Outside of England’s overpriced, traffic jam-addled capital, you’d be hard-pressed to find a city containing a better range of restaurants than Manchester. From the repurposed cotton mills of the Northern Quarter to fine dining restaurants in the city’s new cultural district, we’ve got the lot – and all within walking distance of each other (or a £4 Uber, for the lazy).
These are just some of the highlights of Manchester’s ever-growing food scene, boasting everything from hearty British cuisine, to fiery Indian food to delicately prepared sushi. Try them all, Pokemon-style.
Here are our picks
Randall & Aubin Manchester, 64 Bridge St, Manchester, M3 3BN - Visit now
Enjoy some of their finest dishes at a bargain price (just £12.50 for a meal and drink from 12 noon to 7 pm). The courses on offer change on a daily basis, taking in everything from roast pork belly to chicken kiev, with a marvellous fish stew available on Fridays. It’s hard to think of a better deal in the city when it comes to quality and price.
Erst, 9 Murray St, Manchester, M4 5BN - Visit now
Erst utilise locally-sourced ingredients in such a way that the end result is effortlessly cutting edge, without resorting to gimmicks and elaborate laboratory equipment. While many up-and-coming restaurants are a mish-mash of ideas from all over the world, Erst is a truly Northern restaurant – full of dazzling ideas and the finest quality ingredients.
Wood Manchester, Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester, M15 4RA - Visit now
Wood claim to be ‘unintimidating high end dining’ and this is precisely what you get – from location to decor, right down to the menu. With Masterchef winner Simon Wood at the helm, the food is exciting, forward-thinking but never over-complicated. Despite only opening a few months back, it already feels like part of the city’s furniture, with a steely-eyed focus on dishing out exciting plates that look and taste exquisite, all thanks to a team that are constantly coming up with fresh exciting ideas.
Scene Manchester, 4a Left Bank, Manchester, M3 3AN - Visit now
Not only is Scene easily one of the best-looking restaurants in Spinningfields, full of elegant light fixtures and exotic trinkets inspired by the Indian sub-continent, but long-term residents of Manchester should note they have the head chef of the much-missed Shimla Pinks, one of the city’s all-time greats when it comes to Indian food. Thankfully, the food at Scene is just as good, if not better. All the dishes are delicious and wonderfully uncomplicated. And that could be said about practically everything on the menu – each dish has been finessed into the best version of itself, never overpowered by spices, only enhanced. This is Indian food at its best.
Bundobust Manchester, 61 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AG - Visit now
Since opening their restaurant on the edge of Piccadilly, the team behind Bundobust have built one hell of a buzz around Manchester. For the unaware, this underground restaurant serves up tapas-style small plates of vegetarian and vegan Indian food, along with an exhaustive – and somewhat exhausting – list of beers and craft ales. The food is exceptional, and pushes boundaries all over the place – expect to find mushy peas in there somewhere, alongside an Indo-Chinese sticky sauce you’ve always dreamed of.
Restaurant MCR, Tower 12, 18-22 Bridge St, Manchester, M3 3BZ - Visit now
The latest and greatest fine dining restaurant from the fantastic Aiden Byrne. Based in the former Spinningfields site of his old Manchester House restaurant, it manages to improve on practically all elements of the still-excellent predecessor.
Cottonopolis, 16 Newton Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2AE - Visit now
The Northern Quarter has long had a reputation as the go-to place for late-night quick and trashy food, but things are changing. The whole area is developing at high-speed suggesting its restaurant scene will follow suit. Cottonopolis provides the first shot across the boughs, with its classy decor and high-quality Japanese food. The menu is divided into four different elements based on the cooking method for each item: ice, fire, steam and oil. It’s a gimmick but an inventive one, catering for a variety of palates whether they be healthy eaters, grazers or plain old gluttons.
Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.
Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.
Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.