I miss Leicester. I truly believe it's one of the greatest cities in England, if not the whole UK. It's a bit grotty in parts, but where isn't? And it's not the biggest city, but it holds its own. So I decided to compile a mini guide to some of my favourite places to eat and drink in Leicester.
- Roosters Piri Piri, 22-24 Horsefair StreetThis is a terrific place to stop when you want food on a night out yet don't want to wake up hating yourself the next morning. You can get stuff that actually tastes healthy and that you wouldn't feel too ashamed to order for your actual dinner, like falafel burgers and lentil soup, but they still pack that carby, satisfying punch. So it's a great pick for vegetarians. They do the usual spicy chicken wings and everything too, for those that do like their meat.
- Mirch Masala, 37 Market StreetThis is my go-to restaurant for veggie food. There is a branch on Belgrave Road, too, but I've never been so can't comment on it. This one was practically on my doorstep. You can choose from Indian, Indo-Chinese, Italian and Mexican cuisine, and for most things there is a vegan option available, signified by a green V - remember to ask for a vegan version of the dish in question, otherwise it might be served with butter.
- Shivalli, 21 Welford RoadThis is an excellent South Indian restaurant, with an all-you-can-eat buffet for about £7. It's vegan-friendly, definitely; once the staff brought vegan ice cream to our table as a surprise, which was so lovely of them!
- Dos Hermanos / Barceloneta, 54 Queens RoadClarendon Park - characterised by Queens Road - is the Williamsburg of Leicester, kind of. Well, it's where all the students live. There are a number of cute little shops and cafés along this road, but the most popular one is by far the double team of Dos Hermanos and Barceloneta. You can go there for breakfast, brunch and tapas by day, and cocktails by night. The bar areas are quite small, though, so it can get really crowded.
- Firebug, 1 Millstone LaneIt feels a little bit unfair to lump this merely under "drinks", because Firebug is so much more than that and it's one of the best things Leicester has going for it. Recently it was one of the venues for the wonderful, wonderful Handmade Festival (which I stewarded at!), playing host to bands like The Twilight Sad, Tall Ships, Johnny Foreigner and Maybeshewill. A lot of cool bands play at Firebug in general, and the team behind the promotions are just excellent people. There are unique and exciting events going on all the time there!
- Sophbeck, 8-10 King StreetAgain, not strictly just a bar, but more like a place that plays cool jams til dawn. It's quite cool and "underground" on the inside and it mostly plays things like IDM and hip-hop, although I did once hear a flawless segue into a Madonna track.
- Hakamou, 8 Bowling Green StreetAdmittedly, this place has its good and bad points. The crowd at weekends can be iffy, and anyone will admit that the drinks are not especially wallet-friendly. But when it gets things right, it gets things right. Hakamou is Pacific Island-themed, with wooden huts inside the building and drinks made inside coconuts, as well as the cream of 1990s pop playing overhead, it makes for a really fun night.
- The Dry Dock, Putney RoadIt's sort of out of the way from a lot of places but it's a pub inside a ship - AN ACTUAL SHIP - and if this doesn't settle it for you, I can't help you.