It’s important to support the pub and we’re always on the lookout the best food pubs across Greater Manchester and beyond. You just can’t beat a good Great British gastropub.
Here we’ve compiled our very own good grub pub guide, in the hope of getting you lot out of town to pastures greener.
Country pubs have always been a part of British culture.
There are some fantastic examples in and around Manchester.
But the village local is steadily on the decline as more and more close thanks to increasing competition from larger chains and people spending more time entertaining themselves at home.
We need to support these pubs and secure their place in our communities. And we need to get out more and enjoy the glorious green spaces right on our doorstep.
We’ve searched high and low, far and wide, to find these locals that are really pushing the boat out and serving up the best in traditional British fodder.
If you’re looking for real ale pubs, we’ve got you. If you’re looking for historic pubs, we’ve got you. If you’re looking for foodie pubs, these beauties have menus featuring all of your favourite classics, seasonal local produce, some with quirkier twists, others to suit the whole family, and even fine dining for those special occasions.
Our Good Grub Pub Guide’s got the lot. And they’re all within an hour of Manchester city centre. So what are you waiting for?
The Edinburgh Castle Pub, Ancoats
The Edinburgh Castle pub in Ancoats was recently named one of the best gastropubs in the UK. And for good reason. It has stood in the area since 1811, and serves some incredible pub grub. Beautiful interiors, with all dark green walls, polished wood and brass candlesticks give it a sumptuous setting, worthy of their ace food – which is all locally sourced, by the way.
Upstairs, you can enjoy the smart bistro space – with cushy midcentury modern furniture and parquet floors, with downstairs offering a more traditional pub feel. You can check out the full menu here – but there’s a great selection of things like Barbara Davis’ Tamworth pork – saddle chop, or Red House farm cull ewe – saddle chop. And don’t get us started on the puddings.. Why not give the Buttermilk pudding & golden drop plums a go? Or maybe the Wildfarmed madeleines by the half dozen.. go on.. treat yourself.
17 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5EP
The Black Friar, Salford
The BlackFriars pub has a rich history. It was first built in 1886, and since then, it has served as a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. However, due to various reasons, the pub was left abandoned for 15 long years. But now, the building has been entirely rebuilt as one of the only independent pubs in Salford and it looks better than ever before. With a capacity to hold over 220 people, it is spacious and airy, creating a friendly and inviting atmosphere. The renovated pub incorporates an impressive blend of classic and contemporary elements, giving it a unique and modern feel. Whether you are looking for a place to unwind after a long day, or for a casual get-together with friends or family, The Black Friar pub has something for everyone. Whether you want a quick bite to eat such as a pie and a pint or a fancy meal, you can head to their ‘Glass Room’. Furthermore, if you are a fan of good weather, you can always relish some delicious cocktails in the beautiful urban garden on sunny days. With a wide variety of options to choose from, everyone can feel at home at The Black Friar pub.
41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Manchester M3 7DB
The Old Hall Inn, Chinley
With its breathtaking scenery, Chinley and the surrounding area in the High Peak is a popular destination for walkers. The Old Hall Inn dates back to the 1300’s but has managed to retain its charm whilst still feeling modern and fresh. The Inn incorporates the old Elizabethan manor house, Whitehough Hall. Together with jointly-owned The Paper Mill Inn next door, there are eleven rooms and cottages, plus a massive garden for all the locals and guests who frequently visit. The Beer and Cider Festival every September sees over 7,000 visitors descending on the village over the weekend.
Menus change daily and are compiled by a team of chefs with locally sourced produce and meat from the head chef’s farm in King Sterndale. We especially enjoyed the hogget from said farm, homemade pork and beef sausages, plus a cheeky chicken kiev. As well as eight rotating cask ales, there are unusual and plenty of wines by the glass, as well as friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Whitehough, Chinley, High Peak SK23 6EJ
Hare & Hounds, Mill Brow
Set in picturesque Mill Brow, the Hare & Hounds is a great pit-stop whilst out walking. It’s a beautiful old little pub, both quirky and comfy with mismatched furniture positioned haphazardly throughout. Walkers, families with kids, four-legged friends – you’ll find them all, relaxed, chatting away to owner Guy and his friendly team. The kitchen has been run by head chef Ryan Oliver for the last ten years now – no easy feat keeping decent staff for this length of time in this industry. Hence the offer is consistent but constantly evolving. The complimentary amuse bouche soup in a teacup is a welcome touch, with some fantastic starters on our visit including panko cod cheeks and potted crab & smoked trout. Decent wine list too.
19 Mill Brow, Marple Bridge, Stockport SK6 5LW
The White Hart Inn, Lydgate
The small village of Lydgate in Oldham stands on the edge of the Pennines with magnificent views towards Manchester. You will find 18th Century pub The White Hart Inn at the very top of the hill, directly opposite St. Anne’s Church and only a short walk from Greenfield station. The original inn was built in 1788 and is steeped in history, having been a police station, a schoolhouse, a weaver’s cottage, and a look-out point in the Second World War. Current owner Charles Brierley brought in the talents of locally-born head chef Nathan Sidebottom over ten years ago who worked at the two-Michelin-star restaurant Midsummer House in Cambridge. The rest is history. Well-travelled and well-trained yet still young and ambitious, Nathan’s menu offers the very best of seasonal British cooking and the produce really shines. Expect dishes such as beefy milk bread served with homemade whipped butter topped with caramelised onion and chives; confit duck leg croquette with sweet mustard and pickled onion; seasonal fresh fish cookery; and meat sourced from Yorkshire. They’re currently offering a discounted set menu featuring two course for just £16.75 (reduced from £29.50) and three courses for just £17.50 (reduced from £32.50). You will struggle to find this level of food in most restaurants, and at this price it’s beyond good value. But book in ASAP because this place gets booked up fast – they did over 3000 covers in January alone and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.
51 Stockport Rd, Lydgate, Oldham OL4 4JJ
The Church Green, Lymm
Meaning ‘place of running water’, Lymm certainly has its share of water features with both the Bridgewater and Manchester Ship Canals passing through this conservation area plus Lymm Dam lake and its surrounding woodland offering fine days out for walkers, cyclists and anglers. Owned and run by chef Aiden Byrne and wife Sarah, The Church Green stands next to St Mary’s Church overlooking the Dam. It’s as far removed from this famous chef’s more notorious celebrity hang-outs as you can imagine. The space is light, airy, and relaxed – with staff to match. In fact plain down-to-earth and exactly as a local should be. You’ll find yourself chattering away and whiling away the entire afternoon. But the food can’t disguise this owner’s calibre. Possibly the best pie on earth – on our visit in the form of ox cheek, Guinness and mushroom – and a brilliant kedgeree scotch egg. All classics, but at their best – and fantastically priced.
Higher Ln., Lymm WA13 0AP
The Freemasons at Wiswell
OK so this one is slightly further afield – in the heart of the Ribble Valley – but it’s well worth the trip. Green and flowery Wiswell is what we imagine the rest of the world thinks the whole of England looks like. The Freemasons is the only public building in the entire village and there’s not even a corner shop. It’s notched up a host of awards under the ownership of chef/proprietor Steven Smith, including Best Food Pub at The Great British Pub Awards 2016 and AA Restaurant of the Year for England 2017-2018. And deservedly so, because the food is phenomenal. Risotto of pearl barley with roast lamb sweetbreads, and a thoroughly theatrical Amalfi lemon meringue pie inspired by Wiswell Moor. But this comes at a price, so maybe save this one for special occasions.
8 Vicarage Fold, Wiswell, Clitheroe BB7 9DF
The Bull’s Head, Mobberley
In this affluent and much sought after part of Cheshire think Real Housewives, WAGs, golf courses and four by fours – you’ll find The Bull’s Head. It’s the birthplace of UMBRO – or rather Harold Charles Humphrey and brother Wallace, who began their little sportswear brand Humphrey Brothers Ltd (shortened to UMBRO on all merchandise) from a cupboard in what was then their parents’ hotel. The pub’s current owners, Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars, own a number of establishments in the area, including The Roebuck Inn opposite, but there’s no whiff of a chain. The pub has one of the biggest beer gardens we’ve seen, and the interior is eclectic and quirky – as is the menu. We enjoyed Frank’s famous little sticky onion porkies, but even more so the seafood, especially the fantastically fresh scampi. Friendly staff and dog-friendly too.
Mill Ln, Mobberley, Knutsford WA16 7HX
Eagle & Child Inn, Ramsbottom
Ramsbottom. Home of egg rolling, black pudding throwing, steam trains, and Chocolate Festivals. Also home to the Eagle & Child Inn. This part modern/ part traditional pub with owl-themed rooms has been impressively renovated over the last seven years by owner Glen Duckett. Its Incredible Edible Beer Garden spearheads a social enterprise scheme inspiring young adults from the local community to get involved with growing, cooking, and eating fresh produce. The garden also supplies the kitchen where staff are trained alongside these horticultural students on their own youth training project for unemployed 16-24 year olds. They produce dishes like Goosnargh sesame duck breast with Albert Matthews smoked bacon, quinoa and caramelised chicory. The chocolate truffle torte would go down well at that festival of theirs.
3 Whalley Rd, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 0DL
Oddfellows Arms, Mellor
Every first Sunday in May, the Mellor March attracts over 500 ramblers who congregate in the village to walk 12 miles to raise money for some good causes whilst taking in the glorious scenery and some much needed refreshment. We ended up here, at the Oddfellows Arms or the Oddies as it is known to the locals, for our final stop of the day.
And it’s a real beauty. Set amongst a row of old cottages, with a walled and very sociable front garden, it feels like a proper traditional local. Yet it’s not dark or dingy at all. In fact, the whole place is light, airy, but still somehow cosy, with flagstone floors and log burners. A mostly classic menu of whitebait, steak & kidney and sticky toffee puddings and the like.
3 Moor End Rd, Mellor, Stockport SK6 5PT
The Bird at Birtle, Rochdale
In the Cheesden Valley, somewhere between Rochdale and Bury, is the hamlet of Birtle. Or ‘Bircle’ as it was once previously known to locals, including one of the most famous landladies in the land – Bet Lynch from Corrie. Yes, Julie Goodyear was born in these very parts where lies The Bird at Birtle. And by ‘eck chuck, it’s a good-looking beast.
A magnificent piece of architectural genius comprising yellow West Pennine stone at the front in stark contrast to the modern top-to-bottom glass façade at the back. Owned by renowned chef Andrew Nutter and family, it actually caters brilliantly for just that: families. A gastropub at the top of its game. Seasonality and great produce are in abundance on a menu that caters for all ages, with an especially memorable roast sirloin of beef and well-considered wine list featuring some lesser known grapes. Head to Birtle and you’ll find a confident gastropub at the top of its game.
239 Bury and Rochdale Old Rd, Birtle, Heywood OL10 4BQ
The Ship Inn, Styal
Styal is a leafy village on the River Bollin near Wilmslow, best known for Her Majesty’s Styal Prison and Quarry Bank Mill. Hopefully you’ll be visiting the latter of the two before stopping off at The Ship Inn. The Ship Inn dates back over 350 years when the building was known as the ‘shippon’ and used to store manure for the local farm. The building today retains much of its original structure and is a maze of different rooms, nooks and crannies to lose yourself in. With not a whiff of the stuff it used to store. The place bursts with customers eating pub classics like pie and mash or fish and chips; a bit of nostalgia like spam fritters and jam roly-poly thrown in for old time sake; and some other dishes with quirky twists such as sticky beef with Korean-style noodle salad or marinated chicken shish kebab. The Ship has something for everyone.
Altrincham Rd, Styal, Wilmslow SK9 4JE
The Nag’s Head at Haughton, Nantwich
Charming country gastropub Nag’s Head near Nantwich made the Good Food Guide just a year after it was refurbished and reopened.
The independent new owners – who also run Alty Market in Altrincham and the Mackie Mayor Manchester – bought it just as it was about to be knocked down for housing and aim to turn the venue into one of the UK’s best pubs within three years.
And in just 12 months the grade II listed building has been transformed into a “wonderful utopia”, according to the Good Food Guide.
Passionately regional, most of the food they use comes from growers and farmers within three miles of the pub including Wholly Cow a supply of rare breed beef literally down the road on Long Lane and dairy is from Peckforton just two miles away.
The business has also bought a neighbour’s derelict barn to create an outdoor kitchen with a wood fired pizza oven, an outdoor charcoal grill and a bar for seasonal al-fresco dining.
Try Mumma’s Fried Chicken plate with sweet crumbly cornbread and tangy hot sauce or the haddock with crushed new potatoes and a poached egg ticks all the boxes. For pudding, dig into the chocolate millefeuille with macerated strawberries.
At the weekend, don’t miss their ‘Proper Weekend Brunch’ or ‘Proper Sunday Roast’.
Nags Head, 87 Wistaston Rd, Willaston, Nantwich CW5 6QP