In the 1970s and 80s Curry Mile was a boomtown, full of enterprising immigrants from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh catering to the nation’s bottomless hunger for chicken tikka masala. Now, according to Haz, owner of Mughli, it’s fractured into three unofficial areas: the traditional curry mile, closest to town; what he calls the “shisha mile,” full of middle eastern cafes; and a leftover nether-here-nor-there bit catering mainly to students. But, where to eat on Curry Mile?
Some of the restaurants are still on the classic curry mile schedule – busy 7-10pm and quiet until 1 am, when buses full of liquored up, hungry students on their way back from the city centre start pulling in, and frantic until 3 am. But the economic decline of the last few years has ushered in a time of transition on Wilmslow Road. Basically, Haz explains, traders are realising that serving up the same old grub in the same old way isn’t enough these days, and they have to change with the times, or go under.
With that in mind, here are some of the best restaurants, cafes and shisha bars on Curry Mile – and rest assured, these are all forward-thinking places to eat, well worth a special visit.
Here are our picks
Mughli Restaurant & Charcoal Pit, 30 Wilmslow Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M14 5TQ - Visit now
Mughli is one of the curry mile’s most highly-regarded restaurants, and for good reason. Alongside the tried and tested classics, you’ll find a menu offering all manner of dishes from the Indian subcontinent and beyond.
MyLahore, 14-18 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester, M14 5TQ - Visit now
MyLahore is a bright modern restaurant, with a contemporary feel. They serve fantastic Indian food, along with a few barbecue and Mediterranean dishes. The atmosphere is upbeat and ideal for a laidback bite to eat on Rusholme’s Curry Mile.
Al Madina, 76 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester, M14 5AL
A must-try place is the worker’s cafe, Al Madina – go for the lamb balti they make fresh every morning. If you ask for it ‘Apna style’ it means, ‘our way’ meaning it’s generally cooked slightly longer, with more spices. Also worth trying are the house-made gol-gappa: light-as-air semolina fritters you fill up you fill up with a potato and chickpea chaat as well as a tangy tamarind ‘khatta pani’ sauce – and then try to fit in your mouth without making a mess. It’s worth the embarrassment, honestly. And of course, the lamb balti, which is tender and deeply spiced.
Jaffa Restaurant, 185 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester, M14 5AP
Jaffa’s always busy, and it’s easy to see why. Inexpensive, high quality food in a pleasant setting. Their fattayer, hummous and fresh dips are beyond compare – but go early if you want shawarma as they typically sell out.
Pastry House, Unit 2, Walmer St E, Manchester, M14 5SS - Visit now
Pastry House is a wonderful Lebanese bakery tucked away off Wilmslow Road. It started out catering mainly to restaurants, but its popularity necessitated the addition of an eat-in cafe. This is the place to come for sweet stuff like baklava, konafa with cream (my favourite), cashew fingers and the like as well as fresh, house-made labneh (an intensely sharp soft cheese) and savoury snacks. We try some moreish flatbreads: one flecked with za’tar and cheese, and the minced-lamb topped lahm belajin – like pizza but more interesting.