Neighborhood guides: Live like a local in Old Market, Bristol
8 Jun 2022
Stepping into Bristol’s Old Market Quarter will land you in the heart of one of the most historic areas of the city. It’s a vibrant, LGBTQIA+ friendly neighborhood that hosts a wide variety of alternative events throughout the year, and is also home to a variety of art galleries and pop-up stores. There’s a reason The Sunday Times voted this ‘hood as one of the coolest places to live in Britain back in 2018.
As one of the oldest parts of Bristol, it’s full of beautifully dated buildings, all of which feature businesses that are independently owned – and that’s what really caught our attention. It’s here you’ll find a great selection of stores from vintage fashion and antique wears, and let’s not forget the abundance of safe spaces for the queer community: take your pick from the plethora of LGBTQIA+ shops, pubs, bars and clubs.
Here are our favorite spots:
This petite and minimalist nail bar is run by local Nathan Taylor, who describes themself as an artist first. They believe that beauty treatments can be truly life-changing; that they allow you to practice self-love and to reduce stress. Hence why BUFF BAR is a proud QTIPOC and LGBTQIA+ space for nails and much, much more. “Not only is it important that BUFF BAR is friendly and welcoming to people, but it is important that BUFF BAR supports these people and communities'', Nathan explains. We couldn't agree more.
The Old Market Assembly
An independent venue that’s an institution in its own right, The Old Market Assembly hosts regular LGBTQIA+ nights, and is a favorite come summer when the rooftop terrace can be enjoyed to its fullest. Boasting an ethical and sustainable restaurant, bakery, and theatre, as well as its drinking den, this spot is high on our list for good reason.
The Assembly Bakery
An award-winning bakery located in the heart of Old Market, The Assembly offers a range of delicious and healthy sandwich options with plenty of choices for vegans and vegetarians. But let’s not forget their seasonal selection of breakfast pastries, savouries, delightful cakes and artisan breads, which should not be missed.
Described as LGBTQ-friendly by its customers, Chido Wey is a relatively new Mexican spot in the neighborhood that prides itself on introducing authentic flavors to the Bristol scene. Expect a range of classics, such as quesadillas, nachos and burritos. And the venue state’s that its mission is to help Central Americans who identify as LGBTQIA+ or are gender non-conforming – ideal for celebrating Pride Month, no?
Originally launched in Bristol, and now also found in Brighton as well, Glitch is the first concept salon in the world. It’s here that you can get your hair done while also enjoying an amazing coffee brewed in house, alongside food and live music accompanying every bite, gaze and cut. “Bristol is a very creative city”, explains founder Stephan Vi. “From amazing music, to the incredible art culture, this has allowed us to push the boundaries of what a salon can be”.
Tomo No Ramen
Created by native Bristolian, James Stuart, Tomo No Ramen is one of the neighborhood’s most exciting new eateries, fueled by James’ desire to revive classic styles as well as develop new ones. After selling out at his pop-ups and collaborations with celebrated ramen chefs, James gave the people of Old Market just what they wanted (and needed): a traditional ramen spot with an ever-changing menu.
The Queenshilling is one of Bristol’s award-winning LGBTQIA+ venues, and is a proud sponsor of OutUWE Network and Bristol University LGBT Society. It’s also very easy to find: you’ll spot the Art Deco building, color washed in vibrant LED lighting from the outside, and once you step in, you’ll be welcomed by a decadent disco bar.
This Old Market-located spot has had nothing but five-star reviews since opening during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Headed up by friends, Holly Meyrick and Palestine-born chef Omar Jowhar, the Palestinian-inspired café serves a range of traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes including flatbreads, musakhan and nabulsi, inspired by Omar's mum’s recipe book.
25A Old Market
If you’re anything like us, the first place you’ll look for when exploring a new neighborhood is the coffee shops, and 25A Old Market does not disappoint. It’s a welcoming space that serves up delicious, specialty coffee provided by Yallah, and pastries, sandwiches and treats which are baked to perfection by local business-friends, Pinkmans Bakery. Make sure to also take a look at their deli – it’s packed full of high quality, tasty products and essentials.