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…
You’d be forgiven for having never heard of this restaurant – mostly because it’s not technically a restaurant, but when you think about it – it actually is. It’s complicated. But let me explain…
The Walled Gardens is a supper club AND a restaurant – all located within a flat in Whalley Range. Chef Eddie Shepherd has taken his unique style of modern vegetarian cooking and created the most unique dining experience in the whole of Manchester. You’ll eat a stunning 12-course plant-based menu – with some truly exceptional creations on there.
It’s not just about the food though. It’s also about the experience and the atmosphere – something The Walled Gardens has in spades. It’s fun and personal, with only 8 diners per night sitting around a large table in Eddie’s front room. With BYOB booze too – it’s like your very own dining party – but with your own personal chef. Outstanding.
The newest addition to this list, and importantly – the ever-expanding Ancoats eating scene, The Edinburgh Castle certainly got some tongues wagging when it opened to relatively brief fanfare just before Christmas.
A 200-year-old refurbished pub, the team behind Cottonopolis have created a ‘proper’ boozer downstairs with a high-end restaurant upstairs – headed up by Head Chef Julian Pizer. The concept is great British food done exceptionally well and they’re succeeding in every respect.
When we visited in December, we asked whether this place could give Manchester another Michelin star – we really were bowled over by what was on offer. There’s Salt Mash Lamb Saddle, Roasted Duck and the best potato we’ve ever eaten. A class act all round.
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.
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.
Of course, Mana is on this list. The venue that brought a Michelin star back to the city centre after 42 years is obviously going to be in our selection of top restaurants in Manchester. And you know what – all of their accolades and awards are actually fully deserved.
From the mind of Simon Martin, Mana opened in 2019 with a gastronomic 19-course taster menu, a huge accomplishment that has grown and been adapted over the course of the year to fit in with both a Mancunian audience and their developing team – resulting in a smaller, but certainly much more refined and exciting menu today.
The only problem is that due to the Michelin star win it might be rather difficult to get yourself a table here – especially on an evening sitting. They do have a lunch sitting though that’s a smaller, more concise taster of what they can do – so go for that if you’re struggling.
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 a couple of years back and they also take bookings, you lucky buggers! Get involved.
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 £90 with an additional paired wine flight for £60. 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.
Operating out of what can only be described as a quiet backstreet in Ancoats, ERST introduced a brand-new and exciting food concept in 2019 and we just haven’t been able to get enough of it. The idea is centred around simple, sophisticated and seasonal dishes, using the highest quality ingredients.
On top of this their menu changes day-by-day, always dependent on what’s fresh, what’s in season and sometimes just what they decide they want to make. So, every visit is a brand-new experience – something that similar restaurants in the area are seriously lacking in.
The food isn’t just the only thing to be impressed with though – they also offer up a wide, varied range of natural wines – often from such small batch producers that they’ll only have one or two bottles available at any given time. But that’s what makes ERST so special – it’s unique, it’s always changing and above all – it’s exciting.
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.
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- six (£75), nine (£99) and a new ‘Great British Menu 2019’ (£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.
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 four other successful northern restaurants – alongside The Sticky Walnut (Chester), Wreckfish (Liverpool), The Burnt Truffle (Heswall) and the newest – KALA on King Street. They’re all the brain-child of head chef and restaurant industry maverick Garry Usher.
Other than the fantastic food and his carefully curated small menus, Usher is known for not taking his TripAdvisor criticisms lightly – which we 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.
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.
The Creameries’ chef-patron Mary-Ellen McTague has been 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 while 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.
**Updated 21st January 2020