decked area on the harbourside. This picturesque spot is the perfect place to come for coffee and cake during the day, while in the evenings the bar, managed by independent brewery Bristol Beer Factory, comes into its element as you can sit drinking draught pints while overlooking the water.
Where: 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA

Dockyard Café Bar

Why: If you’re just after a light bite, rather than a full evening meal, the dockyard Café Bar could be the perfect place to stop for lunch while wandering round Bristol Harbourside. This café has quite the novel location, too, being located alongside the historic Brunel’s SS Great Britain ship. For little guests there are lunchboxes on offer, while the grown ups can choose from a menu of lunch classics – like toasted paninis and sandwiches, as well as homemade soup. The bakes  here are a winner too, with delicious things on offer like Victoria sponge and ginger cakes.
Where: Brunel's SS Great Britain, Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Road, Bristol, BS1 6TY

Friska Victoria St

Why: Friska is tucked away a little from the Harbourside, but is just a short walk away and the leg-stretch will be well worth it. This Bristol hot-spot is renowned for serving up lunches with a global twist – you’ll find everything from Vietnamese to Turkish dishes on the menu. Pushing the boat out past leek and potato, you’ll be able to pick up a chicken Pho soup, and when it comes to sandwiches they’ve been given a twist too. Popular items include a BBQ pulled pork burrito and a halloumi wrap. If it’s a warm day and you don’t fancy something hot then there are lots of boxes on offer too, a bit like a very posh packed lunch. We love the sound of the crispy chicken and toasted pine nuts salad box.  The coffee here is pretty delicious too.
Where: 36 Victoria Street, Bristol, BS1 6BY

Fancy eating out earlier in the day? Explore our round up of the very best brunch Bristol has to offer.