El Gato Negro Tapas

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Image courtesy of Marketing Manchester

El Gato caused a splash when it opened in Manchester in 2016, and continues to do so to this day – for all the right reasons. It has always been one of the more affordable destinations on the city’s salubrious King Street, but the new ‘Best of the Best’ menu is up there with the, er, best. 

Freshly revamped for the upcoming season, this new menu takes El Gato Nego tapas favourites from over the years and sits them alongside new autumnal flavours and dishes. And there’s even a three for £18 offer, where you can bag a trio of delicious dishes for less than twenty quid. 

But what’s on this menu? It’s a nice mix of the classics, with some smart new ideas from the galaxy brain of chef patron, Simon Shaw. 

From the latter, the ‘bikini’ is as delicious as it is intriguing. No, silly, not a two-piece bathing suit, it’s a quartet of what can only be described as high-society cheese toasties – arranged Spanish-style, in dainty triangles (by far the best shape for all forms of toast, it’s not up for discussion), containing jamon serrano, truffle butter and a smattering of manchego cheese. They taste as appealing as they look, and they look delightful. 

But let’s not overlook the tapas classics – the mini Catalan chorizo are powerful little balls, cooked with Aspall cider and full of mouth-tingling spice, lying in a great tomatoey sauce, while the patatas bravas are a work of art. It’s another potent, rich tomato-based sauce packed with memorable fiery aromas, with a handful of crisped-up, golden brown cubes of potato, that magically stay crispy throughout – other tapas joints, take note. 

Of course, El Gato also do wine exceptionally well  – the full-bodied Condesa Luna Tinto 2022 goes down smoothly and pairs well with pretty much every dish on the menu. It’s a solid all-rounder, full of mixed berry flavours and easy on the pocket to boot. 

From the charcuterie section, the lomo is unmissable – thick slices of probably Europe’s best pork, with an almost 50/50 fat-to-meat ratio. Alone they deliver a luxuriously salty, rich taste, but we heartily recommend wrapping a slice around one of the cute little cornichons for a technicolour taste of tart, sweet and salt, all at once. 

In terms of seafood, El Gato’s crispy fried baby squid is as good as it gets in the city. Close your eyes and you could be in Barcelona, dipping these roughly-chopped chunks in the simple, elegant lemon aioli. Then open your eyes and marvel at El Gato makes even a rainy Thursday in Manchester somehow look and feel sophisticated and european. 

To end, it has to be the creme catalana. The more vibrant, exciting sibling of the simple brulee, El Gato serve an effortlessly excellent take on this Catalonian dessert. It’s packed with spices and citrus zing, and manages to be rich and creamy without ever feeling a bit much. 

Following seven years in the city, El Gato is rightly regarded as one of Manchester’s most stylish and reliably first-rate tapas restaurants. It’s authentic without being sniffy about it, yet manages to introduce fresh and exciting ideas that always feel part of a piece. They’re all excellent, and it’s one of the city’s best-looking spaces. What’s not to love?

52 King StreetManchesterM2 4LY View map
Telephone: 0161 694 8585 Visit Now

Opening Hours

  • Monday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Tuesday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Wednesday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Thursday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Friday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Saturday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Sunday12:00pm - 10:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

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