From the pretty harbor dotted with pleasure boats, the land rises gently, showcasing historic old buildings with beautiful architecture. Bristol, Rhode Island, takes pride in its fervent patriotism, seafaring history, and beautiful parks. Dining in this charming coastal town offers guests a wealth of fantastic restaurants to try, making it difficult to decide where to dine first. Whether you are looking for a boisterous bar or a quiet, refined restaurant, you will have plenty of delicious dining options in this city.
Many establishments offer seasonal outdoor seating, along with cozy indoor dining. Known for its beautiful parks and harbor views, diners’ outdoor dining experiences can be amplified by exploring some of Bristol’s beautiful parks. Place a takeout order and head over to Colt State Park, Independence Park, or any of the other wonderful green spaces around town for a picnic breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
The restaurants listed below are in no particular order.
Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
Serving guests from the historic DeWolf Rum Distillery, DeWolf Tavern offers diners beautiful waterfront views and perfectly composed contemporary American cuisine. Grab a seat on the patio for cocktails and a beautiful sunset view. Alternatively, you can dine in the downstairs pub for a cozy and casual nosh. Head to the upstairs restaurant and enjoy the more formal dining room option.
The menu is seasonally driven with local products in the starring role. Start your evening with a pre-dinner cocktail and the Shrimp Pakora, it is sweet and crunchy; the perfect starter plate to share. For your entree, move on to the bacon-wrapped Bistro fillet or the seafood stew for a delicious and hearty meal.
Pro Tip: The outside of the distillery is constructed partly from African stones. They were thought to be used as ballast for the voyages across the Atlantic from Africa during Bristol’s slave-trading past.
Tea At Blithewold Mansion
The Blithewold was the turn of the century summer estate for the Van Wickle family and is now a historic museum and gardens. Visitors can stroll the gardens and explore the mansion while imagining the charmed life of the rich and famous.
Tea and Scones at the Blithewold is an elegant tradition perfect for a fun outing or a special event. With beautifully blended tea served in eclectically unmatched china, the experience is unique. Seasonally served on the stone patio with a gorgeous view of the Blithewold’s gardens and Narragansett Bay, guests will love the view. Munch happily on freshly baked scones slathered in clotted cream while sipping from delicate china teacups evoke images of a gentile time. The experience transports guests back to a time when the wealthy summer residents of Bristol and Newport came calling.
Pro Tip: After your tea and scones, tour the mansion and gardens for a peek into a classic country garden-era manor. The home features furnishings from the Van Winkle estate and the gardens are exquisite.
On the corner of John and Thames streets is Aidan’s Pub. A local favorite for fabulous classic food from the Irish homeland. The Irish Pub is a gathering place for musicians and guests who love the vibrantly busy vibe.
The Aidan’s style fish and chips is crispy beer battered fish with classic French fries. It pairs perfectly with an expertly pulled Guinness. Everything on the menu works with a great beer including the bangers and mash, Dublin pot pie, and the curried chicken. Grab a seat on the patio and watch the comings and goings along Thames Street or dine inside and enjoy the traditional, friendly Irish bar ambiance.
Pro Tip: Sundays are a fun time to stop by and enjoy its live traditional Irish music, a draft, and a sandwich. The stage gets rocking at 5 p.m., and it’s always different, always fun, and always entertaining.
The Beehive Cafe is a sweet grab-and-go cafe with an extensive breakfast and lunch menu. The freshly baked pastries are delectable and they serve a selection of expertly brewed coffee. The sandwiches run the seasonal gamut from appetizing vegetarian options like the butternut squash sandwich to a Beehive pulled pork sandwich for the meat-eating crowd.
The Beehive works with beautiful locally sourced ingredients to create fun and interesting pastries and lunch items. The menu always has something new and interesting to offer patrons. It is also open for early dinner Thursday through Saturday.
Pro Tip: Park on Thames Street by Independence Park and take the short walk up to the Beehive Cafe for a takeout order. Head back to Independence Park with a blanket for a picnic pastry and coffee, or sandwich lunch while enjoying the lovely harbor views. Parking is free but has a two-hour limit, just enough time to enjoy your alfresco, waterfront dining experience.
Judge Roy Bean Saloon
The Judge Roy Bean Saloon is just the place for great pub fare. The beer-battered cheese curds are amazing. Other great options include the short rib tacos, The roasted barbecue chicken Mac and Cheese, and a selection of juicy burgers. Its other not-so-traditional, amped up pub grub will satisfy any hungry crowd.
Housed in a historic old brick mansard, the family-friendly atmosphere and kid-sized dishes make this a perfect spot for the entire gang. Centrally located between the harbor and downtown, it is easily accessible when navigating Bristol’s sightseeing opportunities.
Pro Tip: The Saloon is a block away from the Prudence Island Ferry and a great option for takeout to enjoy a picnic lunch once you get to the island. Prudence Island is a lovely spot to hike and simply enjoy Mother Nature.
The Lobster Pot
The Lobster Pot is located just outside the downtown area along the waterfront. Offering diners classic New England seafood and gorgeous views of Narragansett Bay, the Lobster Pot features all the best seafood dishes you can imagine. Of course, it has a wide array of delicious lobster options, including the classic New England boiled lobster. Your other seafood choices include a large selection of fish that can be prepared, baked, broiled, fried, grilled, or blackened. There are delicious turf options too.
They serve up all the great cocktails like a classic Aperol spritz, a bubbly champagne sangria, and other throwback classics along with a long list of specialty martinis.
Pro Tip: If you are dining here on the weekend and want to sit on the waterfront patio, plan to arrive for an early/late dinner or expect a wait. It is a popular restaurant with locals and visitors.
The Statesman Tavern
Recommended by in-the-know locals, the Statesman Tavern is a cozy spot for amazing, carefully crafted cocktails paired with a locally sourced menu. The signature cocktail menu is extensive and invites you to expand your horizons with interesting options like its Smoked Peach Old Fashion, the Elder Mule, or a Fig & Fern. Your tastebuds will be dancing with happiness.
The tavern offers a small list of delicious sandwiches and entrees to accompany your favorite libation. The Statesman is one of those go-to spots for enjoying a well-crafted drink with a close friend.
Pro Tip: The Statesman Tavern is a fun place to meet up with friends for cocktails and a nibble and enjoy an evening of great conversation in a casually sophisticated style.
Wood Street Cafe
Encompassing most of a corner block with the look and feel of a classic locals’ hangout is the Wood Street Cafe. This friendly neighborhood bar will make you feel right at home. The lively crowd and friendly atmosphere are reminiscent of local, hometown watering holes across America.
When you mix fresh beer on tap at the bar, traditional pub grub from the kitchen, and great friends just hanging out, you will find a neighborhood establishment where guests just want to have fun.
Pro Tip: You know someone has a unique sense of humor when they sport a crazy address — the cafe is located at 260 1/2 Wood Street.
Bristol Oyster Bar
At Bristol Oyster Bar you will find some of the freshest oysters in town. Prepared to perfection, local shellfish and mollusks are menu standouts. The B.O.B. Stuffies are native quahogs (large clams) with a linguica (Portuguese pork stuffing). Try the fried Aquidneck oysters with pickled shallots and a gorgeous Green Goddess dressing. For the landlubber, the grilled beef ribeye with hen of the woods mushrooms is a delicious choice.
Ask for a seat at the bar to see all the raw bar action or by the beautiful windows for a downtown view.
Pro Tip: The 1957 brownstone architecture of the restaurant provides a historic ambiance. Once used as the Bristol Custom House, the Bristol Oyster Bar is a beautiful spot for 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 getaway location. You can explore Newport’s wonderful sites to visit in How To Spend A Perfect Weekend In Beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. Finally, go to Discover Newport for all the up-to-the-minute happenings in Bristol and Newport, Rhode Island.