Clifton is one of Bristol’s most popular and picturesque areas, home to the famous Clifton Suspension bridge, the gorgeous Georgian architecture of Clifton Village and the bustling Whiteladies Road. With the University of Bristol located just minutes away, this area is always buzzing with both students and locals, and with good reason: Clifton is bursting with great foodie spots. Here’s my guide to a perfect foodie day out in this beautiful part of the city.
For breakfast & coffee…
My top breakfast and coffee recommendations are slightly lesser-known Clifton gems, but in my opinion these two cafes serve up some of the best breakfasts in the whole of Bristol. The first, Tradewind Espresso, can be found at the top of Whiteladies Road, almost at the level of the famous Clifton Downs. Coffee at Tradewind is provided by local coffee roasters Roasted Rituals, and it’s some of the best I’ve had in the city. As for the menu, the cafe describes itself as having ‘a menu that moves with the seasons’ – the focus here is on seasonal, local food wherever possible. Served until 3pm, the menu features a range of popular brunch dishes from the classic poached eggs on sourdough toast to my personal favourite, the delicious banana and walnut bread with espresso butter (pictured below). With a stripped back, minimalist decor, this coffee heaven reminds me of more than a few of my favourite Copenhagen brunch spots, and quickly became one of my go-to coffee shops in Clifton. The location is also perfect: once you’ve finished your breakfast, grab another coffee for the road and wander up the last stretch of Whiteladies and across the Downs, where you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with incredible views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Photo by afoodieguide
A second great recommendation for breakfast and your morning coffee in Clifton is Mockingbird Cafe, a cafe describing itself as ‘a breakfast through lunch cafe with a flavour of the US South’. Breakfast and brunch plates at this spot range from smaller plates such as homemade granola or sourdough toast with a choice of spreads to more substantial dishes like sweet potato hash or smashed avocado and goats cheese. Not only is the food at Mockingbird excellent, the coffee is also superb, and the decor gives off a Scandi-inspired vibe similar to that at Tradewind Espresso (my time living in Denmark just might have influenced my tastes more than I like to admit…). The cafe is small and gets pretty busy on the weekends as it doesn’t take reservations, but it’s definitely worth the wait – you’ll find it tucked away on Alma Vale Road. Once you’ve finished your breakfast, either take a walk up Whiteladies Road and past Tradewind Espresso towards the Downs and fantastic views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or alternatively keep heading along Alma Vale Road towards Bristol Zoo Gardens – it’s a great place to spend a morning exploring!
Photo by afoodieguide
There are lots of spots for a great lunch in this area, but both of my favourites are located in the beautiful Clifton Village in the heart of Clifton. Head here after checking out the zoo or the bridge and you’ll find gorgeous wide streets, picturesque houses and a variety of unique shops, restaurants and cafes all waiting to be explored. Spicer + Cole is one of the loveliest cafes in the village, serving up both top-notch coffee and food from its expansive counter of goodies. Spicer + Cole is especially perfect for lunch: my go-to order is a slice of tortilla or quiches (there’s always a range of both veggie and meat options), accompanied by a big portion of their delicious salad. The cafe can be found on Princess Victoria Street, and despite being roomy, it always seems to be fit to burst with its loyal regulars and day-trippers alike. Hang around until you spot a table, then settle in for a while: the great service here will have you feeling right at home in no time.
Photo credit: Gemma Thorogood of The Feast Collective
Another great lunch option for those with a bigger appetite is The Thali Cafe, a popular spot for Indian dining on Clifton’s Regent Street. With 5 locations scattered across Bristol, you would never guess that this local mini-chain actually started off as a food truck at Glastonbury festival, after the owners had travelled to India and fallen in love with the food there. What’s more, The Thali Cafe has won its far share of awards: in 2013, The Thali Cafe became the first Indian restaurant to be given a 3-star Sustainability Champion Rating by the Sustainable Restaurants Association, as well as having pocketed a number of other awards including the 2010 award for best cheap eat in the Observer Food Monthly Awards. Yep, the food here is both delicious and reasonably-priced: the lunch menu includes a number of different thalis priced between £4.50 and £8.50, with many being vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. It’s also the perfect spot for lunch with a larger group, as The Thali Cafe take reservations and their Clifton location has lots of seating available, too.
Photo credit: herzby
For tea and cake…
When it comes to a spot for a mid-afternoon slice of cake accompanied by some high-quality tea and coffee, there are no shortage of options in Clifton. My favourite, though, is a hidden gem in Clifton Village, tucked ever so slightly out of sight on Kings Road. Twelve not only provides a great selection of hot drinks and sweet treats, the unique flavour combinations that make up their daily offerings of cake are incredible: choosing between cakes like the courgette, lime and pistachio (pictured below) and the classics like Victoria sponge can prove very difficult indeed! As well as being the perfect spot for some coffee and cake, the cafe also serve up excellent breakfasts, and the staff are friendly and helpful. With owner Jen Nicholls placing runner up in the Young Female Entrepreneur category of the 2017 Bristol Woman of the Year Awards, it’s certain that great things can be expected from this little gem of a cafe.
Photo credit: bxrzoe
For dinner & drinks…
When it comes to my favourite dinner place in Clifton, it might just be a 3-way tie. Luckily, all of these spots are within a 5-minute walk of each other, meaning that if you’re undecided about what kind of food you fancy, you can easily check out the menu and atmosphere at all three before making your final decision. Side by side on Cotham Hill you’ll find tapas bar Bravas, a softly-lit bar and restaurant serving up Spanish-inspired dishes and drinks, and Yume Kitchen, a Japanese restaurant offering guests sushi, curries and noodles galore.
Bravas is undoubtedly one of the most popular restaurants in the area, having built up a reputation for serving up authentic Spanish plates alongside an excellent wine and beer list. The team behind Bravas head to Spain every year to research new products, dishes and innovations in tapas, bringing back their new-found knowledge and showcasing it in their seasonal menu. Boasting an open kitchen, guests at Bravas can see and smell their food being prepared, and the relaxed nature of going for tapas means that it’s easy to order a couple of dishes at a time, being enticed by the smell and sights of other people’s food to order your next plate. One of the best dishes on the menu has to be the fried aubergine with molasses, one of my favourite tapas dishes when I lived in Granada, Spain as a student, but everything I have tried at Bravas has been truly delicious. Make sure not to miss the dessert menu, which although small packs a mighty punch: finish your meal off with a couple of the salted chocolate truffles and I promise you won’t go home disappointed. Bravas does get very busy even in the week, so for a large group it’s worth booking ahead (you can do so on their website). For a more spontaneous trip, the bar along the window is always kept free for walk-in guests, so if you’re happy to wait a little while during busier periods you should get a table without too much trouble.
Next door, Yume Kitchen serves up delicious Japanese fare in a simple but elegant setting. The restaurant describes their aim as being ‘to serve delicious, affordable food that guests will want to return to week after week’, and they definitely do just that. With a variety of small plates on the menu alongside a tantalizing array of sushi and noodle dishes, there’s something here to please everyone, from veggies to those who feel a bit squeamish about the idea of raw fish. Typically a little less busy than neighbouring Bravas, Yume Kitchen is a great alternative for a lovely meal out.
Photo credit: bigredal1
The last restaurant I want to mention lies around a 5 minute walk from Cotham Hill on Whiteladies Road, though they have a second outpost in Clifton Village on Regent Street. Bosco Pizzeria serve up an array of fantastic pizzas from a varied menu that also boasts an impressive selection of salads, pastas and meat and fish dishes. Personal favourites from the pizza menu include the house special, Bosco, a simple pizza topped with fior di latte mozzarella, tomato and basil, and the Fungi pizza, a pizza bianco topped with mushrooms, mozzarella and truffle oil. The desserts at Bosco are equally as tempting: skip the classic tiramisu that you might order elsewhere and try the Zeppole, a selection of small Italian doughnuts served with custard and lemon curd. Another restaurant that has clearly put as much effort into its design as its menu, Bosco is a gorgeous space that easily accommodates groups of any size with ease, though for larger groups it’s worth booking in advance as the restaurant gets busy. Not surprising really – with pizza, desserts and service this good, it’s hard to resist.
Photo credit: soooophieb
Other honourable mentions:
There are so many great foodie spots in Clifton that it has proven very difficult to decide which places to include in this article! While the places mentioned above are my very favourites, there are a few more that are definitely worth a mention:
For a great cup of coffee, you can’t go wrong with Brew Coffee Co. or Bristol Coffee House, both situated on Whiteladies Road and serving up some delicious treats to accompany your caffeine kick. Bakesmiths is another Whiteladies spot serving up great tea, coffee and cake, and baking all their treats on site. In Clifton Village, Primrose Cafe serves up delicious breakfasts to their loyal clientele, and the seating space in front of the cafe is the perfect sunny corner for some excellent people spotting. Also in Clifton Village, Arch House Deli is an award-winning deli/cafe selling all kinds of foodie goods – pop in and I bet it will be impossible to leave without buying something. For lunches or dinners, Clifton Village’s Noa is a hidden gem serving up top-notch Japanese food, and back on Whiteladies Road, The Burger Joint offers some of the best burgers in Bristol. Both of these spots are just as good for veggies as they are for meat eaters: dig in!
So that’s it: your guide to a perfect foodie day out in Clifton. Whether you live locally, study at the nearby University of Bristol, or are simply in Bristol for a short break, Clifton is an unmissable part of the city that definitely merits a visit.
Let me know what you think of these spots if you go, or if you’ve already visited! You can get in touch on Instagram, Twitter or by commenting below – I love to hear from you! As usual, all the Instagram accounts for the spots I’ve mentioned are linked below. Happy scrolling!