My love of food is long documented on this blog – I’ve already written so many food and drink guides to my favourite cities, and eaten so many incredible meals across the world. But despite this, I’m constantly surprised – and it is fair to say that Manchester surprised me.
There is so much good food and drink here, and the vast majority of it is from independent restauranteurs, chefs and foodies. Hand in hand with the regeneration of the city has gone a food revolution, and you can find everything from street food style tacos, bountiful brunches, creative cocktails and vegan cafes alongside speciality roast coffee and pizza to die for.
I barely even scratched the surface with my food journey in Manchester – and that doesn’t even include the suburbs of Chorlton and Altrincham which also have their own foodie reputation. Greater Manchester just is a food city – and here is where you start with tasting it all!
Brunch, breakfast and coffee in Manchester and beyond
Federal Bar + Cafe
Federal Bar and Cafe is located just on the edge of the Northern Quarter, around the back of the Manchester Arndale, making this a great location before starting a day of shopping both the old and new. It’s an Australian/Kiwi styled cafe and it’s small – so arrive early if you ant to grab a seat for breakfast!
The menu serves up everything from a classic eggs benny to avocado on toast, but I had their Halloumi and Shrooms which came with a pair of perfectly poached eggs, sourdough toast and a spicy kick that pepped me up all day. The coffee was gorgeous (they serve Ozone coffee), and they are fully licensed just in case you fancy a mimosa with your brunch! We had super friendly service on New Years Day (no mean feat), and this ended up being our favourite place to eat brekkie.
Evelyn’s Cafe + Bar is an exquisitely beautiful cafe. This popular eatery serves food all day, but their unique take on breakfast and brunch is what makes them stand out. The kedgeree is awesome, but I’ve also heard extremely good things about their roast dinners. Decisions, decisions!
Genuinely, the interiors are a dream. And whilst that isn’t necessarily a reason to grab breakfast here, it’s always good to start your day in beautiful surroundings! Think marble tables, copper accents and lots and lots of succulents.Want incredible cocktail bars and a huge indie food scene? Try this foodies guide to Manchester!Click To Tweet
Teacup Kitchen has been a favourite of mine for year that never disappoints. An inventive breakfast menu coupled with a late license some evenings of the week make this cafe in the heart of the Northern Quarter a home away from home. We had the avocado on toast and an Eggs Royale with a round of coffee, but I saw plenty of full english breakfasts coming out and I’ll be honest I was hugely jealous!
Unsurprisingly, Teacup Kitchen are known for their teas and have a huge collection; from looseleaf and whole flower to bagged blends. They are known for their afternoon tea – you do not want to miss their amazing homemade cakes! As an extra treat, Teacup was established by Manchester’s very own Mr Scruff, a DJ who loves tea as much as he loves music.
Fig + Sparrow
How could I not mention my namesake cafe of Fig + Sparrow located in the heart of Manchester? Known for its speciality coffee mix with design concept shopping it’s a real destination to meet friends, shop unique finds and enjoy a brew. There is no hot food served, but with rye and fennel seed bread with organic peanut butter why would you need something warm?
Blanchflower is not based in Manchester, but is actually located just a short tram ride away in Altrincham (a foodies mecca). When we visited it had only been open for three weeks, and its safe to say the cafe is an instagrammers dream with gorgeous interiors including tiling and dusky pink velour.
Styled as an artisan bakery and restaurant, the brunch menu was really unique. We enjoyed the Ox Cheek Benedict (with braised ox cheek, mmmmm!), and the Ham + Eggs which were served with the tastiest homemade potato rosti. If you visit, make sure you try their renowned sourdough!
Food market dining in Manchester and beyond
It’s all about the market dining in this neck of the woods, which if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know I very much approve of. Supporting the indie food scene is so strong in Greater Manchester, that the same team has opened both Mackie Mayor and Market House Altrincham, with the latter winning many awards for their concept.
Whilst Mackie Mayor on the edge of the Northern Quarter (in a dilapidated meat market) is the bigger of the two, and both provide communal street food style dining at its finest with some great local tipples too. They share many of the same producers. You’ll find Tender Cow, Wolfhouse Kitchen, Black Jack Brewery, Reserve Wines, Honest Crust Pizza and Little Window at both, with the extra additions of Baohouse, National 7 and Fin Fish Bar in Manchester’s offering. Oh, and at Altrincham you’ll find the Great North Pie Co, which is where we should begin!
We managed to squeeze in for lunch at Market House Altrincham on a busy Friday – don’t be put off by the crowds though. Tables turn fast here, so it is worth grabbing a drink and waiting for something to become available. I had some incredible Steak and Eggs with Salsa Verde from Tender Cow, whilst Andrew had the hugest plate of pie and mash I’d ever seen from Great North Pie Co. The next morning we popped in for flat whites from Market House Coffee and hot chocolate from Sam Joseph, and they were definitely in my top five flat whites of all time (no mean feat).
At Mackie Mayor we headed for drinks during a Saturday lunch time – the places is about three times the size of Altrincham, split across two levels so there was plenty of seating available, but by the time it left it was very busy. We were’t ready to eat at this point, so grabbed drinks from Black Jack Brewery where I had the most amazing rum and raisin cider as recommended by the great staff there. If I had eaten, I would have definitely picked up something from Baohouse as the food looked amazing there!
Lunch and dinner in Manchester and beyond
The Con Club
There were quite a few options to choose from in Altrincham as the restaurant culture there is absolutely huge, but we headed to The Con Club on the recommendation of Mr S. We booked pretty late as going to Altrincham was a last minute addition to our plans, and we couldn’t get a table until 9.30pm, but it was genuinely worth the wait. One of the area’s premier bar/restaurants, it’s housed in what used to be the Working Men’s Conservative Club, opposite the market house and has been lovingly restored and brought back to life.
We skipped the starters and went straight on to order the maple cured bacon chop, with sweet potato, hot and sour pineapple and chilli kale (an absolute delight – that pineapple was a revelation) and the cod loin katsu curry. For dessert, we tried both cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding paired with some dessert wine (we selected our favouritePedro Ximenez, but they have a surprisingly good selection).
Despite the fact the restaurant was extremely busy (especially with two huge group tables) and the bar was packed, the atmosphere was great and jovial and the service sublime. I would definitely book in advance via their website if you plan to eat here.
Luck Lust Liquor + Burn
The first place we ate in Manchester was Luck, Lust Liquor + Burn, a complete accident as we explored the Northern Quarter and came across the quirky looking bar area downstairs. We could make out that they also served food so we thought we’d head inside, only to be led upstairs to a much larger space that you’d never know was there if you hadn’t visited before!
The vibe is very much California meets Vegas, with colourful decor and an extreme cocktail menu to match. But the food is what makes this independent Mexican eatery special. They have a huge selection from tacos to burgers to enchiladas, but we were drawn at the last minute to order a pair of burritos. I had theAlabama Slammer, a bbq pulled pork burrito and Andrew had the Baddabing packed full of shredded pork, crispy beef, chorizo and bacon.
They were exceptional, but the fries we had to share were truly life changing. We shared a basket of the Barrio Fries, topped with peppers, onions, taco sauce, guacamole and chipotle sour cream and I suggest you do too!
I’d read about Rudy’s Pizza online as the “hot place to go”, and as I dragged Mr S to the Ancoats area of the city in the pouring rain I worried that it would be another overhyped pizza place. I needn’t have worried as it turns out – because here you’ll find the best Neopolitan pizza outside of Naples. I’d argue I’ve had the best in Naples, and this pizza competes. Hard. Be tempted by their friendly neighbourhood service and dedication to the humble aperitivo.
We grabbed some extremely reasonable priced pizzas that were s big they spilled over the plate, cooked to order in their traditional oven – a Portabello and a Salame. The pizza is cooked for only 60 seconds and it is sloppy, soft and absolutely authentic. They take walk ins only, but again the service is quick so you shouldn’t have to wait too long.
As Mr S works in the area often, I get the benefit of him trying somewhere first, and so was the case with Artisan – a bar and restaurant located in Pizza sits alongside asian-inspired dishes, and they have an extensive cocktail menu made at their huge 20 ft bar. They also have live music on a Friday and Saturday evening, which was a wonderful touch as we tucked into our food.
And the food is good here. We had a garlic pizza bread with cheese (which was listed under their light bites but was anything but – it was massive) and then moved on to mains of pork belly with asian slaw and kimchi ketchup and a classic fillet steak. Both meat joints were cooked exquisitely, and the service throughout was really exceptional and friendly – a common theme across the city.
We spent our last night in Manchester and coincidentally New Year’s Eve in The Laundrette – one of three branches that is located on the growing First Street development. In fact I think they started in Chorlton, which is another foodie area in the suburbs of Manchester and you can also find them in Newcastle. If nothing else it is well worth the trip out to the city edges if only for the incredible cocktail menu. They are fabulous and unique, and over the course of the night I tried their Raspberry Flossi, Wafflin’ on Old Fashioned, From Launderette with Love and Twisted Tiramisu.
Their concept is cocktails and carbs, with a mix of burgers, pizzas, fish and sharing boards, but we were there for the NYE set menu which included dishes such as crayfish and grapefruit cocktail, tempura prawns, fillet steak roast chicken. It was all very tasty and good value, served with great efficiency and banter from the incredible staff team. I feel like this restaurant is a bit of a chameleon – a younger vibe at night, but extremely welcoming to families and mixed groups during the day.
The Alchemist is a well known bar brand in The North and we headed to the slightly quieter branch in Salford Quays where we enjoyed completely unique cocktails overlooking the water and Media City UK. If you know The Alchemist, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to find a branch where the queues are not five deep and if you don’t, be prepared for cocktails in test tubes, overflowing with bubbles and punchy flavours!
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