Guide

The Coolest Restaurants in Liverpool

Looking for bare bricks, parquet wood flooring, dangly filament light bulbs, scandi chairs, clipboard menus, hip staff in trainers, chefs in flatcaps… you get the point. Here’s some of the most interesting and hip places to eat in Liverpool.

  • 19 Book Now Liverpool

    Wreckfish

    Modern British

    Liverpool seems like an appropriate place for the closest thing to the restaurant-as-socialist collective. Wreckfish was funded by the people, 1,522 enthusiasts who raised the record-breaking £200,000 required, via a crowdfunding website. Accordingly, it has the feel of a place for the many, not the few. Gary Usher’s fourth restaurant, and counting, generates a warmth that somehow manages to radiate down the road. As you approach, past the huddle of no-messing black-clad bouncers and the grim bouquets for a young murder victim, there it is, on the corner of Slater Street, glowing like the farmhouse light that guides the lost on a cold and lonely night. Inside the 19th century watchmaker’s factory it’s all brick and wood, softly lit, homely and hospitable, the old building’s raw materials displayed to their best advantage: solid and reassuring. Staff have an energy that’s infectious and a calm assurance that belies their youth. Patrons span the generations but there are more than a few hirsute hipsters in search of something a little more grown up than the usual dirty burgers and burritos to nest in their beards. At Wreckfish, there’s no glitz, no pretence, no big I am, just a warm welcome and bistro food prepared to a standard that’s pretty much guaranteed to make this everyone’s favourite city centre restaurant.

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    Salt House Bacaro

    European

    Passionate about Venetian small plates. Akin to the backstreet Venetian tapas bars which inspired this central Liverpool bar and restaurant, there is something about Salt House Bacaro that makes you never want to leave. Part of Paddy Smith’s Red and Blue group, the team behind Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social, Bacaro is all about cicchetti: diminutive small plates, perfectly formed. The menu shifts with the seasons and availablity but favourites include goats cheese pearls with honey and walnuts, mixed Italian meats (Coppa di Parma ham, bresaola and fennel salam or slow cooked lamb with pecorino. Choose from a clutch of pizzettes, and Stornoway black pudding with chicken livers in a marsala sauce. King scallop could be served in their shells, while aperitivo include various takes on negroni and Bellini. Timeless good times on tap.

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    Maray

    European

    Irresistible Middle Eastern fusion small plates – a slow burning smash hit. Inspired by (and named after) the Middle-Eastern flavours of Paris’ Marais district, Maray provides an informal, communal dining experience which revolves around excellent falafels, small plates, fine wines and cocktails. Courtesy of a young team (including Dom Jones, Tom White and James Bates), attention to detail is spot on. In particular, there’s a sizeable vegetarian offering, which could includes hummus, muhammara, confit squash with ginger, harissa-pickled eggs, and pumpkin arancini with brie and a fresh rhubarb chutney. In reference to its cosmopolitan namesake, the fish and meat plates feature modern European staples shot through with eastern colour; monkfish cheeks with Aleppo aioli, or smoked ham with fennel, date syrup and Egyptian spices. The interior explores the possiblities offered by wrought iron, exposed brickwork and pendulous LED lighting. They bake all their own Persian bread in house, and together with new sister venues in Allerton, Maray is a hipsters’ favourite. Finish off at the bar with a marmalade-infused house whiskey sour, or Agent Cooper – a bittersweet concoction of vodka, Patron XO, Frangelico and bitter chocolate.

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    Belzan

    European

    Following a punchy review by Confidential’s Deanna Thomas – and, latterly, the Guardian’s Grace Dent – it has been hard to secure a table at Liverpool’s maverick newcomer Belzan. The self-described ‘neo-bistro’ opened in 2018, the baby of a £20,000 Kickstarter campaign by the owners of Duke Street cocktail emporium Filter and Fox. As such, wines and cocktails are carefully curated while small plates are handled by ex-Maray chef Sam Grainger. The menu could include fish skins with harissa, BBQ savoy cabbage, butter beans with beef dashi and parsley cream, and calves liver with everything (PX sherry, pancetta, Parmesan, truffle and more). The house secreto successfully pairs delicate Iberico pork with date, mustard fruit and caramelised cauliflower while puddings such as tonka bean rice pudding or bergamot sorbet round things off with more trademark punch. Given all the excitement on the plate, the white-washed walls, wood tables and navy blocks feels calm by contrast.

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  • 14 Book Now Liverpool

    Roski

    Modern British

    Wild child of a restaurant from the former Michelin star winning Masterchef winner. Roski may well bring Liverpool it’s first Michelin star, thanks to the balls-out cooking of former MasterChef: The Professionals winner, Anton Piotrowski. Gracious in joint victory with Keri Moss, he substantiated his credentials at Devon’s Treby Arms pub earning a Michelin star after being told it could never happen. His Liverpool restaurant takes on the former Pushka site and it’s a simple, elegant space. White tablecloths and gentle lighting places the focus firmly on the food. Food-wise, choose from a selection of five and seven course tasting menus, littered with invention. Dishes include shards of dehydrated carrot flecked with Thai flavours, and Piotrowski’s take on Liverpool’s signature dish, scouse, here taking the form of a tower topped with crisped fermented turnip, sprinkled with parsley dust, a layer of smoked vegetables, locally bred beef brisket aged for 100 days, infused with Norwegian spices and caramelised onion and served with beef knuckle marrow gravy. Tiny, crisp ants are served with the seared scallop, and names are fun too: Olympic Breakfast, for example and Piotroski’s Gone Carrots (his Masterchef winning dish), actually a take carrot cake, presented in a tiny plastic flowerpot, with crumbly chocolate soil and a real baby carrot. Dig into the soft, light carroty sponge for layers of cream. Wines are worldly. Thrilling stuff.

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    The Pen Factory

    Mediterranean

    The Pen Factory specialises in the kind of Middle East-meets-Spanish creations you’ll fine at Volta or The Refuge in Manchester, where small plates are par for the course. From broad bean and kikone bar snacks to Southport potted shrimps ‘Spanish’ chip butties, spiced harissa slices and duck ragout with orzo, everything is reasonable priced, perfectly presented and made for sharing. This is food to enjoy with friends – much as it was at owner Paddy Byrne’s previous outfit, the Everyman bistro – and you can feel the love in the drinks list too. The pleasingly compact collection resides strictly in the realm of enjoyment; German Rieslings, fashionable tkakolis and a cluster of French bottles, chosen with care. There’s an award-winning selection of regional and national craft beers on offer too. Looks-wise expect all the accoutrements you expect of a contemporary bar/restaurant in the provinces: open kitchen, exposed ducts, chairs, that sort of thing. Atmosphere abounds, and it even has its own secret garden. The very definition of a hidden gem.

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