Masa + Mezcal Bristol

Bristol Food & Drink: The 2019 Highlights

Well 2019. It’s been a mixed bag on all fronts, hasn’t it? Some amazing new food & drink places arrived in the city, the city & its restaurants won even more accolades, we welcomed another new eating district to the city (hi, Finzel’s Reach!), but we also had to bid farewell to some really great businesses.

Alongside the celebration of all the brilliant businesses & events below, it’s a good time to remember that things have never been tougher for independents, so make sure you shop, dine & drink local as much as you can in the new year – we really are spoilt for choice in Bristol, let’s keep it that way!

Anyway, enough of the preachin’, on to some of this year’s best bits – you can also tell me yours over on Twitter or Instagram!

You can also read the past highlights blogs for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018!

Mark Olver, Belly Laughs

markBest dish: The beetroot and berries at Root.

Favourite event: can I be egotistical and say Belly Laughs at Fareshare?

Favourite newcomer: Seven Lucky Gods.

Briony May, Baker off the tellyBriony May Bristol

Best dish: Chicken katsu arancini at Seven Lucky Gods.

Favourite event: Drag Queen Bingo Brunch at Bambalan.

Favourite newcomer: Seven Lucky Gods again?!

Dan Izzard, Crumbsdan

Best dish: The duck (or pretty much any dish) at Little French.

Favourite event: Goatober dinner in the barrel library at the Wild Beer brewery. What a setting.

Favourite newcomer: The kebabs at Hoba. My kinda food.


Bristol has a strong start to 2019, being one of the Top 7 UK Destinations for 2019, as well as being featured in Best European Cities to Visit in 2019 and The Guardian’s Travel Hotlist 2019 – the city’s thriving food scene is one of the biggest draws, woohoo!

The city’s food & drink businesses really upped their game this year in terms of sustainability and feel-good events/schemes this year, from Boston Tea Party’s ban on disposable cups getting them named most ethical coffee shop in the UK, to Wriggle’s bamboo lunchboxes (now sold out) and the Sustainable Restaurant Association created a new Hall Of Fame to recognise Poco’s long-sustained achievements.840-x-509-w624pxh416px

Bristol also has two restaurants in the top 50 of The Good Food Guide 2020 and won Best Culinary Destination 2019, and Box-E was the latest restaurant in the city to be added to the Michelin Guide, along with seven others in the city.

Natalie Brereton, Stuffednat

Best dish: Pisto egg at Bar 44.

Favourite event: Food Fire Earth at Yurt Lush when they did the Greek night!

Favourite newcomer: Little French.

Martin Booth, Bristol 24/7Martin Booth Bristol

Best dish: Tantanmen ramen at Woky Ko Kaiju. So good we put it on the front cover of Bristol24/7’s annual food and drink guide this year.

Favourite event: The Coffee House Project. I was lucky enough to judge the baristas v bartenders competition – an undoubted 2019 highlight for me.

Favourite newcomer: I will let other people wax lyrical about the likes of Bokman, Little French, Marmo and Bianchi’s. Instead I’m going to choose The Cloakroom. It’s an amazing restoration project which shows what just a little imagination can achieve.

Noel, Foodie in Bristolrounded_corners2

Best dish: Tortilla española from Paco Tapas.

Favourite event: Mango Mela by Vela Pop-Up.

Favourite newcomer: The Spaghetti Incident.

Dan Vaux-Nobes, Essex Eatingdan vn

Best meal/dish: Little French – Big blow out meal, Milk fed lamb kidneys, whole wood roasted brill with tartare hollandaise…all the good stuff. Can I cheat and also say I had an absolutely banging meal at Paco Tapas – hello baby monkfish tail.

Favourite newcomer: Freddy Bird’s new restaurant Little French, up in Westbury Park. It’s one of those places where you want to order absolutely everything on the rustic French menu. Love it.

Favourite event: The closing night of my favourite place in Bristol was a bit of an event. I bloody loved Bar Buvette, I was the last customer out of there, I ended up commiserating so copiously, I fell asleep face-down on a table.


Where to start? This year felt like we welcomed even more amazing bars and restaurants to the city than before, and so many of them feel like they’ve been here forever already!

Here’s just a brief roll call of the places that arrived in Bristol since January:

Oowee Vebab
Credit: Oowee Vebab

There were also some new additions to North St in Southville, including FLIP vegan deli, KASK wine bar and Farrahway craft cafe.

Old Market also saw an influx of businesses including Rabbit Food, Toot and Come In and Grano Kitchen, and the business district of Finzels Reach was reinvigorated with a bunch of exciting new food & drink places, including the Left Handed Giant Brewpub, Spicer + Cole, Bocabar and Le Vignoble.

St Nick’s welcomed a bunch of newbies too: Low ‘n’ Slow, Woky Ko and Taco Barra.

Ishita Wilkins, WithMustardMUSTARD

Best dish: probably the lobster and apple gazpacho at Wilson’s with the Tantanmen at Woky Ko Kaiju a close second.

Favourite event: Malaysian Afternoon Tea which was part of Bristol Food Connections. Amazing Jali roti with Malay chicken curry.

Favourite newcomer: How do I choose between Marmo, Little French and Bianchi’s? Oh my and Woky Ko Kaiju, which opened this year too. It’s impossible.

Thom FooderyThom Foodery Bristol

Best dish: Ok, so this question has killed me for hours, but it has to go to Pasta Ripiena for their beef shin ragu. It was out of this world! Special mentions need to go to Sunday lunch at 1766, the katsu sando from Seven Lucky Gods and the carne asada from Masa + Mezcal.

Favourite event: I’ll be honest, I haven’t been to many foodie events this year. I really enjoyed the Salt Street and Hummusapiens pop-ups though. Both were churning out really great dishes!

Favourite newcomer: Sorry, but I can’t pick between Seven Lucky Gods and Masa + Mezcal. They’re so different but both are bloody amazing! So I have two favourite newcomers 🙂

Wylie sistersrounded_corners5

Best dish: Fed 303 eggy bread.

Favourite event: Our Sunday Supra.

Favourite newcomer: KASK.

And this year we said goodbye to…

2019 started with some really big losses for the Bristol food scene; Wallfish, Wellbourne, Bell’s Diner, No Man’s Grace, Ceres and Bar Buvette were all well established and much loved. I’m just glad I got to visit all of them a few times. I was also really sad to hear about Romy’s Kitchen in Thornbury closing in autumn.

Burger Bear Bristol
Bye bye Burger Bear

We also bid farewell to Burger Bear, The Kitchen, Happy Bird, Bellita, Rosa,  Aquila, Pintxo, Shop 3 Bistro, Yume Kitchen, Mesa, Urban Standard and Pigsty on Gloucester Rd. Local chain Thali also had to close its Totterdown, Clifton and Southville restaurants, although fortunately Easton and Montepelier still remain. After suffering a serious fire, The Ox Clifton is also closed indefinitely, but we still have the original one on Corn St – my favourite!

Sam, Bristol Spiritsam

Best dish: Murray May’s chicken shish at a wedding at Blaise Castle where they were doing the food and we were doing the bar – wonderful couple, excellent guests and the best setting. I was in heaven eating this beautiful food in such a lovely atmosphere.

Favourite newcomer: Hummusapiens – I was properly blown away by how excellent Jasper’s food is. Delicate flavours of lightly pickled and dressed veg matched with punchy hummus with flavours like wild garlic and pea. Beautiful plates of food and Jasper is a really good bloke too, pleasure to be around. I’ve also NEVER felt so healthy after eating a plate of food!

Alex, Squeezedalex

Best meal: Adelina Yard. Seriously good cooking – modern, unpretentious and delicious!

Favourite event: Belly Laughs. It was great night and horrendous squeeze into our place. But the effort, organisation and execution of the whole event is fabulous. Much credit to Mark!

Favourite newcomer: Izakaya on Park Street. This place is ridiculously tasty and has friendly and quick service. Big up to their squid pancakes and deep fried gyoza.

Tess, Box-Eboxe

Favourite event: Our tasting menu with Two Belly. Cheese and beer and one of my favourite complete menu that Elliott’s devised. Lara’s knowledge of beers is super.

Favourite newcomer: KASK. Sunday evening wine at the end of our road is pretty special.

Andy Clarkeandy

Best dish: Wild brill (landed in Brixham), Fowey mussels, ‘coco de Paimpol’, pink grapefruit, Timut pepper, lobster us vinaigrette and honey at Wilks. Amazing understanding of how flavours and textures go together.

Favourite event: I know I’m biased, but the ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style event for Fareshare I hosted at Box-E in July was EPIC! Such a good line up of chefs and for such a good cause. We created havoc, great food and raised money for a fantastic cause.

Favourite newcomer: I know I won’t be alone in this but littlefrench has to be my fave opening of 2019. It’s about time the category of ‘Neighbourhood Restaurant’ got the respect it deserves. Supporting local, for locals. The menu and wine list are great, and Freddy and the team are such nice people. Also, as I painted the bar, I feel I have soft spot for this place!

Top events

If there’s one thing Bristol excels at as well as food and booze, it’s festivals!

Now firmly established, Bristol Food Connections and Bristol Craft Beer Festival, continue to get better and better, and the East Bristol Brewery Trails are still a highlight of my year every bank holiday weekend!


It was also a great year for the British Dal Festival and The Coffee House Project, with some great pop-ups by House of Veg at Pennywell Market too.

Of couse there were also countless brilliant tastings, workshops, dinners and more, I’ll keep updating you on those in my monthly guides, but you can find read my guide to Bristol’s Food & Drink Experiences to find out more in the mean time.

My absolute favourite has to be Belly Laughs though which came back bigger than ever this year, and tickets are still available for the upcoming shows in January, which look even tastier!

Caroline Peel, restaurant PR and total babecaroline

Best dish: It’s got to be the chicken & chips sharing plate from Little French. A whole roast chicken quartered on the plate with mouth-watering amounts of herbs and olives flavouring the meat, a pile of the skinniest crunchy salty fries and a good dollop of aioli.

Favourite event: The Coffee House Project was brilliant once again. Bristol has a number of amazing roasters and of course a great coffee shop culture and I love how this celebration of that has grown, inspiring people’s interest in making great coffee at home too.

Favourite newcomer: La Sorella has become a real favourite whether it’s for their house made tortes and cakes, killer focaccia sandwiches, mid afternoon coffee or an early evening aperitif I love hanging out there and chewing the fat with the mainly female team. If the banana cake is on the counter say yes to all the toppings you won’t regret it.

Kirsty, KBow Bristolkirsty

Best dish: I looked through my instagram and the smoked rib croquettes at Pasture kept popping up! So I am going with that. Plus croquette catch ups are one of my favourite pastimes.

Favourite event: Future of Food Banquet as part of Bristol Food Connections. Got to see one of my fav food heroes (Sheila Dillon) run an incredible panel about food and sustainability. The food was delicious and got the cogs whirling about the changes we need to make to the way we eat.

Favourite newcomer: Bianchi’s. They can do NO WRONG. Had such a special meal there with some of my favourite people. The octopus in particular was an absolute DREAM.

Chris, PX & Tartspx

Best restaurant (rather than a specific dish): Predictably Wilson’s again. Had many good meals at Root (again; again).

Favourite event: Food Fire Earth.

Favourite newcomer: Little French. Marmo close behind.

Kathryn Davis, Visit Bristolkathryn

Best meal: Mesa & Mezcal.

Favourite event: East Bristol Beer trail (by bike).

Favourite newcomer: The Kandyan on Gloucester Rd.

That’s it for my round-up, I hope you’ve enjoyed recapping it with me! You can tell me your own favourites over on Twitter or Instagram (I’ve collected a lot of people’s responses in a story highlight on my profile), or follow A Life Less Organised on Facebook to get more food & drink updates throughout the month. Thanks for reading!

My most-read guides this year were…

  1. Bristol’s Best Harbourside Restaurants (over 4,000 views, woah!)
  2. The Harbourside Pub Crawl
  3. Bristol’s Best Date Locations
  4. 12 of Bristol’s Best Brunches
  5. Where to go for a curry in Bristol

And here are some other favourites you sent in, they make quite a handy checklist for 2020…

Favourite dishes

  • The katsu sando from Seven Lucky Gods – Meg Pope
  • Korean Fried Chicken from Seven Lucky Gods – jo_ansky
  • Pappardelle with pheasant from Bianchi’s – Steph Wetherell
  • The tiramisu cake from Ahh Toots – zfjsutton
  • Tantanmen ramen from Woky Ko Kaiju, or the fried chicken and okonomiyaki from Tsukemono – being_little
  • Korean Fried Cauliflower from Woky Ko, Caulflower rarebit from Root and the calcots with romesco (or the aubergine with molasses) from Bravas – newslovesfood
  • Gurt Wings – 3piapc
  • Cauliflower from Seven Lucky Gods – andrewenjoyspizza
  • Fried sprouts at The Ox, arancini at Root, cauliflower at North St Standard – lauraleighchapman
  • The vegan tapas at The Malago – vickimoon201
  • Smoked quail at Wilson’s – cazarazza
  • Pasta Slut nduja mascarpone penne – lilydoughball
  • Cherry souffle at Wilson’s – withmustard
  • The Cauldron for Sunday evening jazz! – Nati expat

Best event

  • Food Connections – yousayagency
  • Bristol Craft Beer Festival – plantbasedbristol
  • East Bristol Brewery Trail – lilydoughball
  • Chandos Road Street Party – Otira
  • The Crumbs Awards and the Fare Share ready, steady, cook event at Box-E – Dan Izzard

Best newbie

  • The Spaghetti Incident – Kaya Payne
  • Rock Salt and Masa + Mezcal! Both delicious – Charlotte Chivers
  • Bokman & Bianchi’s – Major LJ
  • Suncraft – Hannahbell
  • Little French & Marmo – Mimi Avery
  • Little French is pretty special. Also like Masa + Mescal – Bethan Mack
  • Little Hollows pasta pop-up! – Ruth Wiles
  • Black Rock whisky bar – adet1285
  • Bianchi’s – bufty_grifter
  • Seven Lucky Gods – jo_ansky
  • Left Handed Giant brewpub and Bianchi’s- j_campbell-photography
  • Kask! – stephenieeb
  • Seven Lucky Gods – Ross Pope
  • I struggle to choose between Seven Lucky Gods and Woky Ko Kaiju – good job they’re next to each other! – lauraleighchapman

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