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Guide

The Coolest Places To Eat In Manchester

Looking for bare bricks, parquet wood flooring, dangly filament light bulbs, Scandi chairs, clipboard menus, natural wine, staff in trainers, chefs in flatcaps… you get the point.

Here we’ve collected together some of the most interesting and hip places to eat in Manchester, from laid-back suburban bistros to a back street sushi cave.

  • 7 Book Now Manchester

    Hawksmoor

    British

    The best steakhouse in the North. Opening on Deansgate in 2015, the first Hawksmoor steakhouse outside of London is a confident affair. Steak and attention to detail have created a branch like no other, whose beef is among the world’s finest. Sourced from Yorkshire’s Ginger Pig, choose from huge sharing cuts such as T-bone, Porterhouse and prime rib, with solo steaks available if you’re not into sharing. Starters such as Caesar salad with airy Doddington shavings, an artisan burrata made in Wiltshire or sticky, rare breed Old Spot belly ribs are meals in themselves,while seafood is strength. Ethically sourced scallops bath in white port and garlic butter, or try the UK-sourced monkfish, grilled over charcoal. Side orders such as triple-cooked chips, creamed spinach, anchovy hollandaise and bone marrow gravy are reason enough to visit, and the location is lovely. Packed with nooks and crannies, the wood-lined former court room feels unpretentious and the Mid Century light fittings, sourced from the US, reflect the subtle good taste at work. Drinks take in classic cocktails and ‘Sharpeners’ (we recommend the Hawksmoor Collins and ridiculously gingery Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew) while the winelist is packed with intriguing, accessible wines. A reliably brilliant experience.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Hispi

    European

    Moreish cooking at Gary Usher’s Manchester bistro. Hispi is, quite simply, a great bistro. Third in a small chain of restaurants conceived by Gary Usher, the concept started with Sticky Walnut in Chester (see also Top 100), a neighbourhood operation which made its name off the back of great basics like crème brulee, quaffable wine served in beakers, and excellent quality produce. Little has changed over several successful crowdfunding campaigns. The menu could now include beer-battered salt pickles with parsley and tarragon mayo, roasted butternut squash and goats curd linguine with ‘sticky walnuts’, featherblade beef with truffle and parmesan chips, homemade Eccles cake with whipped cream or perfectly pulled off custard tart (one of The Confidential’s dishes of the year 2017). Expect chunky British food, with fresh ingredients and tasty results. Space-wise, spartan yet comfortable seating place the focus firmly on food. And drink. Choose from four bespoke brews created by Manchester’s Blackjack brewery, fashionable orange wines, Turkish varietals and more. Premier Cru Vallet Frères Beaune is a favourite at the top end.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Sugo Pasta Kitchen

    Italian

    Puglian inspired pasta in the heart of Altrincham. Another Altrincham success story, this Puglian-inspired restaurant opened in 2015. Sugo doesn’t do pizzas, or a lot of choices at all – and the emphasis is 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 parmesan Foglie di Ulivo with a San Marzano tomato ragu, basil, parmesan and Puglian burrata, or a dish of mussels, baby squid, king prawns in their shells with chilli and ginger. Tables are for sharing, the soundtrack more Jarvis Cocker than the Three Tenors. Devoted to serving the best produce available, owners (former Honest Crust workers, Alex De Martiis, his brother Micheal and Jonny Marcolgiese), import pasta, oil and earthenware from Puglia – and the quality of Sugo’s Italian raw materials are matched by the sourcing nearer home; they have persuaded Manchester Veg People to grow staple Puglia greens cime di rapa for them. Starters and desserts are perfect sharing material; slow braised lamb belly crocchette with anchovy bagna cauda, for example, arancino filled with basil pesto and Campania mozzarella di bufala, and a new take on mussels with bottarga (cured grey mullet roe AKA ‘Italian caviar’). Blueberry and almond frangipane tart, vanilla panna cota with poached Yorkshire and a Ginger’s Comfort Emporium pear sorbet, specially created by local gelato maestro Clare Kelsey round things off perfectly, while wines are limited to a short list of Southern Italian varietals. An authentic choice for food (and wine) lovers – with a new branch in Ancoats too.

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  • 9 Book Now Manchester

    Where the Light Gets In

    Modern British

    The UK’s most exciting ‘no menu’ restaurant. With no menu, esoteric wines and Michelin star price tag, WTLGI doesn’t adhere to the typical fine dining formula. But it’s been a success for Stockport, thanks to chef-patron Sam Buckley’s belief in doing things his own way. His aim is to create ‘a dining experience from the day’s catch, harvest and slaughter’ and to treat staff ethically and as part of the restaurant’s collective consciousness. Refreshingly, the diner plays a central role in this food-led production. What with there being no menu, the experience changes with the days and seasons, but dishes Confidential writers have enjoyed in the past include chestnuts foraged that day in Delamere Forest, lemony sprats with curd-topped scrap of poppadom and deep-fried slivers of bull’s testicles, smeared with tart quince puree. Salt-baked beetroot with hazelnut custard, fillet of plaice with bergamot infusion and wild horseradish daringly shredded over chocolate tart are the kind of treats in store. Wines are a fair match for Buckley ethos; often natural and biodynamic, several are sourced from specialists such as Settle’s Buon Vino. Open minded diners welcome.

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  • 16 Book Now Manchester

    Umezushi

    Japanese

    Nose-to-tail sushi from acclaimed experts in an off-the-beaten track location. This sushi restaurant with simple décor comes up trumps in the food department with a menu that changes according to availability and daily specials. Widely regarded as one of the finest Japanese restaurants in the UK, highlights could include Hamachi (Japanese Amberjack) and toro sashimi (buttery tuna belly) or fresh water eel nigiri. Special mention also goes to the wagyu nigiri. Sushi sets could include hosomaki (four mini rolls), uramaki (reverse rolls), temaki (hand roll)and gunkan (two battle ship rolls). It’s a menu to please the most jaded of diners. Wines and beers include lively Japanese Koshu wine, sake and European wines as well as beers like Asahi and Estrella. With fresh locally sourced fish delivered every day and an ever-changing specials board, the choice is extensive. The £64 tasting menu takes in shellfish sashimi, congee, pork with bonito, many ways with tuna and roasted plum-sake-infused pineapple. An understated tour de force.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Volta

    European

    A thrilling take on the neighbourhood restaurant format.

    Volta is owned by Luke ‘Unabomber’ Cowdrey and Justin Crawford. They’re the homebred team behind Chorlton’s Elektrik bar, the Electrik Chair club night, and Electrik Elephant festival, as well as the Refuge by Volta at the Principal Hotel in Manchester city centre’s Principal Hotel. The DJ/restaurateurs are masters of putting creative energy behind a project and their second venture is a grown up affair, offering luxurious steaks, and house aged negronis (and various other cocktails using the likes of lavender syrup, burnt orange peel and sanguinello) in a space that blurs the lines between bar and restaurant. The emphasis is on fun and the interior includes reclaimed vintage details, mixed in with a bare-brick. An old school, NYC grill house vibe. The menu is mostly ‘small plates’ plus steak. By turn adventurous and comforting, these could include smoked feta, beetroot, hazelnuts and dill, crispy baby squid with home made aioli, kale tossed with crème fraiche and Cambodian pepper or deep fried Monte Enebro goats cheese. Puddings such as the chocolate pot and the lime posset are of the grown up party food variety, and change seasonally. A thrilling new take on the neighbourhood restaurant format.

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  • rudys-pizza
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    Rudy’s Pizza (Peter Street)

    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 by Neapolitan nerds Jim Morgan and Kate Wilson 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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  • Book Now Manchester

    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. But the starters, desserts and wines are worth every penny too. Tenderstem broccoli leave it’s Meal Deal affiliations behind, with dollops of just-blended romesco, while perfect puds could include raspberry brûlée or nutty espresso affogato with hazelnut liqueur. Quiet sophistication and affordability typifies the drinks menu; think Negronis, British sparkling wines and Portuguese whites. Regular visitors to this part of town will note that little about the interior has changed from it’s days as Gray’s Larder restaurant. The brown leather effect booths and low-slung lighting looked good then, and still does now. Undeniably casual, this is the kind of place you could easily visit twice a week – and many do.

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  • 27 Book Now Manchester

    El Gato Negro

    Spanish

    Upmarket Manc-Spanish fusion, that really, really works. Originally from Yorkshire, chef Simon Shaw has created an indulgent, three-storey church to his passion for the best in Spanish food and wine with El Gato Negro. Top floor is a bar and dining, complete with retractable roof, fine wines, bespoke g&ts and cocktails, while wedged in the middle of the upmarket tapas bar on the ground floor is the restaurant proper, complete with open kitchen, exposed brick walls, comfy booths. Be warned however: there’s seldom a spare seat anywhere in the building. The menu moves slightly, according to where you sit too – so its roasted Valencia almonds at the bar and groaning dessert platters, replete with crème catalan, homemade ice creams and the signature Valrhona chocolate tart with spiced coffee syrup at the table. Must tries include Morcilla scotch eggs with mushroom duxelle, apple purée and aioli, mini Catalan chorizo with Aspall cider, chargrilled heritage carrots, aubergine purée, miso and walnut pesto and manchego, even better when eaten at the bar that overlooks Shaw and co in the open kitchen. Both sexy and moreish, this Spanish restaurant is far greater than the sum of its parts.

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  • 23 Book Now Manchester

    Bundobust

    Indian subcontinent

    Veggie Bollywood blockbuster serving small plates and the best in beer. Bundobust is a huge beer hall serving tens of craft beers from a massive bar in the heart of Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. It also happpened to win Restaurant of the Year at the 2017 Manchester Food and Drink Festival awards. How? Well, the story starts like this: Bradford buddies Marko Husak of Sparrow Bar and Mayur Patel of vegetarian Indian restaurant, Prashad, teamed up to open the first Bundobust in Leeds in 2014. The second opened in Manchester in 2016, with Bundobust Liverpool set to join the gang in 2018. Beer is Husak’s sphere of expertise but the small plate interpretations of veggie dishes from Prashad are a blast. Everything arrives in coolly branded little tubs costing anywhere from £4 to £7 (£80 will buy you the entire menu). Start with okra fries, Bundo chaat, before dipping into Mumbai-style veggie burgers (Vada Pav) made from spicy mash coated in besan flour and deep-fried, and served with chutneys and hot chillies. There’s a vegan Masala Dosa too, as well as perfect, fluffy rice cushions (idli) atop a thick soup (sambhar) of lentils and aubergine. Seasonal bhaji could include broccoli or brussell sprout while the simple chole saag (chickpea and spinach curry) is heaven sent. Beers could include Bombay Dazzler, a floral wheat beer tailor-made by Leeds’ Northern Monk brewers, Chorlton Brewing Co’s Mosaic Citra Double Sour, or the excellent Juicy Bhaghra, made by Danish outfit, Dry & Bitter.

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  • 25 Book Now Lancashire

    Baratxuri

    Spanish

    Sublime homage to the pintxos bars of the Basque region. Basque enclave, Baratxuri, is the second Ramsbottom-based bar and restaurant from Joe and Fiona Botham. A spin-off from their business importing high-quality Spanish raw materials, including aged beef from Galician dairy cows, Baratxuri follows the success of their first venture, Levanter, which is just around the corner (and also in the top 100). Sourcing and perfectly cooked meat and fish are at the heart of the operation with a menu that includes bar-top pintxos, raciones (whole, shell on prawns cooked in garlic, or baked Catalan brie with a home-dried tomato tapenade) and a short ‘asado’ or wood-fired roasted meats menu. This could include a quarter of milk-fed lamb, Txuleton rib steak, Jacobs Ladder or octopus leg, all served whole and carved at the table with piles of roast potatoes and buttery ham and cabbage. Look out for pintxos such as Txistorra (a sausage roll encasing piquant chorizo) or Txangurro a la Donastiana a pimento-rich spider crab tartlet (a signature dish of San Sebastian) making their way from the open plan kitchen. To drink? Tzakoli is an obvious choice but everything is good from the medium-bodied Mencia M Mencia from the Luna Beberide winery in Bierzo to Xixarito Pedro Ximenez sherry and the Marioneta cocktail (a Negroni by any other name with the emphasis on the Spanish sweet vermouth). A wonderful place.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Albert’s Schloss

    European

    A Bavarian-inspired fun palace of extraordinary dimensions and clever design. Behind the glistening tiles of the former Manchester and Salford Wesleyan Mission building from 1910 there’s a vast bar, real fires, perfectly preserved original plaster, a wall stuffed generously with flowers by floral artists’ Frog – not to mention a stage, DJ booth and network of beer pipes and tanks serving unpasturised Pilsner Urquell to hordes of adoring punters. The strapline for Albert’s Schloss – ‘Cook Haus and Bier Palace’ – is accurate, the menu an indulgent delight that’s as popular on weekday lunchtimes, as Saturday nights and Sunday brunches. Start with a ‘morning bun’ with cinnamon sugar and Oreo coffee, crayfish Benedict or the Broke’n’ English sandwich, named after a homegrown hip hop outfit and comprised of broken yolks, treacle-cured bacon, avocado, chilli jam and cheddar on a morning rolls. No, this isn’t somewhere that’s sticking to the classics; its all about giving you what you really, really want which could be a ‘sausage fest’ of three house wurst or schweinshaxe (crispy bavarian pork knuckle, red cabbage, apple and horseradish gravy), an ‘Alpine pizza’, creamy burrata, beetroot hummus banana waffles or a halloumi schnitzel burger. Drink house wines, cocktails (blood orange and cranberry g&t and Espresso Martini are favourites), or press the ‘push for prosecco’ button on your table for £20 bottle on weekday happy hours. Happy hours indeed.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Porta Altrincham

    European

    Portuguese-inspired small plates and a menu that really delivers. Porta might be another tapas place – but this one is a smash hit serving excellent food and fine wines. Typical dishes include deep fried goats cheese, dripping in local honey with slivers of fresh orange and the most unctuous, sticky ox cheek, perfectly paired with pickled walnuts and lightly toasted cumin seeds. Tuck into secreto Iberico with mojo verde, jamon croquetas while desserts could include pastel de nata (Lisbon’s famous, tiny custard tarts) or a decadent chocolate mousse. A menu of sherries, fine wines and beers, complements the dark-hued décor; think back-street Madrid with a sun-kissed afternoon stretching ahead of you. Owners are the team behind Michelin Bib Gourmand winner Joseph Benjamin in Chester (where the original branch of Porta is located) and they’re opening a new one in Salford in October 2018. A leading option in food-focused Altrincham.

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  • tattu
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    Tattu

    Chinese

    Located in the heart of Manchester’s gleaming business district (and also on East Parade in Leeds), Tattu is an Instagrammer’s dream. Think penumbral lighting, body art-inspired cocktails and a full size cherry blossom tree with hand sewn silk petals. You’d be forgiven for expecting such opulent surroundings to outshine the food. Not so. This ‘contemporary Chinese’ restaurant revels in equally artistic and playful dishes – such as Peking duck buns and kimchi crab cakes. It’s not cheap, a main of their signature, umami-rammed Yuzu black cod will cost you over £30, but the very decent lunch menu (two dishes for £13, three for £18, four for £22) is sure to impress dim sum devotees.

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    Randall & Aubin

    British

    The famed Soho seafood restaurant got off to a good start after opening in Manchester in the summer of 2017, however rough conditions and a lack of direction lead to rumours of closure just a year later. It was time to sink or swim. Randall & Aubin’s founders, chef Ed Baines and business partner Jamie Poulton, subsequently stepped in and the ship swung back on course with renewed purpose and vigour. Manchester has not historically taken to seafood restaurants, however, Randall’s canny combination of fresh fishy dishes, like the breaded and fried lemon sole and the dressed Dorset crab, alongside brasserie classics like rotisserie chicken and steak frites have kept punters flooding back. It’s a looker too.

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    Mughli

    Indian subcontinent

    Confidential readers are likely to be familiar with Mughli; the contemporary, social media embracing, second generation Curry Mile restaurant that paved the way for the likes of Indian Tiffin Room, Amma’s Canteen and Dishoom. Obviously this sort of thing is standard now, but Mughli was one of the first Indian restaurants to steam off the flock wallpaper and refresh their menu by adding authentic Indian street food dishes to a menu of British curry house classics. Best sellers include chicken tikka masala, balti and lamb handi as well as contemporary comfort and brunch food such as the spiced lamb ‘bun’, gunpowder fries and masala fish and chips. Roadside canteen dishes (‘dhaba’) are another strength, and the fragrant ‘dum biryani’ is a must. Film posters and wooden blinds set the scene for spiced cocktails and well chosen wines – and the price tag seals the deal.

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