All I've got’s this sunny afternoon… and fresh tapas, crisp sourdough pizzas, tea, cakes and ice-cold beer. Because even if the taxman’s taken all you’ve got, Bristol’s still blessed with some brilliant (and modestly priced) places to enjoy some al fresco dining. We pick five of the best.
When the sun’s out, anywhere can be a slice of heaven. A worn pub-garden table, a rickety picnic bench, a stray patch of grass in the park – with a splash of sunlight, a smattering of shadows and cool breeze even the most ordinary spot can be made extraordinary by warm weather. But some places thrive. Whether by their location, their atmosphere, their food or their booze (because, let’s face it, sunshine is drinks time), these venues are perfectly suited to lazing on a sunny afternoon – or evening.
Tapas. One word that conjures visions of crisp fino sherry, sunsets off wild Atlantic coasts, and plates of small size and big flavours. Rosa may not have the views – it would be hard to argue that Whiteladies Road could be mistaken for Spain – but it’s definitely got the authentic flavours. And the patio is chic, civilised and surprisingly intimate, given it looks out over one of Bristol’s busiest streets. Perfect for a long, lingering afternoon that draws down to a (delicious) evening.
85 Whiteladies Road,
This spot is a little bit further up from Rosa (it’s also got a North Street outpost) and hits the spot on a sunny day. We love a slap-up curry as much as the next person but when the temperature climbs, our craving for heavy, spicy foods drops. Pizza though – we’re yet to find a temperature that doesn’t suit pizza. And these hand-stretched beauties, dough blistered from the wood-fired oven, loaded with delectable things like fior di latte, wild mushrooms and spicy nduja, are some of the best Bristol has to offer.
232 North Street, BS3 1JD,
159a Whiteladies Road, BS8 2RF
Beese’s Riverside Bar & Café
Founded in 1846, this venerable institution has given frazzled Bristolians their dose of vitamin D and tranquillity for over 150 years. Open throughout the summer season from May to September, it can be reached by ferry and charter boat (or more prosaically by car). Tuck into a roast on the weekends or sip a cider whilst tapping your foot to live music on Friday nights. Or just pop over with the kids during the summer holidays to enjoy delicious cakes and watch the river drift languidly past. It could be the Wind in the Willows and it’s in the heart of Bristol.
Wyndham Crescent, BS4 4SX
St Werburghs City Farm Café
If Beese’s has you feeling like Ratty or Mole, then the City Farm unlocks your inner hobbit with its delightfully ramshackle décor. It’s also perfect for the little ones with an outdoor playpark and the city farm itself, with its roster of friendly, furry creatures to be petted, stroked and fed. When the sun’s out, make like Frodo and get yourself down to St Werburghs (via Mount Doom, of course).
Watercress Road, BS2 9YJ
Any discussion of al fresco dining in Bristol is bound to include Broken Dock. For most BS1 residents, the question is not “if” but “when”. (And then, “when again?”) Bristol’s a pretty place but this restaurant makes a bold claim to its best views. The river Avon, the SS Great Britain across the way, an expertly mixed Bloody Mary in hand – is there a better way to start (or end) a sunny day? Live this life of luxury indeed.
Millennium Promenade, BS1 5AD