Where the Derry Girls Go

Pizza IS nice, it turns out

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Where in the Derry

By Jasper Hutson

It’s hard not to offend somebody when you talk about Derry. Even by calling it Derry, you’re picking a side: if you’re Protestant, it’s Londonderry; Catholic, Derry. If you’re neither, you just pick one. Probably Derry since it’s easier to say.

The city (that many Americans learned about when “Derry Girls” came to Netflix) is still scarred from decades of violence that mostly ended with the Good Friday Agreement in the ‘90s, but is trying to build a unique identity separate from the sectarian divisions that defined it for so long. That’s involved a lot of investment in the town center, some of which lives within the old city walls. Sure, the old standbys are still here, like a pub that’s been around since 1684. But many of the brand-new (relatively) establishments are very good.

I’ve lived just across the border from Derry for about four years now, and here are a few of my favorite restaurants.

Blackbird is by far my favorite restaurant in the city. It’s squarely in the middle of the Derry price range and it’s always busy (when the pandemic’s not on). The food here is best described as homey. There are a lot of Irish favorites are on the menu, mainstays like fish and chips and mushy peas served on funky little tin plates. 

Blackbird is a gastropub that leans more pub than gastro. They only serve food at certain times of the day, closing up the kitchen in the evening so they can clear out space for the more lucrative liquid customers.

Nonnas Wood Fired Pizza is fighting the good fight for real pizza in a city dominated by the likes of Dominos and Four Star (if you haven’t heard of that chain, imagine pizza made by people who had it described to them over the phone). Its website proudly shows off delightfully misshapen creations, using locally sourced ingredients to make pizzas that just taste right: Soft, charred dough topped with beautiful options. Now with two locations in the city, Nonnas is an experience in effort and craft.

Walled City Brewery serves the best possible version of Irish food. In effect, this is the sort of place you go to find out if you even like the cuisine. The interior is charmless and slightly uncomfortable, but you come and stay for the contemporary takes on old, classic dishes. ☘️ 

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This newsletter is edited by Katherine Spiers, host of the podcast Smart Mouth.

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