You’ve got a weekend free in glorious Bristol. Question is, what to do? There are so many sub-parts of our city filled to the brim with fantastic eating and drinking spots, some you might have even walked past without giving a second glance. So this weekend, why not try a ‘staycation’ and explore what is right on your doorstep? Here is an example of what you could do if you had 48 hours to explore the Harbourside...
Brunch is always a winning way to kick off proceedings, made even better by enjoying glorious views of the water. Luckily for us, neighbours Spoke and Stringer and Broken Dock (formerly Brigstow Bar & Kitchen) are in prime sun trap spots and both offer incredible brunch menus. Spoke & Stringer were winners of best breakfast at the Bristol good food awards in 2016. This is wonderful corner of the harbourside to eat and drink, with both restaurants open throughout the day serving lunch and dinner. Spoke & Stringer offers an array of tapas and pinxtos whilst Broken Dock offers traditional dishes with a modern twist (not to mention an amazing G&T). With stunning views across the harbour and over to the SS Great Britain, it's a wonderful place to feel like a tourist in your own town.
Take a walk down Hotwell Road you will struggle to miss the Grain Barge. The clue is in the name, as this historic converted barge is part of the furniture when it comes to the harbourside. It's a great novelty location to come and indulge in a few beverages or take advantage of their menu. They have a wide range of craft beers, lagers and ciders – with the top deck being the perfect place to hang out with some friends and soak up the atmosphere and they often have live music during the evenings as well. This is a great pit-stop if you're indulging in a nice walk or bike ride and need to take a breather with a cold beer.
A few minutes on from the Grain Barge is The Pump House and if you're a gin fiend, this is your haven. Perched on the edge of the floating harbour in what was a former Victorian pumping station, this place is widely known and recognised for their astonishing gin collection, which currently stands at over 400 and counting! With a large terrace out the front to sit out and enjoy, you could literally spend your afternoon working your way through the menu. If gin isn't your thing, there are plenty of local ales, wines and other spirits to keep you occupied. You may need to line your stomach before a drinking marathon and luckily The Pump House offers an a la carte and all day bar menu.
The food here is mainly British with European influences and a massive focus on quality. All produce is locally sourced and everything is prepared on site. There are often special tasting menus and pairing dinners happening in the restaurant, so it's worth checking the website beforehand to see if anything tickles your fancy.
If you continue to explore past the Pump House and go over to the other side of the water, then you’ll spot Pickle at Underfall Yard. You may already be familiar with the Pickle truck which sits on Portwall Lane and sends out delicious smells all day long, this is their second, more sturdy outlet. What's lovely about visiting here is that you can combine it with exploring, the yard has a history dating back to the 1880s. Pickle offers delicious hot and cold sandwiches, snacks and treats alongside hot and cold drinks. When the sun makes an appearance they even bring out the deck chairs – what better way to sit back, relax and take in the surroundings.
A boozy pub crawl, leisurely walk around the harbourside or Bristol ferry trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping off at The Cottage Inn. A classic, old fashioned pub that's recently had a massive facelift; on warmer days you will find the patio filled with punters, with some of them taking their pints down to drink on the water’s edge. It offers fantastic, unspoilt views down towards the rest of the harbour and Bristol’s colourful background of houses and the mighty suspension bridge. The food served here is hearty, pub grub classics – such as fish and chips, sausage and mash and steak with all the trimmings. This is a great place to visit if you’d prefer to not opt for the modern type bar or eatery.
Leave The Cottage Inn and start walking up past the SS Great Britain and you may spot The Olive Shed. This little gem lies just back from the water, before you reach the Cargo development. It boasts a wonderful, scenic venue that you can sit outside and enjoy some authentic tapas dishes and a glass of wine, or treat yourselves to the full dinner experience in the relaxed dining room. With full length windows that open and allow you see out over the views, this is quite a romantic destination as well. The tapas menu includes plenty of choice in terms of meat, fish and vegetable, plus there is a fantastic selection of dishes that are vegetarian and vegan, all with recommended matching wines.
It would be hard to miss the Wapping Wharf development when exploring the harbourside. This vibrant little community hub has enough to keep you occupied all day and into the night if you so wish, with lots of variety in terms of food and drink. If you are here to shop, you can stock yourself up at Better Food – where you will be able to find the best in local organic produce. If you need booze then the Bristol Cider Shop or Corks have plenty of choice for you (it would be rude not to try some as well). In terms of eating, well, that just all depends on what you fancy. If you want some of the best pizza outside of London, then head to Bertha's (where they also have homemade gelato and a NEGRONI MENU, yes you read that right).
If you want fried chicken, then Josh Eggleton’s Chicken Shed sits atop the lower units with its sun terrace. For porky treats, it has to be pigsty and for pies, nip next door and see Phil at Lovett's. Calypso Kitchen brings us the best in Middle Eastern and the Caribbean, whilst across the way, Little Victories serve amazing coffees and cocktails for when the sun goes down. Not forgetting Mokoko which is a coffee shop and bakery all rolled into one and of course Wild Beer, where Hook Camden provides the fish and chips. In terms of finer dining, Woky Ko offers reasonable yet delicious Asian inspired cuisine whilst Box-E sits above it; a container with only 14 covers but a delectable menu and a fantastically different restaurant experience.
Offering beautiful views of the water and a little less on the beaten track is where you can find Pi Shop and Paco Tapas, which are next door to each other. If you are a pizza lover, you cannot go wrong with a visit to the Pi Shop; authentic Italian pizzas prepared in an open plan kitchen before being cooked in a wood fired oven and served alongside a delicious range of cocktails. The atmosphere here is a laid-back, fun and friendly one and you do not always need a reservation because the team will do their best to seat you if you haven't got a table booked. The speciality pizzas which change with the seasons showcase the real creativity the team have here and it's not difficult to see why Pi Shop is a Bristol favourite.
Next door, Paco Tapas is a bolt hole for the sherry fiends. Whether you’d like to stop by for just a drop, want to sample a few tapas dishes before heading elsewhere or make a night of it then Paco caters for all occasions. This modern tapas bar has the chefs cooking open plan so you can watch all of the action, before tucking into dishes such as stuffed quail, pork ribs or octopus, or enjoy some cold meats straight off the bone whilst drinking Fino. If there was ever a place that makes you feel like you have been transported to a holiday destination – this is it.
In the heart of the harbourside lies the Arnolfini. This is the perfect spot to meet up with friends, come with colleagues after work or just to sit and take it all in with a great book. It’s a warming scene when walking past the cobbles and walls by the water to see it filled with people enjoying their weekends and when it happens, soaking up the good weather. The bar is filled with local producers such as Butcome Brewery, 6 o’ Clock Gin and Good Chemistry Brewery to name but a few, with snacks available from the café inside. This has to be the hub of the harbourside, plus, it is in the perfect location to go either left or right and take a tour around the rest of it.