Something for people who are terrible at making decisions here - the 'must have' signature dishes are things on the menu that you should definitely have a try of - dishes that perhaps define the venue, or the rest of the menu, or are just so bloody good that it would be criminal not to get involved in. I'm sure I've missed some out, so if you have more suggestions - let me know - I can always do a Part 2.
Another Heart to Feed
In recent years the avocado consumption of the UK must have skyrocketed. I'm pretty sure there is some hard data online to back this claim up, but I don't need it. Everyone is scoffing the green bastards nowadays. I'm sure the people over at Another Heart to Feed are sick and tired of them by now as well - their 'must have' is their Smashed Avocado - which comes piled high on some sourdough, mixed with feta and topped with a poached egg. Their stunning beetroot hummus on the side tops off this perfect moody-morning beater.
Another Heart To Feed, 77-79 Chapel St, Salford M3 5BZ
It was a toss-up here between the Roast Dinner Platter or The Manchester Kebab, and although the roast dinner here is phenomenal - you can't get the Manchester Kebab anywhere else in town so it wins. Robert Owen Brown has invented this beauty, and it features the following: a Yorkshire pudding wrap stuffed with crispy lamb shawarma, pickled slaw and Vimto Sriracha. I once had an epiphany to use Yorkshire puddings as a wrap a few years back - seems Robert was eating the same cheese as me that night too.
The Refuge, Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA
0161 233 5151
Take some of the best Indian street food dishes, add some craft beers, a bit of pizzazz and a brilliant interior and you've got Bundobust. Highlight of their fantastic menu is the Vada Pav - basically an Indian vegetarian burger - but much more than that simple description suggests. Order it and you'll be faced with a deliciously spicy potato burger, snuggly wedged in a brioche bun and smeared with chutney and even more chillies.
Bundobust, 61 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 2AG
Home Sweet Home
Although their menu would be considered by many to be dominated mostly by sweet stuff - Home Sweet Home has a few savoury beauties within its walls - king of which is the famous Cheeseburger Toastie. Although their ridiculously loaded cakes are a wonder to behold, this toastie stuffed with everything you need to make the perfect burger just nips in at the end as the 'must have' dish.
49-51 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW
Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN
The Big Manc
Another burger and this time it's a direct reference to the second best burger of all time - The Big Mac - cleverly re-imagined with a Manc twist. I'm not entirely sure what the twist is, apart from the clever pun, but Solita have bought a bit of neon for the window especially for this burger so they must be proud. It's a bloody big bugger so only tackle it if you're hungry - and imagine a Big Mac from the adverts (not the wispy thin ones you get in real life) but 3x as big. Oh and the best burger in the world ever is The Whopper. Beats the Big Mac any day.
Solita NQ, Turner St, Manchester M4 1DW
0161 839 2200
World Famous Hotdog Pizza
With more weird toppings than an order from the Turtles, Crazy Pedro's is the place to go if you're hungry and want to be full for the next 2 days. Their slices are huge, and full pies about the size of one of BigFoot's wheels. Many people buzz off the Fried Chicken and Waffle one, but the best is surely their Hotdog pizza - topped with beer soaked sausage, cheese, crispy onions and all the sauces.
55-57 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BQ
Short St, Manchester M1 1JG
Scene Indian Street Kitchen
I was debating between the Samosa Chaat and the Samosa Burger here at Scene but I decided on the Samosa Chaat because it's always been my go-to dish when I've popped down. Whatever your opinion, I think it's pretty clear that the people at Scene are pretty good at anything samosa related. The Samosa Chaat is a samosa bowl-type thing filled with spicy chick peas and a cacophony of chutney, yoghurt and pomegranate.
Scene, 4 Left Bank, Manchester M3 3AN
0161 839 3929
Sausage, Broccoli & Chilli Pizza
I don't think I've ever been to Slice and not ordered their mozzarella, sausage, broccoli and chilli pizza. Oh and a beer. And sat outside on their terrace watching people walk past while I secretly judge them. Slice is great for people watching, and a perfect example of Mediterranean relaxed dining done proper. This slightly spicy broccoli and Italian sausage pizza is perfect with an ice cold Moretti or a glass of fizz.
Slice Pizza & Bread Bar, 1a Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
0161 236 9032
I've always loudly and annoyingly proclaimed Pancho's to be the most authentic Mexican place in the city and I still stand by that bold statement today. It also gives me the perfect opportunity to brag to people about the places I've visited in Mexico, because otherwise nobody really gives a shit. Pancho's Tacos are outstanding with a cracking choice of different fillings. You'd be a silly sausage not to go for their Pork though - the most traditional, and still best, couple this with their Chipotle Chilli Salsa and you're laughing.
Arndale Food Market, 49 High St, Manchester M4 3AH
1, The Quadrangle, Chester St, Manchester M1 5QS
This and That
Rice & 3
Each day for the past 135 years, This & That has opened and fed the hungry people of Manchester. Its speciality is Rice & 3, where you choose 3 of their daily changing curries - typically ranging from well-known ones that you can get anywhere, to more unique concoctions that This & That specialise in. Sure there have been plenty of other places pop up over the years, but This & That continue to belt out amazing curries for a very reasonable price. If you're not full after one of these then I'm afraid you've probably got a tape worm and should go a doctor.
This & That, 3 Soap St, Manchester M4 1EW
0161 832 4971
Cane and Grain
Baby Back Ribs
With what some may consider a small menu, Cane & Grain get to concentrate on doing a few things and doing them bloody well. This is particularly true of their Baby Back Ribs, which manage to be perfect sticks of moist, juicy BBQ’ed meat every time. These bad boys were served up at my birthday party 2 years ago and my family still go on about the ribs to this day. In fact, it's pretty much the only thing I ever seem to end up talking to them about nowadays. Get a full rack on a Saturday afternoon, get a few beers and get messy and enjoy yourself.
Cane & Grain, 49 -51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA
0161 839 7033
If people with beards and a Mac Book under their arm are willing to queue for up to an hour, most likely in the drizzle, for a Cruffin from Pollen Bakery then they must definitely be worth a try. Served on Saturday only, the Cruffin is the result of extensive scientific breeding - resulting in a croissant crossed with a muffin and then filled with a weekly rotating flavoured cream or curd.
Pollen Bakery, 2 Sheffield St, Manchester M1 2ND
0161 273 3171
Big Grillie Style
Get yourself to Big Grillie Style and Alex will cook you up a feast, all conveniently contained within two slices of bread. His love of hip-hop and the Fresh Prince is evident, but your love for the food will be heightened once you get your chops around the stand out favourite - The Carlton. Carlton Banks might have been a bit of a nerd, but his moves were enough to make anyone smile - and this toastie will definitely put a smile on your face - until you've finished it that is. It's BBQ fajita spiced chicken, Doritos, peppers, onions and cheese, all encased in special jalapeño bread. Perfect.
Pie and Ale
Ye Olde Rabbit
If you're on the lookout for the best pie in town, and don't fancy getting the tram to my mum's shop in Oldham, then Pie & Ale have a fantastic selection of pastry wrapped beauties, just waiting for you to get down your gullet. Highlight of the lot has to be the Ye Olde Rabbit, which manages to completely encompass the comfort and warmth of eating a pie - so much so that if you close your eyes you could be in a warm log cabin in the middle of the moors, with a roaring open fire and a Labrador at your feet. The Venison & Stilton one is brilliant too!
Pie & Ale, 1 & 2, The Hive, 47 Lever St, Manchester M1 1FN
0161 228 1610
Caramel Soy Beef Fillet
There's a massive range of fantastic oriental dishes to spend your hard-earned cash on over at Tattu, not to mention a big selection of mental cocktails that usually come laden with bells, whistles and dry ice. Their Caramel Soy Beef Fillet is where it is at though - it's absolutely fantastic, and even though it's a bit on the pricey side - the beef is seared to perfection, and topped with shitake mushrooms and asparagus. In a menu of beautifully presented dishes, this one stands out as a 'must have' when ordering.
Tattu, 3, 4 Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB
0161 819 2060
Chicken Caesar Pizza
Sure there's a lot of new boys in town, cooking their pizzas in huge wood ovens manned by 13 firefighters and 4 chefs, but I'll always have a soft spot for Croma. As one of the city's first proper unique pizzerias, I was introduced early to their Chicken Caesar Pizza - a fantastic creation which makes the brilliant salad even better by adding a perfectly crisp base. Their Peking Duck one is almost as good, but not good enough to beat old Caesar.
Croma, Albert Square, 1-3 Clarence St, Manchester M2 4DE
0161 237 9799
Salt Beef Bagels
Since moving from Stevenson Square, Koffee Pot decided to extend their menu, invest in some neon, and start flogging some very special Salt Beef - the likes of which you would struggle to find outside of that 25m stretch of Brick Lane. Their Salt Beef Bagel is fantastic, and truly makes the place worth a visit, not that there's nothing else to enjoy there - they have some excellent breakfasts as well as loads of evening events going on, oh and they'll sort you out with a Vimto - hot or cold or slushie.
The Koffee Pot, 84-86 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
0161 236 8918
Ancoats General Store
The Manchester Doughnut
Whoever works at Ancoats General Store and came up with Scrancoats deserves either a raise or a job working for the front page of The Sport - well done on such a simple yet genius pun. Scrancoats is exactly what you'd expect when you merge a word for food with the name of a place - head there on a Thursday and they have a selection of independent food vendors smearing their creations into the faces of hungry Mancunians. Hot on most people's list (and Instagram) is the Manchester Doughnut - featuring a rotating selection of proper fit fillings, including Banana & Salted Caramel, Apricot & Almond Cheesecake and Masala Chai.
Ancoats General Store, 57 Great Ancoats Street, corner of Blossom Street, Manchester M4 5AB
0161 236 7897
These Honey Buns are probably more famous around town than Bez, and now that he's started pissing around with bees on the top of The Printworks - he'd probably have plenty to say on the type and taste of the honey that is used. These sticky-sweet little beauties are always a winner, especially if you can get them down your throat when they are still warm. One of the highlights of a visit to Chinatown.
Ho's Bakery, 46 Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FH
0161 236 8335
Northern Soul Grilled Sandwiches
Pig on a Lead
With a menu that incorporates more cheese than you'd find under your fingernails after eating a Grab Bag of Wotsits, there's one toastie at Northern Soul which manages to stand head and shoulders above the rest. It’s the Pig on a Lead - which includes their fantastic mac & cheese, topped with BBQ Pulled Pork. They say it's been cooked for 9 hours - the pulled pork that is - not the sandwich. A 9 hour cooked toasted sandwich would NOT be very appetising - as anyone who's ever fallen asleep while drunk and left the Breville on in the kitchen will know.
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese, 10 Church St, Manchester M4 1PN
Red's True BBQ
The Donut Burger
The original burger was made famous by Luther Vandross, who before eating himself to an early grave, proclaimed this to be his bestest food. Some people say that he invented it, but I doubt that's true - he will have been too busy singing and polishing his Grammies. If you find yourself in Red's True BBQ and you enjoy a burger then there should be no other alternative when ordering - the Donut burger is exactly what you'd expect - but instead of bread it's two donuts. The round ones; not the jam filled ones you can get from ASDA for a quid for 5.
Red's True Barbecue, 22 Lloyd St, Manchester M2 5WA
0161 402 0142