One of the best things about living in Bristol is that it’s a foodie’s paradise. And, one of the best things about being vegan is that there’s always an excuse to try out every vegan menu I spot. The two combined makes for an ever-expanding belly and an ever-dwindling bank balance, but I don’t mind too much at all.
There are some hidden gems in Bristol that everyone needs to try, whether you stick to a plant-based diet or not. Here are some of my top choices…
Everyone who knows me will know that I am obsessed with eating at Chilli Daddy. In fact, my boyfriend now point blank refuses to come with me as we’ve eaten there so many times together.
But, honestly, there’s a reason why I just can’t get enough. Chilli Daddy may look fairly unassuming from the outside, but once you step inside you’ll be hit by the most amazing flavour combinations.
This isn’t a vegan restaurant but they have a couple of vegan options that are too good to skip. My favourite is the Tofu Noodle Hotpot (£6.50) – a huge bowl of thick noodles and wedges of tofu cooked in the most flavoursome broth, served alongside red peanuts, cabbage and, of course, chilli.
When ordering your hotpot, you’ll be asked what spicy rating you’d like. You can choose a rating between 0-5, with five being the hottest. I love spice, and a level three is about perfect for me. Once your food has been prepared, you can always add more chilli, garlic and soy sauce to create the perfect mix of flavours yourself.
There are a couple of branches (including one on Queens Road and a stall at St Nick’s Market) but the Baldwin St restaurant is my lucky local. If you haven’t been, you need to go!
This is somewhere my boyfriend and I stumbled upon by accident en route to another restaurant, and have revisited no less than five times in the past six months.
Suyuan is an all-vegetarian Chinese restaurant with a cosy interior and a fab range of vegan options. The food here is freshly cooked and served by the friendliest kitchen staff, making it feel as if you’re enjoying a home-cooked meal as opposed to dining out.
The prices are extremely reasonable too; I’ve never paid more than £13 for a starter, main and rice dish on their Early Bird Supper deal (served before 7pm).
Just LOOK at this menu. My favourite dishes include:
The pan-fried tofu rolls with carrot, onions, sprouts and mushrooms. These are delicious but huge, so you might want to share with someone.
Fried shredded potato and sweet potato served with onion, coriander and a homemade dressing. This dish is so good I could probably eat it at my desk everyday!
Spinach boiled with roasted walnut and a peanut butter sauce. This is my boyfriend’s favourite, but it’s not listed as vegan – only veggie.
As a main…
Sweet and sour vegetable balls. These are AMAZING. Made from potato and tofu, they’re the perfect vegan alternative to sweet and sour chicken.
Potato, butternut squash and mushroom curry. Creamy and flavoursome, this is a top pick if you’re after something hearty.
Finish off your meal with a pot of refreshing tea – there are tons to choose from!
If you’re into gooey chocolate brownies, lighter than air cupcakes or moreish cookie sandwiches, you need to get yourself to Mrs Potts. From the outside, this cosy cafe doesn’t look promising for those who don’t eat eggs or dairy, but the vegan options truly are surprising.
The cakes here are so good that my boyfriend and I will happily walk across town to grab dessert in one of Mrs Potts’ window seats. It’s the ideal place for date night, especially if you’re into all things chocolate.
My top picks include the chocolate brownie and the cookie sandwich. Ask for the brownie to be served with hot, melted chocolate to really indulge, but don’t be surprised if you feel a little queasy afterwards!
NB: You can also order cakes to go, which is exactly what I did for my boyfriend’s birthday. Getting through 12 chocolate cupcakes was a challenge, I have to say, but I won’t order my birthday cakes from anywhere else from now on!
I’m not sure if this counts as a vegan hidden gem because every vegan I know seems to rave about Koocha Mezze. But, I hadn’t heard of it until earlier this year, so I’m adding it to the list!
Koocha Mezze is an all-vegan mezze restaurant with a menu that proves vegan food definitely doesn’t have to be boring. The dishes are so fresh and flavoursome that I’d have zero problems recommending this place to a non-vegan crowd.
Delicious food aside, dining at Koocha is always a great experience. The staff are exceptionally friendly, the atmosphere’s cosy enough for you to forget you’re in a restaurant, and the Middle Eastern-inspired cocktails are so tasty (the ‘Apple Crumble’ is exceptional) that I’d happily visit just for a drink.
My favourite dishes on the menu are the Kofta Tabrizi (which is the only main I’ve tried), Gaymeh, Rissoles, Hummus (obviously) and the Persian-style Potatoes. You can get four mezze dishes for £14, so I’d recommend getting a main per person and perhaps 4 x dishes to share amongst 2-4 people – depending on how hungry you are!
As the Athenian is tucked away on the first floor of Cargo 2, the shipping container village at Wapping Wharf, it’s a fairly easy place to miss. Unless you know it’s there, it’s highly unlikely you’d simply wander past and decide to stick your nose in.
Luckily, I heard about this place through a friend, and it’s become one of my favourite vegan eats in Bristol.
I’ve found vegan Greek food hard to come by, simply because of the different cheeses and cuts of meat used commonly in Greek cooking. That’s what makes the Athenian so great!
The Athenian isn’t exactly a sit down dinner spot, but it’s great for grabbing a quick bite. Situated along Bristol’s waterfront, this is a brilliant spot to grab a gin, sit in the sun, and tuck into some pretty tasty grub.
You can choose between gyros or souvlaki which can either be prepared as a wrap or in a box. Both options come with salad and oregano fries (my fave!), and can be enjoyed with the Athenian’s own vegan sauce.
I always opt for the gyros as they’re served with shavings of seitan, which I just feel adds a little more to the mix. However, I’ve heard the souvlaki is also just as good!
As you can get an entire meal for less than £10, the Athenian is the definition of cheap and cheerful! If you haven’t yet visited, make sure you swing by Cargo 2 and see what’s on offer.