Bristol Neighbourhood Guide: Stokes CroftPosted on: 15 Feb 2023
We’re back with our guide to Bristol’s diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods – with some cherrypicked spots to showcase just how much is going on in each corner of the city.
This week, we’re taking a look at the vibrant area of Stokes Croft, a fiercely independent neighbourhood full of party venues, hidden gems and highly-rated eateries.
Read on for our guide to all the nightlife, food, shopping, cultural and historical highlights of Stokes Croft…
Stokes Croft probably has one of the highest concentrations of amazing independent bars, clubs and music venues in Bristol. This makes it an incredibly difficult task to pick out the finest, but we’ve done our best.
Located right at the entrance to the Stokes Croft area is The Full Moon and Attic Bar (pictured below) – one of Bristol’s best-loved bars. Local party animals and students alike are all catered for with regular club events, a great selection of alcoholic beverages, a spacious courtyard, massive screens for sports, in-house food stalls and even hostel rooms on-site.
The Crofters Rights (pictured below) is a buzzing, intimate live space that boasts an enviable selection of beers as well as serving mouth-watering pizza from Ray’s. The venue opened a garden just over the road back in 2020.
Tucked away just off Stokes Croft is Lakota, a club renowned the country over. Considered a local landmark by Bristol City Council, the venue spans 3 levels and regularly plays host to the biggest rave events in the South-West.
Countless top talents have appeared behind the decks at Lakota in its 30-year history, including Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Eats Everything, Congo Natty, My Nu Leng, Gentlemen’s Dub Club, Andy C, Stormzy and more.
The Love Inn (pictured below) is another much-loved Stokes Croft venue with a cosy bar, a small garden, rotating pop-up kitchens and regular live music and DJ events.
Another venue with a relaxed, friendly feel, Cheltenham Road’s The Social Bar & Café is one of the area’s most popular hangout spots to eat, drink and be social.
The Canteen (pictured below) is a canteen-style bar with a community feel and a small terrace serving locally sourced, 100% vegetarian food as well as hosting regular free live music six nights a week.
If you’re looking for a more traditional pub, look no further than The Bell. Hidden away on Jamaica Street, this is a real Bristol institute that has long provided a meeting point for local artists, DJs and musicians. The venue features a busy patio for the smokers, a DJ booth and a first-class selection of real ales.
Not only is Stokes Croft home to some of the city’s best nightlife spots, but the busy thoroughfare is also jam-packed with top quality food from all over the world.
We begin with another Bristol establishment. Opened by Chef Neufville, who arrived in the UK in 2000 with only 8 US dollars in his pocket, Rice & Things has since become an award-winning Jamaican restaurant with strong community links. If you’re in the mood for top Caribbean cuisine, look no further!
However, if it’s Sri Lankan food that floats your boat then Nadu is the spot for you. From the team behind award-winning Indian restaurant Nutmeg, Nadu brings a fresh perspective of Tamil cuisine and pairs it with a menu of innovative cocktails. From vegetarian dishes to fresh fish and tender meat dishes, this is the place to be for foodies.
Not far from Nadu is Café Cuba (pictured below), one of Stokes Croft’s real hidden gems. Located on the corner next to Turbo Island (more on that later), this tiny café is a perfect summer hangout spot.
With traditional Cuban dishes and drinks aplenty, there’s a real community atmosphere at this cult restaurant nestled quietly amongst the hustle and bustle of Stokes Croft.
Vegetarians should look no further than Om Burger. Describing themselves as “the home of green cuisine”. Serving creative, delicious, nutritious food using local products, it’s not only burgers they serve. Foodies can also enjoy breakfast, fresh juice, loaded fries, sides, coffee, craft beer and slushies!
Stokes Croft also boasts an abundance of cosy cafes perfect for nestling up in the corner with a good book or meeting friends for a coffee. First up we have The Crafty Egg (pictured below), a warm, rustic café that is always busy and serves a range of exceptional brunch specials.
Just over the road is Café Kino, a non-profit vegan café bar with a community focus and a tasty menu of homemade clothes that includes acclaimed burgers, breakfasts, falafel, fresh salads and cakes with works from local artists adorning the walls.
Directly opposite is Elemental Collective Grocers (pictured below): a coffee shop, greengrocers, and bakery all in one. Unmissable thanks to the dragon on the roof, Elemental offer a bargain £6 meal deal and fresh bread to die for.
Opening our rundown of the neighbourhood’s cultural highlights is Jamaica Street Studios, one of the biggest artist-led studios outside of the capital with more than 30 artists across 3 floors.
This is a creative community in one of Bristol’s most artistic areas, with painting, installation, printmaking, illustration, paper cutting, sculpture and textiles all catered for.
Not far away is the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (pictured below). Also located on Jamaica Street, this organisation aims to promote the interests of the area by providing community space and running various projects. The PRSC is partially funded by Stokes Croft China, which can be found next door.
Our final cultural highlight is Mickleburgh Musical Instruments, one of the largest independent music shops in the UK. As well as a range of top-end instruments, the Bristol institution offers servicing, restoration, piano tuning and removal/transportation.
As well as being a hotspot of culture and diverse fooderies, Stokes Croft has a long history of radicalism. Perhaps the main spot of historic interest is Banksy’s ‘The Mild Mild West’. Depicting a teddy bear throwing a molotov cocktail, it was painted in response to several police raids on raves around Bristol in the late 1990s.
Another vital aspect of Stokes Croft's history is the Tesco riot of 2011. Beginning after a Tesco store was placed right in the middle of (at the time) ‘Europe’s longest independent high street’ and sparked by oppressive police tactics, 21 April 2011 saw clashes break out between police and protesters – Banksy marked the event with special souvenir artwork.
Finally, no article about this vibrant area would be complete without a mention of its nucleus - Turbo Island. A passer-by might dismiss the landmark as an innocuous triangle of land and that is what it is, its existence is due to the destruction of a building that was once there.
But since then, Turbo Island has become a public space and a symbol of Stokes Croft’s fiercely independent, bohemian spirit. A home for street drinking and party animals alike, the area was recently concreted over. The gentrification attempt appears to have failed, however, with Turbo Island’s infamous parties still regularly taking place.
So, there it is, 365Bristol’s guide to Stokes Croft. It’s impossible to round up all the nightlife, food, shopping, cultural and historical highlights in 1,000 words but please get in contact with us here and let us know your favourite hangouts or locations.
Images: Patrick Bate
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Stan is a born and bred Bristolian, recently graduated from studying English Literature in Sheffield. His passions are music and literature and he spends the majority of his time in venues all over the city, immersing himself in Bristol’s alternative music scene. A lifelong Bristol City fan, Stan’s Saturdays are spent watching his team both home and away.