Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, apparently. So what does that make brunch? Equally important if you ask us. There are few finer things that starting your day in sterling culinary style, whether it's a perfectly done full English from one of Bristol's best cheap eats or a long and lazy continental brunch at some terribly fancy restaurant. So go forth, feast and get your day off to a very good start indeed.
Bristol breakfasts and bunches
Opened by Bristolian sourdough queen Laura Hart in 2012, Hart’s Bakery is the Temple Quarter’s go-to for cut-above caffeine (courtesy of local roasters Extract Coffee) and breakfast on the go, with a big communal table that works well for more leisurely pit stops. Watch the baking action unfold in the open kitchen – and get first dibs on that new batch of cinnamon buns – as you sample your way through their sourdough toast, breakfast muffins and flaky sausage rolls.
Source is locally renowned for its independent food hall and hearty lunch offerings, but it’s at breakfast that this place’s commitment to seasonal sourcing really comes into its own. This is a café that knows its – predominately local and available in the adjoining shop – suppliers, and genuinely cares about ingredient quality. And the proof is in the perfectly poached egg on your plate. See for yourself as you join the crowd of local workers, foodies and early-bird shoppers for a bowl of Drambuie-spiked porridge, delicately smoked salmon with creamy scrambled eggs or a perfectly presented full English.
You can’t get much more Bristol than this Stokes Croft workers’ co-operative café. Breakfast is a highlight, with flavoursome meat-free fry ups (crispy hash browns, garlic mushrooms, facon) our pick of the bunch. Wash it down with a soya latte (though they do make an exception for cow’s milk in drinks if you prefer) and watch the rest of the world rush to work through the massive floor-to-ceiling windows.
Long renowned as one of the best breakfast joints in Bristol, the most recent incarnation of Montpelier’s locally adored café was opened by new owners in 2012 after several months of closure. For former breakfast regulars, any concern about new-fangled menus was swiftly abated - it’s still breakfast that means business here. Take your pick from meaty, veggie or vegan takes on the Bristolian classic fry-up (all feature crispy fried potatoes and the aforementioned spinach), go large with a Bristolian Challenge or check out the waffles or eggs florentine.
Kieran and Imogen Waite’s Cotham Hill tapas joint, Bravas, finds itself at the top of many a Bristolian foodie’s favourites list, so it came as no surprise that this place was an instant hit when it opened on Gloucester Road in early 2014. Many visit for the punchy and imaginative brunch menu: fresh juices, spicy huevos rancheros, sticky warm cinnamon buns and chilli and lime spiked avocado smashed on to sourdough toast made in the on-site open kitchen. The baking doesn’t stop at bread, either. A typical day might see brioche or pumpkin, cinnamon and chocolate loaf artfully arranged on the counter and reduced to nothing but a dusting of telltale crumbs before the day is out.
The Stokes Croft branch of this South West mini-chain is our favourite. The brand’s non-identikit decor policy is played out to perfection here, with an arty laid-back feel that’s right at home in Bristol’s most independently minded neighbourhood. Our pick of the pre-lunch bunch is the Portobello mushrooms on sourdough toast, but there’s an anxiety-inducing list of other options from which to choose: vast fry-ups, eggs Benedict, pancakes, kedgeree, bagels, granola, smoothies, porridge… all prepared to perfection with locally sourced ingredients.
Cotham’s Havana Coffee is the stuff of local hangover legend. Rock up worse for wear (anytime before 5pm); choose from a selection that includes numerous takes on the classic full English (meat and veggie options available), pancakes and sandwiches; leave sated and cured. Our tip: try the special breakfast with extra hash browns and don’t go ‘big’ unless you’re ravenous – portions are on the generous side.
It’s all about the waffles at this stylish neighbourhood café and foodstore on Easton High Street. And whether you opt for them with crispy bacon or slathered in syrup and seasonal fruit, one thing is certain: you need to get your order in early because they have been known to sell out. To say that BS5 locals have taken this airy corner café with its big windows, whitewashed walls and large communal tables to their hearts is something of an understatement.
Stapleton Road’s legendary Monte Carlo café has been offering salvation to hungover souls since 1964. Don’t mistake the lack of pretention and bargain prices for bad quality, either. This place is as spotless as it is welcoming, and the fry-ups are fabulous. Plump for the much recommended veggie breakfast (eggs, mushrooms, potato scallops, beans, tomatoes and veggie sausages) or brave the gigantic Full Monte, a mammoth undertaking of bacon, sausages, black pudding, eggs, potato scallops and all the trimmings.
Maitreya Social was one of the first restaurants in the area to be dedicated purely to plant-based eating, and while the owners may have changed over the years, its laidback atmosphere and creative menus remain. The cooked breakfasts - all vegetarian or vegan - prove really popular. Keep an eye on the board for some very interesting hot and cold specials good enough to rival those very-well received brekkie options.