Best places to eat in Manchester

    Manchester has a thriving, exciting – and growing – food scene on all levels, from cutting edge cocktails and top notch steaks to craft beer and the ‘curry mile’…..

    Best places to eat in Manchester

    Looking for somewhere to eat in Manchester? Our latest city guide is here to help! Tony Naylor is ‘the knowledge’ on the Manchester food scene and writes for magazines and newspapers including The Guardian. These are his pick of the best places to eat...

    Best for special occasions

    El Gato Negro

    Best for: Special occasions, casual dining
    Chef-owner Simon Shaw previously ran El Gato Negro in a village on the Pennine Moors. Now in this glam, three-storey Manchester complex, Simon’s food has a setting in which it can truly shine. Try the Josper-grilled onglet steak with its sweet and sharp, slow-cooked dressing of potatoes, onion and piquillo peppers; the exceptional salad of chilli ’n’ garlic-dressed caulifower & chickpeas, or that winning Mancunian-Madrileño hybrid: morcilla Scotch eggs. From the elaborate G&Ts and striking contemporary art, to the warmth of its staff and, of course, its food, El Gato Negro brims with colourful Iberian pizzazz. Dishes from £5. elgatonegrotapas.com

    Manchester House

    Best for: Special occasions
    In this strikingly designed, post-industrial space, Aiden Byrne cooks arguably the city’s most ambitious food. Once the youngest UK chef to hold a Michelin star, Aiden’s 14-course tasting menu is a bravura display, taking in such dishes as braised lamb heart, pearl barley, miso broth & pickled kohlrabi, or veal tartare, preserved turnips, watercress & truffle. Three courses, £61.50. manchesterhouse.uk.com

    Hawksmoor

    Best for: Special occasions, casual dining
    Located in a historic Victorian courthouse, the building is a perfect fit for the group’s butch, clubby aesthetic, while the relaxed service has won over a city that abhors pretentiousness. Whether dropping big money on grass-fed British rib-eye, triple-cooked chips and that insanely good shortrib macaroni, or simply grabbing a quick kimchi burger in the bar, this place is easy to love. Mains from £13. thehawksmoor.com

    The French

    Best for: Special occasions
    The grande dame of Manchester hotels, The Midland was given a new lease of life in 2013, when Simon Rogan took over its iconic restaurant. Edgy, elegant dishes such as ox tartare dressed with coal oil, toasted pumpkin seeds, kohlrabi & sun flower shoots now wow diners in a radically restyled dining room that, fittingly, slickly reconciles sleek modernism and big-ticket opulence. Menus from £65. the-french.co.uk 

    Best for casual dining and cheap eats

    Volta

    Best for: Casual dining
    Unabombers, two former maverick DJs, are today fastidious, singular bar owners. Their second venus, Volta, on West Didsbury's buzzy Burton Road, has a stylishly understated design, a laid-back feel and, thanks to chef Alex Shaw, serves sharp food. Small plates, such as Lebanese lamb chops with yogurt & chilli, or deep-fried Monte Enebro goat's cheese with beetroot & honey, are worth venturing out of the city centre for. Dishes from £4.50. voltafoodanddrink.co.uk

    Rudy’s Pizza 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    Rudy’s cleaves to time-honoured Neapolitan values: 24-hour-proved doughs; imported clay oven; light, puffy charred bases. Although it’s on the edge of the city centre, in Ancoats, you can expect queues at peak times. With its sweet, sea-salt-scattered San Marzano sauce, the buffalo mozzarella pizza is a go-to, but specials such as potato & rosemary with Tuscan sausage keep things interesting. Rudy’s serves fantastic local Cloudwater and Runaway craft beers too. Pizzas from £4.80. rudyspizza.co.uk

    Almost Famous 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
    Love or loathe its loud ‘n’ lairy, in yer face attitood, there is no denying that Almost Famous is Manchester’s foremost exponent of Frazzle-dusted fries, hot ‘pho-king’ wings and other gut-busting ‘dude food’. Its sloppy, delicious ‘triple nom’ burger with cheese, pulled pork, coleslaw and various sauces, is, on many levels, a guilty pleasure. Burger meals from £10.50. almostfamousburgers.com

    Lunya 

    Best for: Casual dining
    It started life in Liverpool, but Peter Kinsella’s Spanish bar, deli and tapas venue has been embraced at this end of the M62, too. Try the Catalan noodle seafood fideuá, the sensational secreto (a cooked cut of acorn-fed Iberico pork) or the shredded lamb shoulder with pomegranate molasses. Tapas from £4.95. lunya.co.uk

    Mughli 

    Best for: Casual dining
    Rusholme’s ‘curry mile’ is not the draw it once was, but Mughli – hip, sassy décor, on-point food - is bucking that trend. Fans swoon over its street food snacks, charcoal grilled meats (particularly the lamb chops) and fastidiously spiced takes on butter chicken or dhal makhni, which is slow-cooked overnight. Mains from around £9. mughli.com

    The Kitchens 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    Street food has been a bit stop-start in Manchester, but this experiment in Spinningfields, showcasing top mobilers in a cluster of indoor units, is a tasty innovation. There is a neat urban garden for alfresco dining on sunny days and, in Chaat Cart’s dosa and dhals, Nasi Lemak’s zingy Malaysian dishes and Dim Sum Su’s sticky pork belly bao buns, food that will gladden the heart whatever the weather. Meals from around £5. thekitchensleftbank.com

    Yuzu 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
    With its utilitarian decor and its perfunctory website, this Japanese restaurant is modest almost to a fault – for its food is definitely worth shouting about. Regulars swear by peerlessly crisp, fried karaage chicken with ponzu dipping sauce, the plump gyoza and donburi sashimi bowls, in which jewel-like raw seafood decorates a mound of sushi rice. Mains from £7.50. yuzumanchester.co.uk

    Siam Smiles 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
    This café, in a Thai supermarket in Chinatown, serves authentic street food in which the four elements of Thai cuisine – spiciness, sourness, saltiness, sweetness – are handled with real skill. Flavours sing in the kow moo dang (roast BBQ pork), 
    a stellar tom yam soup and the dried shrimp-seasoned green papaya salad, som tam. Dishes from £6. @SiamSmilesCafe

    Gorilla 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
    Variously a gin bar, gig venue, club space and kitchen, there is a lot going on at this Whitworth Street railway arch. It’s a great spot for 
    a (potentially late) breakfast – its eggs Benedict is a lifesaver. In the evening, mains such as its half chargrilled chicken with aïoli, or its slow-roasted pork belly ciabatta o er a ordable, reliably tasty fuel for the night ahead. Mains from £8. thisisgorilla.com

    VNam 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
    Most tourists would ignore rundown Oldham Road, but foodies should root out VNam, a colourful little Vietnamese café-restaurant where the beef pho or the bun thit nuong BBQ pork noodles boast multiple dimensions of arresting, fresh flavours. BYO alcohol. Mains from £7.50. vnam.co.uk

    Pancho’s Burrito 

    Best for: Cheap eats
    Britain loves a burrito, but Pancho’s owner Enrique Martinez goes beyond this Tex-Mex invention. The menu includes topped enchiladas, tostadas and flautas which, in their use of, say, cactus as an ingredient or the vividness of Pancho’s habanero salsa, owe a large debt to his mother’s tried ‘n’ trusted Mexican family recipes. Dishes from £5.30. panchosburritos.co.uk

    Grub Food Fair 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
    Manchester’s craft beer scene is booming (Google ‘Piccadilly Beer Mile’), which has triggered a wave of ad hoc, in-brewery food ‘n’ booze events. This is the new monthly at Runaway brewery. grubmcr.com

     

    North Tea Power 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats
    Competition is increasingly fierce, with the equally geeky Grindsmiths (grindsmith.com) and Idle Hands (idlehandscoffee.com) running it close, but NTP still edges it as Manchester’s best coffee spot. Flat white, pour-over, cold-brew? NTP has got you covered. northteapower.co.uk

    Common 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    Manchester’s Northern Quarter isn’t short of hip bars that serve casual food and classy craft beers. Yet, Common remains a significant cut above. Its salt beef hash and the Korean fried chicken with kimchi and hot gochuchang sauce hit the mark, while its Reuben (emmental, salt beef, sauerkraut) is one of Manchester best burgers. Mains from £6. aplacecalledcommon.co.uk

    Market House 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    The reinvention of Altrincham’s market hall has put this suburb on the foodie map. Don’t miss the exceptional sourdough wood- red pizzas at Honest Crust, Tender Cow’s creative salads and steaks, Sam Joseph’s next-level ice cream or the A1 craft beers at the Jack in the Box bar. Meals from £6.50. altrinchammarket.co.uk

    Sam’s Chop House 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    Bizarrely, there are precious few traditional pubs in Manchester that serve gutsy northern grub. Opened in 1872, Sam’s is a treasured exception. The homemade corned beef hash with bacon, poached egg and brown sauce is a classic. Elsewhere, the menu runs the Lancastrian gamut from steak ‘n’ kidney pudding to a fish and mushy pea barm. Mains from £12. samschophouse.com 

    Fat Loaf 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    This neighbourhood favourite in suburban Sale is definitely worth a detour – particularly if you have the kids in tow. It is very family-friendly (check the kids’ drawings pinned-up on the kitchen pass) and it serves, from braised pigs’ cheeks with chilli and ginger shallots to a Lancashire cheese ‘n’ onion pie, consistently well-executed dishes. Mains from £11.50. thefatloaf.co.uk 

    Teacup Kitchen 

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    This bright ‘n’ breezy Northern Quarter canteen (co-owned by DJ/ tea enthusiast, Mr. Scruff) serves much more than eggs Florentine and it’s a hugely popular weekend brunch spot for young families. Having negotiated the Bugaboos, you can enjoy sourdough toast topped with smoky beans or duck egg, avocado and exotic mushrooms. Breakfast dishes from £4. teacupandcakes.com 

    Sugo Pasta

    Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly
    The ascent of Altrincham’s Market House is beginning to attract likeminded restaurants to the immediate area, not least this cerebral southern Italian joint. The menu and wine list are short, but rustic dishes such as orrechiette pasta with bitter wild broccoli, garlic, chilli, anchovies and pecorino, are long on interesting flavours. Mains from £12. sugopastakitchen.co.uk

    Where to shop….

    Levenshulme Market 

    The location is grungy but the vibe and street food regulars are top-notch at this weekly Saturday market. 
    levymarket.com

    Hanging Ditch

    This excellent wine shop has a bar, so you can try before you buy. 
    hangingditch.com

    Coming soon…..

    Shoryu Ramen 

    Come June, Shoryu have just launched its first non-London restaurant in Manchester, where owner Tak Tokumine intends to turn the north onto his lip-smacking, rib-sticking tonkotsu pork noodle broths.
    shoryuramen.com

    Bundobust 

    Also around Piccadilly Gardens, craft beer and Gujarati street food stars Bundobust will open this summer. 
    bundobust.com

    Do you agree with Tony's best Manchester eats? Let us know where you love to eat in the comments below...

    All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of the 01 August 2016 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out of date information in this guide please e-mail us at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com.

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