Whether it’s leaps and strides in scientific study, eclectic contributions to the world of music, or the rollercoaster dramatics of beloved British soap, Coronation Street; we have a lot to thank the city of Manchester for. What new visitors to the region might not be aware of is that the area is also home to a first-class drinking and dining scene that runs rings around The Rover’s Return (sorry Liz!).
The central Manchester dining-out scene in particular has seen plenty of change over the last few years. The city’s Bohemian Northern Quarter has always been host to easy-going tea and coffee houses, destination eateries and specialist bars; but new haunts regularly open, as industry trends and customer tastes develop. Meanwhile, in and around the bustling commercial hub of Spinningfields smart, stylish British and world food establishments continue to take up residence, offering a wealth of popular spots for express business lunches, post-work drinks and evening meals with family and friends.
Whether you call Manchester home, you’re in town for business, or you’re visiting the city for some retail therapy, our top 10 foodie favourites for Manchester is bound to have somewhere new for you to try.
1. Pier Eight
First up (though in no particular order!) is a modern British dining establishment par excellence. Pier Eight at The Lowry boasts a truly outstanding setting that’s perfect for both a relaxed, intimate evening meal for two and large group bookings for family and friends. The new restaurant boasts a modern, elegant interior that takes cues from northern European design motifs. Think calming colour palettes, delicate textures and uncomplicated detail. Cosy up with a cocktail in a contemporary armchair or retreat to an intimate booth with family and friends. Head chef, Oliver Thomas’ menus reflect his aim to source the best local and seasonal ingredients. His dishes focus on simple flavour pairings that let the ingredients speak for themselves.
2. The Whiskey Jar
As its name suggests, The Whiskey Jar specialises in an exceptionally broad range of whiskies. The back bar is home to no fewer than 450 different brands, spanning Irish whiskey such as Highland, Lowland and Speyside Scotch, as well as a plethora of world blends. The Whiskey Jar’s unparalleled drinks offering is supplemented by an uncomplicated menu of cheeseboards and pies. Boards comprise selections of both British and world cheeses paired with deli meats, mixed crackers and artisan breads, chutneys and oils.
Located in the vibrant Northern Quarter of Manchester, the atmosphere at The Whiskey Jar is complemented by the area’s richly cultural, bohemian vibe.
3. Zouk Tea Bar & Grill
Manchester is renowned for its vast range of Indian restaurants, but Zouk Tea Bar & Grill manages to stand out from the crowd. Zouk’s team puts a contemporary twist on a much-loved cuisine, modernising classic dishes to offer an extensive menu that goes well beyond a simple curry-and-rice combo.
Choose to dine in the restaurant, enjoy cocktails at the bar, or catch up with friends over shisha in the all-weather outdoor terrace. The large dining area has a combination of cosy booths and long tables suitable for parties and banquets, while quiet people-watchers will take pleasure in the enchanting production of the open kitchen. Recently, the talented team of mixologists at Zouk put together a truly dazzling cocktail menu – expect to be spoilt for choice.
4. The English Lounge
Situated in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the English Lounge pairs outstanding food and drink with stylish surrounds. Think classic leather Chesterfield sofas, book-laden shelves and dark, wood-panelled walls tastefully punctuated with artwork here and there. Thanks to the varied menu, you’ll easily find something to suit your tastes, no matter what time of day you visit.
Reasonably priced British and European dishes populate the à la carte, while the restaurant’s choice of sandwiches are perfect for satisfying lunchtime appetites. For weekenders, the English Lounge’s Sunday lunch sources local ingredients to create plates that the team prides itself on. To complement such an offering, the bar stocks a stellar selection of wine and cask ale, and the talented bar staff can mix a lengthy list of house cocktails.
5. The Albert Square Chop House
For a time, Albert Square was home to the city’s Memorial Hall and the history of this listed building alone makes it worthy of a visit. The Albert Square Chop House is one of three famous sister eateries located in Manchester and Victorian Chop House regulars have been arriving in eager anticipation for what the latest addition to the family could offer.
Visitors are greeted by a pleasant atmosphere and the welcoming warmth of low lighting, creating the perfect setting in which to enjoy good food and drink. The menu offers diners the opportunity to embark on a splendid food journey, taking them to the heart of homely British comfort food, with the added reassurance of style, quality and taste.
6. El Capo
Further reinforcement that Manchester’s vibrant Northern Quarter is a top destination for foodies living in or visiting the North-West, the eminently popular El Capo invites you to relax in casual, rustic warmth and embrace its passion for all things South American.
Manager Eddy believes tequila is misunderstood and is ever-poised to defend its honour. He claims he can change anyone’s mind about the stuff; even if, like most of us at one point or another, you’ve been traumatised by an encounter with the infamous spirit.
The food offering is inspired and exciting and tacos are a particularly popular option. These come with a choice of fillings, such as slow-roasted pork shoulder in an orange and smoky paprika sauce; rubbed beef brisket with honey and spices; and panga, a light, spicy, shallow-fried fish.
7. Croma – Manchester
An overriding passion for providing inviting, customer-focused service lies at the heart of Manchester’s gourmet pizzeria, Croma. That’s why it comes as no surprise that it was named the most family-friendly restaurant at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival for three years in a row.
Spread over four floors, this smart, well-appointed establishment boasts contemporary decor with clean lines and modern furnishings. Light and airy, visitors feel like they’re dining al fresco no matter where they sit and no matter when they visit.
Fazenda offers diners a unique opportunity to enjoy tasty food in true Brazilian rodizio style – gaucho chefs expertly grill over 15 cuts of meat, which are periodically brought to guests. Guests control the service with a small double-sided card placed on their table. The green side signals the chefs to bring out skewers of sizzling meat one by one while the red side indicates a resting point – flip back to the green side after a breather and service resumes. There’s also a salad bar with freshly cut vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, smoked salmon and sushi, as well as a variety of traditional hot dishes. The restaurant’s ever-increasing popularity proves this unique Brazilian culinary tradition has found a home in Manchester.
There aren’t many city-centre restaurants boasting the longevity of Dimitri’s. After all, 25 years in the business is no mean feat. It could be its famous Victorian arcade dining area, the many Mediterranean mezes on offer or the lively atmosphere that make Dimitri’s so popular.
When dining here you have to be in share-and-share-alike mode. You could spend hours sampling exotic titbits alone, but this experience is best enjoyed with friends and loved ones. There’s live music and a late bar every weekend, but every night is party night at Dimitri’s. So if it’s good food and good times you’re after, look no further than this dazzling Manchester institution and enjoy a unique Mediterranean taverna-style dining experience.
10. Lameizi Restaurant
According to Mr Li, the owner of Lameizi, preparation is the key to Szechuan cuisine. The chefs arrive early to begin slicing, marinating, steaming and roasting, while ingredients like peppers, spices and chillies are sourced direct from China. Located on Chester Street, just off Oxford Road or a short stroll from Manchester Oxford Road railway station, Lameizi is an easy find, and is close to a number of attractions for anyone on the lookout for new and interesting flavours to begin or end a night out with.