The knowledge: Anna Tully’s guide to eating out in Manchester
eating out in manchester

Manchester may be best-known for its trendy shops, exciting music scene and buzzing nightlife – but it’s also home to some of the finest food and drink venues in the UK.

Restaurant reviewer and gastronomic enthusiast Anna Tully is co-founder of the popular Manchester Foodies blog, and knows all about the top places to wine and dine in the city.

In our latest instalment of The Knowledge, she shares her recommendations on the best places for eating out in Manchester…

eating out in manchester
[Italian class – Cicchetti in House Of Fraser is simply delicious]

My favourite place for a quick, no-fuss bite to eat…

If we’re talking super-quick, as in takeout, then Go Falafel is decent and cheap. There’s one at the start of the Curry Mile and one on Newton street, not far from Piccadilly train station. Get ALL of the salad options – the falafel wrap will drip down your chin, but it will be worth it. For a no-fuss sit in affair, This & That on Soap St (just behind Trof NQ) is supposedly the bee’s knees for curry.

Best place for a special occasion…

Without a doubt, Simon Rogan at The French. A newbie on the restaurant scene here in Manchester, the food is expensive but stunning. Aumbry in Prestwich expertly serves elegant dinners and comfortable surroundings in equal measures. For those with a smaller budget, the Rose Garden on Burton road in West Didsbury is a small but perfectly formed affair.

Great hidden gems on the local scene…

Living just round the corner from the Curry Mile, I’m quite defensive about the bad press it gets. There’s some fantastic places to eat – you just have to know where to eat for what: Antalya Cafe is a shisha bar that serves grilled sea bass, chips and salad for around £7, or a humungous shawarma in Turkish bread for less than a fiver.

Jaffa offers excellent daily specials – think lamb with okra and rice – for £4.50, as well as authentic Middle Eastern mezze (ask for extra potatoes, they’re delicious). Falafel – ironically – makes excellent kibbeh, delicious with a plate of hummus, and for a modern Indian restaurant experience try Mughli: they keep classics such as Karahis alongside unexpected finds such as a samosa chaat, a ‘deconstructed vegetable samosa’.

Another suburban favourite is Kyotoya on Copson street in Withington. It’s probably not the most authentic Japanese cuisine, but it’s tasty, hearty and cheap. Well worth a visit if you’re in the locality.

[SoLita – the best burgers in the business]

Specialist restaurants I would recommend…

Yuzu in Chinatown for brilliant sashimi, I am Pho for Vietnamese noodle soups and SoLita for interesting burger concepts. There’s also 1847 in the city centre and Chorlton for veggies, as well as celebrity-chef owned Greens in West Didsbury.

Best family-friendly venues…

I don’t hang out with kids very often, but Twitter recommendations suggest Red Chilli, Tampopo and Gusto. The Wharf in Castlefield is a huge pub with plenty of access for prams, as well as a safe menu and children-sized portions. If your kids can handle a little bit of sophistication alongside a reasonably familiar menu, then Cicchetti in House of Fraser serves delicious small Italian plates.

For a first date…

I’d recommend somewhere casual with a good drinks selection that doesn’t forget about its food. Common is famed for its Halloumi and Falafel burger, and also offers a small list of ‘Common Classics’ such as beef or veggie chilli. Also situated in the Northern Quarter is the newest venture from the Almost Famous boys: Luck Lust Liquor and Burn. Much more grown-up than its burger loving little brother, this place is inspired by a road trip from Vegas to Mexico – think crab sub rolls, pulled pork burritos and Man Vs Food style challenges (save the latter for a mates’ date).

[Perfect for a special occasion – fine dining at The French]

The place I keep going back to…

Phetpailin – an unassuming Thai BYO restaurant on George St in Chinatown. Skip past the lap-dancing club next door and up the stairs to a haven filled with off-license white wine and our favourite dishes, Tamarind Duck and Pla Chu Chee. Whether for a birthday, double date or mate’s leaving do – it’s always been a winner for us.

New restaurants that have impressed me….

The most impressive restaurant to join the Manchester dining scene has to be The French. I know I’ve already highlighted it, but it’s worth a second mention. If you’re on a budget, try their three-course lunchtime menu at £29.

A local chef who has caught my attention…

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Ernst van Zyl at Etrop Grange: his cooking style isn’t for everyone, but Ernst is innovative and he’s dishing out some of the prettiest plates of food in the country.

[Hangover Heaven – grab a great breakfast at the Koffee Pot]

The perfect foodie day/night in Manchester…

Start off by easing your way through the hangover at the Koffee Pot, a Manchester legend, which serves up plates of full English alongside more tarted-up brekkies such as smoked haddock rarebit on crumpets. You’ll be easing your way into a food coma after all that, so stop by North Tea Power for the best cup of coffee in the city. The customer service sometimes leaves a little to be desired, but it’s easily forgiven when you taste their flat whites.

Next up, head to the Arndale food market (not the food court!), where you’ll find yourself a bargain lunch. Posh it most certainly ain’t, but Pancho’s burritos are fit for a Mexican king. Stock up on dried chillis whilst you’re here – they have quite a selection. If you’ve any room, try a coxinha from the Cantina Brasil – it’s essentially a deep fried ball of mashed potato stuffed with chicken. Yum!

Once you’ve recovered from lunch, it’s time to start thinking about dinner. Make your way across the city for a couple of aperitifs to get your hunger started. If the weather’s nice, take a seat on the balcony of Bar Epernay: they consistently serve the best cocktails in the city and specialise in Champagne. If it’s a little groggier outside, slip into the Gas Lamp, a children’s mission turned basement bar, specialising in craft beers.

It’s the perfect stop before dinner at the Mark Addy, a riverside restaurant – remember it’s the Irwell, not the Seine – and pub serving up hearty and unusual dishes, showcasing lesser-used produce. You’ll find a list of daily specials and a dedication to locally-sourced fare.

The best thing about Manchester’s restaurant scene…

We have a really great street-food scene, despite the sometimes torrential rain. Guerilla Eats is a relative newcomer to the foodie scene, a collective of food traders specialising in anything from deep South BBQ to fried chicken burgers. Manchester has a lot of ‘cheap eats’ – the best ones may not be easy to find or stumble upon, but they are here. Whether it’s street food traders, curry cafés or hipster bars serving up a side of Tex-Mex, there’s pretty much something for everyone.

Read more from Anna at Manchester Foodies, and follow the blog on Twitter.

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What are your favourite places for eating out in Manchester?

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