We all love a sweet treat to perk up our day, reward ourselves or just because we can’t resist the temptation of a tasty-looking brownie on a cafe counter (I am the ultimate impulse cake purchaser – stop putting them so close to the till!)
Bristol has no shortage of places that will happily send you into a euphoric sugar daze – here are my recommendations, helpfully split out by craving type; you’re welcome.
Cakes & Pastries
Tucked away in one of the arches next to Temple Meads, this bakery does many things ridiculously well, but owner Laura’s true passion for pastry shines through with the amazing croissants, danishes and other goodies this place knocks out. How you’ll choose is another matter entirely.
Stock Exchange Bakery
My go-to for brunch in the centre, you also can’t fault these guys when it comes to their cake selection. Favourites such as sourdough croissants, cupcakes and cinnamon buns sit alongside amazing specials such as Death by Oreo and rainbow bagels (not sweet, but come on – RAINBOW BAGELS PEOPLE)
Many’s the time I’ve found myself gawping at the display at Ahh Toots’ stall in St Nicks Market, even when I’ve not been hungry (a rare occurence) – the cakes are the most beautiful you’re likely to see anywhere, and believe it or not they taste just as good as they look. A cake lover’s dream.
Slick continental bakery vibe at the front, chilled dining at the back – this place has something for any meal of the day, but the most eye-catching items are definitely the vast array of pastries, cookies, muffins and cakes on display. My favourites are the lemon tart and the sourdoughnuts, but I’m sure you’ll have your own!
The Big O Donut Co
Despite not having a permanent premises, you can find Big O doughnuts across town at a variety of markets and events. Choose from sticky glazed ring doughnuts, or filled doughnuts packed with cream, chocolate or fruity jam (I once trekked across town for a rhubarb fool one and ate it in the changing room at the gym, true story). My heart will always belong to Pippin Doughnuts, but they only show up once a week at the Wine St market, so you have to be quick!
Of course, we’re lucky to have several local bakeries dotted around the city which all serve some very special cakes, including East Bristol Bakery in Easton (who also do a variety of vegan treats) and Joe’s Bakery on Gloucester Road (who do a great mix of traditional and seasonal specials), as well as the talented bakers selling without having permanent premises, such as on-demand bakers 280 Bakes, food market favourite American Kitchen (one day I’ll finally get to try their key lime pie) and Fusion Cakes & Bakes, who do an incredible gluten-free range.
Ice cream & Gelato
I haven’t got enough time to tell you why you need to go to Swoon, but take my word for it, the gelato here is first rate, and that’s before you even start exploring their mini portions, gelato cakes and lollies. Hot damn. (Read my full review on SaucyPans if you like)
Gelato, crepes, waffles and a manner of other goodies – available on Stapleton Road or in Kingswood – so a serious sugar fix is not just the preserve of Central Bristolians!
Pan n Ice
A funky little van in Cabot Circus, selling fro-yo (I feel hip even typing it) and ice cream made right in front of you to order – it doesn’t get much fresher than that!
Vee Double Moo
Top notch soft serve ice cream from a cute VW camper on College Green (and the odd food market, keep track of their appearances on their Twitter feed) – pay them a visit for some damn fine sundaes, and if you’re lucky they’ll even be doing one of their boozier concoctions!
If you’ve got a hankering for something naughty in a very cute setting, get yourself along to The Parlour, and order a stack of pancakes or waffles with allll of the ice cream and toppings. They do regular ice cream specials, such as Creme Egg or Banoffee, and are also very family friendly – so a good one to bring the kiddies along to (or avoid if you’re hungover).
Of course if you’re in town you also have the neon & chrome-tastic ice cream parlour options of Sundaes on Baldwin St, or Kaspa’s Desserts on Park St, as well as frozen yoghurt from Flavalanche or Angelberry – all good fun, but they don’t quite match the places above in my humble opinion!
Making top notch chocs for the people of Bristol since 1910; head along to their Small St shop to bag yourself a selection of luxury handmade chocolates, truffles and fondants. Their gift boxes make for one of the best presents in the city – whether you get one for that special someone or yourself is up to you.
Want to enjoy a huge slice of chocolate cake alongside a mug of rich hot chocolate, with some dainty chocolates on the side? Get yourself over to Clifton Village and pull up a chair at Bar Chocolat; it’s the only place where you can seriously overload on cocoa-y goodness.
This lovely shop on North Street not only sells beautiful luxury chocolates, but also does special chocolate hampers (!), hosts chocolate parties (!!) and even allows you to book on to chocolate workshops to learn the art of a chocolatier.
Choose from a mind-boggling selection of fillings, from fruit to cake to chocolate bars, then watch as they chuck it all in a blender and make it into a naughty milkshake. One of the best hangover cures there is in town. (Mine’s a treacle tart milkshake, by the way)
Three Brothers Burgers
These guys win the milkshake award in my book, mainly because they’re the only people I’ve found who make a proper milkshake, ie. one you can stand a metal spoon upright in. They’re proper thick ice cream milkshakes; with my favourite being the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup one, but the Oreo is also great. They also do regular special and hard shakes (the vanilla shake with rhubarb vodka, or the chocolate shake with Cointreau both sound immense).
On the list mainly because they do boozy shakes, play good music, have a bowling alley AND a karaoke room – what more do you need?
This American style diner on the triangle is particularly famous for its milkshakes – choose from classics such as strawberry or chocolate, right through to naughtier creations such as Snickers, Cookie Dough or Phish Food. Make sure you try the pancakes too; they’re lush.
That should be enough for you all to be getting on with – let me know if I missed any goodies either in the comments below or on Twitter. If you’re in the mood for some more Bristol recommendations, how about…
- Bristol’s Best Burgers
- The Vegetarian Guide to Bristol & Bath
- Where to Treat Yourself in Bristol
- Bristol’s Best Pub Gardens
- A Selection of Ambitious Bristol Pub Crawls