Levenshulme neighbourhood guide

From god-tier kebabs and 'keep-it-simple' burgers to natural wine and small plates, Levenshulme has something for everyone.

By Kelly Bishop | Last updated 19 May 2024

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The city centre is great and all that but if you overlook Greater Manchester’s boroughs you’ll be missing out on an awful lot of incredible food and drink. It’s in the burbs that creative seeds of businesses germinate, flourish, and often go on to pollinate elsewhere. Levenshulme has plenty of examples of this but there are also loads of unique places that you could only ever find in Lev.

Station South

Levenshulme’s champions will tell you it has the perfect combination of a varied demographic, community-mindedness and indie values all of which come into play in its varied and lovable hospitality scene. Some really good eggs have come and gone – pour one out for Levy Market, The Royal Nawaab, Fred’s Ale House, The Gherkin and Auntie Ji’s – but Levenshulme’s food and drink landscape still leaves many other neighbourhoods in the shadows.

Jump on the 192 or hop on a train that takes a mere seven minutes from town (when they’re running), and explore for yourself why so many people still scramble to make their home in lovely Levenshulme.

Read on for our Levenshulme neighbourhood guide

Levenshulme Antiques Village

In the days of online shopping in which you can tap absent-mindedly at a keyboard and have whatever your heart desires bubble-wrapped and delivered to the door within the hour, it’s heartening to know that places like Levenshulme’s Antiques Village still exist. This labyrinthine palace of musty books and creaky furniture serves as both museum and shop as you wander around gawping and occasionally being given short shrift by the people working there who’ve seen your type before. An institution and long may it continue.

Cibus

Cibus may be one of the more recent additions to Stockport Road but it’s got deep roots in Levenshulme. First, as a market pizza peddler, then as a much-lauded pop-up above the adjacent Fred’s Ale House. But Giorgio and Marco’s proper grown-up Italian restaurant – the first of its kind in Levenshulme – is on another level. Not just because it’s now on the ground floor (with a beer garden out back), but because dishes like swordfish carpaccio, polpettine fritti and truffle salad with white asparagus are quietly among the best Italian food in Greater Manchester. You know what Italians are like about provenance, and here any ingredients that cannot be sourced locally (like very specific types of radicchio) are carefully imported from the motherland. Don’t you dare mention out-of-season tomatoes to Giorgio, you’ll never hear the end of it.

Gaijin Dumpling House

Ahh the dumpling, that versatile envelope of a comfort food that pops up in almost every cuisine. Gaijin – named after a slightly mean Japanese word for a foreigner – specialises in Chinese-inspired dumplings made using halal ingredients. Very good they are too, but don’t let the name fool you because it’s not just about the dumps. There are also fluffy steamed bao stuffed with all sorts of incongruous ingredients. Think hash browns with omelette, or The Mancunian bao which takes inspo from the fried chicken wars with its crispy chicken, hot sauce and melted cheese. Lamb on crack and Typhoon shelter fried squid complete this very Manc and very spicy line-up.

Inspire Cafe

One word that comes up a lot when people talk about why it’s so lovely in Levy is ‘community’ and Inspire is one of the pillars of that community. This large and colourful space houses a cafe that serves cheap but really good food like chunky seasonal soups, thalis, sarnies and bakes (don’t miss the pineapple upside-down cake). It also plays host to all manner of local groups and events. You’ll find career support, citizens advice, kids’ activities, choirs, masala chai women’s health mornings, menopause courses, yoga, pop-up food banks and pretty much everything you can imagine – not sure there’s a metal detecting club but we wouldn’t be surprised.

Isca

In the past decade or so there has been an influx of creative young professionals making Levenshulme their home, and yeah ok, driving up the house prices a bit. Where there are enough people who like to recycle, shop second hand and have a jaunty haircut, you’re sure to find a natural wine bar opening up eventually. Teasing aside, Isca is the dream in that department. Run by Where The Light Gets In sommelier Caroline Dubois and her business partner Seasons Eatings supper club star Isabel Jenkins, Isca is not only a portmanteau of their shortened first names but their complimentary skills too. You’ll find carefully sourced, veg-heavy small plates, delicious cheese, and fruity bakes to enjoy alongside your glass of Pet Nat.

Jandol

Lebanese restaurant and sweet house Jandol is packed with retro charm. The glossy counter is resplendent with jars of pastel-hued sugared almonds, delicate patisserie that would give Harrods a run for its money, crips and honey-glistened baklava, and trays of rainbow-coloured Turkish delight. But it’s not just for those with a sweet tooth. Here, you’ll also find Lebanese favourites like ful medames, moutabal, bourek, shawarma and falafel all served with psychedelic-looking house pickles. You can also host events here, perfect for a wedding breakfast, no? Oh, and it’s BYOB.

The Klondyke

The well-trodden Klondyke aka Levenshulme Bowling and Social club is where you go for a laid-back evening of darts, snooker or pool but also to get stuck into a bit of community gardening. This centenarian social club originally served as a bowling alley and nowadays hosts live bands, art exhibitions and other events. Its function room has played host to many a Levenshulme wedding and it’s the go-to for big parties like Bonfire night and New Year’s Eve. You can also head here for Irish dancing classes, supper clubs and Samba drumming groups. They also do a very popular Sunday roast.

Kurdish

There are so many kebab houses on Stockport Road that they could have their own top ten listicle but one of our Levenshulme faves is Kurdish next to Gaijin Dumpling House. This wooden panelled gaff is relatively new to the area having opened in 2022. Fresh nan dough is slapped on the walls of the tandoor til crispy and bubbly before being filled with your choice of lamb or chicken shawarma or doner meat. Salads are fresh, sauces are freshly made in-house and there’s an upstairs dining room complete with disco lighting that you can sit in to eat your kebab if you want to.

Levenshulme Bakery

If Kurdish is Rocky Balboa then Levenshulme Bakery is Apollo Creed, the undisputed king of kebabs (and Lebanese fatayers, for that matter) at least for now. Being a bakery, you can be sure the crispy and fluffy samoons that your kebab meat is piled into have been made freshly on-site. Choose your chicken or lamb shawarma or a combo if you’re indecisive and it’ll be crammed into that fresh bread with crunchy salad and delicious house-made sauces – extra green chilli sauce for us, please. If you prefer your bread in the form of pizza or panini, they do those too. And don’t forget to add a couple of crispy Turkish burek on the side.

Levenshulme Old Library

Don’t let the name fool you, there isn’t much shushing at Levenshulme Old Library these days. Now there is a shiny new public library in Levenshulme, this heritage building from 1904 has unfolded into a community space that its founder, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, would be proud of. This community haven offers everything from life drawing classes to events where you can ‘Dance Like a Mother’ (aka with a baby strapped to your person) as well as hosting kids and adults theatre, community choir practice, political group meet ups and that all important yoga.

Long Boi’s Bakehouse

Anyone who’s ever been to Long Bois will get a faraway look in their eye if you mention it. Little images of pink iced buns covered in hundreds and thousands or Danish pastries filled with cheese and marmite will flutter through their mind’s eye as they gaze wistfully into the distance. One of the few places on our list that isn’t on Stockport Rd, you have to go on a little detour to find Long Bois on the edge of a row of terraced houses in a former sweet shop. Like any destination that takes you off the beaten track bit, you feel very proud of yourself when you find it and even better when you emerge brandishing a paper bag full of gold-standard pastry. It’s run by the loveliest team too.

Nordie

If we had to pick our favourite neighbourhood bar in Levenshulme it would probably be Nordie. It has everything you need: Great beer, delicious wine (heavy on the natty side of things), impeccable, inventive cocktails and seriously good small plates. Think marinated mutton shoulder flatbreads with gentleman’s relish, whole BBQ aubergine with sour garlic dressing, roasted grapes and dukkah, and one of the best keep-it-simple burgers we’ve had. There are always decent tunes playing and in summer, the beer garden at the side is an absolute dream.

Overdraught

Levenshulme has lots of decent old-school boozers packed out with locals who wince at the price of craft ale. But if it’s crafty stuff that you’re after, Overdraught is bob on. The name refers to the venue’s previous incarnation as a TSB bank and the bar’s connection to owner Martha Winder’s previous project Prestwich boozer First Draught. There are a dazzling 30 rotating beers and ciders on tap covering everything from Cloudwater to Yonder and this is also a top spot for pub quizzes, open mics and DJs.

Paratha Hut

Around the back of the Waterworx car wash, you’ll find a tiny hut with signage that seemingly hasn’t changed since the mid-2000s when Paratha Hut first opened. Inside, this tiny caff Nadeem and his team serve up a simple menu of parathas freshly made on the hot plate and stuffed with spicy potatoes, cheese, and even chocolate. These are served with daily changing home-style curries. It’s simple, cheap and really good.

Sips N Dips

Sips and Dips burst onto Stockport Road in 2023 brandishing golden platters full of colourful dips like silky smooth hummus, smoky aubergine moutabal, and creamy labneh all to be enjoyed with freshly baked breads. This largely Lebanese menu also features all the fattoush, tabbouleh and falafel your heart desires as well as a whole range of man’oucheh (a sort of Lebanese pizza). Specials are occasionally added to the menu and the whole place is full of good vibes.

Station Hop

Here at Finest, we love Manchester’s booming independent brewery scene. We can’t get enough of the tap rooms around the back of Piccadilly and we love to come home with a clinking bag full of cartoon-emblazoned tinies with obscure names. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, Station Hop is where you will find your people in Levenshulme. With an ever-changing rotation of local (and slightly further afield) brews on tap and a wall of colourful cans, you can easily while away several hours in this Tardis-like space that extends way into the back where you’ll also find an ample selection of board games to keep you busy.

Station South

It was a long time in the making but this former train station at the top end of Stockport Road now houses a bicycle repair shop and adjacent massive cafe and bar. Levenshulme slipped into Station South like a pair of old slippers. This is now a bustling community hangout full of families with newborns (human and canine) shoving pistachio croissants into their gobs in the morning and revellers enjoying open mic nights, DJs or just a quiet beer in the evening. There’s a decent wine list and a massive beer garden which conveniently sits on the Fallowfield Loop as the perfect pit stop for cyclists and dog walkers. There’s a community garden around the back called The Quadrant too. It’s just the epitome of wholesome suburbia.

The Talleyrand

What use is an artsy, community-driven neighbourhood without a few decent gigs to go to? For Levenshulme, that’s where the Talleyrand comes in. You’ll find every type of music on stage from dream pop to nu-jazz to bookish indie as well as Mancunian legends popping in for intimate shows and DJs keeping things bouncing. The bulging back room calendar also features poetry, book launches, comedy, theatre and film. The vintage-styled bar – whose name, by the way, comes from French diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord whom Levenshulme was formerly named for – stocks all your favourite trendy beers and they do a cracking cocktail too.

Trove

How do you like your eggs in the morning? If you’re in Levenshulme, the answer is likely: from Trove. This long-standing cafe was one of the first of the new breed of pretty little neighbourhood caffs with great coffee, freshly made sourdough, and thoughtfully put-together menus. A trailblazer in that department both in Levenshulme and across Greater Manchester, Trove’s bread is now served in many other restaurants and is a sure sign they know what they’re doing. Trove eventually expanded to open a cafe in Ancoats, and then came its sister venue and critics’ favourite Erst. But the OG in Leve is still going strong, not least because it serves croissant French toast, ffs. We’re also massive fans of the green Turkish eggs with haydari, tahini, broad beans, chermoula, spiced brown butter, dill and mint. Otto-who-ghi?

What’s Your Flava

Some of Greater Manchester’s most unsung food heroes fall into the Caribbean category. Kool Runnings, Buzz Rocks and Jerk Junction spring to mind. But there’s also a new breed of young foodies carrying this flavourful cuisine into the future. What’s Your Flava is one of them. A tiny, graffitied shack just a few steps away from Paratha Hut serving the best of island cuisine to brighten up a dreary Manchester afternoon. We are all over the mango and pineapple fried chicken split but hearty stews like oxtail and butterbean or curried goat served with jollof rice take some serious beating too.

Witch Kings

There are some great cocktails in Levenshulme, sure, but Witch Kings is the only place on our radar here that majors in mixology. From the founders of Manchester’s Witch Kings Rum Liqueurs comes this cocktail bar & restaurant in the former Gherkin cafe. All the ingredients are fermented, steeped and infused in-house to make for some really unique local libations. Cocktails not your thing? There are plenty of non-alcoholic options and a decent draught beer list. The food offering is also hotting up, with Sunday Roasts already a big hit with locals, plus a diverse new small plates and slider burgers menu – and Levenshulme’s only Bottomless Brunch (Fridays & Saturdays from 12-5pm).