You can’t go to a festival, wedding or old car park nowadays without there being some street food vendors peddling a vast variety of wild and crazy dishes.
To be fair, the Street Food revolution has taken much longer to arrive up North than it should have but with places like GRUB, B.Eat Street and our fantastic markets; the scene is improving week-by-week. Here’s our pick of who to check out…
Big Grillie Style
The king of all grilled sandwiches, Big Grillie Style will change what you think a good toastie is. Sure, you probably think that you are great with the Breville machine at your house – especially when you get back from the pub and put 3 types of cheese in there – including a couple of Cheesestrings. But none will ever compete with Big Grillie Style’s huge offerings – get yourself a Carlton, stuffed with fajita chicken, cheese, peppers, onions and Doritos and you’ll be winning big time.
Hip Hop Chip Shop
These fish-battering geezers are currently taking part in a residency over at Kosmonaut on Tariff Street so they may perhaps be the easiest people on this list to find. Their chip shop features pretty much everything you’d find at your local chippy but with a bit more pizazz and considerably less Tizer. It might be unconventional not to have some fish, but give their battered sausage a try – it’s amazing.
No visit to Altrincham would be complete without a visit to their brilliant market, and no visit to the market would be complete without a dose of Honest Crust’s spectacular pizzas. But it’s not just Altrincham where you can get these round slabs of heaven. The Honest Crust crew also take their Wood Oven to other events and street food endeavours including recent stints at GRUB and Manchester International Festival. They will always have a varied menu of pizzas available but I always go straight for the Margarita – if you can’t do that properly then you can’t do any others – luckily for everyone – it’s fantastic.
These Indian Street Food legends have been making a bit of a splash for the past couple of years thanks to their amazingly authentic and tasty dishes – perfectly served up for people eating while moving/drinking/dancing/sunbathing. They’ve got all the things that make Street Food so popular – locally sourced ingredients, a bloody big colourful blackboard and a genuinely interesting and rotating menu. Word is that they’ve opened up a ‘proper’ restaurant over in Marple but I’m yet to check it out. If anyone goes – let me know what it’s like please.
Dim Sum Su
It’s a good stroke of luck that the lady who runs Dim Sum Su is called Sue – it fits perfectly with the name and rolls off the tongue. If she was called Audrey it wouldn’t quite have the same ring to it. But Dim Sum Su is perfect for festivals and events because what she’s done is get Chinese food which is usually pretty messy and difficult to eat (without one of them spinning tables), and concentrated on something more mobile. So we’re talking Bao Buns chock full of pork or veg, as well as the brilliant Koja Rice Sandwiches – which replace a typical bun with fried (or steamed) rice for a perfect hand-held meal.
Chips, cheese and gravy was a really big deal at the school canteen, and worthy of a weekly Monday treat when one still actually had some dinner money and hadn’t spent it on Pogs. Well it’s come back recently – but now it’s gourmet and claiming to be Canadian. Whatever it is – it’s amazing – and the combination of chunky chips, salty cheese curds and meaty gravy will always be a winner. Blue Caribou is run by ‘Poutine Boys’ Graham and Vincent who happily serve up this brilliant dish as well as plenty of specials where they add pretty much whatever they like to it and it still tastes fantastic.
Macaroni and cheese is not an easy dish to master. Sometimes the pasta is too soggy. Sometimes the cheese sauce isn’t thick enough, and most of the time the sauce is really bland unless you add a series of meats, sauces or additional cheeses. Well Mac Daddies have solved all of these problems and come out shining on the other side. Their traditional Mac & Cheese features 4 cheeses and a lovely crunchy breadcrumb topping. When I had one at GRUB a few weeks back I tried their ’77 – which had onions and chillies as well as the genius addition of chorizo which just set the whole thing off – excellent.
Eat New York
The lads tried the Salt Beef Bagels from these fellas and their exceptionally yellow van last week outside Roc & Rye and they were pretty much blown away. As I stood watching them devour the big, loaded bagels (I’m not eating bread for a couple of weeks), I could only make a mental note to return in a few weeks and get my mouth round one of them. In the eternal quest for the most authentic New York Bagel in Manchester, these guys are getting pretty close.
Wallace & Sons
We’ve got another Bao steamed buns place here, but I bloody love those little buggers so much that I’m typically drawn straight to them whenever I see somewhere selling them. Wallace and Sons must have got a transit van out of the Loot, done it up, painted it and decided to travel all over peddling their fantastic dishes at a variety of events and pop ups. I’ve eaten here once when they were at GRUB and I had the Pork Bun; because it’s a classic and because it was one of the best things I’ve eaten. It went perfectly with my 9 pints.
With a name like Holy Crab you don’t need me to tell you the kind of food to expect from these guys. In fact, there’s not much for me to say because I don’t eat seafood. Except for Fish Fingers. And sometimes Tuna. And maybe salmon if there’s loads of cream cheese with it. But I have it on good authority (the others in the office) that Holy Crab are blasting out fantastic seafood at a wide range of events and takeovers all over the city – most recently at TROVE in Levenshulme. Expect oysters, squid and erm..crab. That sort of thing.
A quick look on their Twitter page exposes Savage Cabbage to be nothing more than cabbage salesmen. They “are trying to elevate the humble cabbage to new heights” which possibly means that one of them owns a cabbage farm somewhere. Probably one of the worst vegetables out there and the arch nemesis of 10 year-old everywhere – cabbage fails to instil a sense of ‘gourmet excellence’ just by its very existence. Unlikely at it seems though – these lads are not only good at rhymes but they are also actually good at selling cabbage. I had some of their Tacos at Levenshulme Market a few weeks back and they have successfully taken the cabbage and managed to make it sexy. The fact that it was paired with some top notch halloumi made it all the better.
The Otto Men
I’ll admit that I’ve only eaten one thing from The Otto Men, but my mate seemingly really enjoyed his dish so they get a mention on here. To be fair though, the thing I did eat was some sort of Mediterranean Scotch Egg creation that was bloody lovely, so they could have got here with that alone. Purveyors of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, The Otto Men basically got a boiled egg, coated it in some perfectly spiced falafel and coated it in crispy stuff and it was bloody glorious. On top of this they much specialise in mezze, as well as some pretty special wraps.
What The Truck?
A food truck that specialises in big, juicy American food – the kind of stuff you’d see Joey eating in Friends while he pretends to be stupid to get into Rachel’s knickers. My colleague assures me that their Philly Cheese Steak is phenomenal – something Will Smith and Rocky would cook up in the kitchen and Fat Mac would devour in seconds. Philly Cheese Steak and Truffle Fries was the recommendation given to me, so there it is. There is obviously plenty more on their menu and a quick look at their Twitter tells me there’s wings, mac and cheese balls and plenty more to get tucked into.
Favourite of pissed up Geordie’s on a Saturday night, the chicken palmo has reached monumental proportions in terms of cuisine at around 3am in the morning – teamed with chips, sauce, cheese and whatever the geezer in the kebab shop has lying about next to the fryer. Parmstar aim to provide a much better experience however, popping a huge slab of juicy, breaded chicken into a brioche bun and topping it with béchamel sauce, cheese and coleslaw. Much more mobile than a pizza box weighing 1 stone, and much more acceptable to eat before 12am.
Basically a place where you can get massive hotdogs, usually topped with a plethora of delicious toppings, ready to be rammed down your throat between acts at a festival or between dances at a wedding. They do actually also serve up some pretty impressive sandwiches including a very special looking Grilled Cheese butty. For me though the hot dogs is where it’s at and they even do a Vegan version which, unlike most people’s perception of vegan grub, actually tastes nice.
On the Goa
Anyone who has ever been to Goa will know two things. One, the beaches are stunning. And two, the beaches are usually occupied by gangs of cows – milling around and getting in your way while you try to catch some rays. Food by ‘On the Goa’ is of a much more traditional fare, featuring perfectly spicy Goan curries and rice and stunning BBQ’ed food which is expertly suited to any outdoor event. There’s typically always plenty of veggie options to choose from too – which is nice.
If you’re looking for street food but don’t eat meat then you would be a silly courgette not to give Wholesome Junkies a try. They do a KFC Burger which has received plaudits from many people I know, including myself who typically hates cauliflower. Cauliflower is a very bland vegetable. Not only is its flavour a bit boring but it’s a boring colour too – whenever I see it on my plate whilst having a roast dinner a small part of me dies inside. But Wholesome Junkies have managed to make cauliflower not only very flavoursome, it’s also pretty moreish – encasing it in southern fried batter and topping it with lashings of cheese and onion rings.
Calling themselves “The Sandwich Kings of Levenshulme Market” is a bold claim, but one that Pastrami Now could probably be successfully crowned. Pastrami is one of my favourites, and anyone who has been to New York will know that it’s SO good over there that replicating the monstrous, meaty, salty bastards back home is no easy task. Pastrami Now are getting there though, their Classic Pastrami Sandwich featuring nutty Emmental cheese, sauerkraut, gherkins and sauces is a game changer – well worth the money.