Guide

An Insider’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in Ancoats

Whereas once a trot around Ancoats would have you tripping over sickly urchins and dodging razor-happy street gangs amongst overcrowded slums and thundering warehouses, now you’re more likely to trip over a half-eaten cruffin discarded by some digital marketeer outside a Vietnamese street food diner – the one next to the Japanese tea place.

Once the heart of industrial Manchester, Ancoats is now the epicentre of all that is new and hip in the city’s food and drink scene. The coming of shiny new apartment blocks and amenities has initiated a rush to feed all of these young, trendy incomers, with their empty bellies, disposable incomes and penchant for artisanal anything.

The last few years have seen a number of the region’s most exciting food and drink businesses open in the area. Here we’ve collected our favourites together in a handy guide…

  • ancoats-coffee-1
    Manchester

    Ancoats Coffee Co.

    British

    If you’re serious about coffee, this has to be your first port of call in Ancoats. Inspired by owner Jamie Bowland’s time spent in the flat-white Mecca that is Melbourne, this is a destination for people who really care about their coffee. The team expertly roast their own beans and create Ancoats-appropriate named blends like Graphene and Warehouse City. In the Grade II listed Royal Mills cafe space you can enjoy their exceptional coffee at its freshest while observing the roasting process as all the action goes on around you.

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    Canto

    Portuguese

    Modern Portuguese from Simon Shaw, the creative director behind the consistently brilliant El Gato Negro on King Street. The food is authentic and simple but with the kind of magic touches one would expect from head chef Carlos Gomes who has previously brandished his knives at El Gato Negro as well as Michelin-starred Soho tapas restaurant, Barrafina. Inspired by the neighbourhood restaurants in Gomes’ homeland Portugal, expect classic Portuguese flavours with a touch of modern sparkle.

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  • chaology-2
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    Chaology

    Japanese

    Specialising in Japanese tea and sweets, Chaology provides a unique experience in Manchester with a strict focus on quiet and relaxation. They discourage large groups, selfies and even shoes in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere with as little disturbance for their guests as possible. In fact, to enjoy the full teahouse experience in their airy, minimalist relaxation space, you must make a reservation.

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    The Counter House

    American

    Gut-cleansing spirulina juices, turmeric scented buddha bowls and raw vegan cookies, The Counter House menu reads like a dream list of Insta hashtags for plant-powered millennials. Believe it or not, they also do burgers. That’s if you dare to order one while under the watchful gaze of the lean and good-looking crowd perched atop the hot pink bar stools that overlook Jan Cron’s open kitchen. It’s all very LA, or Melbourne.

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  • elnecot-5
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    Elnecot

    European

    Named after the first recorded name for Ancoats, Elnecot (meaning ‘lonely cottages’) takes its influence from historical cooking methods with lots of fermenting, a little foraging and a few nose-to-tail dishes. Chef/owner and globetrotter Michael Clay’s menu is composed of British small plates with a smidgen of global influence, designed to share. Choose from Nibbles, Balls, Meat, Veg, Fish Others and Afters.

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  • hip-hop-chip-shop
    Manchester

    The Hip Hop Chip Shop

    British

    A National Fish & Chip Award winner, the Manchester street food heroes opened up their first bricks ‘n’ mortar outlet in trendy Ancoats late in 2018, following a hard fought crowdfunding campaign. A kicked-back dining experience with proper comfort food, cool artwork and a cracking soundtrack, the HHCS collective have reworked the national dish with inventive additions like Jerk batter, Louisiana spiced crab cakes and their chilli battered sausage. Obviously the traditional fish ‘n’ chips are bang on too, livened up by their trademark flavoured salts and vinegars.

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    The Jane Eyre

    British

    Presided over by Eyre siblings Jonny and Joe, this is not a Gothic homage to the Yorkshire based tragic-heroine but actually named after their late mum. The self-styled ‘neighbourhood bar’ offers classic cocktails, local beers and small seasonal plates. They also do a mean brunch and Bloody Mary menu and a range of souped-up toasties stuffed with things like cheese and Manchester ale chutney, or crab and chorizo if you’re a bit posher.

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    Mana

    Modern British

    Mana is one of Ancoats’ newest openings and is already confusing and delighting people in equal measure. The brainchild of chef patron Simon Martin, who mastered his trade at the renowned Noma in Copenhagen, everything they do is meticulously researched and organised, from the kitchen itself, divided into four sections by temperature (hot, cold, ambient and freezing), to the menu, which is developed and tested with scientific precision. They take food very, very seriously here. The focus is on using the best seasonal British produce available to create unique dishes which celebrate the power of ‘nature’s elemental forces’.

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  • nam-ancoats
    Manchester

    NAM

    Vietnamese

    Another neighbourhood favourite of the now achingly hip Cutting Room Square. NAM’s light and airy space with its natural parquet floors and glossy white brick bar echoes the light and healthy Vietnamese cuisine on the menu. All the favourites are here from classic beef broth Pho, to translucent summer rolls exposing the pink prawns and lush herbs snuggled up inside them and served with an intense peanut dip. They also do a hot custard donut for dessert. There are numerous vegan options as well, of course, with the ubiquitous jackfruit and a vegan ‘fish’ sauce amongst other things.

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  • Manchester

    Pollen Bakery

    European

    The signature mahogany crust on their sourdough gives it that distinctive chew-factor, and their brownies are fast becoming legendary too. Top all that with fabulous brunch and lunch dishes and great coffee and you can see why they are amassing all those awards. Did we mention they do croissant toast?

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  • rudys-pizza
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    Rudy’s Pizza

    Italian

    Listed amongst the world’s best pizzerias in international pizza guide, Where To Eat Pizza, Rudy’s has grown from a pop-up pizza project into a full blown word-of-mouth phenomenon. Queues were (and still are) a regular occurrence outside the original, if a little awkward Ancoats branch – opened in 2015. However, a bigger, bolder and meaner site, opened on Peter Street in 2018 following investment by new backers Mission Mars (owners of smash hit Albert’s Schloss next door), mean punters no longer face such an agonising wait for what many believe to be the best pizza in the North West.

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  • Manchester

    Seven Bro7hers Beerhouse

    American

    The exposed brick and rough-hewn wood of the brewhouse provides a warm and welcoming hub for a bustling symposium of creative types, after-work drinkers and Ancoats locals. There is a wide range of the brewery’s own fares with which to whet one’s whistle, from good old IPA to a chocolatey stout and even a watermelon wheat beer.

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    Sugo Pasta Kitchen

    Italian

    Another Altrincham success story, this Puglian-inspired restaurant opened on Shaw Road – right by the transformative Market House – in 2015. Their simple and uncompromisingly authentic Southern Italian dishes soon won them fans, as good ole word-of-mouth momentum brought diners piling in from across the region. Accolades and glowing reviews soon followed, as did a second restaurant, in Ancoats, in 2018, which is proving equally popular with local foodies. Sugo doesn’t do pizzas, or a lot of choices at all – the emphasis being very much on homemade pasta. Dishes change often but house ‘sugo’ (meaning sauce) could be a slow-cooked ragu of beef shin, pork shoulder and nduja, while other options include orecchiette with pancetta and brussel sprouts; cavatelli with fresh mussels and borlotti beans, or strozzapreti with cavolo nero, anchovy and chilli. Their grilled mackerel and fennel puree starter is a particular delight, as is their Amalfi lemon tart – perhaps the best you’ll find anywhere.

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    Trove

    British

    Trove Ancoats is the younger sister of much loved Trove Cafe in Levenshulme which has been going strong since 2011. The main draw is their fantastic bread, which forms the basis for their breakfast menu. Alongside the usual benedicts and belly busters, you can find some less familiar fare like the Korean rice bowl with kimchi, tofu and kale or a North African inspired plate with Merguez sausage, pickled turnip, labneh (yoghurt cheese) and zhoug, a hot chilli sauce.

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  • Manchester

    Viet Shack

    Vietnamese

    Nelson Lam’s Viet Shack empire started with a humble take-away stall in the Arndale market which quickly gained such a reputation for serving up dazzling lunch dishes at a bargain price that even the queues became a talking point. His Ancoats venue opened its doors in 2018 and has given the team the opportunity to expand their offering and really show Manchester what they’re made of. The food is inspired by traditional Vietnamese small plates designed to be enjoyed with a beer or two. Try classic dishes such as Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes made with beer and filled with pork and prawns) and a deconstructed Banh Mi (a pork and pate sandwich with zingy pickles) or Manchester born Lam’s fusion dishes such as burgers and loaded fries zinged up with the typical fresh flavours of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.

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