Finally plucked up the courage to ask the object of your affection out for a drink? Or want to spoil your significant other?
Here are a few suggestions for your next date night, whether it’s a casual coffee, a slap-up dinner or a relaxed bite to eat – all a bit special, not too noisy and with a nice atmosphere to allow you to have the perfect time with your beau. Happy smooching!
Playground Coffee House
A coffee joint with swings and top notch coffee, plus boardgames to avoid any awkward silences! They’ve also recently introduced a cocktail menu, should you want to stay there a bit later into the evening…
The epitome of friendly, cosy local cafe up on Gloucester Road, with plenty of salads, wraps, cakes and juices to choose from alongside their hot drinks. If you want a relaxed and unfussy setting, go here.
Spicer + Cole
With 3 locations around the city (Welsh Back, Clifton & Gloucester Rd), these cafes are always quite calm in comparison to the equally great but slightly noisier Boston Tea Party chain. Recommended for a tasty brunch or a swift coffee.
Tincan Coffee Co.
Pop into their snazzy shop on North St for some of the tastiest coffee in town. The menu is a bit more limited than some of the other places, but you can still enjoy cakes, toasties and juices.
A modern and slick cafe in Wapping Wharf, this is a good spot to relax in before or after a walk around the harbour nearby. A good selection of drinks, plus some seriously good cakes (with plenty of vegan and GF options)
Ultra modern and hip coffee shop, also located in Wapping Wharf and from the team behind the excellent Small St Espresso (which I love but is just that bit too small for a comfortable date)
Sit up at the bar for a nice aperitif or glass of wine, or book a table to enjoy some of their Mediterranean-inspired small plates and brilliant wine list. A good halfway point between sophisticated dining and chilled bar.
The perfect blend of chilled lounge bar at the front and ambient dining at the back (with a chatty front terrace to boot) – there aren’t many things The Galli doesn’t excel at. Treat your date with their 3 for £15 small plates deal (nb. they’re not that small – 3 are perfect between two people for lunch or a light early dinner), and stick around for their nightly (and free) live music.
What could be more romantic (for meat eaters) than a grand and low-lit steak restaurant? The Ox has that understated oppulence feel to it, with a top notch wine list and plenty of steak options to suit different tastes & price points – go for their early bird deal (£14 for rump steak, fries, sauce and a glass of wine) if you’re on a budget, or the 30oz T-Bone to share if you’re feeling flashy.
Quiet, friendly and with a pleasantly intimate vibe, Flow prides itself on serving the best veggie dishes in the city, but its appeal goes way beyond just vegetarians. The cocktails are often made using infused spirits created in-house (I am a BIG fan of their rhubarb sour), and the food is inventive without being pretentious or too out-there.
Fantastic food matched with a special venue – if you’re feeling brave maybe you could suggest a spa day with your loved one before you head to the restaurant to perk up your energy levels (you can get a package to combine the two if you like). The restaurant overlooks the outdoor pool which is lovely, and the menu is great whether you’re going for breakfast, some snacky tapas or their £50 tasting menu.
Making it their business to change the way we think of pasta – cousins Dom and Ben will make you feel welcome the moment you step through the door, encouraging you to try one of their scrumptious cocktails before you delve into the menu. The food looks great and is super tasty without being stodgy – allowing you to make through all 3 courses, hurrah!
Small, bustling and energetic – you’ll probably have to book but a seat up at the bar in Bravas is a great place not just for eating and drinking, but for watching the busy goings-on in the kitchen. Try the fried aubergine with molasses and their grilled Iberico pork, washed down with one of their fantabulous G&Ts, then thank me later.
A refuge for relaxed munching on the busy Stokes Croft, this is another spot that’s great for brunch, lunch or a cheeky tapas dinner. You can nab a table at the quieter back of the restaurant, or watch the hustle-bustle outside from the tall tables at the front. The seasonal cocktails are lush too.
If you’re aiming to impress without shelling out half your salary, why not tell your date you’re taking them for pizza made by a Michelin-starred team? Pi Shop is part of the micro complex of restaurants run by the Sanchez Brothers in the old General Hospital redevelopment in Redcliffe, and the food – as you’d expect – is first rate. If you can’t get a table, Bertha’s is nearby and also do frickin’ great pizzas in a nice setting near the harbour.
Spoke + Stringer
Boasting one of the best views in the city across the harbour – you can sit outside on the quayside in summer, or get nice and comfortable at one of their small tables on colder days. Their brunches are award-winning, and their tapas is great too – I’d recommend getting their tasting menu for £25. They also have live music throughout the week.
It may look like a fantastic bakery at the front, but Pinkmans has also tucked away a chilled out cafe-restaurant at the back for you to enjoy pizza, breakfast and cicheti as well as their lovely cakes and sandwiches. A good option if you’ve not decided how long your date is going to last – pop in for a coffee & cake, then stay for a heartier meal if it goes well!
Finally, if you’re just going for a get-to-know-you drink, here are some of my other recommendations:
A friendly wine bar on Cheltenham Road, with the option to try several wines in a flight, as well as pair them with cheeses, charcuterie and nibbles.
Zitto & Bevi
A small but buzzing osteria just off Stokes Croft – you can get wine for as little as £3 for a glass and take a seat up in the window with a bowl of olives or other homemade treats.
Hyde & Co.
Small and moody prohibition-style cocktail bar hidden away near The Triangle. It fills up quick, so booking is advised.
The Old Bookshop
A quirky bar on North St with a good selection of drinks, regular live music and a seriously lip-smacking menu should you need to line you stomach.
Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf
Weird and wonderful beers in a harbour setting, plus they do some bangin’ fish & chips. A great choice if your date is a beer fan!
A cosy bar with outdoor seating to enjoy in summer, or a wood burner to keep you toasty in winter.
Good luck on your romancing, and if you need some further tips for where to munch and drink up around Bristol:
- Bristol’s 12 Best Brunches
- Bristol’s Cosiest Pubs
- The Vegetarian Guide to Bath & Bristol
- Where to treat yourself in Bristol
- Bristol’s Best Pizza Joints