Even committed carnivores are beginning to come around to the fact that vegan and vegetarian dishes can taste every bit as good as burgers, steaks, roasted chickens and rumps of lamb. Maybe it's something to do with a greater need for creativity. Maybe it's because the produce we're getting these days is so much better. Or maybe it's just that more people are bored with seeing the vegetables, legumes, grains and pulses of the culinary world playing second fiddle when they should be shining bright. The restaurants below let them do so. Go and get dazzled.
Bristol's best vegan and vegetarian restaurants
Lunching at Falafel King is a bit like eating lunch in Aladdin’s Cave. The Moroccan lamps, mosaic-topped tables, low ceilings and shisha pipes certainly make you feel like you could be in a cavern in a faraway land. The food doesn’t disappoint either. The counter is full to the brim with freshly chopped salads all lined up and waiting to be added to your order. The menu is up on the blackboard, but any frequent visitor knows it off by heart it. The falafel comes highly recommended, served in one of their own-baked abu noor pitta bread, smeared liberally with fresh hummus, chopped salads and topped with pickles and the sauce of your choice.
Most people head here for the pizzas, which are freshly prepared, crisp and topped with local, seasonal ingredients. If pizza’s not your thing, the salads are huge or you can go up to the huge 10-foot bar that stands in the centre of the room and choose from a selection of deli-style tapas dishes. While not exclusively vegetarian, the menu has a strong Mediterranean influence, so vegetables and herbs feature heavily across all sections of the menu.
Our favourite branch (the in-store café at indie record shop Rise) of Bristol mini-chain Friska is rammed at lunch, making breakfast the preferred time of day to sink into one of its coveted booths, watch the Queen’s Road world go by and sample their locally admired wares. This place is by no means exclusively vegetarian but the meat-free soups, wraps and phos are really very good indeed.
This pop-up restaurant has won the hearts of many vegans in this fair city. The team are currently looking for a suitable permanent premises, but in the meantime keep a close eye on their website and social media to find out when and where the next pop-up will be. They specialise in turning fruit and vegetables into exciting new creations, throwing every trick in the book at their dishes to give them extra oomph. They even make their own ‘nutchz’, a nut-based alternative to dairy cheese that is sold on market stalls and used frequently in their cooking.
If you’re looking for something wholesome and sustaining before, during or after a night out, Biblos is your place. While the menu isn’t exclusively vegetarian, its inherent Middle Eastern/Caribbean flavours mean that there is plenty for vegetarians to choose from. Biblos stuff their famous wraps full of fresh salads, falafel, hummus or roasted vegetables. If you feel like sharing, their mezze and platters come highly recommended too, and because you can bring your own booze it certainly makes for an affordable night out.
Plates of food don’t come much more vibrant than those served at Souk Kitchen, which has succeeded in its aim to bring authentic Middle Eastern market dishes to Bristol. Dishes come from across the Middle East and North Africa: there’s Israeli couscous salad (£4.50); Iranian cucumbers; Turkish beans and peppers; Tunisian mechouia (grilled vegetable salad, £3.95), and shakshuka (poached eggs, peppers, tomatoes and onions on grilled flat bread, £5.10) also from Tunisia.
Royce Rolls is Bristol’s original vegetarian café. It opened way back in 1979, and has taken prime position serving Bristolians from the heart of St Nicholas market ever since. Get there quick at lunch time to bag one of the few tables that are both inside and out and don’t expect fancy décor. Think rustic, bustling and slightly old fashioned – this is one of the original whole food cafes after all.
While the menu here isn’t exclusively vegetarian, there are plenty of daily options, usually including a tart or quiche of some sort, soup and other seasonal delights, all served with plenty of tasty side salads. At just £5 for the daily special, lunch here won’t break the bank either.
This Italian neighbourhood restaurant is a firm favourite with the locals. Having won the accolade of best breakfast and best Italian restaurant in Bristol at the Bristol Good Food awards three years in a row, you can be certain the food here is good. The menu is Italian, therefore very vegetarian friendly, although not exclusively so. It changes on a daily basis, making the most of fresh, local and seasonal produce, but antipasti designed for sharing, risottos, pasta, gnocchi and homemade bread are almost guaranteed to make an appearance.
If you look carefully, you may be lucky enough to see a sighting of The Spotted Leopard van on Alma Rd. With the aim of making vegan food accessible to all, Louise Abel started pitching up in this spot when the license was approved earlier this year. Formerly popping up at festivals, it seems the Spotless Leopard has found a slightly more permanent kingdom just off the bustling Whiteladies Road. Everything on offer is vegan, from the pastry right down to the cakes, salads and coffees.