Photo Credit: Baltic Market
Food halls started in the 1800s, when pushcarts crowded city streets, making them difficult for vendors to navigate. Across Europe, this evolved into indoor marketplaces where vendors sold everything from meals to spices and produce. Though these food halls faded away for a long time, the advent of food trucks reignited the market for authentic ethnic foods prepared on the spot by independent owners.
Enter, the next generation of food halls, which are trending especially well in Liverpool. Once seen as part of urban revitalisation, food halls have spread everywhere, offering ethnic cuisines, comfort food, novelties and even fine dining. These are among the best food halls in Britain — all right in Liverpool.
Grand Central Food Bazaar
The Grand Central Food Bazaar, at 35 Renshaw Street, opened in July 2018 in a refurbished Art Nouveau building with a bustling past. In 1905 it served as a cinema and temporary home to the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. It evolved into a nightclub in the 1990s, and in 2006, it became home to former vendors of the defunct Quiggins Centre market. The domed part of the space has been a performance venue since 2011, and in 2018, the building underwent a complete restoration to become the Grand Central Food Bazaar.
The Gaudi-inspired bazaar features a central area for seating surrounded by numerous vendors amidst the curling lines of ironwork. Vendors include cuisines that span the globe, the likes of El Currito, a Tex-Mex and Indian mashup with Beef Keema stuffed burritos and Naanchos; Shanks, offering fine dining options at street food prices; You’ve Pulled, a family-owned venture specialising in pulled meats; and Picnic, a fast vegan and vegetarian stop with Khobez wraps.
Photo Credit: Baltic Market
Baltic Market was Liverpool’s front-runner in the food hall upswing, opening in June of 2017 in the historic 1858 Cains Brewery building. It’s open Thursdays through Sundays, and is a family-friendly space and is more than a food hall. Baltic Market hosts live DJs, film screenings, live music, dance parties and a market that is different every Sunday. The main floor offers seating at long wooden tables (flanked by a mural of The Beatles, of course) surrounding a bar that serves local beers and speciality cocktails, with additional seating upstairs.
Baltic Market hosts a pantheon of independently owned vendors serving eats from around the world that change monthly. They’ve hosted vendors like VietNOM, serving banh mi and spring rolls; De La Seoul, serving Korean wings, Bibimbap bowls and bao buns; and Buddha Belly, serving Thai street food like chicken panang and beef massaman curry. There is a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza joint called Little Furnace, a vendor called Liverpool Cheese Company that specialises in the melty Swiss cheese, raclette; and Hafla Hafla, serving haloumi fries.
Dockside Dining Club
Liverpool’s newest arrival is Dockside Dining Club, which opened just a week after the Grand Central’s food bazaar in an ultra-modern, angular black glass building on Mann Island. It features ten seasonally rotating vendors in a market-style setting with central communal plywood bench seating, a full bar and ample outdoor seating with a 1980s Miami vibe.
Among the current offerings are Crepe & Co. serving crepes; Cowfish, serving authentic smoked barbeque; El Cupido, serving tapas, and KO, serving Indian and Pakistani dishes. Dockside also serves as a community gathering place with pop-ups, workshops, classes, activities, markets, education and art.
Discovering Liverpool’s food halls may be one of the most fun — and flavourful — ways to explore the city. Affordable and filling, any of the concepts can be a destination in their own right or as a stop along touring other attractions.