Chicken Panang at Khao & Bao – phwoar!

*Updated July 2016*

Earlier this year, I started working in central Bristol after 6 years of commuting to Bath.

I’m already aware that the money I thought I’d save now that I’m no longer commuting is simply being redirected to my stomach rather than going in to savings.

In any case, here are the places I have to give a double thumbs up to, should you find yourself uninspired by your packed lunch or office canteen. I’ve tried to keep the suggestions to the centre, otherwise this post would be even longer!

Let me know where else you rate for lunchtime munching in the comments below!

St Nick’s

The central arcade at St Nicholas Market
The central arcade at St Nicks: Food heaven

Where to start? St Nick’s is famously a veritable feast of munch options.

Want something stodgy to keep you going all day? Head along to Pieminister for some pie, mash and minty peas (they’ve recently started doing lighter pies, but the original Heidi or Matador do it for me) or Grillstock for what I still maintain is Bristol’s best pulled pork (the jalapeño poppers are also wondrous little things)

Bacon, cream cheese and jalapeno poppers from Grillstock
Bacon, cream cheese and jalapeno poppers from Grillstock

Veggies are also very well taken care of, between Royce Rolls serving up some great sandwiches, tarts and veggie/vegan cakes, and Eat a Pitta doing some seriously massive salad boxes.

On the subject of huge portions – Matina are famous around these parts for their humongous wraps; choose from chicken, lamb or vegetables cooked on the grill and wrapped in Kurdish flatbreads still hot from their tandoor oven.

Piling the wraps high with salad at Matina
Piling the wraps high with salad at Matina

Of course, I still haven’t even mentioned the Moroccan delights from Al Bab Mansour, Indian snacks from Spice Up Your Life, the mum-sized portions from Caribbean Wrap, the impressive deli options at Source Food Hall and the cake utopia that is Ahh Toots.

St Nick’s,  we salute you.

The lush cake display at Ahh Toots
The lush cake display at Ahh Toots


Sandwich Sandwich – Come for the sandwiches, stay for the salad bar; they let you have chicken kiev in it for chrissakes. The hot wraps are also lovely, particularly the jerk chicken, and they even do a gourmet fish finger sarnie (!)

Friska – These lot have been steadily spreading their tasty and ethically-sound wares across Bristol. I’m particularly fond of their hot boxes – at £5 they’re generous, packed full of flavour and nutrionally balanced too. Also worth investigating for their hot wraps or buckets of pho & soups.

The Kitchen – I’ve gone on about how great this place is before, but aside from their excellent ethics and friendly atmosphere, the team also do some great lunchtime options, ranging from hot dishes, to homemade pizza, tarts and cakes.

The Kitchen Bristol
Pizza yumminess at The Kitchen

Maximilions – It’s well known that if you want a lunch of epic proportions in the centre of town, this is where you go. They do a different roast meat every day for you to have in a hot sandwich, and extras you can get in their rolls are more than generous. Good salad boxes too, I hear (I always opt for the rolls, because why wouldn’t you?).


The Spotless Leopard – If you find yourself in the mood for a tempeh Reuben sandwich, vegan macaroni cheese or a gorgeous cake, pop along to this van on Whiteladies Rd and be assured of a tasty treat without any animal involvement.

The salad box at Eat a Pitta
The salad box at Eat a Pitta – huuuuge.

There’s also the infamous Battle of the Falafel (or maybe I made that up, but it should be a thing) between Edna’s Kitchen in Castle Park, Falafel King and Eat a Pitta – it’s a hard one to call, so why not try them all and let me know your verdict?

Spice and All Things Nice

Khao & Bao – One of my favourites (back from whenit was Baowow), and not just because it’s directly opposite my office, you can opt for one of their fluffy baos (£3.50 each or 2 for £6.50 – beware, they’re deceptively filling!), or a flavoursome khao rice dish, all priced around £5.

Their sister joint Hanoi Coffee Co. around the corner also does some tasty bahn mi or brothy noodles for you to get your chops around.

Baowow lunch
Khao & Bao – lunches don’t come much prettier (or tastier)

You can also head across the road to Sticks ‘n’ Broth if you’re more in the mood for comforting Ramen or donburi (their £6.50 Express Lunch menu is great value for how much you get, in my opinion), or a few doors down to the excellent Chilli Daddy if you want some spicy and comforting Szechuan dishes.

Street Vendors

The street food scene has exploded in Bristol in the past couple of years, and you won’t have to stroll far to find a great snack, from Mexican to sandwiches to grilled cheese.

There are also various street food events and markets around town, my favourite during the week being the Bristol EATS Temple Quay market every Thursday.

Ward & Williams – Situated in a lovely spot near The Arnolfini and Pero’s Bridge, pay these ladies a visit for some simple and tasty sandwiches, flapjacks, cake and very good coffee. They even have a little table for you to sit at and people watch.

One of the daily menu updates from Ward & Williams
One of the daily menu updates from Ward & Williams (look out for the funny doodles of Mr Cup)

Bearpit Social – Even more inviting now that the bearpit has cleaned up its act somewhat, this little cafe manages to knock out an impressive menu from its tiny spot in a converted shipping container. Choose from seriously good salads, healthy baguettes and wraps (lots here for veggies and vegans too), and the obligatory yummy cakes.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more substantial you can always walk 30 seconds to the double decker bus which is now occupied by the lovely Bearritos.

Asian style salad from Bearpit Social
Asian style salad from Bearpit Social. That peanut sauce, unnf.

Pickle – Based more towards the Redcliffe/Temple Meads end of town? You may be stuck in the most uninspiring part of town, but your lunch can still be exciting! Check out their Facebook or Twitter for daily specials, but there’s a reason this place always commands mega queues (their stews are famously amazing).

Woolly Cactus – Newly refurbished and still on the same spot just by Bristol Bridge, the burritos here are hefty and packed full of flavour, but you can also choose from fajitas, soft mini tacos (my fave), quesadillas or a naked burrito (nothing to do with scantily-clad service – this is their Mexican style salad option).

Top Lunchtime Deals 

To sum up, there are plenty of excellent lunch offers across town, but I’ve got my favourites and here they are:

1. Pata Negra: Get 3 tapas dishes for £10, or a bocadillo for £3.95.

Tapas lunch at Pata Negra
Tapas lunch at Pata Negra – no apologies for garlic breath in the office!

2. Bagel Boy: Try their £5 lunch deal – Choose from selected bagels (tuna melt gets my vote), a drink and crisps or a cookie. Bargain.

3. Three Brothers Burgers: Pay £5 for a burger & fries (and their burgers are gooood, and their milkshakes – oof! I’m still thinking of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups one)


4. The Apple: Try something from their Ploughman’s menu (summer only – go for cheesy chips in winter!) – not so much a ‘deal’, but I just think it’s ridiculous how much you get for around the £9 mark. A proper cheese feast. Lunchtime cider optional (hah!)

The epic Ploughman's at The Apple
The epic Ploughman’s at The Apple. Woooof.

That’s all from me, let me know which of the above is your favourite lunchtime stop-off, or which place/deal I’ve missed off. Also remember to check the Wriggle app for any special lunchtime deals. Cheers then!

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Lunch bagel
Bagel Boy – source of so many happy lunchtime memories