Music, football and nightlife have historically been Liverpool’s big draws, but it is no slouch on the food front. Its restaurant and street-food scene is one of the UK’s most exciting. Here are 10 vibrant and creative picks.
Best known for their Anglesey restaurant The Marram Grass (temporarily closed at the time of writing), Liverpool-raised brothers chef Ellis and restaurateur Liam Barrie opened this persuasively glamorous spot on the Albert Dock last year. Ellis uses prime seasonal produce from Merseyside and north Wales, including pork reared on the brothers’ own smallholding, and serves it in dishes which, for all the painstaking tweezer work visible in the open kitchen, deliver seriously gutsy flavours. An arrangement of ceps and girolles on grilled focaccia is next-level mushrooms on toast, autumn in edible form. Similarly, a plate of grilled mackerel paired with dill cream, buttermilk and cucumber tartare is, for all its clean, fresh elements, stridently flavoursome. Relaxed, chatty service and a vintage rock and soul soundtrack (nice to hear the chefs singing along) complete an unusually warm fine-dining experience.
Menus from £35, outdoor seating available, Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, lerpwl.com
This stripped-back bar, restaurant and summer garden is a little slice of hipster Brooklyn on Hardman Street. Interesting wines by the glass, Pitchfork-adjacent playlist, a general air of laid-back cool… and there’s substance, not just vibe. In the best Italian tradition, the kitchen’s handmade, fresh pasta dishes use high-quality ingredients (pork and fennel sausage, squash, sage, tomato, olives, capers, sensational rocket pesto) to create vivid flavours. Incidentally, if you are wondering what happened to neighbour The Wild Loaf (awesome baking and grilled cheese sandwiches), it is currently retailing online (thewildloafshop.com) ahead of a comeback at a new location in 2022.
Mains from £8, outdoor seating available, 24 Hardman Street, buyers-club.co.uk
Peter Kinsella has spent more than a decade scouring the Catalan region and wider Spain for exceptional artisan ingredients, and you can taste that research in every mouthful. Whether you’re eating seared presa iberico pork (the shoulder muscle, which cannot be air-dried) in the restaurant or grabbing a sandwich from the deli (spicy, rugged chorizo with super-sweet piquillo peppers is a timeless combo), this is Iberian food full of big, punchy flavours. There is a second site, cosy Lunyalita, in the Albert Dock.
Tapas £5-£10, card only, outdoor seating available, 55 Hanover Street, lunya.co.uk
Xiao Long Bao
Supermarket eJoy Asian Foods contains a strip of hot food kiosks and a seating area where you can dig deep into everything from three-meat-roasts on rice to beef tripe noodle broths and spicy braised pigs’ trotters. Do not miss Xiao Long Bao’s wontons, eponymous pork-and-crab soup dumpling or its steamed spicy beef buns. Its garlicky, ginger-mined pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings are sensational and, at £6 for 13, a filling meal at a budget price.
Buns from £1.20, dumplings £6, eJoy Asian Foods, 8-10 Myrtle Street
Duke Street Market
This food hall was an instant hit, and it is easy to understand why. Great staff, good food – Kelp’s fish dishes; Bone And Block’s burger and steaks; Cahita’s Cubano sandwich, among others – and this handsome building combine in a way that makes you want to linger. It just feels right. The mezzanine restaurant space, previously home to the excellent northern Spanish-inspired Pilgrim (reopening early 2022 at a new site), will from 22 November be occupied by “scouse brasserie” Barnacle (snacks £3.50-£10, menus from £28), a collaboration by several chefs, including local legend Paul Askew, chef-owner of the elegant Art School. Barnacle will celebrate Merseyside produce and the global influences that shaped the city.
Mains from about £8. Mainly QR-code, card-only ordering; cash accepted at front kiosk and for takeaway. 46 Duke Street, dukestreetmarket.com
Alongside the likes of Bold Street Coffee and Gujarati snack slingers Bundobust, Maray is a linchpin of Bold Street’s food scene. Its post-Ottolenghi menu of falafel and shawarma, whipped goat’s cheese and “disco cauliflower” (slathered in chermoula, harissa, tahini, yoghurt, pomegranates and almonds) helped usher in a new era of fashionable, casual food in Liverpool. More recently, next door to its third Albert Dock site, Maray opened The One O’Clock Gun (meals from about £7), a pub-Parisian bar hybrid. It serves eco-friendly tap wines, cans and bottles from local brewers Love Lane, Carnival and Black Lodge and, most notably, pies from one of Britain’s top makers, Great North Pie Co. Its Dewlay’s lancashire cheese pie with caramelised white onions is, like Maray, a contemporary classic.
Plates from £5-£12, 91 Bold Street, maray.co.uk
A former Michelin star holder at Devon’s Treby Arms, chef Anton Piotrowskicreates beautifully designed and intensely flavoured dishes. But from snacks of, say, sourdough with Bovril butter to a Strawberry Field Forever dessert, via quail Kiev, Piotrowski’s take on fine dining is shot through with a playful sense of nostalgia and fun. Newer dishes, such as nori-wrapped lemon sole with passion fruit beurre blanc, are as chic as this Rodney Street dining room.
Menus from £45, 16 Rodney Street, roskirestaurant.com
Cains Brewery Village – a sprawling collection of bars, venues, retailers and rehearsal space in the Baltic Triangle – is home to the city’s pre-eminent street food hub, Baltic Market. It is a big, bustling warehouse affair serving tasty food from the likes of Hafla Hafla (lamb kofta and green chilli tahini, or Persian chicken kebabs), breakout lockdown star Bubbas Trap Kitchen, and Pattersons buttermilk-fried chicken. If you happen to be staying in Toxteth, Wavertree or Sefton Park, note that two of Baltic’s best-loved traders – Little Korea in its spin-off Love Kimchi, and Neapolitan pizza perfectionist Little Furnace – both have takeaways on Smithdown Road. (Little Furnace is awaiting a new extension before reopening for eat-in diners.)
Meals from about £7, card-only, app-ordering, outdoor seating available. Stanhope Street, balticmarket.co.uk
If Smithdown Road is emerging as a foodie enclave, Belzan has a lot to do with that. Co-owned by chef Sam Grainger, this intimate “neighbourhood bistro” is far sharper than that tag perhaps implies. Quality seasonal produce and plenty of artisan graft (fermenting, home-curing, baking) underpin a menu of clever, globally inspired sharing plates such as rare-breed lamb chops with anchovy, peas and yuzu, or gnocchi with locally cultivated mushrooms (grown in waste coffee grounds), wild Sefton Park garlic and cured egg yolk. The Belzan team also operate the Albert Dock’s Madre, a far bigger, livelier bar and taco restaurant with weekend DJs and, in summer, a packed sun-trap courtyard. Those tacos (£10 or £12 for three) deliver plenty of flavour – try the Oaxaca cheese and slow-cooked beef shin, served with a fantastic spicy beef and onion broth.
Plates £4-£16, 371 Smithdown Road, belzan.co.uk
In an uncertain world, you can rely on Elite Bistros. Chef-owner Gary Usher’s six-strong north-west restaurant group has created a culture and talent pool that makes it a touchstone of quality. Breakfast is no longer on the menu (it may return in 2022), but otherwise it is business as usual in the exposed-brick interior of this Georgian building. From classics such as beef featherblade with truffle and parmesan chips to torched salmon with a prawn-cabbage dumpling and warm tartare, expect populist, on-point cooking with a modish flourish.
Two courses from £20, 60 Seel Street, wreckfish.co