Love Local: Liverpool
Hello foodies! This week Gemma from @morleysmunch spread the word of #lovelocal around the Instagram world. I love this idea and wanted to do something for it (even if I might be a little late to the party). Living in Liverpool has given me a whole new perspective on eating local and supporting the amazing independents that this city has to offer. Since moving here, I have absolutely loved exploring all the brilliant places that this city holds – it just never gets old! Therefore, it is only right that I should do a quick run through of some of the incredible independent businesses that I have enjoyed using during lockdown. I am going to cover them in no particular order and give them all a tums/5 rating, so you know exactly how good they are!
1. Belzan, Smithdown Road
Anyone who has been following my Instagram recently will see that I am always nipping over to Belzan to pick up some amazingly fresh and tasty supplies. The selection there is just so good, and you really can taste the quality. My personal favourites are the black pudding, sausages, tomatoes and padrón peppers. The black pudding in particular is a cut above the rest! It’s so peppery and full of flavour that even Lucy has become slightly addicted (having never really loved black pud before). The tomatoes also deserve particular praise for actually tasting of tomato – something that is very rare in England, especially in supermarkets. These ones really do taste of sunshine and immediately transport me to sunnier climes – pure bliss. A real bonus is that you can have a cheeky cocktail/coffee while you browse too! Belzan also have a range sauces, flavoured butter and even full meals which I am yet to try, but always look delicious!
2. Mr. Chilli, Seel Street
When you’re scouring through Deliveroo for your next Chinese, have a look for Mr. Chilli. For me, Chinese food can be a bit hit and miss, with so many options that it becomes daunting to pick one. This place is now my go-to, because I know that they do some epic dishes (and because Manna on Smithdown has been closed – this place does the best crispy beef!). From my experience, dishes with duck are often the way to go! Their crispy duck and pancakes is delicious and cheap enough to make a stingy bugger like me very happy! Luckily, they are not so stingy, and the portions are generous and tasty. My one caveat to that would be that they could give you a little of the greenery. In my flat, the dumplings have gone down a treat as well. And another duck-based highlight would be their ‘Chengdu Roast Duck’. I only had a taste of it, but it was sensational. Beautifully seasoned duck in a spicy broth is never going to be a bad thing, but this was next level. A dish to get every taste bud tingling! Sadly I never took a photo!
3. The Dark Kitchen Presents, Allerton Road
When I saw this on Deliveroo I got very over excited! These guys pioneered the multiple restaurants in one delivery idea in Liverpool and they are smashing it. You can choose from Miyagi (Pan Asian), Little White Lies (Italian), LUCHA LIBRE (Mexican – I couldn’t believe that this was back!), Lord of the Fries (Clues in the name), Take a Bao (Asian), Bae Burger (Veggie Burgers), Schweet! (Puddings) and Red Door (Cocktails). Basically, however fussy your housemates are, there will be something for EVERYONE! Personally, Lucha Libre is where I head to first because I miss being able to go to the actual restaurant since it closed. The tacos are bang on and about as authentic as I’ve found in the UK (the fish slightly suffers from travel but is still delicious) and the burritos are also really tasty! It helps that I have Valentina Salsa in my house, like they used to on their tables! The Take a Bao baos are applause worthy too. Both the hoisin duck and katsu chicken are exceptional, and I would love to try the rest of their range! I could go on about this brilliant initiative, but I’d prefer to leave it to you to try it out! If your experience is anything like mine, then you won’t be disappointed. The food is delicious, and you’ll feel great about supporting the range of local joints which are featured!
4. Elif, Various Locations but my nearest is Lark Lane
Elif is well-renowned throughout Liverpool and deservedly so! They do Turkish BBQ to an exceptional standard. For some reason, I rarely think to eat food like this, but when I do, I always love it! My order from here was no exception. I would advise the ‘Karasik’, which is a mixed grill selection for as many people as you want. We ordered for 3 (there were 4 of us) and added some mezze to make up the rest. When it arrived, we were ecstatic about the huge portion of sumptuously marinated, grilled meat. So big it did us two meals. It came with sauces and flatbreads to pimp it out and the unsung hero was definitely the rice. This was sent in the box, under the meat and did an incredible job of absorbing the delicious juices. I don’t want to be too hyperbolic, but it might well have been the best rice I have ever eaten. All in all, this is one of the best takeaways I have had in a very long time! It just made such a nice change from the usual suspects and felt slightly healthier, or at least more normal. The only small problem was that travel time affected the quality of sides like calamari – but you can’t really blame the restaurant for that!
5. Crust, Bold Street
If you’ve been in Liverpool for more than 10 minutes, you’ve probably heard of Crust, and for good reason. I have written about this place before and I am happy to mention it again! For me this has got to be one of the best value pizzas in the whole of the North West. It’s brilliant quality and I am always surprised at how cheap it is. The last time I ordered, I got wild mushrooms and added some Parma Ham because that’s always good. There’s endless choices and it’s all good so you know what to do! Also, if you haven’t had their deep-fried doughballs yet then get on it!
6. Maggie Fu, Smithdown Road
Maggie Fu is another one that needs no introduction for most Scousers. Their phone seems to be constantly off the hook because everyone wants to get Fu’d (get it???). When I am eating in, I normally order their ramen, but for the takeaway I went for Katsu with fried rice. This was a pretty good choice, as basic as it sounds. After a long day of beers in Sefton Park, the saltiness really hit the spot, and the spicy sweetness is always addictive. The only issue here was that the fried rice combo became a bit too salty by the end. In an ideal world I’d get half steamed, half fried (can you do this?). I’m going to stop there though because this is a very minor criticism and Maggie Fu is too good to criticise much! If you can make it through to order, you know you’ve got to do it!
7. Baltic Market, Stanhope Street
Baltic Market reopened recently to the delight of everyone in Liverpool (or at least those within the coveted 2-mile radius – BOOM I just snuck in!). In true food obsessed style, we ordered from Baltic as soon as we could. Between us, we got a little over excited, ordering from Eat Up Gud, Beef on the Block, Patterson’s, Little Korea and Little Furnace. This was definitely excessive, but it was also ingenious. My jerk chicken stew from Eat Up Gud was really, well, gud, but not for the faint-hearted. It must’ve had plenty of Scotch Bonnets in it to give it a beautiful heated kick. The steak, chips and gravy from Beef on the Block was another highlight. It wasn’t the most tender piece of meat in the world, but it was really tasty and well-seasoned – sometimes tenderness isn’t everything. The chips were beautifully crispy with fluffy centres, and the gravy was top-notch.
For some reason, Patterson’s has never quite done it for me, but I thought I’d give it another go. Whilst I did enjoy it, I was not blown away by my chicken pieces. They were lovely and tender but lacked the punchy flavour and crispiness that would make them exceptional. However, team them up with the aforementioned gravy, and suddenly you are onto a winner! Next, I must shout out Little Korea because they produced the first Asian-style dumplings that I have ever enjoyed. Lucy always loves dumplings, but normally I think they are a bit ‘meh’ at best. These ones were in another league though. They had a lovely crispy texture and a deliciously meaty filling made entirely of vegetables. The sweet chilli dipping sauce which they came with was also delectable and rounded off an epic bite-sized flavour bonanza. Finally, we have the ever-reliable Little Furness. Their half Margherita, half cheesy garlic bread was always going to be a winner and it didn’t disappoint! I have said before that I think these guys make the best pizza in Liverpool, and I stand by that opinion. They are a bit more expensive than their competitors, but you know why when you eat their food. I would suggest ordering solely from them if you fancy a pizza night! In the Baltic setting, they are a great way to get some exquisite bulk into the equation – something we definitely did not need on this occasion…
So, there you have it, my little list of Liverpool’s lovable locals. Perhaps none of these are ground-breaking discoveries for most Liverpudlians, but they are all great places that deserve high praise and recognition! If you know of some other awesome places that I have missed out on this list, comment below so I can try them out! There has never been a more important time to support our locals, so if you do have the time and money to do so then go for it. I know that if any city will do this, it will be Liverpool, and this is something I have loved about moving here. Nowhere has more pride in its local businesses, and with the quality of places like the above, you can understand why!
Yours in food,