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
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.
Beastro, Irwell Square, Leftbank, Manchester, M3 3AG - Visit now
Beastro combines time-honoured 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, Beastro is a truly Northern restaurant – right down to the local produce used in each dish. Hearty, packed with taste and texture, but never over the top – except when it matters: portion size.
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.
Manchester House, 18-22 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BZ - Visit now
It’s all change at Manchester House. Head Chef Aiden Byrne has moved onto pastures new, and in his place is one the rising stars of the UK food scene, Nottingham-born Nathanial Tofan, aka Nat. Nat was one of the key figures behind the launch of the Manchester’s much-praised Australasia restaurant, as well as working alongside Aiden for many years. Judging from a preview of the new menu, Nat has brought a feast of fresh ideas to the table, each of which more than matches up to his illustrious predecessor. The full tasting menu promises to be something very special indeed.
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.
Umezushi, Unit 4, Mirabel Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 1PJ - Visit now
Manchester has its fair share of sushi restaurants. But not many have a following like Umezushi, which counts the likes of Jay Rayner as signed-up fans. Tucked away under an old railway arch behind Victoria Station on the edges of the city centre, it’s not easy to find but well worth the hunt. It’s a small, bright space with minimalist decor and a laid-back gentle jazz soundtrack and despite having just sixteen covers, it never feels pokey. The vibe is relaxed and the staff efficient, more than willing to recommend courses and explain dishes in mouth-watering detail, like a food-lovers ultimate Jackanory.