Last year, I shared with readers 6 Hidden Spots in Southend You May Have Never Visited – but should definitely try! Now I’m back with 4 more places to eat and drink in Southend and Leigh-on-Sea that you might be missing out on!

Vino Vero

The palace of wine, Vino Vero is just one of the many gems along Leigh Road, in Leigh-on-Sea. A couple, Sam and Charlie, decided to establish the venture between the two of them following a couple of bottles of the grape juice and they haven’t looked back.

As well as displaying an array of phenomenal bottles of wine, the tiny shop also stocks fortified spirits and a selection of local and national craft ales. The guys also offer taster sessions and the opportunity to sit, relax and indulge in a glass of wine if you feel like treating yourself there and then.

The team also provide wine to other local businesses. I discovered a fantastic wine called Urbina Rioja whilst dining at the Oak Tree Bistro. The Vino Vero sticker on the bottle led to me buying a couple of bottles to take home! Cheeky bit of marketing there!

Next time you’re doing a spot of shopping down Leigh Broadway, take a stroll along Leigh Road, avoid Tesco and grab yourself a bottle of carefully selected by the local experts! Or if you’re feeling adventurous sign up a tasting and transport your taste buds to paradise!

The Mayflower

There are four fantastic pubs down in Old Leigh. It’s THE place to be after work on a Friday… or Saturday afternoon… or even Sunday afternoon. My favourite is the Mayflower! The Mayflower appears on the Secret Southend list as it’s a little bit of a secret. You can’t really see the pub from the high street, but it’s part of the fish and chip shop next to the Sailing Club.

The Mayflower may not be as traditional looking as the Crooked Billet, but the atmosphere is fantastic! Earlier this year the pub introduced a sixth ale tap allowing for a fantastic line up of six ales, some are the regular locals and some from more exotic locations… like Sussex. Usually at least one of these real ales is from Georges Brewery which I praised in the previous article. On top of this there’s always a different cider on tap and you can order proper fish and chip shop chips right next to your table! The staff are amongst the friendliest in Leigh and always serve up your fish and chip supper with a smile.

Utopia Coffee Lounge

Of course, the Mayflower isn’t the best place in Southend for coffee…

Okay, so Utopia doesn’t deserve to be regarded as a ‘secret’. It’s now been long established and a very welcome addition to the Royals Shopping Centre. I don’t really care though, it’s an independent just like all the others and the best coffee in Southend (and that’s definitely not a secret!).

Upon entering to this retro treasure trove you’re immediately given the warmest of welcomes and a whiff of freshly brewed coffee.

This place is so popular there’s usually a queue to the door and beyond! It makes me very happy to see customers queuing past Costa just to grab a cup of this awesome coffee. How d’you like those apples?

On top of the standard coffees the shop also tempts you with home-made cakes and you can even get a full lunch in there! Once you’ve been served by one of the smiling attendants, grab a pew, or a sofa, or an armchair, or even just perch yourself on the corner of the 1960’s TV. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s an upstairs in case you can’t grab a seat downstairs. Drink a hot cup of loveliness and gaze around at the unusual décor transporting you back to your Nan’s living room. (If your Nan collects retro toys, funky artwork and kept plastic dinosaurs in budgie cages…)

Feeling thirsty after perusing the delights of Southend High Street? Give Costa or Starbucks a miss and try Utopia…

Gallachers Smokehouse

On the way to Gallachers Smokehouse Bar and Grill we were told that the portion sizes are pretty small… That person was clearly eating ribs and telling fibs!

Gallachers provides the treat of meat! Winner, winner, chicken dinner and steak dinner and ribs dinner. It’s all a winner! We popped into Gallachers one cold Friday in January, but we weren’t cold for very long. In fact, things started heating up when the buffalo wings arrived! We’ve been back a lot of times since, always keen to check the next item off the menu!

Upon the purchase of the former bar on London Road, the owner immediately installed a new meat smoker in the basement. This makes for some fantastic smoky flavoured meat that is ready for eatin’!

As well as the belly-busting food menu, the restaurant offers a fantastic drinks menu, providing craft ales, wines and ciders.

Make sure you enquire about their dessert deal, it might be for free!