Guide

The top 20 small plates in the North West

We Brits don’t traditionally look too kindly on sharing our dinner. We tend to favour a procession of ‘private’ plates and issue a death stare to anyone who tries to nick one of our chips. But over the past few years, we’ve seen a change in dining decorum. Once only tolerated on an ‘exotic’ visit to a tapas restaurant, ordering a selection of small plates to share between two or more has become de rigueur in all sorts of UK restaurants from Japanese to Scandi.

Our top 100 includes plenty of them, so we’ve put them together into a handy guide. From dishes such as smoked beets, goats cheese and nettle sauce at gorgeous upmarket gastropub The Moorcock, to a procession of Indian street food perfect for soaking up a few craft beers at Bundobust as well as some next level tapas from the likes of El Gato Negro and Lunya. Shake off your stiff upper lip, grab some friends and family and get stuck in.

  • 4 Book Now Yorkshire

    The Moorcock

    Modern British

    An astonishing arrival on the Northern culinary scene. This unassuming pub serves foraged and regional ingredients in thrilling configurations, catching the eye of national food critics and diners alike. The menu could include crispy fish skin and tarts of foraged berries, wood-roasted goat, leeks with new season garlic and pickled plums, homemade black pudding, roasted beeswax ice cream and cascades of herbs and leaves that go way beyond plate dressing.

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    Book Now Manchester

    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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  • 17 Book Now Yorkshire

    Skosh

    European

    As close to perfect as world-fusion British cooking gets. Chef-patron Neil Bentinck’s menu could include tandoori-spiced Galician octopus or a dim sum-style roast pork bun with pak choi kimchi. A light, miso-glazed hake with Egyptian dukkah and cauliflower-rice risotto could be followed by heavyweight fried chicken, with a brown butter hollandaise mousse. There’s artistry at work too, in the shape of a ‘hen’s egg’ made with cheddar foam, a creamy yolk, bits of crispy cheddar, sauteed mushroom, and Pedro Ximenez sherry reduction tastes.

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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. Both sexy and moreish, this Spanish restaurant is far greater than the sum of its parts.

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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.

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  • San-Carlo-Cicchetti
    Book Now Manchester

    San Carlo Cicchetti

    Italian

    As the first San Carlo Cicchetti, the Manchester restaurant had a lot to prove on opening in 2010. Seven years and several awards later, it’s still going strong. Why? We think it’s attention to detail. Founder Carlo Distefano is a stickler for quality and you’ll find the same passion for produce and impeccable service at every San Carlo. Let’s just say it runs in the family. 

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  • Bundobust food
    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 happened to win Restaurant of the Year at the 2017 Manchester Food and Drink Festival awards.

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  • 20 Book Now Yorkshire

    Jöro

    Scandi

    Nordic-inspired fine dining inside a shipping container. Jöro opened the doors of its permanent shipping-container location in early 2017. However, it’s already secured a accolades and fawning reviews galore, including a clutch of AA Rosettes and Michelin Bib Gourmand. Headed by chef Luke French, the concise, Nordic-inspired menu continues the up-cycling ethos of the building structure by delivering often unassuming ingredients with vision and ingenuity.

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  • Book Now Liverpool

    Maray

    European

    Irresistible Middle Eastern fusion small plates – a slow-burning smash hit. Inspired by (and named after) the Middle-Eastern flavours of Paris’ Marais district, Maray provides an informal, communal dining experience which revolves around excellent falafels, small plates, fine wines and cocktails.

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  • Book Now Cheshire

    The Roebuck

    British

    Multi-award-winning pub in the Cheshire countryside. Described as ‘classic bistro food’ the menu covers all your pub essentials from fresh, stone-baked pizzas to sharing boards (the ‘fromagerie board’ for examples include Taleggio, Comte, Brie and gorgonzola – there’s no standing on ceremony here), via small plates (crab mayo and crushed avocado with chilli, for example, crispy confit duck rolls and… Thai spiced chicken wings).

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  • Book Now Liverpool

    Bacaro

    European

    Passionate about Venetian small plates. Akin to the backstreet Venetian tapas bars which inspired this central Liverpool bar and restaurant, there is something about Salt House Bacaro that makes you never want to leave. Part of Paddy Smith’s Red and Blue group, the team behind Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social, Bacaro is all about cicchetti: diminutive small plates, perfectly formed.

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  • Book Now Liverpool

    Belzan

    European

    Following a punchy review by Confidential’s Deanna Thomas – and, latterly, the Guardian’s Grace Dent – it has been hard to secure a table at Liverpool’s maverick newcomer Belzan. The self-described ‘neo-bistro’ opened in 2018, the baby of a £20,000 Kickstarter campaign by the owners of Duke Street cocktail emporium Filter and Fox.

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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.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    The Refuge

    European

    Winning small plate fusion in an iconic and glamorous setting. Housed in Manchester’s iconic The Refuge Assurance Company dating back to 1858, this DJ-run restaurant and bar is large and sassy. There’s a Winter Garden; an enormous bar; a restaurant; and subterranean ballroom. The venue (as opposed to the wider Principal Hotel, of which it is a part) is run by Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford AKA DJ duo The Unabombers who were given the job on the coattails of their success with West Didsbury bar and restaurant, Volta.

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  • Book Now Liverpool

    Lunya

    Spanish

    World-class Catalan deli and restaurant. This central wine and tapas bar is a wonderful place to hang out, with snacks and full-bodied meals on offer. Just don’t expect Spanish standards in a venue known for signature dishes like Catalan Scouse (morcilla and chorizo stew), or croquetas with oxtail and horseradish mousse.

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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. 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.

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  • Book Now Leeds

    The Swine That Dines

    Modern British

    Adventurous, nose-to-tail (or veggie, or themed) cooking at one of Leeds most promising restaurants. The Swine That Dines is fast become one of the toughest places to get a table in the city. Driven by a passion for extremely high welfare meat – and eating all of the animal – the seven dishes on the set menu (there’s no a la carte) are designed for two people to share, and clock in at around £50 between two.

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  • Book Now Lancashire

    Levanter

    Spanish

    A true tapas bar serving authentic Spanish dishes, wines and sherries. Owned and run by Basque food importers Joe and Fiona Botham, Levanter is ‘a true tapas bar’ serving authentic Spanish dishes, wines and sherries. Sourcing special meats (both cured and aged) and cheeses from small, rural artisan producers, and bread from local operation, Trove, means that everything is as authentic as your likely to find in Ramsbottom.

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  • Book Now Leeds

    Matt Healy x The Foundry

    European

    Local chef Matt Healy had his work cut out taking on this Leeds stalwart– but he’s pulled it off spectacularly. Having excelled on Masterchef The Professionals in 2016, The Foundry his first solo venture and it’s a crowd pleaser of the best kind. Options could include classic steak tartare, baby chicken ‘Kiev’, hake loin with confit fennel and charred clementine puree and crème brulee éclair.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Chaat Cart

    Indian subcontinent

    Top notch Indian street food and small plates in a vibrant setting. Former street food vendors, Chaat Cart have set up permanent home in Marple, under the auspices of founder Aarti Pandey. The venue’s interior, as colouful as the food on offer, has been designed by Soo Wilkinson. Flavours are multi-dimensons and portions are small (which is reflected in the price). In short, Chaat Cart is an excellent reason to visit Marple – plus there’s an atmospheric ‘secret’ gin garden out the back for fair weather visits.

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