It’s no secret Bristol’s food scene is one of the finest in the country, with a huge range of eateries to fulfil any culinary wish.
From indulgent burgers to exciting new vegan options, there’s something for everybody – so much choice in fact it can be hard to keep track of the options.
However, with such a number of offerings on the metaphorical table, the reality is the market can be and incredibly turbulent place to trade and while each month marks the opening of another handful of restaurants and cafés, it also signals some doors shutting permanantly.
May was no different – here is a list of all the openings and announced closures this month:
Eat a Pitta, Broadmead
Eat a Pitta has proven itself a force to be reckoned with in Bristol’s crowded lunch market, with long queues regularly snaking around St Nick’s Market and throughout Broadmead – which meant news of a refurbishment of the shopping district’s ever-busy kiosk was warmly welcomed.
It may not have been an opening exactly, but the relaunch of Broadmead’s Eat a Pitta drew huge crowds of hungry shoppers all vying for a taste of their famous falafel after its month-long closure.
Reopened on May 22, the kiosk merged with an adjoining unit in order to provide more serving points, a larger kitchen, and space for a brand new menu of delicious fresh juices.
Eat a Pitta owner Dan Levy said he had been blown away by the warm reception, stating: “It’s pretty incredible to see so many people down here, it’s the biggest queue for Eat a Pitta I’ve ever seen,” he said.
“We’ve got more serving stations, more staff, more room for the staff to work in and new juices, which are going down really well.”
Taco Barra, St Nicholas Market
Okay so Taco Barra, situated in the ever-popular St Nicholas Market, isn’t strictly a restaurant – however its triumphant May opening has more than made its mark on Bristol’s heaving food scene.
Described by what’s on reporter Robin Murray as ‘out of this world’ and ‘absolutely sublime’, the Mexican-inspired offerings have impressed Bristol’s diners since its opening earlier this month.
Taco Barra’s menu currently only consists of tacos – as you might have guessed – and nachos, although there are plans to introduce more Mexican favourites including quesadillas and peanut soup in the coming months.
Emmeline, Stokes Croft
Following its initial opening in May 2016, part-café part-florist Emmeline earned itself a reputation as a go-to spot in Stokes Croft for its range of delicious food and beautiful interior.
However, little more than two years after greeting its first customers, Emmeline was badly damaged when a black BMW crashed into the shopfront causing a huge amount of damage which forced it to close for almost a year.
Happily, the community rallied around the store and it has now reopened in all its former glory, with a range of healthy, ethical lunch options and sweet treats including cinnamon buns and jammy dogers.
(Image: James Beck/Freelance)
On May 7 Queens Road became home to a brand new eatery, serving ‘globally inspired’ chicken with a technological twist.
Marketing itself as a ‘new kind of food experience’ Backyard Chicken – brought to Bristol by Simon Blagden, former CEO of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire – customers order their food on iPads.
As food critic Mark Taylor pointed out, upmarket chicken-focused restaurants haven’t always had the warmest reception in Bristol – however by pursuing a menu full of option inspired by global cuisine, backyard has marked itself as something a little more adventurous
With dishes inspired by far-off regions such as Argentina and Thailand, Backyard has been warmly received by students and full-time residents alike.
Low and Slow, St Nicholas Market
Again, Low and Slow isn’t strictly a restaurant, but after a clamorous reception in the crowded St Nicholas Market it has more than made a name for itself on Bristol’s foodie scene.
Serving up decadent smoked meats, Low and Slow made a name for itself as a more transient presence in the food market scene, however has now amassed even more popularity as a permanent fixture.
Customers can order the beef brisket for £6 or the pulled pork or barbecue jackfruit options for £5, served either in a brioche bun with a choice of toppings or sauces or as a salad box with any two sides.
The side dishes on offer are pit beans, classic slaw, mixed leaf salad, mac ‘n’ cheese and vegan slaw.
The barbecue box (£7) includes any two items from the smoker, two sides, burnt ends, pickles, jalapenos and a choice of homemade sauce.
These are the restaurants that announced closures in May:
Pizza Express, Corn Street
It was announced earlier this month the Corn Street branch of Pizza Express is set to close later this year, however all is not lost.
The gap in the city centre is set to be filled by trendy Indian street food chain Mowgli – its first eatery in Bristol.
The Pizza Express restaurant, housed in a historic building which boasts high ceilings, has a rating of 3 / 5 on TripAdvisor from 198 reviews with largely mediocre recent reviews.
One person recently described it as the ‘worst Pizza Express in Bristol’, commenting on soggy pizza bases and slow service.
Mesa Tapas and Bar, Henleaze
Described by critic Mark Taylor as ‘one of the most consistently impressive places in the city’, the news of Mesa’s closure this month shocked Bristol’s foodies.
It had built up a loyal following in Westbury Park for its good quality food, personable service and wine selection and was named in our round-up of Bristol’s best tapas restaurants last year.
Mesa’s manager declined to comment on the closure, and the reason behind its demise is still unknown.
The much-loved tapas bar closed its doors for good on May 11.
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