Forget fancy restaurants. Most of Bristol’s best food is served fresh out of steaming market stalls and pop-up vans. In fact, wander around the city on any given afternoon and you’ll find a tantalising array of specialities prepared straight in front of you, from local bacon butties to fiery Jamaican curries, all available for around £5 a pop.
Bristol takes its falafel very seriously indeed, and no one does it better than Edna’s Kitchen. This hexagonal (I counted) shack in Castle Park offers up a handful of Middle Eastern delights, including Sabich (a traditional Moroccan sandwich with grilled aubergine and boiled egg), hot halloumi wraps, and crispy deep-fried falafel served straight from the fryer. And for a mere £5, you can enjoy a salad box bursting with crunchy veggies, falafel, olives and vine leaves, all topped off with a hearty dollop of hummus.
Castle Park, Wine Street, BS1 3XD, 07928 436 212, ednas-kitchen.com
Ah-Ma’s Dim Sum
There are few sights quite so satisfying as seeing chubby dumplings nestled in a big wicker steamer.
Chef Anita Cheung offers up a delicious slice of Cantonese heritage with her dim sum and noodle soup kitchen popup. Choose from her signature dumplings, which come served with a sticky sweet soy dipping sauce – or try a fragrant veggie noodle broth as a tasty afternoon lunchtime treat. Proudly free from MSG and artificial flavourings, and all for around £5 a go.
If you’ve ever wandered past St Nick’s Market, you’ll have noticed the sweet fug of chargrilled lamb and chicken drifting out of Matina’s Middle Eastern eatery. Here, busy chefs cook steaming skewers of meat and halloumi over hot coals. The piping hot kebabs are whipped off the griddle and snugly rolled up in soft flatbreads with crunchy veggies, rice, pickles and chutney.
The Eastern entrance to St Nicholas Market, Corn Street, BS1 1JQ, 0117 922 4014
Nestled in one of St Nick’s Market’s many alcoves, this delightful cakery offers the perfect people watching spot to spend an hour or so. Grab a buttery almond croissant and squeeze in amongst the flowers to watch passers by over a steaming mug of morning coffee – or pop over at lunchtime to choose from a delectable range of cakes, tarts, sausage rolls and bacon sandwiches, all for a reasonable £4 and under.
4-8 Glass Arcade, St Nicholas Market, BS1 1LJ, 07788843960, ahhtoots.co.uk
A Bristol institution that’s been going strong for over 30 years, Brunel’s Buttery offers an unapologetically no-frills slice of good ‘ol fashioned English grub. Serving thick smoked bacon on doughy white bread, sausage rolls and cake, this is hearty comfort food at its best. Grab a hot mug of tea and one of their famous bacon butties, and settle down on a bench to watch the ferries chug past.
Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 6UD, 0117 929 1696
A regular popup in the Tobacco Factory’s Sunday market, this smokey Jamaican food stand is bursting with every Caribbean staple imaginable. Take your pick from goat curry and slaw, ackee and saltfish or spicy chargrilled jerk chicken. At £6 each or two for £10, this is a robust lunch that’ll see you through till dinner time. Best enjoyed with an ice-cold can of ginger beer in the sunshine.
Various locations, check twitter.com/AgnesSpencers for details
— Burger Theory UK (@BurgerTheoryUK) October 15, 2014
This popular popup offers a variety of delicious, award winning free range burgers served in freshly baked bread, along with a range of tasty sides. Sourcing their food form the local area and sustainable farms, they’re always on the road (find them at a multitude of music festivals including Secret Garden Party, Balter and Boardmasters) so keep an eye on their website and Twitter account for their latest whereabouts.
244 Gloucester Rd, Bristol BS7 8NZ, 0117 924 6449, burgertheory.co.uk
Husband and wife duo Graham and Kate have been driving their bright yellow Land Rover pizzamobile to various street food hotspots throughout the city for well over a year now, and their massive popularity is a testament to the quality of their food. Each pizza emerges from their wood-fired oven a pillowy piece of sourdough perfection topped with sweet tomato sauce and hot mozzarella. Serving up fresh food at an affordable price, they encapsulate all that is great about Bristol’s thriving street food scene.
Locations vary, 07917 752853, berthas.co.uk
That’s right! Jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and fired in the smoker are back at St Nicks pic.twitter.com/oImy2B5LKl
— BBQ & Banter (@bbqandbanter) March 4, 2015
While Grillstock has made the transition from street food vendor to bricks-and-mortar shop, this festival favourite has stayed true to its roots with a permanent spot at the end of St Nick’s Market. Serving up sticky sweet glazed ribs, hefty Hobbs House Bakery rolls stuffed with tender pulled pork and other carnivorous treats, this is the kind of hearty lunch that’ll see you needing a nap afterwards.
0117 927 3200, The Exchange, Corn Street, BS1 1JQ, 0117 927 3200, grillstock.co.uk/st-nicks-bristol-bbq-joint
Gopal’s Curry Shack
— Gopal's Curry Shack (@GopalsCurryShac) December 7, 2014
Gopal’s Curry Shack serve up steaming plates of insanely delicious Indian street food that’s proudly veggie-friendly, and predominantly vegan. Tuck into a sizzling box of paneer and spinach makhani, or try their famous wild garlic pakoras, washed down with a spicy cup of hot sweet chai. Gopal’s has been serving ethically-sourced food in and around Bristol at markets, events and festivals since 2013.
Locations vary, check twitter.com/GopalsCurryShac for details
All images copyright Georgina Guthrie
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