Bristol’s favourite summer festival is here, and in case you somehow haven’t heard, it’s the Harbour Festival! Now in its 46th year, it’s gained a rightful status as one of the best loved free events in the country. First established in 1971 as part of a protest against filling in – could you imagine – the Floating Harbour, it’s been bringing us great food and drink opportunities from the very beginning.
Here’s our guide to the best places to eat at the Harbour Festival, no matter what you’re planning on doing!
You can’t say you’ve been to the Harbour Festival without visiting one of the famous markets. This year will see a new market in Merchants Quay alongside the usual Queen Square and Narrow Quay markets. Each will have enough gorgeous street food to keep you going through the maritime festivities. Nobody wants to settle down to watch the cardboard boat race with an empty stomach, right?
When you’re all awash with nautical cheer, your first stop for food will no doubt be the Queen Square Continental Market. Year after year, this cluster of stalls returns to remind us of the might of European specialities. Grab a bite here if you don’t want to miss a piece of the action – it’s a must-visit part of the harbour festival! Expect paella, tartiflette, crepes, and much more.
If you’re looking for a place to sit down and enjoy a top-notch meal by the water, then look no further! Each place here is lovingly and locally run, and equally as fantastic – expect only the best from this lot.
What better way to enjoy a tasty meal at the Harbour Festival than aboard the historic Grain Barge? An adored local favourite, this 1936 barge has been converted into a unique bar and restaurant with unrivalled harbour views and a relaxed atmosphere. Tuck in to a delicious dish, made with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients that come together to create bold and British flavours.
Catch the sunset through the immense panoramic windows, and take a tour of the vessel up-top – keep your eyes peeled for famous ships and paddleboarders whizzing past!
Spoke and Stringer sits in a picturesque corner of the waterfront alongside two fellow bar restaurants – The Boathouse and Broken Dock. It’s a cafe, brunch spot, ice cream vendor, surf, bike and clothing shop by day, and by night it’s a classy bar-restaurant. It pulls it all off effortlessly.
Have a seat outside in this sun trap with a drink, and try something from the ever-changing menu. You’re in for a treat; this place serves some of the finest seasonal plates around, complimented by their unique Spanish pintxos. You’re in a prime ship-spotting, sunset-watching spot again here, in full view of the SS Great Britain!
Pi Shop will satisfy all your pizza needs and beyond. Just a short walk from the M Shed or Queen Square, it’s in a quiet, less obvious corner of the Harbourside. Located alongside the water at the old General Hospital in Redcliffe, Pi Shop is one of the latest blessings from the Bristol-based Sanchez Brothers – it was launched just last year following the success of the reinvented family-run Casamia next door. This is a business that’s hot out of the oven!
All curated by the Michelin Starred brothers, this is pizza the real way – in wood-fired ovens, with melt-in-your-mouth dough, Napoli style.
If you don’t fancy waiting for a table, or taking on the crowds of the markets, why not take a trip to Wapping Wharf and see what all the buzz is about? You can get your hands on all kinds of goodies to take away and sit anywhere you choose.
It’s all about pizza at Bertha’s. The owners of this friendly little restaurant have travelled the world in pursuit of the perfect pizza recipe, and we think they’ve found it. It’s no wonder Bertha’s was a finalist in the BBC Food & Farming Awards, and featured in The Sunday Times top 25 UK pizzerias. Offering a small and seasonal collection, including the brave marinara (just tomato, herbs and dough) the pizza really does the talking. Pop in to order for takeaway over the weekend – be sure to catch a glimpse of the chefs in action at the bar whilst you wait!
This little gem sits in one of the shipping containers which now make up Cargo at Wapping Wharf. Established by friends and pie enthusiasts Phil Roseblade and Chris Parry in 2011, you’ll find these lovingly-made pies for sale all over town and beyond. Crafted with love and their own short-crust pastry, the team strive to create well-balanced fillings, made with interesting ingredients to create bold, original flavours. Perfect popped in a box with some minty mushy peas to take out.
From the team behind Bristol’s much-loved Biblos comes a tropical joint ready to ship your taste buds off to the Caribbean. Specialising in Middle Eastern and Caribbean-style street food, expect big flavours from the wraps and salads on offer – jerk chicken, jerk fried fish, jerk pulled pork and more, as well as halloumi, roast veg and falafel for the veggies. All fantastic and most importantly, transportable!