There is a street in York, just south of the centre, that embodies independent. For over a century it has been lined with traditional traders, and for almost a decade has been hyped as the alternative place to be. That was when Bishy Road, as it is affectionately known, set up a Traders Association, and since 2010 have grown a community that is the envy and aspiration of many near and far.
Just on this one road, you’ll find essential shops, quirky cafes, neighbourhood pubs, ethical practices, and joyous street parties. Unsurprisingly, Bishopthorpe Road is known as one of the most uniquely attractive parts of York to visit, and the surrounding area a sought-after place to live. Here are plenty of spots that show why…
As with any bustling community, the cafes quickly become a vital hub, and here there are a choice of delightful pickings to saunter between. The Pig and Pastry is a wonkily cool caff providing a natural buzz amongst its cosy tables and friendly folk, and serving food that shows off quality local suppliers. Robinsons, similarly, uses top nearby ingredients and plays an impressive culinary game, with a menu of simply satisfying dishes done marvellously, which perfectly suits the venue’s casual chic.
Making the most of their small space is another cute coffee shop, Stanley and Ramona. Here, the service is warm, the vibe relaxed, and the hot drinks something extra special. As if that trio weren’t enough for one street, Trinacria also joins in the cafe culture, and this one brings a difference. It is a Sicilian rooted eaterie that not only delivers on Italian pasta, wine and coffee, but also on pastry and gelato. Bellissimo!
An equally important foundation for a strong community is, of course, the pub. One place that opened a couple of years ago is combining the lot; promising all the relaxation of a cafe, all the fun of the pub, and all the grub of a restaurant. Whilst Angel on the Green somehow does all three marvellously enough to stay in day and night, there are also other boozers to crawl to at either end of the street. The Swan does what a good pub should, gliding effortlessly on the surface by serving immaculate ales with a friendly feel.
At the far end of Bishy Road, The Winning Post is, on the face of it, a standard suburb pub, but in recent years has been reinvigorated to an all-welcome space that lives up to its name with homemade local food, comforting vibes and forward-thinking ideas. All are worthy and welcoming drinking holes and meeting spots for locals and visitors alike.
Whilst the above offer their own excellent food options, there are also a few standalone restaurants on the street, cooking up continental cuisine. Across Asia, Rice Style delivers tasty Thai temptations, Indian Village Spice dishes up no-nonsense curries and bring your own booze, and fellow countrymen Lal Quilla serve saucy spices too. Closer to home, Melton’s is a modern British fine dining experience, and less fine but no less enjoyable, The Fisherman’s Wife is your local chippy and fishy in Bishy.
Outnumbering even the plentiful pubs, restaurants and cafes are the shops on Bishopthorpe Road. An intriguing mix of the essential and the eclectic, a wander along both sides of the street will discover a variety of goodies. Some independents that are doing their own thing and doing good, for not only the area but also the wider world, are well worth a look in. The Bishy Weigh is one such establishment, opening last year as a little world-changing force by offering an eco pantry of plastic-free weigh-and-pay produce.
As well as helping you feel good on your journey to zero waste, the shop is a lovely experience in itself. Also waving the environmentally-friendly flag is BARE, a delightful shop selling organic clothing for babies and children. Stylish, fun, and ethically sound! Cycle Heaven is as it sounds, a cyclist’s paradise, and although they now occupy larger York space elsewhere and their previous Bishy Road premise homes the aforementioned Angel, Cycle Heaven have kept a small and satisfying piece here, remaining as a neighbourhood workshop, repair and accessory store. And another that is aptly named, Costello’s Good Food Shop is a good food shop, with an independent heart, a community ethos, and, you know, good food.
Besides the shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs are other things to do in and around Bishopthorpe Road that make it both a pleasing place to visit and a practical place to live. There’s music, photography and art to take part in or be entertained by and there are vets, nurseries and a wellbeing centre for its inhabitants. All of the above is celebrated at Bishy Road’s legendary street parties, where bunting overhangs throughout and all ages come together in the name of a bloody lovely time.