As a man whose mother owns the best sandwich shop in the region, I'm the perfect man to tackle this Round the World trip of the city, sampling and discovering sandwiches from all over the globe.
Sure, some of them are barely actually sandwiches, but if there’s bread, a filling and deliciousness – I’m including it. I think the best place to start on this journey is of course right here in Blighty…
Bacon Butty at Another Heart to Feed
This may be controversial but the best bacon butty in Manchester is from Another Heart to Feed. Hands down. Easy peasy. Next. Okay, so everyone thinks that their mum or their husband or themselves make the best bacon butty and I’m sure that they are pretty good. But you’ll never be able to beat the one at Another Heart to Feed so you might as well stop trying. Most people who head down to this West Didsbury staple will order the Smashed Avocado with a lovely poached egg on top, but they’re missing out. Big time. Big thick slabs of crispy smoked bacon between two chunks of sourdough. Add some Daddies sauce and you’re in heaven.
Another Heart to Feed, 220 Burton Rd, Manchester M20 2LW
Pie Muffin at Pieminister
I had to include this because not only is it a fantastic sandwich, but it’s also been with me personally man and boy, especially during the Oldham Pie Butty Craze™ of 1998. It’s exactly what you’d expect – a steaming hot pie sandwiched between a buttered muffin (not a barm) preferably with a scoop of gravy and a generous helping of brown sauce. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. You might be hard pushed to get one in the city centre, as it’s unlikely to actually feature on any menus – so I just suggest you follow the pies. Head on over to Pieminister on Church Street, order their Moo & Blue Pie (British Beef Steak & Stilton Pie), some bread and do some DIY. You won’t regret it.
Pieminister, 53 Church St, Manchester M4 1PD
Croque Monsieur (or Madame) at The Koffee Pot
An absolute classic from across the pond. Even though they usually only ever stick to baguettes, the French also invented the Croque Monsieur, a ham & cheese toastie (with a fried egg perched on top). There are thousands of variations on this simple, quick cafe snack – from different cheeses, odd meats and even cooking the fried egg within the top slice of bread for a cheeky little Parisian surprise when cutting it in half. For me though you should stick to the classic and the version at Koffee Pot is a definite winner. Made with some lovely Gruyère cheese (which is actually Swiss), it’s perfect for a quick bite at lunch time or with a bit of wine and garlic in an evening.
The Koffee Pot, 84-86 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
Bocadillo de Tortilla at La Bandera
The traditional Spanish sandwich, you’ll see Bocadillos everywhere you go in Spain, and even in all those proper authentic places you walk past while pissed up in Tenerife. Usually of the baguette variety, a Bocadillos place is right next to a cup of coffee or ideally a beer, stuffed full of Jamón, cheese and lashings of aioli. My personal favourite though is the Bocadillo de Tortilla at La Bandera in the Arndale Market. It combines two of the best foods in the world; the Spanish tortilla and bread, to create a carb-garlic-overload that manages to transport you straight to a little bar in Barcelona, surrounded by ice cold Estrella Damm and blokes with one dreadlock in their hair.
La Bandera, Arndale Market, 49 High St, Manchester M4 3AH
0161 832 3552
Sandwiches at Slice
The Italians have managed to franchise out so much of their cuisine that even if you’re in the deepest darkest parts of the Amazon rainforest – someone will be cooking up a batch of spaghetti or throwing together a pizza. Everyone is a fan of the panini but I’d much rather get my old Breville out and bang up some toasties. In the city, I’m going to settle of the fantastic offerings at Slice on Stevenson Square. Every day they freshly prepare these fantastic sandwiches adorned with the likes of buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, figs, bresaola and of course, loads of rocket. They change daily but you’re always guaranteed at least one Italian cracker.
Slice, 1a Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
Polish Zapiekanka at Platzki
I didn’t even know that the Polish had their own kind of sandwich until pretty much today. My ignorance placed only dumplings, soups and those gorgeous spicy kabanos on the Polish menu, but how wrong I was. With the recent opening of Platzki, my once half-closed eyes have been opened to the world of Zapiekanka – the Polish open sandwich. Very much reminiscent of those open sandwiches you used to get at wedding buffets in the 90’s, except these bad boys have more than just a bit of Flora and Billy bear on top. Platzki’s offerings include the lovely Mountain Wind (Caramelised red onions, plum marmalade and smoked cheese) and the Country Road, which couldn’t be any more Polish with fried onions, frankfurters, honey mustard and horseradish soured cream.
Platzki, F, 255 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN
Bratwurst at Albert’s Schloss
This is one of them ‘is it a sandwich?’ questions which is likely to plague mankind until we all die in a fiery ball of gas and piss in around 2 billion years. Is a hotdog a sandwich? Well there’s a filling between two bits of bread so I’m going to say yes. Granted, there are plenty of places in the city doing excellent dogs, including Dogs N Dough and Dog Bowl, but the most authentic German franks are found in Albert Schloss where you can get a Currywurst sausage on a brioche sourdough bun with mustard, sweet pickles and fries – all while downing an ice cold German pilsner and watching a man wearing glitter Lederhosen sing and dance on stage with his nipples clamped together. All that’s missing is some Trance in the background and you could be in Munich.
Albert’s Schloss, 27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR
Halloumi Sandwich at Katsouris Deli
Everything about this is incorrect. Halloumi is not a Greek food, it’s Cypriot. But you’ll find it in most Greek restaurants, as well as many Turkish places, Nando’s, Wetherspoons as well as under my pillows every night ready for a little midnight munch. The stuff is bloody brilliant and even though it contains more fat than a deep-fried Rik Waller – it’s addition to any meal or dish is always a revelation. My personal favourite in the city is the Halloumi sandwich at Katsouris. It comes draped in Olive tapenade and is about the size of a 6-month-old baby. Perfect.
Katsouris Deli, 113 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2BQ
Chicken Gyros at Zorbas
This place in the Arndale Market is my go-to lunch spot when I fancy quite possibly the best Greek salad in the world (outside of Greece of course). Their Greek Meze is a dream-box filled to the brim of feta, olives, lettuce, onions, stuffed vine leaves, pickles, hummus, tzatziki, jalapenos, tomato beans and probably loads more I’ve forgotten about. It’s great. What’s also great are their Gyros sandwiches; pitta breads stuffed with the juiciest chicken or lamb you can imagine and topped with salad. I challenge anyone to find a better Gyros in the city, an if you do, tell me please.
Zorbas, Arndale Market, 49 High St, Manchester M4 3AH
0161 832 3552
Another questionable ‘sandwich’, but if the burrito and the hotdog are in here, then there’s always space for the legendary Donner Kebab. It can be an absolute nightmare trying to find a donner kebab that’s not swimming in grease, grit and gristle, but once you get a place that does a winner – you tend to stick to it. That’s why I can’t really lock down any particular favourite in the city – mostly because everyone will have their own and if I make a decision on ‘The Best Kebab in Manchester’ I’d most likely get lynched. My favourites include Rusholme Chippy & Persian Tasty Grill in Levenshulme who will bash you up a massive kebab to eat in bed for around £3.
Lamb Shawarma at Electrik
I’m not entirely sure if Shawarma originates from the Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria or Iraq – and to be fair, I don’t think anyone does. The process of cooking a block of meat and shaving bits off to serve in bread pretty much came out of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century, explaining why you can find variations on the theme as far as Turkey, Greece and even Mexico. I’m a big fan of the brilliant Lamb Shawarma at Electrik in Chorlton which comes piled up on a big slab of freshly cooked flatbread, surrounded by salad and sauce. The meat is both juicy and crispy at the same time, which not only manages to defy physics, but makes for a very satisfying experience all round.
Electrik, 559 Wilbraham Rd, Manchester M21 0AE
Falafel at Falafel
Those Egyptians not only had a love of maths, cats and being buried with a shit-ton of gold, but they also enjoyed boiling up chick peas, mixing them with spices and frying the shit out of them until golden brown. Quite when falafel turned up is still something those history boffins are scratching their heads over, all the while we are stuffing our faces with wraps stuffed with hummus and salad. My favourite in Manchester has always been Falafel on the Curry Mile (who also do some fantastic Spicy Potatoes) but if you’re looking in the city, GO Falafel on Newton Street will never let you down.
Falafel, 26 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M14 5TQ
0161 256 1372
Vada Pav at Bundobust
When you think of Indian cuisine, it’s unlikely that you’d ever think of a sandwich. First thing I think of is a steaming hot spicy lamb curry with a huge naan for dipping with a side order of an ice-cold pint of Cobra. But unbeknown to many, the Indian people are flying the flag for the sandwich in the form of the excellent Vada Pav. Traditionally a Mumbai street snack, Bundobust have managed to create this beauty and have been selling about 500 of the tasty buggers every day. A glistening brioche bun stuffed with a spicy fried potato patty and a couple of chutneys – brilliant.
Bundobust, 61 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 2AG
Bánh Mì at Viet Shack (and Ca Phe Viet)
Not many people would expect the Vietnamese to be packing some lovely baguettes but it all comes from their colonial past, when the French ruled the roost from sometime in the 19th Century right up until the breakout of the Vietnam war in the early 50’s. Probably the only good thing to come out of this brutal colonialism, the Bánh Mì is still widely enjoyed around the world today and typically includes some form of meat, cucumber, pickled carrots and coriander in a baguette. The Vietnamese baguette is slightly airier and with a much softer crust than the traditional French one, so it doesn’t rip your gums to shreds during every bite. There’s plenty of places in the city that offer these bad boys, most noticeably Viet Shack in the Arndale Market (only £3!) and Ca Phe Viet up on Oldham Road.
Viet Shack, 49 High St, Manchester M4 3AH
Bao Buns at Cottonopolis
Probably the only example of a sandwich you’re likely to find from this end of the world, the Bao Bun has become so popular in recent years that you can pick them up on Just Eat now, enjoying a taste of Taiwan in your own home while watching Tenko. The steamed bun can house pretty much any filling you desire, although the most common is pork belly with pickled veg, coriander and peanuts. There’s loads knocking about the city, but probably the best are the ones from Cottonopolis. They have a very indulgent Wagyu Brisket Bao that will blow you away, as well as a fantastic Pulled Jackfruit number for any vegetarians out there.
Cottonopolis, 16 Newton St, Manchester M1 2AE
Chipotle Panga Tortas at El Capo
My third favourite food group, after cheese and curry, Mexican is always a treat and to be fair there are endless options when it comes to things being encased or wrapped in bread. The humble tortilla is so versatile it can be used to make sandwiches, pizzas and even help a gang of toys escape prison in Toy Story 3. I’m not going to choose a tortilla-based sandwich here though, because the Mexicans manage to actually produce one of the best butties in the world – the Tortas. A huge bun, lightly fried and stuffed with sour cream, avocado and endless options for fillings, tortas are fantastic and El Capo do a brilliant one in the form of their Chipotle Panga Tortas. Featuring strips of deep fried panga, it’s as if they’ve taken the fish taco and elevated it to a whole new dimension of taste and satisfaction.
El Capo, 12 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FF
Pork Burrito at Pancho’s Burritos
Pretty much the easiest food to find in Manchester, Burritos are available everywhere including many branches of WHSmith, the post office and even from the Ice Cream Van that comes down my road in Levenshulme. Choosing the best one to enjoy can be a rather massive task, especially considering there are so many good ones out there. Top of my list will always be Pancho’s Burritos on Chester Street (or in the Arndale Market). In my humble opinion they offer the most authentic Mexican experience in the city, and their range of fillings and salsas is unmatched anywhere else. Order yourself a large Pork Burrito with Chipotle Chili Salsa and you’re laughing.
Pancho’s Burritos, 1, The Quadrangle, Chester St, Manchester M1 5QS
French Dip at Bunny Jacksons
The kings of all sandwiches, the United States has so many variations on the buggers that every single state or even town that you visit calls them something different and have devised a mental way of adding an extra 1000 calories to each bite. Usually with the help of cheese. First up on this tour of US sarnies is New Orleans, and so that must mean Bunny Jacksons over on First Street. Although not even technically from New Orleans, it’s named after a French bloke and what with New Orleans having such close French ties – it just works. A big baguette filled with beef, onions and horseradish mayo with a pit of gravy for dipping? This sandwich is a winner for sure.
Bunny Jacksons, 1 Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester M15 4RA
The Reuben at The Bagel Shop
Head on down to Eat New York on Oldham Street and you can sample probably the best Pastrami Reuben sandwich this side of the Atlantic. Made famous throughout the world due to its prevalence in the delis of New York, the Ruben was actually invented in the dark recesses of Nebraska by a bloke called Reuben Kulakofsky. The sandwich features stacks of salty, peppery pastrami, sauerkraut, cheese and Russian dressing and the one at Eat New York is very special. It will set you back a tenner for the half pound version, but you’ll be full for days afterwards – unless you’re a greedy bastard of course.
Eat New York, 64 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
Lobster Po Boy at Randall & Aubin
Hailing from the North East of the States, the Lobster Po Boy is native to New England and comes laden with many different names. Sometimes called the Lobster Roll, this sandwich consists of a big juicy brioche roll stuffed with render lobster meat, butter, lemon juice and mayonnaise. Having a quick read of Wikipedia about it will also reveal that in many McDonalds in Canada, the Lobster Roll is offered as a limited-edition item in the Summer. That’s some posh Maccies! If you want to sample this beauty of a sandwich in Manchester, your best bet is seafood specialists Randall & Aubin and although it’s not cheap – it’s mega fit.
Randall & Aubin, 64 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BN