Here we go. It's the Manchester's Finest ultimate list of the best restaurants in Manchester.
We’ve got some tapas, some Asian grub and a whole lot of locally sourced goodies for you to try so in no particular order here are a few of our favourite eateries…
Baratxuri / Levanter
This set of restaurants are the flagships for a budding food scene in Ramsbottom, North Manchester. Inspired by the family-run tapas restaurants of the Basque country, these guys are taking Spanish authenticity to a whole new level.
Baratxuri is a pintxo restaurant and bar which serves up a range of delicious ‘things-on-spikes’ (which in case you were wondering, is what the word ‘pintox’ means.) Changing daily, these bite-size morsels are the perfect accompaniment to some delicious drinks in the true Spanish style. Levanter is a proper restaurant- serving up a range of tapas and larger plates.
The menu changes at both venues pretty regularly to suit the seasons, but I will never ever forget about their Tuxleton from Baratxuri. This is a 45-day aged chunk of rare beef from an old dairy cow, served on the bone with a generous peppering of sea salt. I still dream about it to this day. The suckling pig is pretty righteous too.
Levanter and Baratxuri won ‘Best Casual Dining at Manchester Food and Drink Festival this year and they have just started taking bookings, you lucky buggers! Get involved.
Where The Light Gets In
This rustic dining experience held in an unassuming Stockport loft is a real jewel in the crown of the North. Where The Light Gets In is renowned far and wide for its unique concept that was once dubbed ‘Britain’s coolest restaurant’ by American food critic Steve Plotnicki.
You will not find a menu at Where the Light Gets In, only a promise. A promise to bring you a selection of dishes using ‘the day’s catch, harvest and slaughter’. No two evenings are ever the same.
This restaurant aims to tap back into our island’s native ingredients which change with the seasons, often using techniques and methods of preparation that go back hundreds of years. As I said above, there is no menu, and they ask you only to trust them- making this an absolute must for foodies with an unquestioning palate.
The experience will cost you £80 with an additional paired wine flight for £50. Where The Light Gets In can be booked up for almost two months at a time, so be ready to go on midnight the last day of the month to ensure you get a table.
There is something about Hawksmoor that taps into a primal part of your being that is so unbelievably satisfying, and that thing is unadulterated beef. The Manchester Hawksmoor is the first of its kind outside of London and is housed in a late-Victorian courthouse which is full of traditional charm.
Do not let the stunning interior distract you from the fantastic food, however. You might have guessed it but meat, specifically beef, is the aim of the game over at Hawksmoor, and their steak is some of the most succulent you have ever tasted. Oh, and it is all 100% British, grass-fed beef to boot. Think juicy beef burgers, beef short rib nuggets for snacking or a juicy Chateaubriand to share.
But they do not just do beef – they are experts in all the more exceptional things like lobster, oysters, fresh native fish and all things British and some say the best roast dinner in the city.
The Pasta Factory
Sometimes, there is nothing better than the simple things in life and pasta is one of those things. Now, I don’t want to undermine The Pasta Factory by calling it simple. In reality, it is far from it with its expertly handmade pasta which is made fresh on site every day.
There is something effortless about The Pasta Factory, and it really is casual dining at its very best. The menu is small and unintimidating with just ten pasta dishes, a handful of starters, six desserts and a concise but impressive wine list.
The Pasta Factory knows the power in fine ingredients and you will find the menu stuffed to the gunnels with them. Whether it is creamy burrata, Italian clams, Piedmont black truffle or olive oil, every element of the menu is the best money can buy used in classic and traditional recipes from the old country. I highly recommend the Bucatini Neri con le Vongole – black bucatini tossed with wild clams, cherry tomatoes & a hint of chilli & parsley.
Don’t let the name fool you, this is hands-down one of the best restaurants for miles.
Manchester’s best restaurants do not have to be meat-centric. Take, for example, Umezushi. Over the past year or two, Umezushi has earnt quite a name for themselves in the Manchester food scene including an honourable mention in the 2017 Michelin Food Guide. Authentic sushi is what you will find at this tiny restaurant housed under a Victoria Station railway arch – and it’s the very definition of a hidden gem.
The experience comes with an extensive menu and a significant price tag to match. But don’t let that put you off. You are paying for fish that is of the highest quality that you can come across in this part of the world, and the masterful skill that is used to prepare it.
Umezushi means business, and if you do not believe me take their Manguro menu which lets you sample different cuts of tuna differentiated by the fat content in the fish. You try and find me another Sushi restaurant this side of Toyko that does that.
Bundobust is another one of these underdogs which is completely turning the concept of ‘fine cuisine’ entirely on its head. No longer does good food feel the need to be served on white table clothes on fine Bone China and washed down with a 2005 Saint Emilion Grand Cru. Nowhere teaches us this lesson better than Bundobust with its 100% vegetarian Indian street food served in paper trays, paper cups and with as much craft beer as you can pour down your gullet.
No dish exceeds the price of £6.50, and they offer some excellent combo selections for up to eight people. You will enjoy dishes such as the Vada Pav, Samosa Chaat, Paneer and Mushroom Tikka or their brilliant Masala Dosas while sat on a great big long school table with all the other punters for a communal, street-food dining experience you will never forget.
The beer is fantastic too. Bundo keeps local brewers in mind with a selection of brews that change regularly to ensure you keep coming back for more, which I assure you, you will be.
Adam Reid at The French
The flagship fine dining restaurant at The Midland Hotel is Manchester’s long-standing answer to Haute cuisine. Now under the Manchester-born chef Adam Reid, winner of the BBC’s prestigious Great British Menu, who has brought The French a new sense of youth.
Despite the name, The French focuses on British food using local ingredients and native flavours such as Beef Dripping, Rhubarb and Lancashire cheese. The menu is broken down into three options differentiated by the number of courses- four (£45), Six (£65) and Nine (£85). All three choices come with an optional wine pairing- which I strongly suggest you do. Sure, it is expensive, but it is The French, and if you are going to go you better do it properly.
You can also order Adam’s Great British Menu winning dish ‘Golden Empire’ for dessert which is a re-imagining of a classic apple crumble served inside a golden apple handmade from sugar. It is almost too beautiful to eat.
If you have never been to Tattu you will be getting Chinese food, but do not let visions of late night sweet and sour pork and MSG ridden spring rolls put you off- this is Chinese food like you have never had it before. Tattu delivers a contemporary approach to Chinese cuisine which is married with western flavours and techniques.
Tattu wants to take you on a journey from East to West when you dine with them by showcasing a range of excellent dishes which are stylish, delicious and beautifully presented. Think Wagyu Beef Dumplings with kimchi and spring onion, Fois Gras Goyza, Orange Char Sui Iberico Pork or Yuzu Black Cod which is a dish I think about daily. All this fantastic food is set against the backdrop of their stunning interior which caters for everything from a few after work cocktails to large private parties.
Hispi is the third sister to three other successful northern restaurants. The Sticky Walnut (Chester), Wreckfish (Liverpool) and The Burnt Truffle (Heswall) and now Hispi (East Didsbury) are the brain-child of head chef and restaurant industry bad boy Garry Usher.
Other than the fantastic food and his carefully curated small menus, Usher is known for not taking his TripAdvisor criticisms lightly- which I just adore. Honestly, reading his replies to stupid comments is the perfect way to spend a commute home.
Hispi is a neighbourhood bistro through and through with a selection of dishes to suit every palate. The focus is on British ingredients (can you sense a theme here?) like native fish, local cheeses and hand-picked mushrooms. The Hispi desserts are legendary too. Alas, the famous custard tart is no longer on the menu, but I am praying every night like a good Catholic girl for its return.
Bar San Juan
Here in Manchester, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to tapas. That being said, San Juan down in Chorlton has to be the best for miles. Hands down. The little interior is decked out in yellow and red tiles, vintage photos and Spanish-inspired curiosities. Honestly, walking into San Juan is like walking into Spain.
As for the menu? Authentic is the only way to describe it. San Juan is smacked full of beautiful Spanish tapas like the Croquetas San Juan, Carrilleras de Ternera (Beef Cheeks) and the Almejas en salsa verde (clams), but you really cannot go wrong with whatever you order.
Same goes for the drink. They have some fantastic Spanish wines, beautiful beers on tap and enough Sangria to fill a bath with. All in all, lazy summer afternoons should be spent in San Juan.
French cuisine is widely considered to be the best in the world. Chefs from every corner of the globe flood to Paris to learn all the famous tricks and techniques of Haute cuisine that only the French seem to have the natural finesse for.
If fine French cuisine is your bag, then look no further than 63° Degrees in the Northern Quarter. It is a family run Parisian style Bistro which brings you a fine-dining experience like no other. Expect French classics like Escargots, Terrine de Foie Gras, Côte de Boeuf and Crème Brûlée.
They also have a pigeon burger on the menu which is like nothing you have ever tasted before- a real culinary experience that any self-proclaimed gastronome should not miss.
There is an excellent wine list at 63° Degrees to – which is heavy on the French wine, naturally. In short, this gorgeous little French brasserie is like stepping back in time to when French food ruled the roost when it came to fine dining. If you are ever at home dreaming of Paris, save on the plane fare and pop down to 63° Degrees.
Granted, The Creameries is a new kid on the block, but its chef-patron Mary-Ellen McTague is a well-loved force in the Manchester food scene for a number of years now. The Creameries is situated down in Chorlton and is open from lunch to dinner serving up freshly baked breads, homemade charcuterie, local cheeses and fine wines.
Oh, and that’s just the start of it. I know I have mentioned the idea of locality a few times in this list, but no one does it to the same extent as Mary-Ellen.
Everything (and I mean everything) is grown, caught and killed right here in the UK with a lot of it being within a stone’s throw of the venue itself. The wild garlic is picked nearby, the seafood is paired with foraged coastal plants (which is done by Mary-Ellen and the other chefs, might I add) and even the mushrooms are hand-cultivated in a top-secret garage close by to the site.
Obviously, the dishes are at the mercy of the changing seasons and availability of ingredients, which means that the menu changes almost daily. When I was down there a few weeks back, I tried a steaming bowl of Clams with wild garlic, a whole Salt-baked John Dory, Cured Mackerel and Mary-Ellen’s handmade Crisps with Lemon, Salt and Black Pepper which, quite frankly, are orgasmic.
I have a soft spot for Australasia. It is the first ‘proper’ restaurant I ever went to when I first moved to Manchester. I had heard nothing but good things about it and the intriguing glass staircase cascading down beneath the Armani store in the glittering district of Spinningfields was enough to charm me in itself. Luckily, it didn’t let me down and never does to this day.
The menu is Japanese and Indonesian inspired and is pretty heavy on the fish. Actually, one of the fish dishes on the menu- the Black Cod Roasted in a Hoba Leaf – is legitimately one of the single most delicious things I have ever eaten. It came with this cane sugar and miso dip which I think about on a daily basis – inducing my drool reflex every time I do.
You can get all your Pan-Asian favourites over at Australasia (executed perfectly every time, may I add) such as Tempura, Sushi Rolls, Sashimi, Oysters with soy and mirin, Yakitori (meat skewers) as well as a range of grills and sharing platters. You can never go wrong with Australasia.