10 Tib Lane
Oldham Street’s self-explanatory Cocktail Beer Ramen + Bun is a busy Northern Quarter hangout where gangs of mates wolf karaage chicken and slurp tonkotsu until late. The same team co-founded 10 Tib Lane, but this is a far more grown-up affair – a candle-lit, date-night joint that, with its feature walls and natural wine list, has the feel of a Parisian neo bistro. The sharing plate menu is a unique global journey. Expertly prepared hake topped, tandoori style, with spiced yogurt, served with a cucumber mint salad, stands alongside a Korean-inspired soya cutlet or a southern European dish with chicory, sherry, almonds and chanterelles.
Plates £6-£20, 10 Tib Lane10tiblane.com
At this natural wine bar in New Islington marina, chefs Joseph Otway and Chris Ditch work with some unusual restrictions. In the kitchen, they only have a toaster, an electric pressure cooker and a sandwich press to heat things in. Despite this, their ingenious, daily changing menu ranks among the city’s very best. The duo’s dishes may sound a little dignified or simplistic: a whipped split pea dip; yellow beans, goat meat, new season garlic and crumbs; potato salad with tropea onions and summer herbs, but exceptional ingredients (many from partner farm Cinderwood Market Garden) help them create flavors of real clarity and resonance. Errors surfaced from the Higher Ground (@highergroundmcr) pop-up restaurant, which will open in a permanent location in Spring 2023.
Dishes around £4.50-£9, 9 Keepers Quayflawdwine.co
In this hip Deansgate Mews bolthole (natural wines on the shelves, spinning minimal house on the stereo), chefs Julian Pizer and Max Yorke create something special. Expect new ingredients deployed in unexpected combinations: for example, mushrooms grown on an Altrincham farm, with a young pine cone and sherry vinaigrette, hazelnuts and horseradish. A trout tartare mined with cider-pickled apple and smoked turnip, set in a shallow pool of dashi stock, is both visually mesmerizing in its painstaking tweezers and clever in its layering of exciting flavors. This dashi, enhanced by the addition of burnt apple and turnip, is a caramelized depth charge of sweet, meaty complexity. Note: Another Hand’s daytime menu is a more casual, brunch-like affair.
Dinner plates around £8-£19, Unit F, Deansgate Mewsanotherhandmcr.com
Samrawit Tekle’s small Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurant serves many meat dishes, such as pepper lamb (awaze tibsi) or caused, a combination of spicy fried offal, minced meat and green chilli. But this cosy, chilled-out spot in the Northern Quarter will be of particular interest to vegans and vegetarians, given the vibrancy of Eritrean and Ethiopian meatless cooking (this is partly a legacy of Orthodox Christian rules around fasting in both countries). The Asmara Bella kitchen brings out an incredible depth of flavor from dishes such as Hamli (spinach, garlic and chilli cooked down in a luxurious pinch of olive oil), split peas and turmeric, or spicy timtimo lentils. These are all served on huge injeraa leavened, spongy flatbread with a convincingly light, lemony tartness.
Main course £10.50-£14, 37 Port Streetasmarabella.co.uk
This former conference center and ballroom (part of an office complex built for the Co-operative Group) is a Grade II listed piece of 60s modernism, recently reopened as a music venue and food hall. Highlights include British Street Food Awards winner BaoBros23 and its knockout braised pork bao. At the Butty Shop, Adam Reid, chef at the Midland Hotel fine dining restaurant, gives the traditional French sandwich a gourmet makeover. Try the hot-smoked salmon on Butty Shop’s next-level oven-baked muffins and Reid’s inspired Northern English version of nachos – potato chips dressed with onions and Lancashire cheese sauce. Fans of the food hall format might also want to check out Society and its huge Vocation Brewery bar or the East Asian Hello Oriental.
Mains around £8-£15, Mayes Streetnewcenturymcr.com
At this busy corner restaurant in Ancoats, high-quality fresh pasta imported from Puglia is given the respect it deserves. Sugo’s polished-rustic Southern Italian dishes boast the kind of deep flavors that only arise from hours and hours of patient preparation. The orecchiette with its punchy ragu of pork, n’duja and melting beef shin is a must. If you are visiting South Manchester, there are several Sugo branches in the suburbs of Sale and Altrincham.
Power off £12.90, 46 Blossom Streetsugopastakitchen.co.uk
Despite their social and footballing rivalries, Liverpool and Manchester enjoy a brotherly relationship when it comes to music and, increasingly, food. There is a regular exchange of talent along the M62. For example, Bold Street Coffee recently brought its pounding breakfast sandwiches to Manchester, and Albert Dock taco ace Madre will open a Manchester restaurant in November. Currently slightly obscured by City Hall renovations around Albert Square, Maray – whose bold, Levantine cuisine is the pride of Merseyside – has also landed in Manchester, opening an attractive restaurant and terrace at the Hidden Gem church. Expect good falafel, fattoush salad, lamb kofta and Maray’s famous “disco cauliflower”, fried and dressed with chermoula, harissa, tahini, yoghurt, pomegranates and almonds.
Plates £4-£12Brazennose Street, maray.co.uk
The Sachdev family have been creating some of Greater Manchester’s best vegan and vegetarian Indian food since the 1970s. Their flagship restaurant, Lily’s in Ashton-under-Lyne, is famous for its chaats and Gujarati farsan snacks. Lily’s downtown deli opened this year and sells groceries and hot food to eat in or take away (limited seating). A daily selection of three curries or dhals is served with roti or rice, along with snacks such as a chilli cheese toastie, vada pav or bhel puri. From crisp, subtly spiced vegetable samosas (80p each) to a soulful tarka dal, the cooking shows all the deft control of vibrant flavors you’d expect.
Meals around £4.50-£6, Unit 2C, Henry Streetlilysdeli.co.uk
This stylishly designed “neighborhood bar” operates at the top with cocktails, craft beer and food. You have to, to draw a crowd in Ancoats. Simple snacks (croquettes, Padron peppers) open a menu of quietly ambitious small plates: crab salad with fennel and chili; charred hyspic cabbage with pistachio sauce and crumbs; yuzu kosho spicy cod. With its crisp, chewy back of crackling and spiced apple compote, Jane Eyre’s pork chops – perched on an insanely good bed of mustard-licked mash – are a pretty unbeatable way to spend £12.
Plates £6-£17, 14 Hood Streetthejaneeyre.co.uk
Kampus is a housing development adjacent to the Gay Village, growing – thanks to independent businesses occupying units around the city gardens – into a notable food and alcohol hub. Bakery-cafe Pollen is one of Manchester’s best brunch-lunch spots with A1 coffee and breakfasts of spreadable sobrasada sausage, wilted vegetables and fried eggs on fantastic sourdough (dishes £4-£11, pollenbakery.com). Similarly top-rated Common bar spin-off Nell’s Pizza (slice from £2.25, nellspizza.co.uk) delivers creative NY-style slices as big as your head, full pizzas in 14- and 22-inch formats, great craft beer and ice cream sandwiches. There is more to come too. In October, the exceptional Great North Pie Co opens, serving Lancashire cheese and onions, and 14-hour braised beef and ale, pies with pints of Manchester Union lager.
Meals around £10, Aytoun Streetcampus-mcr.co.uk
The 25th Manchester Food and Drink Festival (foodanddrinkfestival.com) runs from 22 September to 2 October. For more restaurants, check out Guardian Travel’s previous Manchester guides