Of course I did some rudimentary Google/Instagram searches before our recent weekend away. “Where to Eat and Drink in Liverpool”. Faced with hundreds of Google results, and thousands of beautifully laid out Insta-pics, I decided to focus on three key areas. Craft beer. Brunch. Street Food. And for good measure, somewhere within close proximity to our hotel so we knew we had something sorted on arrival night. I also threw the question out on Facebook and Twitter too, which added many more suggestions to the mix. With just 36 hours in Liverpool, we couldn’t try out all of the recommended bars and restaurants, but here’s where we ended up.
**The Brummie Home and Abroad city break fund paid for all food and drink. No freebies and no obligation to blog about anything**
La Vina Bar y Tapas wasn’t one of those suggested, but it was a two minute walk from the Z Hotel and was therefore perfect for a first night meal. We reserved a table for 9:30pm, giving us plenty of time to check in to the hotel and freshen up after our 8pm arrival from Brum. With just two venues, one in Manchester and this one on North John Street in Liverpool, La Vina is a surprisingly authentic slice of Spain in the North West. We were seated near a fairy-light bedecked window; immediately it felt like a typical Mediterranean family-run restaurant with even the guest guitarist welcoming us. Not in song thankfully, he was between sets.
Mr Fletche opted for one of the Spanish craft ales on offer, whilst I went for a non-very-Spanish Langleys G&T. Fooled by the “we recommend 3-4 tapas per person” advice before, we selected a nice round five dishes from the menu, plus a small bread board starter. As always, patatas bravas is first on the list. For our other selections, we choose carne de cerdo y miel (pork belly in honey & sherry vinegar), lamb empanada, zarzuela de mariscos (seafood stew) and pollo al vino tinto (chicken thigh, bacon, mushroom and shallots in a red wine sauce). It’s a tasty selection, and there is sufficient food for the two of us – we certainly don’t leave feeling hungry.
It may have been an impulse choice, but with the flamenco music, warm and efficient service, bustling open kitchen and the low buzz of conversation from a Spanish-speaking group behind us, we felt transported to the Costa Brava rather than just steps away from the heaving nightlife hub of Liverpool.
La Vina Bar y Tapas, 11 N John St, Liverpool L2 5QY. Website.
This CAMRA pub popped up everywhere as soon as I asked the internet for “Real Ale Liverpool” recommendations. Not least by Independent Liverpool, and my lovely friend Elkie. Half classic pub, half old ship complete with slanting floors and mismatched tables and chairs, the Ship & Mitre was named one of the UK’s Best 50 pubs by the Guardian in October 2018. 12 hand-pulled ales. 3 hand-pulled ciders. 25 draught beers. 100 bottled beers from around the world. It’s no wonder there’s a drinks menu which could be be used as a doorstop. It’s doggo-friendly, serves traditional pub grub, hosts a bi-annual beer festival and has an adjoining bottle shop for all your takeaway needs. The Ship & Mitre is a great place to sup a beer or two or three.
The Ship & Mitre, 133 Dale Street, Liverpool, L2 2JH. Website.
Resplendent in my moose pyjamas, it was fate that I discovered that Moose Coffee, a North American inspired breakfast and brunch venue, had a venue just around the corner from the Z Hotel. Attired in non-moose branded clothing, we took a five minute stroll around to Dale Street. Despite a worrying sign outside saying “Please wait here to be seated” we are hustled in by one of the friendly staff and offered our pick of seats in the half-empty restaurant. It doesn’t stay that way for long. By the time we leave, there is indeed a queue outside the door.
The menu is a homage to all things American. Eggs. Waffles. Grits. Pancakes. All done a multitude of fancy ways. I am tempted as always by the fluffy pancakes which come in a giant stack but choose the more sensible option of the Bronx Brunch, a potato hash with smoked sausage, bacon, corned beef, peppers and melted cheese. As always, I request they “hold the eggs”. Mr Fletche is an eggs benedict fan and opts for the New York Moose with serrano ham. We sit back and admire the moose decor before our food arrives. Nothing disappoints, and Mr Fletche enthusiastically helps me out with my hash after his plate is cleared. Friendly staff, an interesting decor and a throwback to breakfasts on our USA and Canadian trips – this dose of Americana is the perfect way to set us up for a day of sightseeing.
Moose Coffee, 6 Dale St, Liverpool, L2 4TQ. Website
After our mega brunch, it’s early evening before we’re ready to eat again (although we do share a protein bar that I’ve randomly found at the bottom of my handbag). We’ve already stumbled across the Baltic Triangle by daylight (loving ya street art guys!) but my love of street food has us drawn for a nighttime visit to the Baltic Market. Located in a warehouse next to the Grade II listed Cains Brewery, the Baltic Market is home to 11 regular independent food vendors offering delicacies from fro-yo to parmo, falafel to bubble waffles, dirty burgers to wood-fired pizza. There’s a huge bar and plenty of bench seating, although a seat may be hard to find at peak times.
I often pick out my street food options based on the trader’s name, so De La Seoul was a shoe-in choice for me. As we wondered around the other vendors though I notice that a lot of dishes were already sold out even though it was only 8pm. Not sure if this is a regular occurrence or whether it had just been a particularly busy afternoon. My first choice dish at De La Seoul – the buttermilk fried chicken bao – was indeed no longer available. So instead I went for the BBQ Brisket Bulgogi Burger with pickles, kimchi mayo in a black sesame bun, and Mr Fletche opted for the Steak Bibimap Bowl – marinated steak with white rice, gochuang sauce, mushrooms and bean sprouts topped with a fried egg.
The buzzer system is a good idea, meaning that waiting customers aren’t hanging round the vendors and you can nip off to the bar or to find a seat. Digbeth Dining Club, take note. We wait around 10 minutes before our buzzer buzzes by which time we’ve found a barrel to perch at. In all honesty I’m a little underwhelmed by my burger – the pickles and sauce are good but the meat is nothing special and I’m always a bit wary of black buns. Mr Fletche enjoys his steak bowl but agrees that it’s not a dish he’d return to. Maybe we’re spoiled because of the top-notch street food we’re frequently offered at DDC but it’ll take a special dish to beat our local boys. Great vibe though, and the whole area would be fab to visit on a warm summers evening with several other quirky bars located close by.
(The Baltic Triangle is very much like our very own Digbeth – you can read more about eating, drinking and street art in Digbeth here!)
Baltic Market, Cains Brewery, Stanhope Street, Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, L8 5XJ. Website.
She knows what I like, that Elkie. Located just over the road from the Ship & Mitre, this is a more modern establishment and minimalist in its design. Clipboards on the wall give us a clue to the content on the 20 unlabelled taps. Like most good beer establishments, the beers come in thirds or two thirds according to their strength, and the knowledgeable bar staff are happy to give us advice and lets us have a sample.
There are a number of sours on the board, and I’m warned that the Cosmic Crush Cherry by Brewdog Overworks is in fact “very sour”. Just how I like it. Mr Fletche insists on trying it even though he hates a) fruity beers and b) sour beers. His face is akin to if he’s sucked a particularly sour Haribo. He sticks to a pale ale. We enjoy the vibe so much in here we stick around for a second round. Accompanied by pork scratchings. Unarguably the best ever beer accompaniment.
The Dead Crafty Beer Company, 92 Dale St, Liverpool L2 5TF. Facebook Page
Our time in Liverpool is all too short, but we have time for one more brunch. Love Thy Neighbour constantly came up on my Instagram feed when I searched “Liverpool Brunch”. Mainly due to their “Avocado is Bae” mural. Gotta love a highly instagrammable gimmick. Which I fell for hook, line and sinker. Their Bold Street venue has recently closed but luckily their Hatton Garden venue was much closer to our hotel. It’s a bit tucked away, and was thankfully quiet at 9:30am on a Sunday morning. I went all out full English (yes, hold the eggs – except they didn’t so Mr Fletche had extra eggs). Mr Fletche chose the smashed avocado on toast, possibly swayed by the not-so-subliminal messages. He’s hipster. I’m more greasy spoon. The food was perfectly cooked and I’m glad it lived up to the insta-hype.
Love Thy Neighbour, 3A Hatton Garden, Liverpool L3 2FE. Website
So there we have it. Two brunch recommendations, two great craft beer bars, a tapas restaurant and street food. You don’t need to know about the generic beer offerings in the Cavern (of which I managed to sink two pints in quick succession and emerged feeling a little woozy) or the final station drink at Wetherspoons whilst waiting for our train. There is so much choice in Liverpool, and you can find all the big chain bars and restaurants here but it’s definitely worth seeking out some of the local independents and hidden gems. Ask Google. Or Instagram. Or travel bloggers. Or Elkie.
So what are your favourite eating and drinking establishments in Liverpool? Where else is great for craft beer, gin, brunch, street food and sloppy burgers? And which other UK cities have a thriving independent scene that we can check out next? Let me know your suggestions!
Did you know this food and drink guide to Liverpool is also available as a GPS navigated app? To download this, and other Liverpool self-guided tours, please click here!