Where to eat vegan food in Bristol
Avoiding alcohol or trying the latest detox is so 2014; in 2019, the only way to start the New Year is by going vegan. The Veganuary incentive – where people go plant-based for a month to protect animals and the environment – is currently in full-swing, and this year there have been nearly 250,000 sign-ups so far, with the number expected to rise significantly.
Whether you’re looking to make a permanent change to your diet or are just interested in trying some plant-based cuisine, we’ve got you covered. We’ve done London, now it’s Bristol’s turn to get the vegan treatment. With Veganuary in mind, here are seven of our favourite Bristol restaurants to eat vegan in 2019.
East Village Cafe
In the heart of the lovely Clifton Village is East Village Café, the place in Bristol to head for the best oat milk hot chocolate of your life. As a fully vegetarian eatery, East Village Café has an extensive vegan menu, and on weekends it’s jam-packed with people enjoying plant-based breakfasts, brunches and lunches. Grab a table beside the big, elegant windows and get comfy – it’s the perfect place to while away the hours people-watching.
Favourites on the menu include the savoury corn and quinoa waffles with smoky tomato salsa, sour cashew cream, sweetcorn and avocado, as well as the shakshouka – tofu in a spiced tomato, sweet pepper and onion sauce. The sandwiches are excellent too, particularly the smoked tempeh, avocado and harissa, and many ingredients are sourced from the greengrocer next door. But East Village Café is really known for its cakes and sweet treats; dither over the slices at the counter, then take a box home to nibble on.
For something completely different, head to the fantastic Flow, a gem of a restaurant hidden away in an unassuming underpass by Bristol’s Bear Pit. The starkly urban setting belies the gentle ambiance inside, and pale wood, flickering candles and plenty of greenery help make this a cosy and intimate dining experience in the very heart of the city. Flow is all about small plates, and while it’s a vegetarian restaurant there are enough vegan options to keep everyone happy – and the mouthwatering, inventive cocktails don’t hurt, either.
The menu focuses on locally grown, produced and foraged ingredients, and it’s seasonal, too, which means you can go back regularly and try out all the new dishes. Plant-based plates this spring include salt baked beets with fermented vegetable patch leaves, spelt, rye and black olive crumble, and local wild mushrooms in thyme pastry with wild garlic and pickled enoki. The sides are just as good: try the chargrilled pickles! For dessert, the cacao nib cake with fudge crumb, blood orange and crystallised chocolate is a divine way to top it all off.
Vying for the top spot of Bristol’s best Indian is Thali, a local restaurant chain that’s already an integral part of the city food scene. From its humble beginnings as a street food truck at Glastonbury, Thali’s menu showcases its unique interpretation of Indian food, and its vegan offerings are as tempting as you’d expect. I visited the Montpelier branch, where the decor is as beautiful as the dishes and the sustainable ethos has won awards – so far, so very vegan. But what about the menu?
Start off with aloo bondas – spiced mashed potato balls in chickpea batter served with mango, pineapple and chilli chutney, then move onto the pumpkin olaf – sweet roasted pumpkin in an indulgently creamy coconut and black bean sauce. Side dishes like gunpowder potatoes, spinach tarka daal and Bengali aubergine curry will fill even the hungriest diner, but if you can, save room for dessert – either the rich chocolate torte or lighter mango sorbet are ideal ways to finish off.
Wapping Wharf isn’t short of trendy restaurants, but Calypso Kitchen stands out due to the Bajan flavours it brings to Bristol’s harbourside. The brainchild of William Clarke and Ariel Czaczkes, founders of Bristol’s Biblos restaurant, the menu at Calypo Kitchen merges Middle Eastern flavours with classically Caribbean cuisine to create an inimitable vegan menu. Sit inside in the industrial-chic interior, or outside, where you can look out onto the harbour.
My favourite dish was the vegan arancini, crispy fried balls stuffed with creamy coconut, rice and black-eyed beans – an incredibly moreish dish. For a main, choose the vegan gumbo – spinach and sweet potato in a thick tomato sauce cooked low and slow. If you’re having trouble deciding, why not get the vegan sharing plate of bajan bakes, falafel, hummus, caramelised sweet potato, flatbread and marinated olives? Finish with coffee-infused chocolate ganache torte, with vegan vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce.
The days when people thought vegans couldn’t eat pizza are long gone, and today Bristol’s best pizzeria serves up plant-based slices that will tempt even the most ardent omnivore. What makes Pizzarova special is the dough; each pizza is made from slowly fermenting sourdough that’s been fed for 69 years, making the dough lighter, chewier and tastier. The flagship restaurant opened on Gloucester Road in 2015, and since then it’s almost always packed full of locals getting their Italian fix.
So what options are there for vegans? For those people who turn their noses up at pizzas without cheese, plant-based or otherwise, you’re in luck, as Pizzarova have vegan cheese that melts in smooth, velvety pools. The menu is simple and straightforward: individual ingredient labels are hung on the wall (e.g. “rocket”, capers”, “olives” etc.), so you can look at what’s in stock and customise your own. The laid-back chefs make the pizzas from scratch behind the counter, so it’s easy to ensure your meal is fully vegan.
Everyone loves tapas, but if you’re vegan you’ll know they’re not necessarily the most veggie-friendly. Drop into Stokes Croft’s Poco Tapas to sample an exciting range of small plates you won’t have tried before. Though it isn’t vegan or even vegetarian, there are some outstanding vegan options on the menu, so it’s a great spot to go with a group of friends with different dietary requirements. The menu is seasonal and varied, and Poco Tapes wears its sustainability stripes with pride; recycling, upcycling and composting are orders of the day here.
Inside it’s warm and rustic, and there’s a lovely fusion of countries and ingredients in the menu – e.g. Isle of White padron peppers. Cold plates include smoked beetroot borani with tarragon, fava bean hummus with olive oil, and zingy heritage tomatoes with peach and polenta. Hot plates include broad bean falafel with fava bean puree, harissa and pickles, and Portuguese ‘punched’ potatoes with garlic, rosemary with harissa and aioli. Finish off with a slice of pear cheesecake with coconut and cashew!
The Old Market Assembly
Bristol has plenty of colourful, quirky haunts, and The Old Market Assembly definitely falls into this bracket. This independent restaurant is home to the Wardrobe Theatre, and it’s a great spot for dinner, drinks and top-notch live music. The menu isn’t fully veggie, but the vegan options are seasonal, sustainable and seriously delicious. A proud Bristol venue, Old Market Assembly stocks some of the best local brewers, winemakers, cider producers and distillers – and check out the wine list, which boasts only natural, bio-dynamic and sustainable wines.
On the menu is doenjang – a fragrant Korean-style mushroom and winter vegetable stew with rice noodles, crispy sprouts and coriander – and Old Market Assembly’s ever-popular pizza, veganised: flat mushroom, chard, kale and red onion on a passata base, topped with a chilli, raw kale and pumpkin seed pesto. If you fancy a Sunday roast, the golden lentil and butternut squash strudel served with seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes, and mushroom and red wine gravy will hit the spot. Be sure to visit the bakery, where you can pick up freshly baked bread and cakes to take home.