We’ve been shouting about Bristol’s brilliant food scene for ages now - this is a city that has something for everyone, from chic, no-expense-spared fine dining, right down to the comforts of a cheap and cheerful cafe or pub. That's before we get into the incredible choice that vegans have in the city - you can check out our roundup of Bristol's best vegan restaurants here.
Until recently, Bristol boasted the most Michelin-starred restaurants of any UK city outside the capital, as well as one of its most respected in Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ Casamia. The unfortunate closure of Casamia in August 2022 reduced the city’s Michelin star count from three to two, with sister restaurant Paco Tapas and George Livesey’s magnificent Bulrush still flying the flag. Josh Eggleton’s Pony and Trap restaurant at Chew Magna was also a longtime fixture in the Michelin Guide, but was removed in 2021 when Josh and team decided to take the respected gastropub in a more casual, accessible direction.
Still, Michelin isn’t the be-all and end-all of fine dining is it! There are lots of fantastic fine dining restaurants in Bristol that have yet to be graced with a star from Michelin’s inspectors. Some of these have been awarded Bib Gourmands instead - a badge given to restaurants that offer ‘good quality and good value cooking’ - and some are mentioned in the guide alongside a Michelin plate (the guide's lowest award). Nonetheless, they’re still worthy of consideration - a guide is just a guide after all, and though the likes of Wilsons and Adelina Yard, for example, have not yet received awards, they still rank among Bristol’s very best restaurants.
On top of that, both Josh Eggleton and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias are busying themselves with exciting new plans for restaurants. We certainly wouldn’t bet against either of them finding their way back into the guide with another star against their name.
In the meantime, scroll down to read more about Paco Tapas and Bulrush, as well as a slew of other fantastic fine dining restaurants in Bristol.
Michelin-starred restaurants Bristol
What: Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s second Michelin-starred restaurant is a return to the Sanchez family’s Spanish roots, and it’s done with real conviction. Paco Tapas is a genuine slice of Andalusia down by the Bristol waterside, complete with barrels, patterned tiles, seats by the counter and a fiery Spanish-style grill dominating the open kitchen. The brown-paper menu is short, but bang on the money: cured meats, croquetas, stuffed quail and giant prawns from the Canaries. Apart from sherry, drinkers have a terrific choice of Spanish regional wines as well as giant G&Ts served in balloon glasses.
Where: 3A The General, Lower Guinea Street, BS1 6SY
Book now: Paco Tapas
What: George Livesey’s St John background is evident in the toned-down whitewash and wood interiors at Bulrush, but the food is undoubtedly his own, with wide-ranging influences and unusual ingredients combined masterfully. Isle of Wight tomatoes are paired with saffron, sancho pepper and lemon leaf, for example, whilst a sweet course of mirabelle plum, shiso sorbet, blueberry and hibiscus is completely unique, and almost visionary.
Where: 21 Cotham Road South, BS6 5TZ
Book now: Bulrush
Fine dining restaurants Bristol
What: Adelina Yard boasts a perfect waterside location by Queen’s Square, and elegant fine dining to match. The interiors are chic and modern but there’s no stuffiness here, and chefs Olivia Barry and Jamie Randall deliver precise, modern European food that is incredibly fairly priced for the quality and location.
Where: Queen Quay, Welsh Back, BS1 4SL
Book now: Adelina Yard
What: Long-admired as one of Bristol’s best restaurants, Wilsons remains underappreciated nationally but revered among locals. Jan Ostle and Mary Wilson’s charming Redland bistro has a relaxed feel, but delivers tremendous, precise cooking, with a heavy lean on home-grown vegetables and West Country suppliers.
Where: 22a Chandos Road, BS6 6PF
Book now: Wilsons
What: You’ll have to venture a little out of town to get to The Ethicurean, but the journey to Wrington (just past the airport) is worth it. This lovingly-restored Victorian walled garden and kitchen is home to some of the most exciting, inventive cooking in the south west - plump for the 14 course Ethicurean Experience, which guides you through the seasonal spoils of the season, complete with cocktails, kombuchas and other gut-friendly ferments.
Where: Barley Wood Walled Garden, Long Lane, BS40 5SA
Book now: The Ethicurean
What: Marmo casual neighbourhood wine bar vibe belies the quality of the cooking here. Head chef Cosmo Sterck has an impressive CV that shines through in his hyper-seasonal small plates menu, with dishes like roasted artichoke with hazelnut, or green asparagus with smoked cod’s roe and fried nettles winning Marmo lots of fans. The restaurant's dedication to ethical sourcing ensures the food and drink here tastes even sweeter.
Where: 31 Baldwin Street, BS1 1RG
Book now: Marmo
What: Cooking of this quality is hard enough as it is, but it must be doubly so when you’re producing it from a shipping container. Elliott and Tessa Lidstone’s compact eatery at Wapping Wharf has won a legion of fans since opening, and with only 14 covers, a meal here feels incredibly homely and personal.
Where: Unit 10, Cargo 1, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WP
Book now: Box-E
What: Originally opened and backed by Josh Eggleton and the Eat Drink Bristol Fashion collective, head chef Rob Howell has taken Root from strength to strength, turning it into one of the leading lights of Bristol’s exciting food scene. Root isn’t strictly vegetarian, but there’s a focus on vegetables that makes it very vegan and veggie friendly, and the menu has plenty of choice.
Where: Unit 9 Cargo 1, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WP
Book now: Root
More interested in waterside dining than Michelin stars? Check out our guide to Bristol's best harbourside restaurants and cafes