Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor

It’s time for this month’s edition of our carefully-curated guide to food and drink in Manchester and the North. Christmas is just around the corner, and before Santa squeezes his ample behind down your chimney it’s time to look at some of the best bar and restaurant options from across the North of England.

The weather might be reliably awful, but the restaurants below are all tried and tested and guaranteed high-quality

In the meantime, why not work your way through this month’s guide. The weather might be reliably awful, but the restaurants below are all tried and tested and guaranteed high-quality and well worth a visit, or two, or five, over the next few weeks.

Some of the greatest things we’ve consumed this month are, in no particular order: flatbread in Ancoats, a deconstructed pie at one of the city’s most high-profile new restaurants, flamboyant cocktails at the city’s most welcoming bar (as well as providing the best steaks as far as the eye can see), the city’s best chicken and vegan chicken burgers, healthy and colourful ceviche, and much more.

And when it comes to restaurants and bars across the North West, you’ll find a vast range  – whether that’s high-end British cuisine in Manchester, quality pub grub in Leeds, Peruvian cuisine in the city centre, and, of course, the return of the much-loved Manchester Christmas Markets.

The best independent food and drink places in Manchester and the North

So join us as we dive headfirst into the best independent food and drink places in our guide to food and drink in Manchester and the North. Expect everything from brand new pop-up ventures to well-established high-end destination venues. The one thing they have in common is that they’ll leave you satisfied and planning a trip back for more. And don’t worry about the waistline, it’s winter, you need to build up that fleshy winter coat.

Here are our picks

  • 1. The Bull & Bear Manchester

    Ian Jones

    The Bull & Bear Manchester, 4 Norfolk St,, Manchester, M2 1DW - Visit now

    The Bull & Bear is Tom’s first restaurant in the North of England, and judging by the food on offer, we’re incredibly lucky to have him. Whether you’re a red or a blue, the United Illuminati have done well with this one.

  • 2. Peru Perdu

    Peru Perdu

    Peru Perdu, The Cotton Factory, 74 Princess St, Manchester, M1 6JD, Manchester,, M1 6JD - Visit now

    Peru Perdu is the latest restaurant to take over at The Cotton Factory. Specialising in South American cuisine, the focus is on fresh ingredients, seasonal produce and big bold flavours.

  • 3. Manchester Christmas Markets 2020

    Manchester Christmas Markets 2020
    Mark Waugh

    Manchester Christmas Markets 2020, Until 21 December 2019, free entry - Visit now

    The Manchester Christmas Markets 2020 are back! Where better to experience the full Yuletide experience than these world-famous markets?

  • 4. Erst


    Erst, 9 Murray St, Manchester, M4 5BN - Visit now

    Erst is one of the North’s standout restaurants, and if you care about the best modern food in the UK, you owe it to your tastebuds to try it. The entire menu is a treat, full of post-Nordic creations that are both simple and endlessly fascinating.

  • 5. The Adelphi Leeds

    The Adelphi

    The Adelphi Leeds, 3-5 Hunslet Rd, Leeds, LS10 1JQ - Visit now

    A stone’s throw from the city centre, hunched on a corner on the southside of Leeds Bridge, The Adelphi Leeds has just reopened to much pomp and ceremony.

  • 6. Hawksmoor

    Image courtesy of Marketing Manchester

    Hawksmoor, 184-186 Deansgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 3WB - Visit now

    Hawksmoor have done a huge revamp of their cocktail menu, the first major update in nearly a decade. These concoctions come from six months of travel, tasting and tinkering from the award-winning bartending team.

  • 7. Firebird Hope

    Ian Jones

    Firebird Hope, Arndale Food Market, Manchester, M4 3AQ - Visit now

    There’s a familiar face popping up in Manchester Arndale Market and those who have been to Hatch or YES in last year or so will recognise it. It’s Firebird Hope, a poultry pop-up offering a fresh take on the chicken burger.

  • 8. The Ivy Spinningfields

    The Ivy Manchester

    The Ivy Spinningfields, The Pavilion, Byrom Street, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3HG - Visit now

    Looking for the perfect winter drinks in stunning surroundings? The Ivy Spinningfields has transformed its roof terraces for the festive season, offering limited-edition cocktails and Christmas desserts.

  • 9. Bistrotheque


    Bistrotheque, Ground Floor, Warehouse, Ducie St,, Manchester, M1 2TP - Visit now

    Bistrotheque is the showcase restaurant at new cultural hub Cultureplex, with seasonal menus by experienced head chef Blaine Duffy.

  • 10. El Gato Negro Tapas Leeds

    El Gato Negro Tapas Leeds

    El Gato Negro Tapas Leeds, 35 Park Row, Leeds, LS1 5JL - Visit now

    El Gato Negro Tapas Leeds is the latest in the El Gato empire. Originally starting life inside a pub in Ripponden before moving to King Street Manchester a few years ago, this Spanish restaurant has finally made its way back to Mother Yorkshire with this brand new addition to the family.

More in Food and Drink

Eat The City - Scranchester Tours
Food and Drink Until 19 November 2022, from £50

Eat The City – Scranchester Tours

Satisfy your hunger for knowledge as well as lunch with Scranchester’s food tours of the city centre. You may discover a new favourite hidden gem or learn a bit more about the cultural or historical significance of the food you eat all the time.

Food and Drink Until 31 December 2019, FREE

Bar Hütte

Bar Hütte is back for another stint at Spinningfields Square, following the wild success of last year. Expect Christmas karaoke and delightfully warm huts.

Festivals Until 24 December 2019, FREE

Evergreen at Hatch

Head to Hatch for this ‘Festival of Winter and Christmas’, it’s open now and runs right up until Christmas Eve.

tea blending
Activity 15–27 December 2019, from £40

Tea Blending Workshop at Bird and Blend

Experiment with tea leaves and herbs to create your own brew with the guidance of Bird and Blend’s Tea Mixologists in one of their Tea Blending workshops.

Culture Guides


We round up the best Christmas movies and new releases this December.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North


Top of our list of highlights this month, we’re looking forward to the opening of ‘Vivian Suter’ and ‘Theaster Gates: Amalgam’ at Tate Liverpool.

Screening of The Snowman at Bridgewater Hall, part of our family things to do guide


Check out our top picks this Christmas and enjoy some quality family time together in this most magical of seasons.

Poet Jennifer Lee Tsai.


There are plenty of magical live literature happenings in the run-up to, during and even after the festive season – and lots of book-buying opportunities, perfect for presents for friends and family, or even yourself.


From Irish hip hop to Afrobeat, absurdist punk to post-metal, this month’s music guide is a real melting pot.

Theatre in Manchester


Soaring aerial theatre, unique filmic performance and our pick of the pantos. Our theatre guide spans the festive season and beyond.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester.

tours and activities

Tours and Activities

Get outdoors this winter or retreat into the warmth of a workshop with our December guide of Tours and Activities.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Festivals Until 24 December 2019, FREE

Evergreen at Hatch

Food and Drink Until 31 December 2019, FREE

Bar Hütte

zip trek after dark
Activity Until 20 December 2019, from £33

Treetop Zip Trek: After Dark at Heaton Park