Smithdown Road… it’s just students and takeaways isn’t it? Well no.
There’s something about Smithdown at the minute. Something more than a skinful in the Brookhouse (though we’ve all left a piece of our heart, and possibly our dignity in there over the years…), something properly exciting. Smithdown has long been blessed with a handful of great places: Dafna’s for cake masterpieces, Tribeca for outstanding pizza, The Tavern for an award-winning start to the day and spice from unassuming Thai Kitchen that makes you salivate and sweat in equal measures.
Over the past 12 months the food and drink scene on Smithdown has exploded with crowdfunded restaurants, co-operative cafes and independents with local links. With the Smithdown Road Festival returning bigger and better than ever in May, The Midnight Delivery about to open a desserts bar and rumours that city-centre favourite LEAF is moving in soon, there’s never been a better time to jump on the 86.
Here’s some of our current Smithdown favourites:
The vibe in Belzan is unlike anywhere else in the city – two parts hip Berlin bistro, one part vibrant Smithdown. Opened by the guys behind Filter and Fox it serves tasty seasonal small plates (smoked eel, barbecued cabbage, rabbit ravioli), natural wines and great cocktails. Belzan is fun and welcoming, it was crowdfunded by locals and it feels like the neighbourhood has really embraced it – we think you will too.
It looks more like a place you’d get your keys cut rather than half cut, but behind the unlikely exterior of the Handymans Supermarket lies a micro-brewery and a massive space to enjoy their outstanding wares. As well as excellent ales (try the Handyman Porter, you won’t be disappointed) this cavernous place hosts live music, comedy nights and a monthly arts and crafts market.
Not tried a Little Furnace pizza at a pop-up event? Where have you been? These two local lads have been serving up Neapolitan masterpieces far and wide from their wood-fired oven and they’ve generated a loyal following. A loyal following who can now get a pizza the action whenever they want it thanks to the permanent home they’ve secured on Smithdown. Pop in for simple pizzas cooked to perfection.
Next door to Little Furnace (you can bring your pizza in with you if you like…) you’ll find the Craft Taproom, a dive bar with an encyclopaedic array of good beer at very reasonable prices. When you team that with great quizzes, boss burgers, kitchen takeovers and live music from the likes of Loose Moose and Silent Sleep, there’s no wonder this place is so popular. Their vegan markets are also ace.
Naked Lunch is a co-operative café owned by 45 people from all walks of life that came together after the owner of the previous Café Kerouac fell ill. A true community cafe, it’s a cracking bet for a heart-warming breakfast, awesome cakes and great coffee – the vegan and gluten free options are bang on here too.
Evil Eye Burrito Bar
Evil Eye is the kind of place you could pop into for a lunch and roll out wondering where the day went. The good thing is that a wrap full of glazed pork shoulder, spicy halloumi or banging chicken is the perfect preparation for one Pacifico leading to another. Look out for gigs, slightly chaotic musical bingo and other events here… often for a good cause because under the façade of evil these guys are all heart.
Friends Kebab Shop
Now, no visit to Smithdown Road (especially after all those beers) is complete without a visit to Friends Kebab Shop. Maybe it’s the beer but watching the handmade Naan breads be stretched and cooked in seconds before your very eyes makes the room spin. But in a really good way. For us, this is one of the best kebabs in the whole of Liverpool. Please put their homemade chilli sauce on sparingly.
We could have gone on and mentioned lots more but hopefully you get the idea. There’s something special happening at Smithdown Road – go get involved.
Words by Angela Barlow