Megan Walsh tells us why L15 is the coolest place in South Liverpool
When you think of South Liverpool, your thoughts often drift to Sefton Park, Penny Lane and Woolton Village. But before you go racing down to the leafy suburbs on your electric scooter, let’s take a minute to throw some love at Smithdown.
From Mediterranean cocktails at The Barn, to Korean street food at Love Kimchi, it's the world on one street
Teetering on the edge of Allerton Road, this area is Liverpool’s own diamond in the rough and there’s much more here than meets the eye. Set aside your hazy memories of the 86 night bus, burger-snatching seagulls and playing Frogger to cross the road - Smithdown has evolved into the city’s most up and coming neighbourhood with a vibe to rival Lark Lane, and cheaper too.
It’s moved on since the days as a student-only part of town. The ‘Smithdown Ten’ pub crawl was legendary of course, but gradually fizzled out as boozers closed down, with last orders rung when The Mulliner was demolished in 2013. Today, you’ve still got The Willow Bank, The Brook House and Kelly’s Dispensary, three cracking traditional pubs, plus newer venues like Evil Eye, Handyman and The Black Cat, who have given Smithdown’s social scene a much-needed boost.
Previously Craft Taproom, the Black Cat is also one of the main venues at Smithdown Festival, and this year's event has expanded to include several indoor stages and an outdoor event at Sefton Park Cricket Club. Will it live up to that Turbowolf gig at Craft in 2018? We have high hopes.
Smithdown has a hugely-diverse multicultural community that’s reflected in the range of restaurants, shops, cafes and pubs. From Mediterranean cocktails at The Barn, to Korean street food at Love Kimchi, it's the world on one street. In fact, we’re thinking about starting a new Smithdown Ten just for food. But let’s save that for another day.
Read on for the best places to eat, drink and hang out in Smithdown.
Coffee and cake - Nomad
What did we do before Nomad? Opening its doors in the depths of Lockdown #1, this new kid on the block burst on the scene at the time we needed it most. Every Saturday we’d queue for one of those vegan buns: feasting on doughy endorphins to help us get through another week in crisis. In its short year of business, the white-washed coffee shop and its impressive mob of plants has earnt quite a following amongst locals. Come here for a coffee or get straight on the hard stuff - there are all sorts of wines to be tried.
Date night - Belzan
If you’re looking to impress, it’s got to be Belzan. This little blue gem is as relaxed as you like, but it’s got that certain "je ne sais quoi" you just won’t find anywhere else in this part of town. Belzan's food earned it a place in the 2020 Good Food Guide and you'll also find it featured in our Confidential Guides. The mood at this neighbourhood bistro and wine bar is just the right mix of chic and chill, so there’ll be 10 good partner points if you manage to book a table here on date night. The menus change seasonally but expect exceptionally good small plates and a whopping wine list to boot.
Real ale - Handyman
An on-site brewery and one of the best beer selections around, this inconspicuous little hideaway is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to a good pint. It’s an unassuming old place – once a supermarket for DIY bits and bobs – but once you’re inside it’s a TARDIS of good tidings with top notch booze, live music and even the odd cinema night.
Cheap eats - Little Furnace
It was February 2013 when two friends, Ryan and Peter, took a trip to Palermo, Sicily and on a slightly drunken evening, stumbled into a pizzeria serving Neapolitan style pizza. The rest is history. Little Furnace is one of the best places in town for proper wood-fired pizza. From a classic margherita to the smoking hot “Sicilian Death Wish”, the pizza here is soft with a fluffy crust, just as it should be. It’s a bijou place, with only four tightly packed booths, so you’ll be lucky to get a table. But it will all be worth the wait once you do. No frills, just proper Napoletana-style pizza.
Cocktails - Tribeca
Don’t kill yourself walking all the way to Allerton for a decent cocktail. Preserve your energy and get to Tribeca instead. One of Smithdown’s original haunts, the New York-style pizzeria has a good-sized courtyard for meet-ups and will do you right whatever the occasion. Cocktails will cost you no more than £8 a go, and if you’re in the market for a weekday bevvy you’ll get any two for £12. Fill your boots and don’t forget to bring your appetite because the pizza is pretty good too.
Shopping - Defend Vinyl
If you’re after some new vinyl, look for the bright yellow corner at the top of the road. It’s a musical wonderland, stocking everything from funk, jazz emo and soul, and the place to go if you want to add to your collection. Owner Graham Jones is a walking encyclopedia of music and only too happy to wax lyrical about the latest releases or collectibles. They've recently launched their own record label too - their first vinyl release from Silent Sleep is available now from Bandcamp.
Takeaway - Friends Kebabs
No neighbourhood round-up would be complete without a nod to Friends Kebabs. The most renowned takeaway in the city, Friends will always be there for you, and comes with a cult-like following, its loyal patrons travelling far and wide for a doner kebab or special naan. It’s a saviour for the drunk times, the hungover times, and all those other times in between. The mixed kebab with lamb, chicken and doner is truly a thing of beauty. If you know, you know – and if you don’t, well, I think you’d better get yourself down there.
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