The land rises gently from the pretty harbor with the sports boats and shows historic old buildings with beautiful architecture. Bristol, Rhode Island prides itself on its passionate patriotism, maritime history and beautiful parks. Dining in this charming seaside town offers diners an abundance of fantastic restaurants that make it difficult to decide where to dine first. Whether you are looking for a fun bar or a quiet, elegant restaurant, you will find many delicious restaurants in this city.
Many facilities offer seasonal outdoor seating as well as cozy indoor dining. Known for its beautiful parks and harbor views, guests can enhance their al fresco dining experiences by exploring some of Bristol’s beautiful parks. Place a takeaway order and head to Colt State Park, Independence Park, or any of the other wonderful green spaces in town for a picnic breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
The restaurants listed below are in no particular order.
Some of the information in this article was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
Bistro fillet wrapped in bacon in the DeWolf Tavern (Photo: Sandi Barrett)
The DeWolf Tavern serves guests of the historic DeWolf Rum Distillery and offers its guests beautiful views of the water and perfectly composed contemporary American cuisine. Take a seat on the terrace for cocktails and a beautiful view of the sunset. Alternatively, dine in the pub downstairs for a leisurely and casual meal. Visit the upstairs restaurant and enjoy the more formal option of the dining room.
The menu is seasonal with local products in the lead. Start your evening with an aperitif cocktail and the Shrimp Pakora, it’s sweet and crispy; the perfect starter plate to share. For your starter, go for a bacon-wrapped bistro fillet or a seafood stew for a delicious and hearty meal.
Pro tip: The exterior of the distillery is partly built from African stones. They were considered to be ballast for travel across the Atlantic from Africa during Bristol’s slave trade.
Tea at the Blithewold Mansion
The Blithewold was the summer residence of the Van Wickle family around the turn of the century and is now a historical museum and gardens. Visitors can stroll through the gardens and explore the mansion while imagining the enchanting life of the rich and famous.
Tea and scones at Blithewold is an elegant tradition that’s perfect for a fun outing or special event. With beautifully blended tea served in eclectic unmatched china, the experience is unique. Served seasonally on the stone deck with great views of the Blithewold Gardens and Narragansett Bay, guests will love the view. Enjoy freshly baked scones coated with clotted cream as you sip from delicate china teacups evoking images of pagan times. The experience transports guests back to a time when the wealthy summer residents of Bristol and Newport called.
Pro tip: After your tea and scones, tour the mansion and gardens for a peek inside a classic garden-era mansion. The house features furniture from the Van Winkle estate and the gardens are exquisite.
Aidan’s Pub is on the corner of John Street and Thames Street. A local favorite for fabulous classic Irish food. The Irish Pub is a meeting place for musicians and guests who love the busy atmosphere.
Aidan-style fish and chips is crispy fish in a beer batter with classic French fries. It goes perfectly with an expertly drawn Guinness. Everything on the menu goes well with great beer including Bangers and Mash, Dublin Pot Pie, and Curry Chicken. Take a seat on the terrace and watch the comings and goings along Thames Street or dine inside and enjoy the traditional, friendly Irish bar atmosphere.
Pro tip: Sundays are a fun time to stop by and enjoy the live traditional Irish music, a barrel and a sandwich. From 5 p.m. the stage rocks and it’s always different, always funny and always entertaining.
The Beehive Cafe is a cute takeaway cafe with an extensive breakfast and lunch menu. The freshly baked pastries are delicious and a variety of expertly brewed coffees are served. The sandwiches range from appetizing vegetarian options like the butternut and squash sandwich to a beehive pulled pork sandwich for the meat eaters.
The Beehive works with beautiful locally sourced ingredients to create fun and interesting pastry and lunch dishes. The menu always has something new and interesting to offer guests. It’s also open for early dinner Thursday through Saturday.
Pro tip: Park on Thames Street by Independence Park and take a short walk to the Beehive Cafe for a takeout order. Return to Independence Park with a blanket for picnic pastries and coffee or a sandwich lunch while taking in beautiful harbor views. Parking is free but limited to two hours, just enough time to enjoy your al fresco dining experience by the water.
Judge Roy Bean Saloon
The Judge Roy Bean Saloon is the place to be for great pub fare. The cheese curds whipped with beer are amazing. Other great options include the short rib tacos, the toasted barbecue chicken mac and cheese, and a selection of juicy burgers. The other not-so-traditional, spiced-up pub food will satisfy any hungry crowd.
Housed in a historic old brick attic, the family-friendly atmosphere and child-sized dishes make this a perfect place for the entire gang. Centrally located between the harbor and the city center, it’s easy to get to when exploring Bristol’s attractions.
Pro tip: The saloon is one block from the Prudence Island Ferry and is a great take away option to enjoy a picnic once you get to the island. Prudence Island is a lovely place to hike and just enjoy mother nature.
Lobster Salad from The Lobster Pot (Photo: Sandi Barrett)
The lobster pot
The Lobster Pot is just outside the city center on the waterfront. Boasting classic New England seafood and sweeping views of Narragansett Bay, Lobster Pot offers the best seafood dishes you can imagine. Of course, it has a wide variety of delicious lobster options, including the classic cooked New England lobster. Their other seafood selection includes a wide variety of fish that can be cooked, baked, grilled, fried, broiled, or blackened. There are tasty lawn options too.
They serve all the great cocktails like a classic aperol spritz, a bubbly champagne sangria and other classics along with a long list of martinis specialties.
Pro tip: If you want to dine here on the weekend and sit on the terrace by the water, plan an early / late dinner or expect to wait. It is a popular restaurant with both locals and visitors.
The statesman tavern
Recommended by knowledgeable locals, the Statesman Tavern is a cozy spot for amazing, carefully prepared cocktails paired with a menu drawn from local sources. The unique cocktail menu is extensive and invites you to broaden your horizons with interesting options such as the Smoked Peach Old Fashion, the Elder Mule or a Fig & Fern. Your taste buds will dance for joy.
The tavern offers a small selection of delicious sandwiches and starters to accompany your favorite drink. The Statesman is one of those places to go for a well-made drink with a close friend.
Pro tip: The Statesman Tavern is a fun place to hang out with friends for cocktails and nibbles and enjoy an evening of great conversation in a casually elegant style.
Wood Street Cafe
Wood Street Cafe encompasses most of a corner block with the look and feel of a classic local hangout. You will feel right at home in this friendly neighborhood bar. The lively crowd and friendly atmosphere are reminiscent of local hometown pubs across America.
If you’re mixing fresh draft beer at the bar, traditional pub food from the kitchen, and great friends just hanging out, you can find a neighborhood hangout where diners just want to have fun.
Pro tip: You know someone has a unique sense of humor when they have a crazy address – the cafe is at 260 1/2 Wood Street.
Bristol oyster bar
The Bristol Oyster Bar has some of the freshest oysters in town. Cooked to perfection, local shellfish and molluscs make a standout menu. The BOB Stuffies are local quahogs (large clams) with a linguica (Portuguese pork filling). Try the fried aquidneck oysters with pickled shallots and a wonderful green goddess dressing. For the landlubber, the grilled beef ribeye with grouse mushrooms is a delicious choice.
Ask for a seat at the bar to see all the bar action, or by the beautiful windows for a view of downtown.
Pro tip: The restaurant’s brownstone architecture, built in 1957, offers a historic ambience. Once used as the Bristol Custom House, the Bristol Oyster Bar is a beautiful place to have dinner.
To plan your weekend getaway, check out our article on the 12 Best Things to Do in Charming Bristol, Rhode Island to help you plan your visit. Bristol’s neighbor, Newport, is another great place for a getaway. Discover Newport’s Wonderful Sights in How To Spend the Perfect Weekend in Beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. Finally, visit Discover Newport for all current happenings in Bristol and Newport, Rhode Island.