Bristol Neighbourhood Guide: FishpondsPosted on: 17 May 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 Fishponds; home to over 37,000 people, this is a large and historic residential neighbourhood that features both a vibrant high street, Fishponds Road, and a bustling cycle path as well as a number of top-notch restaurants, pubs and more.
Read on for our guide to all the nightlife, food, shopping, cultural and historical highlights of Fishponds…
Fishponds is home to a selection of the finest pubs in East Bristol: first up is a historic venue that has recently been taken over and renamed. Previously The Cross Hands, The All Inn Pub on Staple Hill Road is the newest venture from Dodo Pub Co and opens its doors for the first time on Friday 19 May. With refurbishment now completed, customers can enjoy a lively drinking experience with a quirky interior, great beer and a menu that features dirty burgers, authentic slow-rise Neapolitan pizzas and plenty of mouth-watering sides.
Next up is Snuffy Jack’s Ale House, a cosy micropub situated right in the heart of the Fishponds community. A popular hangout spot for Bristol’s thriving craft beer scene, this award-winning venue always boasts a buzzing atmosphere and is one of the best places for good beer in Bristol with an ever-changing roster of beverages.
If it’s a family-friendly gastro pub that you are looking for then The Fishponds Tap may be the place for you. This newly refurbished, atmospheric venue offers a wide range of food and drink (including a pub classics menu, a Himalayan speciality menu and much more) as well as pub staples such as a large, unique beer garden and a function room with a dedicated bar.
Another pub that has recently been refurbished, The Star on Fishponds Road is a traditional, historic spot that boasts a tight-knit, dedicated community. The pub has a broad selection of award-winning real ales from Nailsworth Brewery amongst other drinks and features an original skittle alley, pool tables and a dartboard as well as a varied and eclectic live music programme. The pub is also historically significant as it was once the headquarters of Bristol Rovers FC under their previous name the Black Arabs in the 1890s.
Situated in the twilight zone between Staple Hill and Fishponds, The Crown Inn is a proper, old-fashioned boozer. With a large garden that is always busy during the summer months, this friendly venue welcomes patrons of all ages and its reasonable prices always draw a crowd.
An immensely impressive building, Old Post Office is a community pub in the heart of Fishponds with an extensive drink selection as well as a healthy dose of traditional pub grub served daily. Sports fans can also enjoy all the top events across boxing, football, rugby and more across two HD projectors and six sizeable screens – this is the place to watch live sports in Fishponds!
Fishponds is also home to a wide variety of restaurants and cafes offering a wide variety of culinary delights, first up: La Piazza 1 on Fishponds Road. With deliciously authentic Italian food and impeccable, friendly hospitality, this coveted restaurant is the perfect spot whether you’re looking for a romantic meal or a quiet bite while watching the hustle and bustle of Fishponds’ busy high street.
Now, the original Crafty Egg did feature in our Stokes Croft neighbourhood guide, but this rundown could not be complete without a mention of their Fishponds venue. Covering everything from a cooked breakfast to evening cocktails, this is a hangout for all occasions. Vegan-friendly and a purveyor of several weird and wonderful events (they’ve even hosted magic shows in the past!), this is an eggcellent venue.
Offering a fantastic selection of locally sourced produce, zero waste provisions, kitchen cupboard staples, household items, gifts, bakery bread, and coffees, Artichoke Wholefoods is another Fishponds Road favourite. A real community enterprise, Artichoke – along with The Crafty Egg and various other new independents – signals a new breed of cafes, restaurants and bars springing up around Fishponds.
If it’s Mediterranean food you’re in the mood for then why not try Olive Tree, a Fishponds Road charcoal grill and meze bar? Opening its doors in 2020, foodies can enjoy hot and cold mezze dishes with classics such as moussaka, chicken, lamb shish, falafel, houmous, calamari and much more.
Fishponds is also home to Bristol’s top-rated Thai restaurant, Everyday Thai. Since opening over nine years ago, the family-owned eatery is widely regarded among the city’s best. Customers can expect ultra-fresh ingredients and authentic Thai dishes curated with real culinary experience and acumen – if you’re a fan of Thai food, this is the place to be!
Culture & Lifestyle:
In addition to all these food and drink highlights, Fishponds is also known for its outdoor landmarks. Keen walkers or cyclists can access Bristol and Bath Railway Path from the area with the Fishponds stretch includes an old railway tunnel hidden amongst overgrown trees, and an abandoned railway station surrounded by damson trees and blackberry bushes. This is one of the easiest ways to access the countryside from inner city Bristol – perfect for a summer family excursion.
If it’s a bit of more local greenery you’re looking for, then why not check out Fishponds Park? Just off the main Fishponds high street, this 1980s vintage-style playground is the perfect spot to take a break from shopping or enjoy a spot of lunch in the summer.
In terms of Fishponds’ more quirky attractions, ‘Fish On Its Nose’ has got to be right up there. Located on the site of the former Fishponds station, Doug Cocker’s heavily graffitied 1993 sculpture depicts a brick fish diving into a pond. The fish is lucky enough to have a perpetually full stomach with a time capsule collected by local children concreted into its belly.
The area name ‘Fishponds’ comes from the large quarries that once dominated the area. When these quarries emptied, they became large fishponds – hence the name. The neighbourhood has a long industrial history of chocolate production in the 1890s as cars, aircraft, pottery and printing.
Snuff Mills and Oldbury Court Estate, while arguably crossing into Stapleton, are two real oases within the boundaries of Bristol. Originally the site of a stone mill, the former’s name is said to have come from one of the millers, who was known as ‘Snuffy Jack’. The area became a pleasure garden in the 1920s and has since been restored. The latter is a Grade II listed garden that was mentioned as far back as the Domesday Book! These days, it's the perfect spot for a riverside walk.
A final point of interest is the old Van Dyck Cinema. Now a Wetherspoons pub under the same name (see below and weep), the cinema opened back in 1926 and could seat 1,200 people in its heyday. It later became a bingo hall before its current iteration as a pub.
So, there it is, 365Bristol’s guide to Fishponds. Please note that we have had to be loose in terms of neighbourhood borders so as to fit everything that’s amazing about Bristol into these guides. It’s also impossible to sum up everything that’s great about our city in such a short article, but please get in contact with us here and let us know your favourite neighbourhood highlights.
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.