If you’re going to a burrito shack you certainly want to ensure that the people involved are burrito experts. And with a menu that is proud to offer Burritos With Everything, Evil Eye on Smithdown Road certainly know their onions. And guacamole. And refried beans. And chilis.
Perhaps it’s a tad over the top to credit Evil Eye with the Smithdown Road renaissance, but they were certainly the first outfit to take a punt on the south Liverpool thoroughfare when it was a desolate strip of fading pubs, bad takeaways and bookies.
Skip forward three years and Smithdown Road is now one of the most bustling spots for day- and nightlife in Liverpool, with Belzan, The Handymans Brewery, Little Furnace, Craft Taproom and more representing a rebirth for the area.
Much like Belzan, Evil Eye is a former shopfront (a quite excellent butchers we used to frequent), and while its been opened out and has a surprisingly pleasant outdoor area, this bar-stroke-restaurant is still pretty cosy.
Inspired variously by stoner rock-chic, day-of-the-dead Mexicana and a wry Scouse sense of humour (the remembrance mantelpiece was truly a thing of beauty), the overriding impression is that a few friends got together and decided to run a bar. Which is pretty much what happened.
Sure you can pop in and have a beer at the bar – we’ve had beers from Great Orme and Tiny Rebel from down the road in Wales but there’s a rotating range of craft beers from the Americas, while there’s a good range of homemade cocktails (sometimes two for a tenner) with a distinctly Mexican feel – but you’d be a fool to go and not have a bite to eat.
So, the food right? Well, the menu is as heavy with puns as the burritos are with food. First there’s the Cluck Norris (chicken); then there’s Hallou Is It Mi You’re Looking For? from the vegan / veggie menu. No Pollos Hermanos – an edible Breaking Bad reference? Sure thing. And we can’t knock Steak Out for a no-meat Vegan alternative spot of wordplay.
— Liverpool Underlined (@lpoolunderlined) February 13, 2018
If you don’t fancy one from the existing templates you can make your own, with a Subway-style mix-n-match menu. Fried breakfast? Yes it’s in a burrito. So too is Sunday lunch (your choice of meat, stuffing, potatoes, gravy and pigs in blankets). Desserts? They’re not in burritos, wisely we feel, but there are brownies and churros for vegans and non-vegans alike.
OK, so not everything in Evil Eye is served in a burrito. In the past we’ve tried enchiladas, loaded fries, big fat sandwiches, tacos and nachos. And sides include Louisiana chicken wings, creamed corn empanada, sweetcorn chilli sticks, Cajun popcorn shrimp… dirty street food to mess up your face with.
Sorry to report, we do have a chip on our shoulder about Evil Eye’s twice-fried, er, chips, which have been suspiciously like oven chips whenever we’ve had them. Much better are the sweet potato fries.
Prices? We can’t complain. Portions are enormous and most of the main courses are between circa £5-8, sides just a couple of quid. Add a drink and you can feed and water two people for under £25 easily.
In Summer there’s a tiki bar out back that might just have you believing you’re not 20 yards away from a four-lane A-road. There’s a regular quiz too, a typically unusual affair with surreal prizes to be won, and regular gamers club.
Evil Eye also stages gigs and other events on a regular basis, such as a Cards Against Humanity Night and a BBQ weekend. In 2018 Mark Morriss of the Bluetones played a gig and we’ve been to many a packed-out gig, especially during the annual Smithdown Road Festival. What about the ‘alternative karaoke’ night with Doc Horror? No, we’re not sure either…
It might sound like a little thing, but the service in Evil Eye is always superb. Every time we visit it’s a little bit like coming home to a living room full of friendly people. Just a few years ago a visit to Smithdown Road was a thoroughly miserable experience.
While Evil Eye might not have changed that singlehandedly, it was the spark that lit the bonfire and for that we’ll always be grateful.