There's no getting around it - Britain loves Indian food. At least two of us in the office are utterly obsessed with curry. 

The problem with this country loving curry is that there is a lot of terrible Indian restaurants around the country. You know the type. A two-inch layer of oil sitting on top of a couple of sad chunks of chicken and veg. 

But when it's good - it's really damn good. When the right chef is in charge, they can balance 10+ spices with ease and create a depth of flavour unrivalled by any other cuisine. 

Below are a mix of traditional and modern Indian restaurants in Bristol that will guarantee you a great feed and reaffirm why Indian food reigns supreme. 

With thanks to Natalie from Stuffed265 for the list 

Pipal Tree

Not your usual Indian offering, Easton's Pipal Tree is a small-but-perfectly-formed restaurant run by husband and wife, Kirpal (who was born in the area) and Kulwinder. They wanted to open a restaurant where people could experience home-cooked traditional Punjabi cuisine. Kirpal has over 20 years’ experience as a senior chef and, to put it simply, you won’t find dishes like these anywhere else in the city. The restaurant serves brunch 10-5 but it's in the evening that the menu comes alive. Starters include free range tandoori chicken wings, lamb samosas and pakoras - with meat and veggie platters laden with Indian delicacies. The menu is broken down into sections - 'land, sea, sky and garden', with delicious British-Punjabi fusion mussels, free range pheasant breast cooked tandoori-style, and Kale and Aloo. If that doesn't entice you, we're not sure what will.

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Chai Shai

Family is at the heart of this Indian restaurant and takeaway, which differs from your average curry house. The small establishment situated in Hotwells has limited seating but simple charm, with growing boxes lining the exterior, filled with herbs and spices for the kitchen. Shilpi and her husband run the restaurant, with their children also lending a helping hand. The menu is limited to excellent staple dishes which are fresh, healthy and most importantly authentic (and we’ve heard lots of fantastic feedback about the Pakoras), with Chai Shai taking inspiration from Bangladesh (where the family are from), and northern India. The restaurant also serves as a deli and takeaway, so perfect for picking up that Friday night curry or a different lunch option if you are in the area. If you fancy a real taste of India at a reasonable price where the focus is solely on the food, then this might be the place for you. Owners Shilpi and Farouk have created a changing-menu that explores the cuisine of regions across India and Bangladesh. Aside from the main-courses, Shilpi creates delicious Indian bites including Pakoras and Samosas - and invites you to try them. Their young son sat down next to us and chatted away. It's a happy family-restaurant - and their food will make you happy.

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Chai Pani

Opening last October with minimum fuss or fanfare was Chai Pani on Cotham Hill. The emphasis here is that Chai Pani wants to bring Indian style street food to Bristol; showcasing dishes that you would find on the bustling streets of Mumbai, Sylhet and Dhaka to name a few. What is great about this style of eating is that you and a group of friends could come and order a selection from the 'street delight' part of the menu and enjoy dinner trying a bit of everything, or it works well as a selection of starters before your curry. All of the usual suspects such as pakoras, onion bhaji's and samosa's make an appearance, however specialities such a chicken lollipops and pani puri are perfect for if you want to broaden your horizons. You can also choose from classic curries, Indian street wraps and dishes from the grill. Lots of the options are gluten-free (nearly all of the classic curries are offered as GF if needed) and there is an extensive range of vegan and vegetarian dishes. They are currently also running an awesome deal with Wriggle, so be sure to check it out (you know, whilst you're here and all).

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Thali Café

An ever popular choice when going for traditional Indian food is often the Thali Cafe. What originally started as a food truck at Glastonbury has grown into a family of restaurants dotted around within Bristol, offering authentic Indian cuisine served ‘Thali’ style and a Tiffin revolution. 'Thali' is the word used for the way meals are served and eaten in India; a selection of dishes are all served together on one big steel plate, separated by individual dishes, in order to give diners a real taste of the different subcontinents of India. Reusable tiffin tins can also be purchased from the restaurant, which can then be used when coming back to the restaurant to order takeaway. The Tiffin tins do not produce any waste to throw away and fits in nicely with the Thali Cafe's stance on sustainability. The restaurants are big on recycling, using locally sourced and free range meat and fish, daily and organic milk, cream and eggs and also seasonal fruit and vegetables. The menu has a range of Thali's, daily staples and grills - which can be accompanied by snacks and starters. Ordering one Thali is an experience in itself, from which you are able to sample a few different curries in one go.

Read more about Thali (Easton)


Bright and vibrant restaurant Nutmeg in Clifton Village has grown itself a sterling reputation in offering the finest in Indian cuisine. Not to get confused with a curry house, Nutmeg's al a carte ‘Menu 29’ reflects the 29 states in India, offering a real journey across the country and taken from owner Raja and head chef Arvind's travels throughout their hometown. The produce and ingredients used in the kitchen are all locally sourced from Bristol suppliers, including Ruby and White and the Bristol Sweet Mart. As well as offering an al a carte menu, Nutmeg offers a tasting menu every two months, which focuses on a particular region of India and the cooking you would expect. Nutmeg have recently been running a series of ‘Nutmeg Nights’ events, where which a tasting menu is offered with a drink pairing; there have already been collaborations with Moor Beer and Corks - so it is worth looking out for these events if you want to get a real flavour of speciality Indian cuisine.

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Urban Tandoor

Tucked away on Small Street is where you will find Urban Tandoor and trust us, this little gem is worth seeking out. Regularly getting rave reviews on Trip Advisor and also scooping a Bristol Good Food Award in 2015, the team here bring honest, authentic food (sometimes with a twist) to diners. The chefs in the kitchen don’t cook with oil or artificial colours and always buy fresh ingredients, meaning the dishes here are lighter than you might expect and not greasy and all the meat used is halal. The menu has a whole range of dishes to choose from with some unusual but still delicious items to enjoy, such as Guinea Fowl Jalfrezi, Beef Sukka with shin meat and Goan fish curry. If you are not feeling adventurous, you are still able to order Indian classics with all the usual trimmings. This restaurant is small and stylish, with a lovely intimate feel.

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The Raj

Perhaps one of the longest-running Indian restaurants in Bristol, The Raj first opened its doors on King Street in 1981 (that is not bad going in a city where we see lots of venues come and go) and has established itself as one of the great fine dining curry restaurants in the city. In an environment where staff turnover can be high, The Raj still has the same smiling faces who welcome customers and new visitors week in and week out. The restaurant is on bustling King Street and is not immediately visible; however after heading through the doorway and down the stairs, you are welcomed into a colourful and cosy setting. It is worth noting that The Raj offers and early bird deal between the hours of 5.30-7.30pm Monday – Saturday, where you can enjoy a feast of starters or sides, a main with rice and a drink, all for £15.95. The normal menu has a wonderful selection of old classics and different style curries to choose from. It's an obvious choice for if you have a hankering for something delicious after a few drinks on King Street, or if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy an authentic dinner.

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The Mint Room

Another restaurant not to get mixed up with curry houses is The Mint Room in Clifton. With the original venue over in Bath, the team decided to come to Bristol in 2015 and The Mint Room has been popular ever since. The al a carte menu is a true delight for anyone who is a fan of fine dining and cooking done well but with flair. Starters include Tawa Scallops, Quail cooked three ways and Cornish Crab, so perhaps not what you would usually expect at your local Indian. The menu includes tandoori classic with a Mint Room twist, mains and signature dishes. There is also a section of traditional curries should you wish to indulge in your favourite. There is also a lounge and bar area, where you can enjoy some lighter Indian snacks and smaller plates, including traditional kebabs, samosas or spring rolls. There is also an option to order a mixed platter of four of these dishes for £12. The Mint Room is an excuse to put on your finery and go for a delicious Indian meal.

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Romy's Kitchen

Romy's isn't technically in Bristol but we can give her a pass as the food is out of this world. Romy opened Romy's back in 2013 and has seen the restaurant, as well as her own career go from strength to strength, as one of they only Indian, female chef and restaurant owners in the UK. Expect authentic, South Asian dining with a twist on the modern when you head to this cosy restaurant, we would be hesitant to call it fine dining as the atmosphere is so relaxed but the dishes are beautiful. The lunch menu is small but perfectly formed offering wraps and tiffins whilst the evening menu sees rich, aromatic curries, wonderful veggie dishes and a plethora of the sides you would come to expect. Well worth the drive to Thornbury! (Pics Romy Gill)

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Published -6th September 2017