Best coffee (and cocktail) shop:
Filter + FoxAddress and Info
This all-day number ticks every box: start off your day with coffee, order a couple small plates (like homemade granola, or a bacon sandwich), have a few drinks, make some friends, and next thing you know it's been 24 hours and you're ordering breakfast again. The sharing plates menu also deserves a mention, letting you pick three tasty treats to share with a friend (like grilled haloumi with harissa hummus or parsnips with chestnut puree).
Best meal challenges:
Rack & DollarAddress and Info
With over 70 whiskies, massive projectors showing every sport imaginable, and live bands, this cleaned-up dive is all about embracing Americana. In addition to the neon signs and comfortable Chesterfields, this place has some seriously absurd food challenges: case in point, the 54321 burger challenge (five patties, four toppings, three cheeses, two salads, one bun), or the equally ridiculous five-pound nacho challenge. If loud games of pool, American booze, and overindulgence are what you're after, this is the place to be.
Best restaurant with a gin collection:
Cedar Gin & FireAddress and Info
Despite being a mere 25 years old, chef Josh Moore is pushing the palettes of his fellow Liverpudlians with inspired takes on British classics (like mackerel with samphire and gooseberry). The menu's updated daily, with an emphasis on seasonality and sustainable farming practices, but this place is known as much for its gin as its eats: be sure to check the impressive collection menu, which comes complete with a selection of different tonic recommendations.
The MonroAddress and Info
Cited as Liverpool’s first gastropub, the Monro has managed to walk that line between affordable and sophisticated, all the while keeping the food as delicious as possible. Armed with a kitchen that's constantly adding new dishes to the menu, like King Scallops with caramelized rhubarb & hazelnuts, as well as pint prices that won’t leave you penniless, it's no surprise this place is pretty much always busy. Be sure to make a booking, and settle in for the long haul when you arrive.
Best place to impress:
The London Carriage WorksAddress and Info
With exposed bricks and beams, not to mention the occasional rockstar sauntering through the dining room, this restaurant housed in the Hope Street Hotel can be quite a scene. The food is blindingly good, with authentic and familiar flavors like roast duck with black cherries, port, and walnut, and there's a great afternoon tea service for when you have to put on a show for mum.
Best laid-back local:
The QuarterAddress and Info
The Quarter styles itself as “Italian-inspired,” and it stays true to that moniker with a menu full of stone-baked pizzas and gorgeous pastas, excellent coffee and tea, and a well-rounded wine list -- there's even a deli that's ideal for grab-and-go. Beyond the food, though, the main attraction here is the overall casual vibe: make sure to grab a table outside if the weather's decent.
Best themed diner:
Death Row Dive & DinerAddress and Info
Get ready to go to jail -- not in the lock and key sense, but in a "stuff your face with burgers and nachos in a place that resembles a cartoon version a cell block" sense. The walls are emblazoned with mugshots and feature telephones, presumably to say goodbye to your loved ones when you sense the oncoming food coma from your "One Eight Seven" burger. Although some might think the whole thing is in poor taste, it’s all very tongue in cheek and provides an amusing talking point (when you’re not busy stuffing your face).
Best meal you'll eat in a repurposed Victorian home:
The PhilharmonicAddress and Info
This old-school pub has become a bit of an institution, housed inside an ornate Victorian building with plenty of dark wood, stained glass windows, and crazy loos. Cheap and reliable fare like classic fish & chips and burgers draw in a mixed crowd, but everyone's generally in good spirits -- even when this place gets rammed to the gills with concertgoers from nearby Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
Yuet BenAddress and Info
As previously stated, Liverpool is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, with many restaurants offering various levels of "the real deal." This old-school spot, family-owned and operated by the founder's daughter, has been around since the ‘60s, and really has it going on with delicious spare ribs, chicken dumplings, and cracktastic prawn toast. Yuet Ben's got a bit of a cult following, so do yourself a favor and join in.
Best place for sharing:
MarayAddress and Info
With aesthetics that would fit Shoreditch or Brooklyn, this bustling place is as much fashion as it is function, but while you'll find yourself adrift in a sea of pretty faces, it's the small plates that deserve the most attention here. The menu has veggie, meat, and fish options, and sharing is sort of baked into the process, so you'll wanna coordinate with your dining companions to make sure you're covering as much ground as possible. Stock up on pork cutlets with peas and pistachios, broccoli with cheese and hazelnuts, or buttermilk chicken thighs with honey harissa.
On second thought, maybe just order one of everything.
Panoramic 34Address and Info
Here’s the thing about places with awesome views: they generally let everything else slide because no one is actually paying attention. Panoramic 34 went the complete opposite direction, with a dazzling tasting menu and a la carte options as well (like wild sea bass, beef fillet, and herb crusted rack of lamb). Needless to say, this place can get pretty busy, so do yourself a favour and book ahead.
Best paint job:
PuschkaAddress and Info
With pretty much all of its ingredients sourced from as nearby as possible, this elevated neighborhood spot has been quietly winning awards over the past couple years, building a well-deserved following who come in for dishes like monkfish with five-spice, paprika, and an apple & tarragon vinaigrette, plus a whole slew of daily specials. Small-yet-mighty Puschka is still proudly family-owned, putting extra attention into little details like the brightly colored walls, dim purple lighting, and super-friendly service.
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1. Filter + Fox27 Duke St, Liverpool
2. Rack & Dollar27-35 Berry St, Liverpool
3. Cedar Gin & Fire62 Duke St, Liverpool
4. The Monro92 Duke Street, Liverpool
5. The Quarter7-11 Falkner Street, Liverpool
6. Death Row Diner32 Hope Street, Liverpool
7. The Philharmonic Pub and Dining Rooms36 Hope St., Liverpool
8. The London Carriage Works40 Hope St, Liverpool
9. Maray91 Bold St, Liverpool
10. Yuet Ben1 Upper Duke Street, Liverpool
11. Panoramic 34 RestaurantWest Tower, Brook St, Liverpool
12. Puschka16 Rodney St, Liverpool
Billing itself as a "cafe, bar, hideout," Filter + Fox is a dark, hip bar in the center of Liverpool made for lingering over drinks with friends. It's an all-day kind of place, one that serves coffee and breakfast in the morning, then seamlessly transitions to cocktails and small plates at night. The food definitely helps, with a curated menu of classic sandwiches and vegetarian snacks feeding patrons throughout the day. The cocktail list is an eclectic mix of old-fashioned fizzes and flips and entirely new cocktails, each one crafted with care by the dedicated bar staff.
Liverpool's premiere American-themed bar, Rack & Dollar has everything you need to party like a Yankee. There are over 70 American whiskeys, bottled American beers, and some of the best foods from the former Colony coming out of the kitchen. The bar's signature Sailor Jerry's ribs combine two American favorites (rum and barbeque) into one dish, and other Southern flavors are all over this classic bar food menu. To complete the illusion you're in the USA, the bar is full of US-style dollar pool tables (and UK ones, just in case), and a private room dominated by a portrait of Muhammad Ali is available for groups and parties.
The relatively young chef, Josh Moore, in charge of Liverpool's Cedar Gin & Fire is exciting his fellow Liverpudlians with new twists on British classics, adding unexpected but delicious flavors to favorites like roast fish and oxtail. Cedar changes their menu almost daily to take advantage of whatever is freshest and most in-season at that moment, so every time you go to this hidden gem it's a different experience. Locals visit not only for the food, but for the eponymous Gin—with dozens of boutique varieties of the liquor and a selection of house-made tonics, you can mix up a unique drink to fit your meal every time.
The Monro, which proudly identifies as Liverpool's first gastropub (a bar that places equal emphasis on cuisine), has lunch, dinner and tasting menus that offer incredible selections of artisan breads, fish, steaks, pastas and desserts at affordable prices. If you want to skip the meal (although it'd be insulting if you did) and get straight to drinking, this spot's got a beer garden with excellent pint prices and and even better offering of gin cocktails.
The Quarter, rightfully located in Liverpool's Georgian Quarter, is an independent Italian restaurant and bakery. It isn't the food, albeit locally sourced and highly acclaimed, that makes this spot a must visit (it's exactly what's expected of an Italian restaurant of this caliber — pasta, steak and seafood dishes and a selection of stone-baked pizzas). Instead, it's the delightfully quirky yet romantic setting that sets it apart with its bright green and yellow walls, fresh-baked bread lining the windows and cozy leather booths.
This dive in the Georgian Quarter is Liverpool's strange yet beautiful, prison-inspired answer to the American '50s diner. Every dark room in Death Row looks, more or less, like a jail cell (mugshots and pay phones adorn the walls) while still maintaining the vibe of a "normal" diner (tiled walls, red neon-light art). Thankfully, food options here are more plentiful and far superior to those of an actual prison's (see: specialty burgers and chicken sandwiches, wings, all-day breakfast and the cocktail menu of your dreams).
The Philharmonic Pub is everything you'd want and expect from an old-school English pub. Its housed inside a Victorian-era building in central Liverpool, serves traditional English tea and pub grub, and at night becomes host to a rowdy crowd of concertgoers (from the Royal Liverpool Harmonic Orchestra venue across the street) looking to try its mass selection of international beer and spirits. This place has been around since the 1800s, and its interior — decked out in stained glass, wood paneling, worn leather seating and chandeliers — hasn't changed much since.
Beneath Hope Street Hotel in the Georgian Quarter, The London Carriage Works delivers European cuisine entirely from Northeastern England farms and wineries. Menus — ranging from breakfast to afternoon tea to daytime and evening a la carte — offer staples such as the full English breakfast, large platters (for two) of veggies, meats, seafood or cheese, and a barrage of mains including fish and chips, pork cutlets and duck breast, to name merely a few. An excellent date spot (see: sharing platters), this restaurant oozes romantic ambiance (reminiscent of the late '90s) with its open brick walls, low lighting and deep-red leather furnishing.
Ropewalks' Maray serves small plates and cocktails. Here, sharing is caring: The menu is catered specifically to groups of 3-6, and it's recommended that everyone at the table order two or three plates. The spot has one all-day menu (which changes seasonally), and its chock full of meat, fish and veggie options such as lamb, mackerel and falafel. A dozen wine options are offered from very corner of the globe, and modern takes on classic cocktails (the beetroot and hibiscus gin and tonic, for example) make this open, rustic restaurant perfect for intimate group celebrations.
Liverpool is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, and Yuet Ben is one of the city's cult favorites for Chinese food. This family-owned spot, on the edge of Ropewalks and the Georgian Quarter, has been around since 1968 and prides itself on its Northern Chinese roots. If you're only ordering for yourself, nothing on the menu here will set you back more than 12 bucks, and your options from both the regular and vegetarian menus — the expected array of dumplings, noodles, pork, beef and chicken — are practically endless.
This spot atop West Tower is (no pun intended) at the height of luxury. With a stunning view of River Mersey and the Liverpool skyline, you can feast on a traditional English tea (finger sandwiches and assorted pastries), take a pick from fresh mains (shoulder of lamb, hake, roast pork) at lunch or fill up with small selections (pork belly, scallops, beef fillet) from the tasting menu as you sip on one of Panoramic's many champagne options.
Located in the heart of Liverpool's historic Georgian quarter, Puschka is is a family-owned joint that places heavy emphasis on fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Both the early evening menu and a la carte menu change seasonally, but you should always expect to find cheese directly from Liverpool Cheese Co., a slew of delectable mains (monkfish, lamb and pork chop) and dessert puddings. Despite its upscale menu, this spot's humble eating space (complete with purple walls, purple lighting and black, victorian wall decor) maintains a sleek yet lighthearted atmosphere.