10 of the most family-friendly places to eat and drink in Bristol
Looking for easy and welcoming places to feed the kids? Check out our expert guide to the most family-friendly places to eat and drink in Bristol. From Sunday lunches at Bocabar and fish and chips at Salt & Malt to soups, cakes and more down on the farm at St Werburgh’s and Windmill Hill
Looking for kid friendly restaurants in Bristol? With its hippy leanings and focus on foraged, fermented and home-cured ingredients Bristol is a hotbed of culinary talent, home to a fresh new crop of buzzy, forward-focused restaurants, from Pasta Loco, Casamia and Box-E to Bulrush, Adelina Yard and Wilsons. Check out our top places to eat and drink in Bristol.
Most of those Bristol restaurants are more suited to grown-up evenings out but the city is also a very family-friendly place to eat. Not sure where to start? Here are travel editor Rhiannon Batten’s personal favourites for eating out in Bristol with kids.
A zeitgeisty collection of cafes, bars and restaurants spread throughout a Lego-like stack of shipping containers down on Wapping Wharf (handy for big attractions like the SS Great Britain), the original version includes Box-E but an extension, Cargo 2, opened in early summer 2017 and now you can get everything from Greek-style street food and posh sausage rolls to veggie curries and sourdough pizzas, all without fuss.
The most family-friendly of the lot, however, is arguably Salt & Malt, the second branch of Josh Eggleton’s fish and chip shop. Sit in or take-away and you can choose from the likes of locally sourced, gluten-free fish and chips, fishcakes and battered halloumi, all of them available in pint-sized portions for children.
Look out for daily specials, too; if you’re visiting in winter they might include the company’s delicious, rich fish soup.
To find out more about Josh Eggleton's Bristol restaurants, listen to our interview on the podcast:
From Szechuan hotpots at Chilli Daddy to Pieminster pies, gyoza from Eatchu, wild berry-strewn cakes at Ahh Toots and falafel all kinds of ways at Eat a Pitta, St Nicks - and its tide of indie food stalls - promises prime lunchtime grazing for a range of ages. Here are our favourite street food stalls across the UK.
Split into three sections - The Glass Arcade, the Covered Market and the Exchange, the regular stallholders are joined by a farmers' market on Wednesdays and a street food market on Fridays. If you want a sit-down lunch rather than something to grab and go, head to Source, a funky food hall and café within the market.
Offering much more than its name suggests, while this Park Street business sells an impressive range of baked goods (all of them made with sourdough, including its legendary sourdough-nuts), it also has an extensive café menu.
Grab a table and order from a menu that steers from coffees and custard-dipped brioches with blueberry compote to smashed sweet chilli avocado and tomato salsa on toast, shakshuka, salads, sandwiches and an impressive range of wood-fired pizzas.
These two city farms have been around for a long time but they have been a great discovery for us. They both have good cafes for kids - St Werburghs’ is more hippyish, with a little play area just below it and everything served on gorgeous handmade crockery.
They do delicious, imaginative, cakes and juices all day but brunches and lunches are the thing here: anything from superior sausage butties for the kids to City Farm salads (roast pears, chicory, Perl Las cheese, rye croutons, toasted hazelnuts and elderberry kombucha dressing) and Cornish kippers with new potatoes, free-range eggs and spring greens grown on the farm.
Windmill Hill’s café re-opened in early summer 2017 in a much larger space. During our visit, just before the re-opening, it was squished into a temporary site but it had a really good menu, especially for really small children who often get ignored even with children’s menus.
Here they serve things like mild homemade chillis, plates of vegetable sticks and hummus and the kind of thick, wholesome soups your Granny would make only in suitably dinky portions.
For a sit-down Sunday lunch with friends and family, Bocabar is a Bristol institution (though it’s just as good on other days of the week too). There’s a local, sustainable ethos running through the menu; fish and meat dishes often list the farm or fishmonger those scallops, roast pork or lamb come from and the relaxed vibe means there are plenty of child-friendly sharing platters stocked with West Country cheeses and meats.
Wood-fried pizzas and Sunday roasts are other classic menu items here (though it’s also the kind of place you could just drop into for coffee and order some toast for the kids). And the large space and laid-back vibe makes it a breezy, chilled out place to be with children, where you don’t feel you’re impinging on other diners.
Right in the city centre, overlooking the harbour, this semi-industrial restaurant and live music venue is a handy spot to retreat to if you want more than just a snack between sights. It has a very high rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association and a menu that caters well for parents as well as children (also a great range of local beers, spirits and soft drinks).
Typical dishes include Buddha bowls packed with lemongrass-spiked salads, smoky hummus and roast veg, note perfect mussels and chips and, for children, plenty of sensible crowd-pleasers, including simple pasta dishes with home-cooked tomato sauce.
Like Bocabar, the space is also well suited for families, with a toy area for children and plenty of space between tables so families don’t dominate the space - or noise levels.
What started as an Indian street food truck on the festival circuit has grown into a restaurant empire, with five outlets across Bristol (plus one in Oxford). The food is carefully sourced, the bright and breezy interiors are fun for kids and the menus, with many dishes created by Meera Sodha, tick plenty of boxes for both grown-ups and smaller diners.
There’s also a dedicated children’s menu that sensibly offers different portion sizes for toddlers and older children and offers milder dishes such as chicken with paneer, dal and rice or fish with Bombay potatoes.
Another Bristol stalwart for families wanting a sit-down meal is the local outlet of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s trio of restaurants.
As well as a dedicated children’s menu (think posh sausage and mash, cheese on toast or hummus and veg sticks for tinies), older children can order half portions of many of the dishes on the main menu.
The gelato is delicious at this upmarket ice cream parlour on College Green – try a scoop of the chocolate sorbetto (amazingly creamy for something that doesn’t actually have cream in it) or grab a Swoon on a Stick (think posh choc ice).
The great thing here for kids, however, is that they sensibly do a ‘bambino’ size portion – and, as well as all the amazing seasonal flavours they usually have small people-pleasing strawberry, vanilla and chocolate on offer. Check out our ice cream recipes to make at home.
Simplicity, quality and speed are a winning trio when it comes to family meals out and Bristol’s Pi Shop promises all three. It’s a gourmet pizza joint that’s stylish enough (and has a good enough cocktail menu) to feel indulgent for adults but also caters well for children in the early evening. Read our full review of Pi Shop Bristol here.
Pi Shop doesn’t have a play area but it’s my kind of place to eat out as a family - a grown-up restaurant that just happens to welcome children. And, because it’s focused on pizza, all the food comes quickly so there isn’t time for children to get too fidgety.
Those pizzas are fantastic, too. Try the one with nduja, burrata, roast red peppers, rocket and pine nuts, or the one with Wye Valley asparagus, taleggio, ewe’s curd and rocket, and order a simple, smaller Margherita for the children (they’re made with a gorgeous homemade tomato sauce).
For more general info on Bristol see visitbristol.co.uk
Images | Jon Craig, Morgane Bigaul, Matt Inwood, Rhiannon Batten