*Updated July 2018*
My favourite types of food are those where you can order plenty of dishes and share – tapas, mezze, tagine, and of course curry.
I love all curries the same, whether they’re traditional dals or English-born Baltis, Keralan or Bangladeshi, spicy or creamy.
Speaking of which – some of the places below are region-specific, some are more ‘traditional’ English curry house, one place is even Punjabi, which straddles both India and Pakistan – in any case, I’m trying to cover the general curry vibe in Bristol, and I like a rogan josh as much as the next guy, but I am enjoying learning more about the different regions of Bristol and what their different cuisines entail.
Here is a list of some of the finer curry establishments I can recommend in Bristol – feel free to add your thoughts or own recommendations in the comments below!
Aiming to do justice to the food of all 29 states of India is no mean feat, but Nutmeg manages to do it with finesse, whilst somehow managing to be fairly modest about it.
Despite its location in Clifton Village, Nutmeg manages to straddle a nice balance of feeling special yet welcoming, with dishes which are next level good but not showing off. I’ve had tandoori rabbit, octopus bhaji, pork cheek vindaloo and a whole host of wonderful dishes here, and I can’t wait to go back.
I recently reviewed a wine dinner at Nutmeg in case you want to find out more.
The Mint Room
This sophisticated restaurant started in Bath before opening a second branch in Clifton, so that already sets the tone for what The Mint Room is setting out to do – Indian cuisine, taken to the next level. The service is impeccable and the cocktails, decor and quality of dishes made me giddy – probably not one for drunken takeaways, save it for someone special.
Tucked away on a residential street in Easton, Pipal Tree has managed to top the Tripadvisor rankings in Bristol for ages (not that I hold much trust in that, but still good going for a small neighbourhood restaurant), and luckily, it delives IRL too. During the day they do a mixed Punjabi-English brunch menu, before going for a some home-cooked Punjabi dishes in the evening. The owners are an absolute delight and keen to tell you which members of the family made which elements of your dinner, and I also loved that you can choose to have wedges with your curry instead of rice “because that’s how we eat it at home”. Proper job.
Most people are understandably a bit nervy about getting a curry in the centre of town, especially down a side street of the boozy stretch of Corn St, but Urban Tandoor is well worth a visit. They’ve won numerous awards and been nominated for countless others – it strikes the perfect balance of recoginisable curry house decor, but the food is a step above. Their sister restaurant Urban Kohinoor on Whiteladies Rd is also top notch.
All veggie Keralan dishes in a modest-looking cafe and plastic menus, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy feasting at Dev’s. This is one of the few Indian restaurants in Bristol that my Indian friends will actually go to – their Southern Indian dishes feel very homely, and the prices are refreshingly affordable – it’s BYO too!
Another vegetarian (and mostly vegan) joint, this place seems to remain despite the ever-changing landscape of St Michael’s Hill, and with good reason. Take-away only, the dishes here are packed full of flavour and clearly made with passion, without being to fussy or pricey.
Standard tandoori house fare, but far tastier than the average. I know of people who come from as far as Bath almost every week to eat here, and with good reason. All of the curries are good, but the chef’s specials (in particular the Redland Special – chicken or lamb cooked with minced lamb, served with Pilau Rice & Nan Bread, all for a bargainous £12.50). They also do a tasty curry buffet for £9.95 every Sunday.
Having opened its fifth branch in Southville in 2013, you can now safely presume you’re never more than a mile from a Thali Cafe in Bristol, as should be the case for this Bristol institution. Having won more awards than you could shake a poppadom at whilst continuing to grow in popularity across the city, the restaurants still stick to their core principles of offering up authentic and good value Indian street food, whilst sourcing all ingredients as ethically as possible. They’ve expanded their menu fairly recently to include more snack and lunchtime options, but the generous thalis are still the star here. My Thali Cafe tiffin is still one of the best presents I’ve ever received, so if you don’t fancy eating in the restaurant then get one yourselves and take away!
Hari Krishnan’s Kitchen
Bring South Indian cuisine to Zetland rd, this unassuming and cosy restaurant does a fine line in Keralan dishes, from tasty dosa wraps to fish curries. The reviews for this place have been fantastic, and it’s well known locally for being the best curry place around. The menu is very affordable too, so if you haven’t already sampled food from this part of India, move your feet in the direction of Redland, stat (or to their equally excellent sister restaurant in Clifton Village)
This place on Jacobs Wells Rd is small but perfectly formed in every way – the restaurant seats around 30 people and there are only a handful of menu options, but you can see them being made to order from your seat (including the gorgeous naans). Highly recommended.
Ahmed’s Curry Cafe
Bringing bargain Indian food to the people of Redland and Hotwells, Ahmed’s has made a name for itself as the go-to place for cheap yet tasty take away. Their website is simple and easy to use, and the menu is fairly standard, with the meal deals being a main attraction. If you don’t fancy washing up you can eat in at their cafes on Chandos Road or Jacob’s Wells Road.
Probably the most-recommended curry house to me since I moved, this Clifton Village restaurant does traditional Indian dishes alongside some excellent house specialties. Due to the location it’s not the cheapest curry you’ll find it town, but it’s a Bristol stalwart for a reason.
Alternatively, if you want to have a go at making your own curry, the best place to pop to is the famous Bristol Sweet Mart in Easton – as well as stocking every possible food item you could think of, they also have a great deli which sells Indian snacks, sweets and pre-made curries. Yum.
Is your mouth watering yet? Here are some other posts to work up an appetite (or thirst!):