1.The San Fran vibes and imaginative brunches at Bakers and Co
Inspired by the cool, laid back joints of California, this place knocks out great coffee and refreshingly individual brunches, ranging from generous bowls of porridge with apple and honey to ‘morning toast’ with cinnamon and orange sugar, banana, toasted almonds and maple syrup. Sourdough is baked onsite by head chef Brett St Clair, who came from Bertinet – so the ‘on toast’ section is worth a look, too. Pastries and cakes are on the money (get involved with a sticky bun), as are, we hear, the new roast salsify and oyster mushroom tacos with cashew cream.
2. The hearty Italian portions at Bomboloni
If anyone has ever left this place hungry we’ll eat our figurative hats. The Italian-style food served here is straightforward and unfussy, but cooked with great skill and care (owner Andrew Griffin is a long-serving and well-known chef on the Bristol food scene) using top-drawer ingredients. If you’re a meat eater, we dare you to pass up on the slow-cooked ox cheek ragu with porcini mushrooms and silky tagliatelle. Run as a real family affair (there are plenty of Griffins involved here), this place is super inviting and family friendly.
3. The Hungarian grub at Deck Café
This homely café (and restaurant – dinner is served on Friday and Saturday nights) cooks great breakfasts – think brekkie burritos and pancakes as well as the full English – alongside some lesser-seen Hungarian dishes for lunch, like goulash with sourdough bread and beef stew with homemade noodles and pickles. A valuable member of the globally inspired Gloucester Road gang, it’s started running new Hungarian wine dinners too, the next taking place on 23 March.
4. The small surprises at The Grace
A neighbourhood pub at heart, this casual, friendly boozer has a great collection of local beers and spirits to while away rainy Saturday afternoons with (as we have in the past) or, if the sun is shining, take out to the decked garden to sip on while catching some rays. While the pub attitude is very much prevalent here, there also happens to be a kitchen knocking out some really imaginative small plates, like cauliflower pakora with guindilla and raita (which we hear is flying out) and pig’s head croquette with gribiche and baby gem.
5. The build-your-own breakfast at Hobbs House
This Gloucester Road café opened in August 2017, although the family behind Hobbs House has been creating loaves for five generations. So, it’s unsurprising that great bread is at the core of this place, and plays an integral role on the brunch menu. You can create the perfect toast-based brekkie at this relaxed daytime spot: choose your bread, how you want your eggs, and any extras you fancy piling on top (think smashed avo, halloumi, smoked salmon et al).
6. The buzz of the Gallimaufry
This fun restaurant, bar and music venue is perfectly illustrative of the eclectic, buzzy, community-minded nature of Gloucester Road. Friendly and familiar, it’s not only a great haunt after dark ( just ask its merry band of happy regulars) with a busy schedule of live performances, but also knocks up some really great quality dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients. A selection of small plates sits alongside full-sized brunch, lunch and dinner dishes (give the hand-rolled squid ink tagliatelle with octopus, mussels and rocket a whirl) and there’s a bargain of an early evening offering too, with two courses for £14.
7. The comfort food at the Hobgoblin
If you don’t mind returning to the scene of the crime (i.e. the pub) this boozer can hook you up with some hangover-banishing comfort food. Being a proper pub first and foremost, The Hobgoblin is relaxed and informal, so you can get your carb fix in peace without fear of breaching etiquette. The Dirty, Dirty Fries have become something of an institution here: picture a mountain of fries mixed with house-smoked pulled pork, spices and barbecue sauce, then topped with heaps of melted Cheddar, blue cheese and coriander mayo.
8. The super sourdough crusts at Pizzarova
Beneath the fresh toppings on these pizzas you’ll find a really flavoursome sourdough base. Its quality is down, in part, to the slow proving method – allowing the dough to develop for four days before being cooked – as well as the starter culture, which is more than 70 years old. Choose either a Margarita, the ever-changing special (think béchamel with butifarra sausage, tenderstem broccoli, chilli and parmesan), or the create-your-own option, where you can pick from around 10 toppings. Visiting for lunch? Check out the £5 pizza and salad deal.
9. The American attitude at Rocotillos
Established for more than 25 years, Rocotillos is a US-style diner and bar on G-Road. These days a more grown-up version of the original concept – and quite different from its Clifton sister site – it serves quality cocktails and runs daily happy hour deals. Food-wise, there are a few signatures, like the breakfast pancakes and classic homemade burgers, and a great menu of veggie tacos too, which are really popular and ideal for sharing. Elsewhere, expect a range of breakfasts, hotdogs, sandwiches, fries, milkshakes, beers and wine. (Um, that should just about do it, right?)
10. The inclusivity at Spicer and Cole
The client base at this well-known daytime joint (the Bristol-born brand has several other branches across the city, too) is pretty varied – but that’s exactly what you’d expect of a laidback lunch spot on this patch. Parents, students and traders have all made it their regular, enjoying the fresh breakfasts and lunches that are made every day on site – be they eating in or on the run. The brunch dishes are probably the most popular, with the sweet potato has with harissa and halloumi taking the top spot, owner Carla Swift tells us, closely followed by the obligatory avo on sourdough toast.
11. The plant-based satisfaction at Suncraft
A restaurant and takeaway, Suncraft has created a new kind of ‘fast food’ on Gloucester Road, with its speedy and satisfying bowls of plant-based goodness to eat in or take out. The vegan scene is already buzzing at this end of town, but this brightly coloured, globally-inspired diner has stepped the game up even further. As all dishes – and even some of the drinks – are made fresh in the kitchen each day, you can expect optimum flavour and nutrition. The aromatic coconut laksa is a fave, and we loved the gochujang stew with Korean rice cakes on our last visit.
12. The ever-changing beans at Tincan Coffee Co
You need not have the same bean twice at this laid back specialist coffee shop. The filter options are single-origin and regularly rotate, so we love trying the new brew on the block each time we visit. The coffee here is sourced by direct trade with the coffee farmers to ensure it’s procured ethically and at a fair price, and it’s roasted by Clifton Coffee. To eat, the café has just introduced new veggie and vegan savoury pastries, made by the Tincan chefs over in the North Street shop. There’s a variety of cakes on the go, too – again with vegan options.