Proof That Iceland's Ring Road Is the World's Most Beautiful Road Trip
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.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.