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 beers and the ‘curry mile’.

    Best places to eat in Manchester

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

    El Gato Negro
    Best for: special occasions, casual dining

    Fried fish on plate with dip and lemonChef-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 exceptional salad of chilli 'n' garlic-dressed cauliflower & 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 £4.

     

    Hawksmoor
    Best for: special occasions, casual dining

    Steak in cast iron skillet on tableLocated 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 short rib macaroni, or simply grabbing a quick kimchi burger in the bar, this place is easy to love. Mains from £13.50. 

     

     

    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 Cumbrian red deer, pickled quince and bilberries now wow diners in a radically restyled dining room that, fittingly, slickly reconciles sleek modernism and big-ticket opulence. Menus from £45.

     

    Volta
    Best for: casual dining

    Selection of salads and vegetables in bowls and on platesUnabombers, two former maverick DJs, are today fastidious, singular bar owners. Their second venue, 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. 


     

    Rudy’s Pizza
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly

    Pepperoni pizza slices on plateRudy’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 toppings such as Tuscan sausage and wild broccoli keep things interesting. Rudy’s serves fantastic local Cloudwater and Runaway craft beers too. Pizzas from £4.90.

    Almost Famous 
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats

    Love or loathe its loud and lairy, 'in-yer-face additood', 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. Burgers from £8.00. 

    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 Cantabrian cold smoked anchovies, the sensational Abanico Iberico (a cooked cut of acorn-fed Iberico pork) or the lamb neck fillet served on a bed of Navarian lentils. Tapas from £4.95.

    Mughli 
    Best for: casual dining

    Canapés on plate 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 £7.50.


     

     

    Yuzu 
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats
    Tempura vegetables on plate

    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 award-winning Loch Duart salmon sashimi bowls, served with miso soup and Japanese rice. Mains from £7.50.

     

    Thai Smiles
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats

    Curried vegetables in serving dishThis 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.


     

    Gorilla
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats

    Shakshuka in pan with bread on plateVariously 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 life-saver. In the evening, mains such as its chermoula chicken kebab with toasted African spiced rub, or its grilled pork chop with celeriac mash offer affordable, reliably tasty fuel for the night ahead. Mains from £7.50.

     

    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 £7.49. 

    Pancho’s Burritos
    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. Details such as the use of cactus as an ingredient or the vividness of Pancho's habanero salsa owe a large debt to his mother's tried and trusted Mexican family recipes. Dishes from £5.60.

    North Tea Power 
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats

    Competition is increasingly fierce, with the equally geeky Grindsmiths and Idle Hands 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.

     

    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 frijoles on toast and katsu sando hit the mark, while its maple bacon burger with smoked cheese is one of Manchester's best burgers. Mains from £6.50.

    Market House 
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly

    Chef working at counterThe reinvention of Altrincham’s market hall has put this suburb on the foodie map. Don’t miss the exceptional sourdough wood-fired 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.

     

     

     

    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 £13.50. 

     

    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 from roast wild mallard with garlic brioche pudding to a Lancashire cheese ‘n’ onion pie, it serves consistently well-executed dishes. Mains from £12.50.

    Teacup Kitchen
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly

    Selection of cake slices on plates 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 pushchairs, you can enjoy sourdough toast with toppings like Applewood rarebit, avocado and exotic mushrooms. Breakfast dishes from £4.50.


     

    Sugo Pasta
    Best for: casual dining, cheap eats, kid friendly

    The ascent of Altrincham’s Market House is beginning to attract like-minded 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 pancetta, Brussels sprouts, leeks, chilli and parmesan, are big on interesting flavours. Mains from £12.

    Shoryu Ramen

    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. Mains from £10.

    Bundobust

    Also around Piccadilly Gardens, indulge in craft beer and Gujarati street food at Bundobust.

    Hanging Ditch

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

    Where to shop….

    Levenshulme Market 

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

    Do you agree with Tony's best Manchester eats? Leave a comment below...

    All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of the 19 December 2018 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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