There's no getting around it - Britain loves Indian food. At least two of us in the office are utterly obsessed with curry – and you'll regularly catch us tucking into a kathi wrap or a good chaat box after a few beers.
The problem with this country loving curry is that there is a lot of terrible Indian restaurants around the country. You know the type. A two-inch layer of oil sitting on top of a couple of sad chunks of chicken and veg. But when it's good - it's really damn good. When the right chef is in charge, you can expect a dreamy balance of 10+ spices, and a depth of flavour unrivalled by any other cuisine.
Below are a mix of traditional and modern Indian restaurants in Bristol that will guarantee you a great feed and reaffirm why Indian food reigns supreme.
Step into Dhamaka and you'll be transported on a sensory journey right from the word go. With colourful furniture to give you serious interior design envy, heavenly aromas drifting out from the kitchen, and a gentle hubbub from happy diners, you'll instantly feel comfortable, cosy, and hungry as heck once you're inside. With a Michelin-trained chef at the helm, it's no surprise that the food at Dhamaka is utterly delicious. Modern, casual Indian food is the order of the day here, but don't get things twisted: you won't be sitting down to bog standard, oily curry house classics. Oh no. Whilst classic Indian cookery is up for grabs here (and it's bloody delicious too, may we add), at Dhamaka, the real stars of the show are the huge sharing platters – perfect for a date or mate night.
Wander through Cargo 2 down at Wapping Wharf, and you'll stumble upon the cosy, colourful, and creative little culinary treasure trove that is Bandook Kitchen. An intimate, rustic space that's bursting with life, Bandook Kitchen's modern take on Indian cookery has made a giant, tasty and unforgettable splash since bursting onto the Bristol food scene in the summer of 2017.
Bandook Kitchen's raison d'être is creating deliciously fresh and exciting food that fuses traditional Indian street food dishes with modern twists and original creations. Pleasingly named dishes such as 'Grandma's Curry' – a daily-changing 'home-style' special curry – sit alongside the quirky sounding 'Chicken Lollipop', and there's plenty of mouthwatering options for veggies, fish-eaters and meat-eaters alike.
Not your usual Indian offering, Easton's Pipal Tree is a small-but-perfectly-formed restaurant run by husband and wife, Kirpal and Kulwinder. They wanted to open a restaurant where people could experience home-cooked traditional Punjabi cuisine. Kirpal has over 20 years’ experience as a senior chef and, to put it simply, you won’t find dishes like these anywhere else in the city. The restaurant serves brunch 10-5 but it's in the evening that the menu comes alive. Starters include free range tandoori chicken wings, lamb samosas and pakoras - with meat and veggie platters laden with Indian delicacies. The menu is broken down into sections - 'land, sea, sky and garden', with delicious British-Punjabi fusion mussels, free range pheasant breast cooked tandoori-style, and Kale and Aloo.
Gopal's have been a central part of the Bristol streetfood scene for years - serving up the most amazing vegetarian and vegan Indian cuisine. It's vibrant, fresh, aromatic and seasonal food that's lovingly prepared - and served up by the lovely Heather and Mel. Now that they're happily installed in a permanent home down at Cargo 2, Wapping Wharf, we can count them as a restaurant! Expect chunky veggie curries, thick dhals, punchy samosas and of course their bhaji scotch eggs which are now infamous in the Bristol foodie community! Head over, grab a seat or takeaway some fantastic food!
On the hunt for authentic Indian food in the heart of Clifton Village? Look no further than Joy Raj. Taking influence from all over India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, this is gourmet Indian cuisine that has travelled thousands of miles to warm our Bristolian bellies. Using only the freshest ingredients and the most tantalising spices, this combined with over 20 years of cooking know how, Joy Raj has quickly become a fast favourite in the Clifton community. The Tandoori Fish Tikka is one of Wriggle’s faves, succulent Bengal fish barbecued over a clay Tandoor oven (ensue dribbling). One thing’s for sure, whichever of the Raj’s delicious dishes you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
Jazz and Nikki – the dream team behind Indian Masala – are the original Bristol Curry King & Queen. They’ve been pounding the streets of Bristol for more than a decade, feeding the hungry and curious mouths of the city dwellers and workers. Jazz up your lunchtime and come try one of their delicious and flavour-packed curries or Indian snacks. Jazz – also known as the Curryman – will be cooking up tonnes of Indian treats and dishes, each one more delicious than the other. Meanwhile, Nicky, the Curry Chemist of the team will be working her magic and blending her secret spices – they’re the key element making Indian Masala’s food so tasty and leaving you wanting more.
Located right in the heart of Easton you'll find Swagatam: a beautiful Indian restaurant serving authentic, freshly cooked dishes that not only are fragrant and heartwarming but also will transport you straight to the streets of India. These guys have a plethora of options on their menu, all more delicious than the other: daal, masala in all forms, paneer-based dishes for the veggies, chicken & lamb dishes, seafood curry... these guys do it all, and they do it well. Mild, hot or super-duper spicy, you choose how hot you like it - either way, you'll be served a fragrant, properly satisfying plate.
Liyas are bringing banging wraps and mind-blowing flavours to the good folks of St Werbs, are we're totally considering moving our office there just to munch on their creations every. single. day. Fozia, the hands and brains behind this homey spot named it after her niece Liyas, and serves up out-of-this-world food that's a perfect mix of Indian & Middle Eastern cuisine: packed with flavours, and oh-so-delicious! Ask anyone who's visited and they'll tell you: the wraps are a must-have if you don't know what to pick (let's be honest, all of it is seriously tasty, but you can't try it all at once, can you?).
An ever popular choice when going for traditional Indian food is often the Thali Cafe. What originally started as a food truck at Glastonbury has grown into a family of restaurants dotted around within Bristol, offering authentic Indian cuisine served ‘Thali’ style and a Tiffin revolution. 'Thali' is the word used for the way meals are served and eaten in India; a selection of dishes are all served together on one big steel plate, separated by individual dishes, in order to give diners a real taste of the different subcontinents of India. Reusable tiffin tins can also be purchased from the restaurant, which can then be used when coming back to the restaurant to order takeaway. The Tiffin tins do not produce any waste to throw away and fits in nicely with the Thali Cafe's stance on sustainability. The restaurants are big on recycling, using locally sourced and free range meat and fish, daily and organic milk, cream and eggs and also seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Family is at the heart of this Indian restaurant and takeaway, which differs from your average curry house. The small establishment situated in Hotwells has limited seating but simple charm, with growing boxes lining the exterior, filled with herbs and spices for the kitchen. Shilpi and her husband run the restaurant, with their children also lending a helping hand. The menu is limited to excellent staple dishes which are fresh, healthy and most importantly authentic (and we’ve heard lots of fantastic feedback about the Pakoras), with Chai Shai taking inspiration from Bangladesh (where the family are from), and northern India. The restaurant also serves as a deli and takeaway, so perfect for picking up that Friday night curry or a different lunch option if you are in the area. If you fancy a real taste of India at a reasonable price where the focus is solely on the food, then this might be the place for you.
If you've ever walked down St Marks Road, Easton before, you'll probably remember the colourful, aromatic-smelling, expansive shopfront of the family-run supermarket, deli, and wholesalers that is Bristol Sweet Mart. An institution for Easton-dwellers, the family team behind Sweet Mart are well-known for their friendly, welcoming, service and their winning smiles. If you prefer not to spend your precious time in the kitchen, and would rather be cooked for than cook, then head to the back corner of Sweet Mart, where lurks the real jewel in the crown - a delicious deli counter, serving up unctuous, oozing sweet treats, and delicious homemade curries, side dishes, and salads. The Deli Counter team are incredibly knowledgable, and will happily explain the ins and outs of each dish on offer.
The bright and vibrant restaurant Nutmeg over in Clifton Village has grown itself a sterling reputation in offering the finest in Indian cuisine. Not to get confused with a curry house, Nutmeg's à la carte ‘Menu 29’ reflects the 29 states in India, offering a real journey across the country and taken from owner Raja and head chef Arvind's travels throughout their hometown. The produce and ingredients used in the kitchen are all locally sourced from Bristol suppliers, including Ruby and White and the Bristol Sweet Mart. As well as offering an à la carte menu, Nutmeg offers a tasting menu every two months, which focuses on a particular region of India and the cooking you would expect.
Chai Pani want to bring Indian style street food to Bristol; showcasing dishes that you would find on the bustling streets of Mumbai, Sylhet and Dhaka to name a few. What is great about this style of eating is that you and a group of friends could come and order a selection from the 'street delight' part of the menu and enjoy dinner trying a bit of everything, or it works well as a selection of starters before your curry. All of the usual suspects such as pakoras, onion bhaji's and samosa's make an appearance, however specialities such a chicken lollipops and pani puri are perfect for if you want to broaden your horizons. You can also choose from classic curries, Indian street wraps and dishes from the grill.
Tucked away on Small Street and now up on Whiteladies Road is where you'll find Urban Tandoor and trust us, this little gem is worth seeking out. Scooping a Bristol Good Food Award in 2015, the team here bring honest, authentic food (sometimes with a twist) to diners. The chefs in the kitchen don’t cook with oil or artificial colours and always buy fresh ingredients, meaning the dishes here are lighter than you might expect and not greasy in the slightest. The menu has a whole range of dishes to choose from with some unusual but still delicious items to enjoy, such as Guinea Fowl Jalfrezi, Beef Sukka with shin meat and Goan fish curry. If you are not feeling adventurous, you are still able to order Indian classics with all the usual trimmings. This restaurant is small and stylish, with a lovely intimate feel.
The word 'Desi' itself is derived from Sanskrit, and can be loosely translated as 'one from our country'. The name is an apt one, as you'll see upon walking into this cosy, friendly little spot. Expect a warm and relaxed greeting, and comfy, cosy seats – it's a bit like settling down in the front room of a relative who you haven't seen since you were young. The same is true of the delectable food being cooked up in Desi. The chefs here focus on tantalising Punjabi-style home cooking that's relaxed and informal. Most dishes are prepared in the tandoori oven, meaning that the whole place is flooded with delicious aromas wafting through from the kitchen.
Perhaps one of the longest-running Indian restaurants in Bristol, The Raj first opened its doors on King Street in 1981 and has established itself as one of the great fine dining curry restaurants in the city. The restaurant is on bustling King Street and is not immediately visible; however after heading through the doorway and down the stairs, you are welcomed into a colourful and cosy setting. The menu has a wonderful selection of old classics and a variety of exciting and more unusual curries to choose from. It's an obvious choice for if you have a hankering for something delicious after a few drinks on King Street, or if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy an authentic dinner.
Family run Jeevan Sweets is a vegetarian Indian restaurant situated on Stapleton Road. Offering a whole range of Indian sweets, including their speciality Mithai, this is where you can visit for something to enjoy after your curry! You can also eat in, takeaway or take advantage of their tiffin deal, where refills are £6 and include a vegetable curry and rice, dall and two roti's. The menu has plenty of options to choose from and is wonderfully imaginative and reasonable; with the majority of mains not coming in over the £7 mark to eat in, or over £5 to takeaway. Make your way over to Easton, and enjoy some traditional, tasty Indian fare.