Having lived in Manchester for ten years means two things. Firstly, I am incredibly old and secondly, I have a solid understanding of the best places to go in Manny. From my regular haunts to places to hit up when you want something different, the following list is an insider guide on the best restaurants, cafes, bars, cafe bars, casual dining and places to take pics in that you’ll find in the city.
A bar that does 10p chicken wings. Yes, 10p (well, 25p if you want a non plain one) and they're actually banging. This rock n roll dive style bar also serves cauli wings if you're veggie, super spicy wings if you're hard and other meal options if you're just not that into chicks. Plus their cocktail menu is killer and everyone who works there is well fit. Go here if you want casual vibes when dating.
My number one go to food spot in Manchester has to be Cocktail Beer Ramen + Bun, or CBRB for short. A tiny late night ramen bar on Oldham street — also conveniently next to the excellent Gullivers boozer and other bars — CBRB is perfect for before drinks, after drinks, or being the main event itself. Lush Tonkotsu ramen with handmade noodles, the softest bao buns (get the ox cheek!) and juicy Japanese fried chicken (karaage) are my particular picks for anyone choosing to decide what to get.
Their homemade Strawberry Americano sharer cocktail is bloody lovely too if you want to share drinks with whoever you’re taking, if not, they have a class array of craft beers, wines and homemade mocktails. They serve food until midnight every day so perfect if you need a post-drinks late night snack that isn’t cheesy chips.
The ideal place if you’ve made it to the morning after the night before. Koffee Pot covers pretty much every single breakfast you could imagine. From an Irish, Scottish or English fry-up to a plate of fluffy pancakes to a bangin’ vegan MancMuffin (get it).
You can soak up last night's fun over a dirt cheap classic filter coffee, a Bloody Mary or a Vimto slushie. This isn’t the kind of breakfast you’re photographing for the grid, but rather one to laugh with mates over at all your silly antics from the night before.
If you fancy some interactive (ooh) eating One Plus Hotpot is the perfect spot. On the ground floor of this Chinese BBQ establishment is a steamy, busy hotpot restaurant. You pick your broth, make a delicious dipping sauce (lots of sesame and soy, thank you), grab some veggies, noodles and prawns off the conveyor belt and cook everything yourself in your own individual boiling soup pot. It might sound a little intimidating if you’ve never been but it’s so much fun and super straightforward. The best meals are always those that include an activity and will help you on a date if you aren’t the chattiest.
If you don’t fancy the hot pot option, One Plus also houses a standard restaurant and a bbq floor, with just as incredibly fresh and delicious food.
If you wanna show off a little on a date and act like you’re a fancy little madam then head to the gorgeous Ancoats Marina and you’ll find Flawd. Right on the water, this spot is perfect for people watching, dog watching and seeing what the geese and ducks that live in the canal are up to. If it’s sunny, sitting outside feels exactly like you’re on your holidays.
Flawed serves natural wine by the glass (and bottle if you wanna splash out), craft beers from Manchester’s finest breweries and incredible small plates. From charcuterie and cheese boards to whipped Nduja on toast, you automatically feel cultured and suave even just eating their bread. They work with an organic farm in Cheshire to ensure everything is super fresh and seasonal and the menu changes almost daily to reflect that. The staff are so lovely too and will help you out if you know absolutely nothing about natural wine. (I don’t, but I recommend trying whichever orange wine that they have on the go.)
Ramona is pure party vibes, which is perfect for a pre game meal before a night out, being the whole night out on its own, or impressing your more outgoing mates/dates. The food offerings may seem small — made up of Detroit style pizza or tater tots — but the quality is absolutely insane. The hot honey tater tots are made of dreams and there are vegan and veggie options for both tots and pizza slices if you swing that way.
If you’re a drinker, the cocktail menu is lush, and make sure you get a shot of tequila — every one comes with an accompanying Verdita chaser (a zesty green shot of coriander, mint, jalapeno and pineapple juice) which is supposed to cure hangovers (allegedly). Bring your date here if you want to have a lively time.
If you’re a bit unorganised when organising dates, Bundobust is the perfect spot for walking in and grabbing a table. Their South Indian veggie street food is packed full of flavour, no two dishes taste the same and in the words of my dad — “you don’t even miss the meat!”
From the barbequed Paneer Tikka with homemade chutneys, to the layered samosa pastry based Bundo Chaat, to crunchy, salty okra fries there’s something for everyone. It’s all sharing tapas style and the service is quick, so ideal for something casual and delish that isn’t a Maccies. Plus the decor looks straight out of a Wes Anderson film, which awards Bundo extra vibe points.
This is my go to recommendation to anyone visiting Manchester/anyone who’s a fussy cow — Mackie Mayor is a converted market hall that now runs as an independent food court, with multiple options for cuisine and drinks that can be ordered to any table. You don’t have to commit to just one stand either — order a starter from one, a main from another, get frozen margaritas from Pico’s Tacos and they’ll all be brought to your table when ready.
Mackie Mayor doesn’t give up quality for quantity either, it has the best pad thai in Manny, incredible crushed jacket potatoes and endless options no matter what your mood. Word to the wise though — it gets busy and doesn’t take bookings, so try and get there early.