In the first of a series of posts, Evie Steen and a team of early-hours connoisseurs bring you the definitive guide to how to satisfy ferocious hunger after a few too many pints…
Grecian Kebab House
Where to find it: 2 Cromwell Road, St Andrews, Bristol, BS6 5AA, just up from the arches.
What to expect: Established in 1971, the Grecian is almost as well-known as the Suspension Bridge and is far more useful at 3am. Whether it’s the wide selection of £5 pizzas or a classic doner kebab in pitta bread, this buzzing shop is the place to be after a night out. You’ll meet the wackiest of characters, locals and students on their ways home from a night in the boho Stokes Croft.
House Speciality: Pizza. It’s hard to go wrong with a choice of 24 different combinations of toppings. From the no.1 cheese and tomato for the classic yet boring experience to their no.17 – ham, egg, courgette and aubergine – a selection of toppings more insulting than pineapple.
Monday-Thursday: 5pm- 3am
Where to find it: 3 Queens Road, Triangle South, Bristol BS8 1EZ
What to expect: A rite of passage for University of Bristol students, based in the heart of their territory, the Clifton Triangle. Taka Taka is bold, luminous and in your face. It’s rare for a kebab to taste the same before the pints or vodka lemonades kick in but this place is popular day and night, taking after-club food to a whole new level.
House speciality: The Magic Roll. Chips in a kebab? Why not.
Monday – Saturday: 11am – 4am
Where to find it: Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1QU
What to expect: A kebab is always more enjoyable with a pun on the side. Located right on the top of the Triangle surrounded by the likes of Gravity (previously Analog, 78, Bunker, and so on), Mbargos and Lizard Lounge, you won’t be short of whining drunk girls, barefoot with their heels in their hands flirting, asking for free chicken nuggets with their cheesy chips. Staff are good humoured. They have to be.
House Speciality: Can’t go wrong with anything but you have to try their doner kebab for the sake of the name.
Where to find it: 5 St Augustine's Parade, Bristol BS1 4XG.
What to expect: It’s extremely popular because it’s right in the centre of town located just off the harbour and the bottom of Park Street within a clutter of kebab and pizza places. Don’t be put off by the queues, they move quickly. Very friendly staff who are probably funnier than the mate you came with.
House Speciality: Hands down the best gravy in central Bristol to soak up your cheesy chips.
Sunday- Monday: 11am–3am
Tuesday- Wednesday: 11am–2am
Thursday- Friday: 11am- 4am
Saturday: 11am- 5am
Where to find it: 91 Gloucester Road, Bristol BS7 8AT. (Six more shops in various locations around Bristol)
What to expect: After walking into my house after work I found my flat mate, drunk, crying in the bathroom. Was it something serious? No, she’d fallen off the meat wagon. After four years of not ingesting an animal, from what I could make out through the sobbing and mumbling, she was telling me that this was the best chicken burger she’d ever eaten. Of course I had to try it now.
House Speciality: Not often will you find me stray away from my regular chips with gravy or curry sauce but take it from the vegetarian and me, their chicken burger is definitely a winner.
Sunday – Thursday: 11am- 2am
Friday – Saturday: 11am- 3am
Sol Wilkinson marvels at the militant millennials who are turning Bristol vegan…
For the average Brit awakening from cryogenic sleep, the country must appear to have gone completely insane. There’s Brexit; a crumbling government; soaring temperatures exceeding those of Spain; Old Market’s becoming a nice place for a walk; and, on top of all this, people are giving up meat in favour of plants. Of course, the latter is an exaggerated generalisation but the Vegan society did confirm that Britain’s vegan population had risen from 150,000 in 2006 to over 542,000 in 2016 – an astounding 350% increase – and since these stats, the UK’s number of plant-based lifestyles has continued to grow like a big, beautiful aubergine. Additionally, the majority of these recent converts are young people, under the age of 34, and in 2018, Kellogg’s vegan poll highlighted that over half of all 16-24 year olds had at least tried a plant-based diet in the previous 12 months.
So what’s to account for this surge in herbivorous millennials? Whilst many lifestyle trends play the hare of the race, quickly seized up and squeezed dry for profit by marketing directors, vegetarianism and veganism have played the tortoise. Being a vegetarian since birth and occasional vegan, I can clarify that the journey from Sosmix and lentil soups to Pizza Hut’s vegan menu has been sluggish and laboured. I endured a childhood of being the only weird, pale veggie kid in my school, the mid-summer barbeques where my friend’s drunk dad would wave a greasy sausage in my face, ‘Just have a bite! No one’s gonna die if you eat a bit of MEAT!’, and eye-rolls from nearly everyone when asked to accommodate for my diet. It was an irritating culinary protest that eventually became accepted and has now reached an accelerating take-off in popularity.
Arguably, this is rooted in its sincere, progressive ethics that cannot be brushed off as a social fad. The plant-based diet has more in common with feminism and civil rights than it does with clean eating and spiralisers. It is a political expression railing against the prejudice and barbaric injustices inflicted upon animals. It seems only logical that in an age of #MeToo, Wokeness and LGBTQ, veganism would also stand with these cultural monoliths against the systematic persecution of minority groups.
And what of the backlash? The innovative work of Russian philosopher Sveltana Boym argues that ‘nostalgia has historically coincided with revolution’; the notion being that in times of imminent, seemingly subconscious social advancement, culture retreats into its shell, gazes longingly back to the past. The suggestion here is that we are either culturally or biologically frightened of change, or at least incapable of fully coping with change as it plays out in the present. This could explain why Donald Trump and MAGA exist, as well as the heights of the UKIP sentiment. It explains why confused young white males, who would have identified as hardcore liberals only a decade ago, are now manifesting their frustrated angst in the backwards politics of the alt-right. It also explains the technophobic resurgence of sales in vinyl and vintage clothes. But what does it have to do with veganism? I would argue that the ‘rare meat’ craze, which occurred in the early 2010s - hipsters feasting on the likes of kangaroos, zebras and crocodiles - harkened back to the decadent dining of exotic animals during the era of Colonial expansion a.k.a., the good ol’ days. The hope lies in the statistics that this is predominantly a practice of the youth, and not just the counter-culture either. Generally, humans feel more comfortable doing something if everybody else is already doing it, and this is maybe the simplest explanation for plant-based prevalence in the mainstream.
As well as this, the distribution of family-friendly animal rights documentaries through wide-reaching streaming platforms like Netflix, such as the immensely popular Cowspiracy, has helped ease the concept into our everyday lives. The aforementioned film has also contributed to a new factor driving the vegan switch: environmentalism.
‘The only ways you can effectively reduce your carbon footprint are to go vegan, stop driving to work and stop taking foreign holidays!’, my dad would angrily lecture his millennial co-workers, glaring at them, stood in his cycling shorts.
‘But I use energy-saving light bulbs’, one of the students feebly retorted.
I’ve been lucky to grow up as a vegetarian in Bristol. A pseudo-bohemian, artsy and anti-corporate vibe has always lingered in the city’s air - along with the smell of weed – that runs concurrent with this Jungian mass consciousness of left-leaning politics. Logically, this has led to it becoming the Petri dish of thriving veggie and vegan eateries that you can explore today.
108 Stokes Croft, BS1 3RU · Tel: 924 9200 · www.cafekino.coop
Reigns as the seminal Bristolian vegan café and for good reason. Always the most significant torch carrier of plant-based cuisine in Bristol, Kino materialises in my earliest memories of eating-out for vegan food. It used to be a cosy little living-room space on Nine Tree Hill where you could chat to the chef as they whipped you up a chickpea curry. It’s now the giant café-cum-community space at 108 Stokes Croft, permanently bustling and with more MacBooks on its tables than the Apple store. The all-vegan menu includes breakfasts, burgers, salads, soup, cakes, snacks and the most excellent Kino chips.
VX: Vegan Junk Food
123 East Street, BS3 4ER · Tel: 329 1610 · www.vxbristol.com
Vegans are often associated with frailty, clear skin and immaculate bowel movements. VX in Bedminster, a modern pioneer of vegan cuisine, provides the antithesis to this stereotype. Originating in London, VX came to Bristol with a plant-based artillery ranging from hotdogs and burritos to patisserie and milkshakes. I could only have imagined indulging in all these greasy, saturated meals as a kid. Truly revolutionary. And it’s all incredibly ‘aesthetic’ too, performing well for the Instagram generation. Don’t forget to check out the grocery and Secret Society of Vegan merchandise sections.
15, King St, Avon, Bristol BS1 4EF · Tel: 926 8057 · pepenero.co.uk
This family-owned pizzeria originally made a name for itself with its delicious range of vegan pizzas. For on-the-edge vegans, it can’t be stressed enough that Pepenero’s pizzas are the closest a vegan can get to the real deal, without sacrificing your moral ascendancy. They also serve a fantastic range of vegetarian pizzas, as well as authentic Italian starters and deserts, all prepared with the finest family recipes and organic ingredients. They recently relocated to one of King Street’s underground grottos, sharing a space with one of Bristol’s best craft beer spots, The Beer Emporium. Offering 32 beers on tap, numerous bottles and spirits, the pub is a must visit for beer geeks, who will get on with the staff of alcohol scholars and the ocean of obscure brews to explore.
Eat Your Greens
156 Wells Road, Totterdown, Bristol BS4 2AG · Tel: 239 8704
Sweet and breezy café that boasts an all vegan menu, evidencing the utter honesty in their humorously passive aggressive name. Renowned for their ‘Beasty Breakfast’, a vegan full-English that may sway devout meat-eaters to the herbivorous path.
Koocha Mezze Bar
10 Zetland Road, Bristol, BS6 7AD · Tel: 924 1301 · www.koochamezzebar.com/
Bringing the meat-centric flavours of Persia to a vegan audience, Koocha is a family-operated mezze and cocktail bar. Exhibits a chilled-out vibe whilst maintaining the amiable vibrancy that makes it ideal for a tipsy night-out with your plant-based buddies.
21 Midland Road, Bristol, BS2 0JT · Tel: 955 7691 · www.lucschinesetakeaway.co.uk
17 Harrowdene Road, Bristol, BS4 2JL · Tel: 977 7881 · http://www.everymenu.co.uk/bristol/chinese/xing_wang-7803.htm
Amidst a menu of decent Chinese food, these two obscure takeaways also provide the most exquisite fried tofu; perfect for satiating late-night munchies. Ask Xing Wang for the ‘159 Deep Fried Beancurd with Salt & Chilli’ and Luc’s for the ‘Salt & Chilli Tofu’. And make sure you order a couple of pots because they are ridiculously moreish.
Shadin Indian Takeaway
70 Broad St, Bristol, BS16 5NL · Tel: 957 2786 · shadinbristol.co.uk
Relatively unknown outside its humble locality of the South-Glos-border-burbs, Shadin Indian Takeaway is a treasure trove of the tastiest vegetarian curries in Bristol. Eating Shadin curries is like having sex with God. Not much more can be elicited with mere words about this place; a legend in the making, you’ll have to experience it for yourself.
Tony Bolger is Tangent's guest blogger for the next couple of months and his chosen subject is Bristol Pubs – Cheap Ones With Very Few Frills.
Do join in and post your thoughts and reviews. Over to you Tony…
I've lived in Bristol for two years but still feel slightly lost most of the time. People tend to give directions using pubs and bars as landmarks so you’ll inevitably hear “Turn right at The Lager Hole. It used to be The Booze Bucket.”
You see, bars in Bristol are constantly changing hands, names and personalities to become ever more pretentious and expensive gastro/frappé-fusion/crafty copies of each other. But there are still proper pubs out there that haven’t changed hands, prices or their hoover bag since the last time England won The World Cup. I’m going to get a tetanus shot and I’m going to find these pubs. If you’re tired of paying £6 for a chocolate stout and eating haloumi off a kitchen floor tile in a place with all the charm of a Maccy Dees, I invite you to join me on this Bristol Booze Odyssey. Hopefully the sessions won’t be as dramatic as the title.
The first stop on this tipple voyage is The Mardyke across the road from the Grain Barge on Hotwell Road along the harbour. The Mardyke is by all accounts a Bristol institution. Established in 1820 under the name the Cross Keys. Apparently, it used to be a biker bar. We shall see what it is now.
We step inside out of the cold and into 1952. The room is silent. There’s a real “Ya ain’t from round here, are ya boy?” vibe. Then, in wonderfully unfortunate timing, one of the locals gets a text message and his ring tone is that iconic Sergio Leone cowboy music that plays whenever Clint Eastwoodmoseys into town. DO DO DO WAW WAW WAW. The décor is what I would describe as brown which must be handy for cleaning. There’s pictures of random old kings and queens getting married, Winston Churchill and a creepy little girl who was probably a ghost the whole time on the walls. There’s a sign above the bar warning:
“OUTSIDE THE PREMISES: DO NOT OBSTRUCT OR INTIMIDATE PASSERS-BY.
STAY OFF THE HIGHWAY”
Then Abba comes on the jukebox and we know everything is going to be OK. We proceed to mosey up to the bar where the very friendly barkeep greets us with a smile. He isn’t a disenchanted goth whose acting career didn’t work out, so the customer service is really excellent. Making a quick assessment of the bar, I notice the wide selection of cans in the fridge and unusual array of bottles on the optics. I’d never seen apple sours or Pernod upside down before. I order three pints of Fosters. The barman charges me £6.90. First, I think he’s misspoke. Then I’m positive we have indeed accidentally travelled back through time but Abba’s still on, our beers are wet and our glasses are clean, so we proceed to sit on the brown church pew style benches and listen to Fernando.
Out of curiosity more than necessity, I went to investigate the men’s room. It was perfectly serviceable though I was surprised and charmed to see the old-fashioned toilet with the pull-down chain but although this alcoholic endeavour is technically a stab at investigative journalism, I’m no Ross Kemp and there was no way I was washing my hands with the crusty bar of soap on the sink.
While you’re drinking your two espresso martinis for a tenner and listening to whatever audio poison is infecting the Top 40 on Spotify this week, you could really be anywhere but at The Mardyke, you know you’re in Bristol which is exactly what we wanted all along, isn’t it? This is a quaint, authentic, proper pub with proper, manly locals who are happy to ignore you as long as you like 1970s Eurovision bangers. You should check it out and if you have any pubby pub recommendations or would like to submit a pubby pub review of your own, please do get in touch.