Let’s Get Saucy: A Guide to Dirty Food in Manchester

Give me filthy. Give me sleazy. Give me stringy melted cheese, barbeque sauce and bacon all over my face.

Yes, that’s right, this week we are delving into some outrageous food-porn vibes with Manchester’s dirtiest grub.

Manchester is a king in making food which is dripping, slipping and swimming in all the juices we know we shouldn’t have. Sure, these aren’t everyday foods or things that are going to be kind on the old waistline- these are foods which are to be saved for those wilder moments in life.

Be warned though; parental guidance is needed for the XXX content which is to follow. Let’s get messy…

COW

There is no better place to start than with burgers. Great big, sticky, juicy burgers which slop all over your body as you take a bite is precisely what dirty food is all about. Almost Famous is…err…famous for their outrageous burgers across the whole country and they began their life right here in Manchester.

They have a site in the NQ and one at The Great Northern on the other side of town, and there you will find a monstrous menu of filthy burgers. If you can think of something that can go in a burger- they’ve done it. Each special seems to be more disgraceful than the last (the most recent of which containing chips, cheese and gravy), but the main menu is chock-a-block with filthy eats too.

I think the Chill V.4.1 and the Unfairground burgers deserve a shout-out for being the dirtiest guys on the menu. The former stacks their obligatory double beef patties with hot AF sauce, beef chilli, pepperoni, onion and blue cheese sauce while the latter goes down the route of deep-fried bacon, cheese sauce, shoestring onions, American mustard – smoky bacon ketchup and peppered mayo. How about that?

Another place worth mentioning is Big Grillie Style. Big Grillie started life as a street food trader, but now has a more permanent home over at Joshua Brooks- and it is well worth a visit…or two…or three.

The one to go for is the Notorious P.I.G which takes a bacon cheeseburger and stuffs it with pickles, pulled pork, fries and hot hot hot hot barbecue sauce. Honestly, its mint and you will be sucking the last of the juices off your t-shirt for days. Oh, and I would always as double up on your patties at Big Grillie. Always. But not because they are small, because they are delicious.

A cow product which I feel doesn’t get enough airtime is Brisket, and if you haven’t had it, you are absolutely mental. Brisket is a slow-cooked cut of beef which is typically smoked to give it an incredible flavour.

You can do a lot with it too, which is music to my ears. Take for example at Cane & Grain who use it in a variety of dishes like on top of the Barbecue Pit Beans or Mac & Cheese. Brisket adds a certain naughtiness to a lot of food, but it can also be the star of the show in stuff like their Bourbon Brisket. Get it down you.

CHICKEN

Next up we have chicken. I am a big fried-chicken kinda girl apart from a small period of my life five years ago where I convinced myself I got food poisoning from Maccies. I got over it though, and here I am now, sitting up in bed writing this covered in chicken grease and eleven different herbs and spices.

I will enjoy fried chicken in all its forms; fillets, nuggs, wings- you name it, I’ll get it down my gullet faster than you can say “Colonel Sanders”. To put it bluntly, if it is fried chicken you want, you need to shuffle on down to Yard & Coop. They are experts in the stuff, and you can get anything your little deep-fried dreams could think of.

They do their chicken in buttermilk, which helps the fired crust stick and maintains the chicken meat is lovely and tender. They serve up a plethora of delicious dishes, sandwiches and salads, but if I were you, I would do the DIY thing. Pick your fried chicken cut (breast, thigh, drumstick), choose a sauce (I would recommend the Bee’s Knees or Blue Cheese), select some fries, and pick a side as a little extra. Do not overlook the Creamed Corn for a good ol’ southern soul food experience.

Here would be a good time to mention Chicken Wings too- in which a dirty food guide such as this would not be complete. Now I am a crispy chicken wing person- so I like mine battered before being smothered in hot sauce, but not everyone is the same. Some people wish to opt for the marinated kind- so each to their own.

When it comes to sauce, again, that is a personal preference. You can get anything from lemon and herb (if you’re a wimp) to barbeque (if you are slightly less of a wimp) to hot sauce in varying degrees. You can go too far with spice- I want to taste the damn chicken flesh when I’m gnawing it off the bone- but a little heat never hurt anyone as far as I’m concerned.

As for recommending places for wings, I could go on and on for hours- but all is redundant because Bunny Jackson’s do 10p chicken wings every bloody day. They are seriously good though, so get out a crisp tenner and roll around in a bath full of the buggers- that’s how I would do it.


PIG

You cannot have dirty food without pork, and that is a scientific fact. We’re talking bacon, Pulled Pork and most importantly, Ribs. Now, the competition for the best ribs in Manchester is a fierce one, and it causes much debate in the Finest office. But to be diplomatic, it depends on personal tastes.

As a break from the barbeque mayhem which is this guide, I am pretty partial to the sauce-drenched ribs of the spare variety from Chinese takeaways when I feel like being dirty. If you too have this craving on occasion, I recommend Sakana at 23 Peter Street who serve up a cracking portion of Honey and Black Pepper Spare Ribs on their small plates menu.

Back to barbeque look no further than Red’s True Barbeque. They have so many things to choose from on the rib front (top tip- try the rib tips- you won’t regret it), but the kings are the St Louis Ribs, hands down.

These are a smoked American style rib which are smoked for fucking ages and glazed with delicious sauce. They have a tasty layer of fat on them which helps flavour the meat too. Honestly, try these once, and you’ll never go back.

We are going to talk about Hot Dogs now, but before I do, I just wanted to share that upon my research for this piece, I discovered, that many hot dogs out there are actually made of beef. How weird is that?

Anyway, for pure unadulterated pork, you can head to Albert Schloss for one of their Bratwurst. I would go for their Kasewust (cheese sausage) every time, but their currywurst if pretty epic too. These come served in a lovely brioche sourdough with, mustard, pickles and a side of fries. Dirty food done German style.

Black Dog Ballroom can boast a menu of pretty epic hot dogs which are pimped up with various filthy toppings. Of course, they have a classic Vendor Dog to get your chops stuck into, but we all know it is really about the Blue Buffalo which is topped with pulled chicken, blue cheese, slaw and hot sauce. Hot Diggity they are good. Beef lovers can go for the Philly Cheese Steak too, which is dripping in onions, steak, cheese and all things good.

CARBS

I don’t want you guys thinking that dirty food is all about the meat. Sides can be filthy too, and this is the part where cheese steps in. Junk Food is incomplete without some ooey, gooey, stringy cheese and if one thing comes to mind when someone says the words ‘food porn’ it would be cheese.

Take Macaroni & Cheese for example which is now an absolute staple of dirty food. What is even better would be when you take these carbs, roll them in more carbs, and deep-fat-fry them. What do you get, you ask? Mac Balls. And if you are going to eat Mac Balls, you are going to have to eat them at Mac Daddies.

Once the loyal sidekick to a burger, now an outrageously filthy little minx in their own right- Loaded Fries can confidently hold their own these days in the dirty food game.

Fries make the perfect carby base for which to stack them with whatever your heart desires, and the possible combinations are limitless. The only thing that is important is that it must contain cheese unless of course, you are V-Rev who are masters in vegan junk food. They house such delights as the Southwest Fries topped with cheez sauce, smashed avo, chipotle mayo, pickled onions and coriander. Yum.

Back to meaty vibes, I think the masters at Dirty Food Revolution (who you can catch at various other pop-up locations) are the masters in loading up their fries. They are famous for their Candied Meat Fries which are topped with multiple helpings of sugarcoated meat (funnily enough), crispy onions, mayo, crispy onions and BBQ sauce.

If you have ever crossed over pond over to Canada, you will know that their answer to dirty food is Poutine. To put it into Northerner terms, this is basically chips, cheese and gravy- which, quite frankly we have been doing over here for years. If you head over to Brewski (either on Mosley Street or in Chorlton) you can get your face stuck into a steaming bowl of cheese covered goodness- honestly, it is comfort food at its best.

Credit to Louis Cannell

I once heard a rumour that Almost Famous do Nutella Fries too- which quite honestly I think is an urban myth. If it is true, however, I think that would officially take the biscuit for Manchester’s filthiest dish.

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