Guide

An Insider’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in Chorlton

Long heralded as the go-to destination for anybody with a proclivity for chickpeas and hessian, Chorlton has become a byword for all things hipster and hippy. This ex-village turned middle-class arts graduate’s suburban utopia is often touted as being one of the best places to live in the UK. Although a quick scan of the legendary and hilarious Facebook group hints that things are not always so rosy. Despite persistent crime problems, house prices keep on rising, almost surpassing those of neighbouring Didsbury, and the battle of the boroughs rages on.

If you’ve got complex dietary requirements, a pub quiz addiction or a penchant for left-wing politics, you’ll find all your heart desires in Chorlton, probably. We’ve agonised over a list of our favourite spots to eat, drink and ‘simply be, you know’ around the neighbourhood, from long-standing European delis to brand new Himalayan street food haunts, and more craft beer and matcha than you can shake a labradoodle at.

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    Oystercatcher

    European

    “Doing lots of little things right” is a definition of perfection – and this simple seafood restaurant in Chorlton is just that. The kitchen’s Essa grill is masterfully handled by co-owner (and former Lead Station chef) Recep Canliisik, who churns out char-grilled whole squid and seabream, Thai-spiced monkfish tail and possibly the best calamari in the UK.

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    The Creameries

    British

    This laid-back neighbourhood bakery, bar and kitchen is presided over by celebrated local chef Mary Ellen McTague, who spent time in the kitchens of Heston Blumenthal (amongst others) before running her own fine dining establishment, Aumbry, in Prestwich. The Creameries is a much more casual affair than Aumbry, but McTague’s nose for the best ingredients and attention to detail shine through in even the simplest dishes – from pheasant pie to wild garlic soup. The real focus though is on bread, cheese, wine and beer. Sourdough is baked in-house and predictably wonderful with whipped butter on the side.

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    Bar San Juan

    Spanish

    There is no menu to view online, you can’t book a table and it is about the size of a corner shop, but Bar San Juan is almost always bursting at the seams with customers. This unassuming little tapas bar is one of those hidden gems of almost cult-like status that locals just love to recommend. Rightly so. 

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    Double Zero

    Italian

    An authentic Neopolitan style pizzeria, Double Zero has been lauded as one of the best in the UK. The menu is confident simplicity with the pizza taking centre stage, obviously. That black-speckled, bubble crusted beauty that you have come to know and love, made on site with a blast (90 seconds max) in their Dantean blue and white tiled furnace. Apart from the obvious, toppings include Italian ham and pineapple, placed brazenly at the top of the list to goad the naysayers, perhaps.

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    Henry C

    American

    Serving up Po Boys and great cocktails, Henry C is a cosy neighbourhood bar with a heavy New Orleans influence. As with many newer bars and dining spots in Chorlton, its premises used to be a shop, with large windows looking out at the goodie-two-shoes grocery, Unicorn. But everything in moderation, right? You can pick up a tote full of chickpeas for the week and grab a grilled cheese sarnie and a Negroni as a reward.

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    Electrik

    Italian

    Elektrik is an award-winning independent bar with great coffee and a wide selection of beer, wine and cocktails. They offer a people-pleasing menu of freshly made Italian-style pizza, piadinas, and, er, pizza doughnuts! On Sundays, they cook up a legendary selection of roast dinners including a gargantuan sharing platter groaning under the weight of a whole roast chicken, piles of roast beef and pork and all the trimmings. Vegan options are available too.

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    Amma’s Canteen

    Indian subcontinent

    Passionate Keralan-Indian-Brit fusion. A great place to eat can make the back end of nowhere worth visiting – and (largely) Keralan restaurant Amma’s Canteen, on the outskirts of Chorlton, feels like a destination. Located opposite Southern Cemetery on Barlow Moor Road, the area is defiantly residential, yet with its jaunty trompe de l’oeil wallpaper and feature filaments, Amma’s is a joy. Keralan-Brit chef Saju Ravindran cooks with a rainbow of freshly toasted spices.

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    Barbakan Deli

    European

    Having its roots in Eastern Europe, Barbakan was first establish some 50 years ago. This community food haven is essentially a classic European deli. People come from all over the show to pick up their house baked loaves, their massive German Sausages (fnar), their Polish doughnuts and pastries, their Italian antipasti and coffee, their Greek olives, their Spanish hams, their French cheese and so many other European wonders that it might lead a person to the conclusion that Brexit is a really bad idea. With a large outdoor seating area, you can grab a casual bite to eat and a coffee with mates before filling your hemp-fibre tote bag full of goodies to take home.

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    Chapati Cafe

    Indian subcontinent

    Chapati Cafe is a true gem in the tradition of the good old ‘three and rice’ that every true Mancunian holds dear. Your rainbow of curries comes served on a compartmentalised metal tray which, some may say, is reminiscent of lunch at Strangeways, but it’s actually how lunch is often served in ashrams, cafes and from street vendors all over India, so there. Anyway, are you even a modern Chorltonite if you haven’t done a yoga course in Rishikesh? 

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    The Little Yeti

    Indian subcontinent

    The Little Yeti is an establishment of the ‘limited menu but executed very well’ variety, which is more common in Asia than over here, where ‘all things to all people’ is perhaps too often attempted. The speciality you visit TLY for is momos, which for the uninitiated are not just a terrifying internet meme but also round (usually), dumplings not dissimilar to Japanese gyoza or Polish pierogi.

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    The Beagle

    American

    A bustling, eclectic, neighbourhood boozer which also has an ever-evolving menu of mostly American and Mexican style trash, in a good way. Think crispy, buttermilk fried chicken, loaded burritos, kimchi fries, and towering burgers, all levelled up with extra filth like maple syrup, pancakes and the like. They do superfood and loaded Tex-Mex style salads as well, and their vegan game keeps getting stronger. They know their customers and they aim to please.

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    Dulcimer

    Italian

    “Music is in our blood” proclaim the team behind Dulcimer, the bar named after a funkily shaped hammer-struck string instrument, whose moniker, in turn, comes from the Latin for sweet melody. All this is very fitting since you can get hammered in Dulcimer while listening to sweet melodies and finish the night throwing some funky shapes (groan!).

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    Brewski

    American

    Poutine, it’s Canada’s answer to our sacred Northern ambrosia: chips and gravy, but with one crucial addition, squeaky cheese curds. Brewski have taken the concept and run with it, adding, for better or worse, adornments such as truffle oil, blue cheese and fried chicken to some of theirs. You have nine varieties to choose from if you wish. Brewski’s menu also features a similarly heterogeneous range of mac n cheese options.

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    Mary and Archie

    European

    A well-loved local cafe bar, sourcing the best local ingredients for their famous ‘all-day’ brunch menu. A stonking Sunday lunch is another reason the locals flock there, and there are burgers, boards, and small plates on the main menu too. All with veggie and vegan options, obvs.

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    Cask and Kiln

    American

    With over 80 different varieties on offer, sourced from the four corners of the globe, whisky is the name of the game at Cask and Kiln. But if that’s not your tipple don’t worry, there are plenty of standard and rare spirits for perusal along with those ubiquitous craft ales and ciders. They also host occasional tap takeovers so you’ll struggle to get bored with the booze on offer. Entertainment is a big priority, with regular DJs (the likes of Clint Boon), comedy nights, live music, pub quiz and more.

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    The Font Chorlton

    European

    While the city centre Font Bar is often typecast as ‘that student place with the really cheap cocktails’, Chorlton Font is like a more sophisticated older sibling who’s just got back from a year or two backpacking around the world. Yes, their Happy Hour is resplendent with two-for-one dayglo cocktails, and they have a dazzling array of beers, but there’s more.

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    Tea Hive

    British

    Tea Hive is a quaint little cafe celebrating the nation’s favourite cuppa, and cake, lots of cake. As you’d expect, aside from good old English brekkie, there are Kilner jars full of loose leaf tea in all manner of strains. There’s coffee too, obvs, and they recently launched an inventive little cocktail menu utilising their house brews, think espresso martinis with Origin Coffee Roasters’ coffee, black chai white Russians and Earl Grey gin fizzes.

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    Love Thy Neighbour

    American

    Does a standard latte not hit the spot? Want your latte with beetroot, turmeric, matcha or even activated charcoal? Love Thy Neighbour will be happy to oblige. They’re obliging types, offering something to please everyone whether you’re a carnivore, pescatarian, veggie, vegan, or that dreadful term ‘flexitarian’. It’s all about love here and there is a strong emphasis on heart health, so alongside the rainbow selection of lattes and vitamin packed smoothies you will find Buddha bowls, smoothie bowls and a whole lot of pulses.

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