There is so much more to Indian food than chicken kormas and prawn purri. Bristol has flung it's arms open to Thali, who really embrace the colour, style, ethos and presentation of what they call "everyday India". Taking their namesake from the original "sharing platter", Thali pride themselves on serving an alternative, lighter and more authentic version of popular Indian dishes. 

The Easton branch of Thali fits in perfectly with the welcoming, community-focussed spirit which exudes from the rest of Easton's thriving food and drink scene; it's an open plan, family-friendly space, perfect for a family get-together or a special meal out with mates. The colourful, sparkling exterior welcomes you in from St Mark's road, and the food is like a great big, warm hug that'll keep you coming back for more.

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Stumble upon Thali in Clifton and you'll be treated to three floors of divine aromas, tiffin-tin-tinkling and a deft fusion of Georgian architecture - think high ceilings, sash windows and utilitarian terracotta-tiled flooring married with a seriously psychadelic mural, warming colour schemes and tinted glass light shades straight from the subcontinent. More intimate than it's Easton or Southville siblings, it's also decidedly more eccentric - adorning the precipitous corner to Hensman's Hill with a hopscotch of light, pot plants and smiley diners atop their wooden pews.

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The Southville branch of Thali - set within the mercurial, redbrick, repurposed industrial confines of Tobacco Factory - is the largest Thali to date. Open plan and ablaze with pastel colours, strings of coloured lights and south-of-the-river hubbub, its the Thali restaurant of choice for catching up with your faves over a few beers and a proper feed. Featuring a full-blown cocktail bar, a charcoal grill (yes, it smells as divine as it sounds) and a mindblowing Upfest mural on it's North Facing exterior wall (in 2017/18, it was a Kaleidoscopic John Lennon), there's no surprise that it's perennially popular with the locals.

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Bohemian, community-minded and as lovely as the North Bristol neighbourhood it calls home, this 60 seater tiffin-eatery-come-thali-tin-takeaway-emporium is Montpelier through and through. And with good reason - for this is where Thali's first permanent outlet set up shop. Inside you'll find a brushed aluminium bar , exposed wooden beams running underfoot and a heady concoction of colour, light and sound. Oh, and don't forget the customers, either - many of whom have now been regulars since Thali opened their delicious doors all those years ago.

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The dinkiest of the lot but with its head in the clouds (ok, maybe not, but it is located on one of Totterdown's more moderate inclines), a meal at Thali Totterdown is a bit like heading back home for the weekend to find that your parents have invited half the village over for a slap up feed. Warm, homely, enough space to relax but somehow almost brushing elbows with those eager diners on the adjacent table, this neighbourhood gem is a 50 seater tardis packed with proper Indian street food, thalis and small plates. Expect the same eye-popping colour Thali is famous for elsewhere in the city, delish grub and good vibes all round.

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Published -14th February 2018