I’ve spent the last three years of my life living in Liverpool as a student, and choosing to move there was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even though I’ve grown up in the South of England, the North beats it hands down if you ask me; the weather may be awful but the people are wicked and it has so much more to offer (hello, 24 hour Greggs?). Obviously London is incredible but otherwise there’s not much to satisfy a city girl down here. Liverpool is such a vibrant, friendly place full of Northern charm that welcomes everybody, and I’m going to tell you why I’ve loved calling it my second home for the last three years…
The thing that first attracted me to Liverpool was the perception I had of it being such a musical city, and I wasn’t wrong. Music is a massive part of Liverpool’s history and culture… after all, they birthed the biggest band of all time, and they’re not about to let you forget it. Homage is paid to the fab four all around the city, from life size statues to aptly named cocktails. The Albert Dock offers the ultimate Magical Mystery Tour, a two hour bus ride around all things Beatles in the city, whilst the Cavern Quarter celebrates the swinging sixties and the iconic music scene that emerged from Liverpool in the decade. The gratuitous Beatles themed bars, pubs, and tribute bands in the Cavern Quarter are both cheesy and fun in equal measure, but if they’re a bit much for you then make sure you at least visit the Cavern Club itself. It’s less in your face and still serves as a really cool bar and venue, with loads of old merchandise and sixties artefacts on display. The Scouse are hugely proud of their musical heritage, and they have every right to be. Nowadays it’s still a pretty musical city. Even though the famous Kazimier club closed down last year *sob* there are still plenty of venues around the city that regularly host all kinds of gigs.
I can’t talk about any place without discussing its food, and having spent three years eating my way around Liverpool I feel safely qualified to offer my verdict on the best places to eat in the city. There are so many great independents in Liverpool that you don’t need to eat in chain restaurants and I’ve tried to avoid doing so (apart from the odd Nandos) to be able to try as many different places as possible! One of my favourite streets is Bold Street; walk down here and you’ll be presented with such an array of different cuisines that you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are Jamaican, Japanese, Indian, Moroccan, Lebanese, American, Italian and French restaurants to name just a few, and even somewhere to try a traditional bowl of scouse. The street also has a varied mix of charity and vintage shops, a couple of secondhand record shops and an amazing radical left-wing bookshop called News From Nowhere. Getting back to food though, my favourite on the street is Mowgli, a wonderful Indian restaurant that serves authentic street food in a tapas style, i.e. small portions of curries and other Indian dishes that you mix and match together. It’s one of the best places I’ve ever eaten, and the yoghurt chat bombs are to die for.
Just around the corner from Bold Street, on Parr Street, is Almost Famous, the worst kept secret in Liverpool. I think everybody in Liverpool has been to sample their burgers by now, and they more than live up to the hype. If you go there try the River Phoenix – it has actual Frazzles on and is smothered in AF’s own creation ‘baconnaise’: as good as it sounds. One more place worth mentioning is Slim’s Pork Chop Express, a tiny gem on Seel Street that specialises in smoked meats and serves them to you on a big tray that really encourages you to embrace your inner pig. Also the decor is really cool, there are references everywhere to Big Trouble in Little China and the bill is given to you in the DVD case (I’m a sucker for novelty). I could go on forever about where to eat in Liverpool but I’ll refrain… however if you want more recommendations you should check out Independent Liverpool for the definitive list of the city’s best independent eateries. Almost Famous
Slim’s Pork Chop Express
The majority of visitors to Liverpool probably come at the weekend to experience its nightlife. The city’s range of bars, pubs and clubs is totally diverse and has something for every taste, and the fact that the city centre is so compact means that everything is in a convenient walking distance, so there’s no need to taxi about all night. The first port of call for most newbies is Concert Square, although many true Scousers *claim* to steer well clear of it due to the swarms of hen and stag parties, students, and just general wools (look it up) that overrun it every weekend. Snobbery aside, Concert Square is a good laugh and the place to go if you want dancing all night and cheap drinks deals, plus the middle of the square has a huge outdoor seating area which is perfect for a daytime drink and always packed out in summer. Just behind Concert Square is the smaller, edgier, Seel Street, my personal preference for a night out in the city. Whilst Concert Square mainly consists of clubs, Seel Street is made up of quirky bars that have a much more chilled out feel, although the downside is that these are notably more expensive. If you want to keep partying until the next morning then head down to the Stanley Street Quarter, the city’s main LGBT area, where some clubs stay open until 8am. This is where you’ll find the famous Garlands nightclub on Eberle Street, which everyone goes nuts over for some reason. If you like house music, being too cramped to move on the dancefloor, and waiting 25 minutes at the bar then I’m sure you’ll love it but I personally don’t get the fuss. If you don’t, then here are a few alternatives, and five of my favourite places to drink in Liverpool:
Salt Dog Slim’s – 79 Seel Street
Not just my favourite bar in Liverpool, my favourite bar ever, and the place I miss most in the city! It’s small and may not look like much but they play the best music, usually starting with the likes of Arctic Monkeys/Biffy Clyro/The Strokes etc. with everyone up dancing to Teenage Dirtbag or Stacy’s Mom by closing time. Plus they serve amazing hot dogs all night!
Santa Chupitos – 41 Slater Street
A cocktail bar run by the same guys as Salt Dog Slim’s – who also run the aforementioned Slim’s Pork Chop Express, Santa Maluco pizzeria and the tiny El Bandito tequila bar, all seriously cool, unique ventures. Similarly great music here but with more hip hop thrown in the mix. Try the 5 dollar shake – a delicious vodka/ice cream combination.
Kazimier Garden – 4/5 Wolstenholme Square
An outdoor bar with a festival feel; regular live music, great beer and a mouthwatering barbeque. The garden also erects temporary makeshift indoor areas with cosy fireplaces during the winter months. Picture by @kazimiergarden Instagram
The Krazy House – 16 Wood Street
THE place to reconnect with your inner emo/scene kid. A 3 floor alternative nightclub with metal downstairs, emo and pop-punk on the middle floor, and dance and indie upstairs. Your shoes and clothes may never look the same after you leave, but where else can you dance to Korn and My Chemical Romance whilst getting 2 for 1 on all drinks??
Camp and Furnace – 67 Greenland Street
Camp and Furnace is unlike anywhere else I know; a multi purpose warehouse space that holds gigs, does the best Sunday roast, and hosts ‘food slams’ at the weekend which entail music, alcohol, and street food stalls. It also has a gigantic fanpark that shows every Liverpool and Everton match with the best atmosphere and biggest screen in the city.
I realise this post has gone on a while now, but I can’t finish without mentioning the one thing that truly sets Liverpool apart from any other city – everyone that lives there. Scousers are the warmest, friendliest, and most down to earth bunch of people, and the Scouse sense of humour is totally infectious. They make any visitor to the city feel so welcome, and are the reason why so many (like me) never want to leave. For a big city Liverpool has a real sense of community, which is down to everybody there being so proud to call it home. I’ve been away for a few months now and I miss it so much, especially when I hear that accent, or see a Scouse brow or grey trackie bottom…
Liverpool, you’ve stolen my heart, and I can’t wait to come back one day as a full time Liver Bird.