Think al fresco drinking and dining in Bristol and Harbourside restaurants or the spacious terraces at places like Bambalan and The White Lion probably come to mind first.

But over the last year, many more outdoor tables have sprung up in places you might not expect, thanks to new pedestrianised spaces and businesses adapting to al fresco setups. Here’s our rundown of areas where outdoor seating is the new normal.

Old City

As the name suggests, the Old City is the historic centre of Bristol, home to winding streets, historic buildings and plenty of cobbles. There’s also a great variety of food to discover here, with many restaurants around Clare Street, Corn Street, St Nicholas Street and Broad Street now serving al fresco.

Go all out with a steak dinner at The Ox; enjoy Pan-Asian cuisine at Four Wise Monkeys or nearby Dangun; devour traditional crepes at Chez Marcel; or fill up on wholesome, homemade Italian food at GRANO Kitchen.

Seaweed salad from Four Wise Monkeys

Image - Four Wise Monkeys

Some of the quirkiest drinking dens in Bristol are also in the Old City, including classy cocktail joint The Milk Thistle and masters of the frozen cocktail Brozen Bar. You can pull up a seat on the Mr Wolf’s terrace or outside The Mothers’ Ruin – time your visit right at the latter and you might catch some live music. 

And if it’s a quick coffee stop you’re after, head for Full Court Press Coffee.

People dining outside at Chez Marcel, Bristol

Image - Chez Marcel 

King Street

It’s no secret that King Street is one of the best stretches in Bristol for al fresco pints. But since timed traffic closures have been introduced, even more space has been made for outdoor drinking and dining on the 17th century cobbled street.

You can’t miss the Bar and Cafe at Bristol Old Vic’s new beach hut-style seating. Each colourful hut is themed around one of the historic theatre’s past productions inside, with Pieminister food on the menu. Nearby Cathay Rendezvous, the longest-running Chinese restaurant in Bristol, also has seating in their courtyard area.

People dining and drinking in the beach huts outside Bristol Old Vic

Image - Bristol Old Vic

Towards the other end of King Street, you’ll find micro-brewery and pub King Street Brew House open, as well as Three Brothers Burgers and Aqua just round the corner on Welsh Back. From craft beer pub Small Bar to legendary jazz venue The Old Duke, there are plenty of pubs and bars along the way too.

Cotham Hill

Located in the suburb of Cotham just off Whiteladies Road, Cotham Hill is a charming, newly pedestrianised street lined with independent shops, restaurants and cafes. Many of these are now open with outdoor seating.

Tuck into incredible tapas and Spanish beers at Bravas, sister restaurant to Gambas in Wapping Wharf. There’s also a combo of Indian and Chinese cuisine at Rock Salt, yummy Middle Eastern food at Falafel King or park yourself outside Coffee + Beer for, er, coffee and beer!

Image - Bravas

Clifton Village

Elegant Clifton is home to beautiful Georgian and Regency architecture, an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and bars, and of course, Clifton Suspension Bridge. With extra space made for outdoor tables around Princess Victoria Street, Regent Street and The Mall, combine a wander around the area with a bite to eat in the spring sunshine.

If seafood is your thing, Fishers should be your first port of call for local and seasonal fish dishes. Find a menu inspired by the 29 states of India at Nutmeg, delicious world food dishes at New Moon Tapas Bar or Thai cuisine at Giggling Squid. For brunches and lunches made from locally sourced ingredients, try Spicer + Cole.  

A hop and a skip away you’ll also find The Clifton Sausage, where they’re serving hearty and unpretentious British classics on their terrace.

Discover even more places to eat and drink al fresco:

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