Anna Tully – one half of Manchester Foodies – returns to document her love for the city’s infamous Curry Mile
It’s no secret that I’m one of the Curry Mile’s biggest defenders.
After living in Rusholme for a year and eating out – on average – twice a week, I discovered there’s plenty of great places to sate your hunger.
The Curry Mile, for me, is less about the, well, curry – and more about the great range of cheap eats in unpretentious surroundings.
— Go Falafel (@GoFalafel) April 28, 2014
First stop as you enter the strip of restaurants and shisha cafes, moving away from the city centre, you’ll find Go Falafel on your right-hand side. This place is a teeny takeaway joint, perfect for gobbling a nutritious hand-held falafel wrap, bursting with red cabbage and pickles in lightning-speed time as you wait for the next bus. At £2.50 for a regular wrap, this place is cheaper than it’s city centre counterpart, but in my opinion, this slightly less busy shop is even better. Perfect for veggies, they also do a mean sideline in freshly squeezed orange juice. Now that’s some healthy hangover cure, right there.
10 Mayfair Court, Wilmslow Road, M14 5TP, gofalafel.co.uk
The only place on my list to grab a curry in Rusholme is Mughli. Purposefully so, as there’s nowhere else in Manchester I’ll eat one since discovering this gem. Consistently excellent food is separated on the menu into ‘Street Food’ and Mains: kick things off with a pau bhaji – a classic Mumbai food-to-go: smashed, spicy veg on a buttered-bun. It’s hard to know where to stop with this menu but other must-haves are the Butter Chicken and Nihari. Mop up the juices with a Peter’s bread (naan sprinkled with garlic, chilli & coriander). Wash it all down with a Kachumber Cooler, a gin cocktail; Mughli pay as much attention to their drinks as their savouries.
30 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5TQ, mughli.com
I’ll expect a bounty on my head after outing the Secret Kebab House, something of a legend amongst the foodie Twittersphere. Technically slightly off the Curry Mile (although its address is apparently the same), Today Restaurant serves up delightful pockets of lamb and chicken shwarma, snuggled into pillowy, freshly baked samun. What’s a samun, you ask? An Iraqi flatbread; it’s sort of a cross between a pitta and ciabatta, shaped like a rugby ball, sprinkled with sesame seeds. I think they sell other things but frankly, who’s interested when this heavenly sandwich is a steal at £2.50? Limited seating, usually busy, but efficient service.
100 A Wilmslow Road,Rusholme, Manchester M14 5AJ
If shwarma’s your thing but you wanna eat in, Jaffa’s the place for you. It’s more expensive than Today Restaurant, but with its large booth seating, it’s always bustling and the atmosphere is part of the charm. Grab a couple of mezzes to share – when the fried potatoes drenched in tomato sauce are available, I advise you order a separate plate of these bad boys. The spicy lamb or spinach fatayer is also good; essentially a folded pizza without the tomato, it’s great stodge to go with your ‘healthy’ mezze. Nothing on the main menu is over a fiver, though specials sometimes break the bank at a whopping £6. If you’re confused on entering, just grab a table, order at the counter and pay when you leave.
185 Wilmslow Road,Rusholme, Manchester M14 5AP
Undoubtedly one of my favourite places to eat in Manchester, and the place I miss most now I’m a ten-minute drive away from Rusholme. Sometimes I go back and order boxes of their rice to stick in the freezer, just in case. As unbelievable as it may sound, the rice really is the star of the show here: proper Afghani rice, laden with caramelised carrots and onion. They know it too – you’ll pay an extra £1 for a kebab on the stuff instead of naan. You’ll still walk away with change from a tenner though. Try the lamb chops on top – the char is perfect and the meat juicy.
86 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5AL
— Tuffy (@The7uffster) March 12, 2014
In reality, Antalya Cafe is a shisha cafe, that happens to do great value food. Be mindful however if you’re visiting with friends who don’t like smoke as you can’t really escape it. On a sunny day, it’s fun to sit outside and watch the hustle and bustle of Rusholme’s own dining strip. I don’t know any place in Manchester where you’ll find cheaper fish: a grilled sea bass or bream with salad will set you back a mere £7.50. The chicken kebab is humungous and the Turkish bread it comes on is also ridiculously filling. That one’s £5.50.
78-84 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5AL
Maybe it seems weird that I’m not recommending you visit falafel for its namesake dish – although they’re worth a try if you’d prefer to sit inside over visiting Go Falafel. Instead, what I come here for is the kubba (also known as kibbeh or kibbe). Hidden away on the menu in the ‘Beverages & Sweets’ section, take note that they’re neither. Spiced lamb mince, encased in bulgur wheat, they’re essentially a meaty Levantine croquette. Time-consuming to make at home, at £2.50 a portion here, they’re worth the trip alone.
26 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5TQ
Another great Middle Eastern place that takes its rice seriously. It’s not quite as comfortable as Afghan Cuisine but it were here that I tasted my very first qabily pillow. That same humble rice dish, taken to new heights with pieces of lamb on the bone strewn through, with a little dish of lentil curry on the side. I barely made a dent in it the last time I visited, the portion size is so big, more than justifying its price tag of £6.20! Also try the juice-drippingly moist roast chicken or grilled Al-Faham (Arabic marinated chicken). Dammit, my mouth is watering.
22 Wilmslow Road,Rusholme, Manchester M14 5TQ
I’m being a little cheeky and totally risking my street cred including this one – but given it was basically my very own Cheers when I lived nearby, I’d have felt disloyal missing it out. Subvert expectations and forgeo the post-beer curry and slip into Chicken Cottage instead. I’ll be honest: this place can be hit and miss, but when it’s good… oh my, it’s what your guilty-pleasured dreams were made of. The BBQ chicken wings are, quite frankly, ridiculous and the ‘normal’ spicy wings will hit the spot if they’re out of the former. One thing’s for sure: you want to visit when the oil’s fried a good few chicken thighs; the chips taste unbelievably meaty and become dangerously addictive. Please don’t judge me. Plenty of seats – and free entertainment post-2am.
71 – 73 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, M14 5TB, chickencottage.com
I imagine you may need a little pick me up after whichever delicious savoury delight you’ve chosen to dine at on the Curry Mile – and I’ve got just the place in mind. There’s a few Indian sweet restaurants on Wilmslow road, but my tooth just isn’t quite sweet enough for jalebi. Instead, I wrap up a meal with a trip to Moonlight. On a sunny day, the queue will spill onto the street as kids and families line up for milkshakes made with ice-cream. Mine’s usually a mint choc chip, occasionally a ferero rocher – or if you’re feeling experimental, why not try the Falooda? A rose-flavoured milkshake with tapioca pearls, popular on the Indian subcontinent. Limited stool seating.
75 Wilmslow Road,Rusholme, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5TB