There was a time when dining alone could feel a little uncomfortable or awkward, as restaurants seemed to cater solely for couples or groups – but (we’re happy to say) that stigma is long gone.
As more and more people choose a meal for one – whether for business or just to indulge in a little ‘me time’ – here’s our pick of 14 great restaurants for solo diners in Manchester.
The Refuge by Volta
With a large restaurant space, a winter atrium, a cosy den and a 40 foot granite bar with 18 craft ale taps, there are plenty of spots to grab a bite to eat at The Refuge. The People’s Lunch offers an express, no-nonsense big hearty bowl of soul food for £7.50 – perfect for solo dining. It’s a comfortable spot to work from if you’re a freelancer or just want to escape the office, too, with WIFI and plenty of sockets.
The Palace Hotel, Oxford Street, M60 7HA – refugemcr.co.uk
You’ll find the best steaks in Manchester at this former Victorian courthouse, including a bargainous rump and chips for £15 at lunchtime. Sit in the stylish bar if you fancy something more casual, where the menu includes stunning burgers, lobster rolls and short-rib French dip, as well as perfect triple-cooked chips. And the best thing about dining alone here? There’s no need to worry about having to share anything.
184-186 Deansgate, M3 3WB – thehawksmoor.com
El Gato Negro
For superb Spanish food overlooking King Street check out El Gato Negro, which was awarded a prestigious Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2017. In the first floor restaurant, you can take a seat for one at the chef’s table, watching the theatre of your food cooked in front of you – or if you fancy something more casual, the ground floor bar is very comfortable and offers great charcuterie and cheeses alongside wines by-the-glass. There’s a lovely terrace, too.
52 King Street, M2 4LY – elgatonegrotapas.com
For authentic Japanese food in the heart of Manchester, try Yuzu in Chinatown. It’s small but popular, and if it’s busy you’ll feel perfectly comfortable dining alone perched on a stool along the bar. A weekday set lunch such as tonkatsu breaded pork loin or salmon sashimi comes with miso soup and pickles for under a tenner, but don’t miss the crisp juicy kara-age fried chicken thighs.
39 Faulkner Street, M1 4EE – yuzumanchester.co.uk
For gourmet grilled cheese with a cool soundtrack, you can’t beat Northern Soul. Go for a classic three cheese blend (£4.50), or try mac and cheese with bacon, BBQ pulled pork, tuna or frankfurter fillings. Perch on a seat by the window and you can observe the bustle of Church Street as you eat.
10 Church St, M4 1PN – twitter.com/NorthernSoulMcr
Evelyn’s Cafe Bar
For delicious all-day dining in a cool Northern Quarter space, check out the small plates at Evelyn’s. Try the white fish ceviche with yuzu, lemongrass and shallots, or Korean fried chicken coated in melt-in-the-mouth light batter, perfectly crisp and juicy with an unashamedly fierce chilli kick. There are salads, sandwiches and larger plates too, plus a great Sunday roast.
G18 Smithfield Building, Tib St, M4 1 NB – evelynscafebar.com
TNQ Restaurant and Bar
This simple, intimate dining room in the heart of the Northern Quarter is relaxed and friendly, perfect for great fresh, locally-sourced seasonal food without the stuffiness of some establishments. As well as an a la carte menu they offer an express dining option with two courses for £13.95, including 8oz Cheshire onglet steak or Brixham crab linguine.
108 High St, M4 1HQ – tnq.co.uk
Small, intimate and affordable, Umezushi offers authentic Japanese cuisine including sashimi, sushi and tempura. Grab a seat at the counter in front of the open kitchen and take your pick from the daily changing menu, which also offers hot dishes such as Taiwanese pork rice and Japanese Wagyu beef.
4 Mirabel Street, M3 1PJ – umezushi.co.uk
This industrial-chic bar, restaurant and club under the railway tracks is a great spot to observe the hustle and bustle of Whitworth Street West, with a casual all-day menu including breakfast until 4pm as well as a superb Sunday roast. If you get thirsty, check out the mezzanine Gin Parlour.
54-56 Whitworth Street West, M1 5WW – thisisgorilla.com
Tampopo’s restaurant in the Corn Exchange specialises in street food and signature dishes from across eastern Asia, offering a selection of small plates and mains as well as a weekday express lunch option for around £7 – £9. Whether you’re chowing down in the restaurant with its colourful interior or on the outside terrace overlooking busy Exchange Square, you’ll feel comfortable dining in your own company.
Corn Exchange, M4 3TR – tampopo.co.uk
Home Sweet Home
You’ll find a large menu of US-style comfort food along with a jaw-dropping cake counter at the Great Northern’s Home Sweet Home, which is more spacious than the Northern Quarter branch. Try the cheeseburger toastie – smashed beef patty with melted Cheddar and various relishes on grilled sourdough – and wash it down with an indulgent ‘cake shake’.
Great Northern, Great Northern Square, M3 4EN – homesweethomenq.com
Mr Cooper’s House & Garden
Mr Cooper’s has plenty of drinking and dining options for one from lounging in the garden amongst the cascading wall of plants to enjoying drinks and snacks in the elegant bar or Library. A set lunch offers two courses for £16, while bar snacks include crispy oxtail and smoked marrow croquettes or Mrs Kirkham’s cheese puffs as well as some great wines by the glass.
The Midland Hotel, Peter St, M60 2DS – mrcoopershouseandgarden.co.uk
This rustic little restaurant on John Dalton Street serves up authentic traditional Neapolitan cuisine in an intimate ‘Cucina’ setting, and is a great spot for dining solo. Try a pizza with Buffalo Mozzarella DOC from Campania, freshly prepared pasta or hearty, traditional Neapolitan mains.
19 John Dalton Street, M2 6FW – salvismanchester.co.uk
There are plenty of options for lone diners at Pho, which is set across three floors with a mix of cosy booth seating, large tables and benches for a quick bite, or external tables within the central atrium of the Corn Exchange. Order the National Vietnamese dish, pho – a steaming bowl of rice noodle soup with meat, seafood or vegetables served with a side plate of fresh herbs.
Unit 15, The Corn Exchange, 37 Hanging Ditch, M4 3TR – phocafe.co.uk
Like this? Try these:
Main image: Twitter / @TheRefugeMcr