The best street food in Manchester: The word on the street

Kate Feld

From festivals to weekly events, we round up the best street food vendors and happenings from around Manchester.

In the spring, a young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of hot dogs, topped with peanut butter and bacon jam. The street food season is nearly upon us, so it’s a good a time to take stock of what’s around and pick out a few favourites. Done right, street food events offer a way to try tasty nosh and rarely-seen-here global bites cheaply, in a chilled out setting. When they’re done wrong, however, you find yourself standing shoulder to shoulder with braying scenesters juggling a plastic pint and a damp paper plate of something laughably overpriced in a warehouse that could be used to store frozen meat. So, it pays to be choosy.

This weekend, Urban Food Fest launches their first venture outside Shoreditch at the Euro Car Parks on Deansgate, with live music and 15 trucks serving everything from souvlaki to poffertjes (that’s small Dutch fluffy pancakes to us). They’re rolling into a city already bristling with street food action. Original vendor alliance Guerrilla Eats kicks off a 12-week residency at The Wander Inn on Shudehill on 14 March. Street’s weekly Friday Food Fights continue to pack ‘em in at the Great Northern, and new operators GRUB are following up their popular Winter Beer Fest with plans for an events space near Green Quarter.

Try tasty nosh and rarely-seen-here global bites cheaply, in a chilled out setting

But enough about that. What should you eat? Let’s start with Yakumama. Hannah Lovett and Chilean transplant Marcello Sandoval serve Latin American hand-held specialities like empanadas, quinoa croquetas, and bolinhos feijoada (Brazilian bean fritters with kale). And, just three months after quitting their jobs and going into street food full time, they’re getting a bricks and mortar outlet in the city centre. Where? “We can’t say anything yet,” Lovett tells me. Okay, we get the picture. Until then you can catch them at the Friday Food Fight on 6 March, Castlefield Market the following Saturday, Altrincham Market most Sundays and a future date at Guerrilla Eats.

Ben Davy runs the Yorkshire-based Fu-Shnickens, whose pillowy Chinese buns filled with things like slow braised ox cheek, crispy shallots and chive flowers won Best of the Best at last year’s British Street Food Awards. Davy is a devotee of NYC chef David Chang (of Momofuku and Lucky Peach magazine fame) and is currently doing tasty-sounding ramen experiments. Sample them at the street food events at Belgrave Kitchen in Leeds, which Davy also organises. And he has plans to open a permanent place in Manchester later this year. It’s fairly central – but he can’t say where it is yet. Uh-huh…

Mumma Schnitzel does chicken sandwiches, but not like any others we’ve had. Hollie Scrancher and Matthew Walsh have devoted their lives to re-creating a legendary sandwich they ate at a Thai beach shack, complete with crispy breaded chicken, homemade mayonnaise and chili jam. A popular fixture at city street food events, we hear rumours that they’re putting down permanent roots this spring, possibly in Spinningfields, but can’t get further details.

Finally there’s the Hip Hop Chip Shop. Ex-adman Jonathan ‘Ozzie’ Oswald and two chef friends had a vision of a food truck in the shape of a ghetto blaster, serving up hip hop classics along with crowd favourites like ‘Porky by Nature’, ‘Halloumi Myself and I’ and the ‘Feastie Boys Box’. What makes it more than just a killer idea is the execution – glorious lightly battered fish, perfectly cooked chips, and an innovative approach to remixing chippy staples. Amazingly, Oswald tells me they’re opening a premises in Manchester this spring… but he can’t say any more. Hmmm. We’re starting to think these guys are all cooking something up together. Stay tuned, await further news and carry extra napkins.

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