Making more meat-free choices is set to be a big positive trend this 2016. You may have already heard the word ‘flexitarian’ flying around – used to describe lifestyles making a conscious effort not to include as much meat and opt for more variety.
Gone are the days of meat-free options being bland and repetitive. In Manchester you can some seriously satisfying comfort food as well as veggie delights as healthy as a detox in a bowl. Whether it’s formal finery, fast food, date dinners or mate-winners, Manchester is the city with food for every occasion. Oh, and by the way, if you’re a vegan or just veg-curious, why not check out the Northern Vegan Festival on Saturday 23rd April 2016.
Fine Dining Veggie Style at 1847
A restaurant named after the year the vegetarian society was founded – with its roots in Manchester – this is an option full of elegance and ideal for a special meal out. They serve up seasonal specialities with style so catch their ‘Winter Menu’ whilst you can, at £19.50 for two courses. Lunch and dinner options are available, prepared daily. These involve a number of vegan and gluten-free choices, so you can feast on classic dishes done with a difference from Merguez & Mash (lentil sausage and mash dressed up to perfection) to Fish and Chips (beautiful beer-battered halloumi), you are in for a taste sensation.
58 Mosley St, Manchester M2 3LQ
Pub Grub? Mod’s Veggie/Vegan Café at The Thirsty Scholar
Tucked away inside this legendary Oxford Road boozer is a place which serves great pub grub without the meat. Expect a buzzing atmosphere with chilled-out food to match. Great value and fuss-free, it’s the kind of food you will be glad for tucking into before (or after) a drink or two. Whether it’s a hangover cure in the form of an enormous vegan breakfast or a brilliant burger selection, this place proves that vegan doesn’t lead to lack of variety! They also make a mean chilli.
50 New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP
Better Than Bar Food – Taurus Bar and Kitchen
Located at the heart of the Village, Taurus is a classy bar which stands out through quality and elegance. They offer a range of vegan and vegetarian eats far from the usual bean-based bar snacks vegetarians typically find themselves faced with on a night out. Taurus makes a commendable effort to provide a vegan dish in each section of the menu, which includes lunch options as interesting as their signature black bean and asparagus wrap. They ensure variety in the type of the cuisine too with dinner options including a fragrant Malaysian Chu Chee Curry, Italian three-grain risotto and a zingy garlic and lemon tagliatelle.
1 Canal St, Manchester M1 3HE
Looking for Lunch? The Soup Kitchen
It’s a canteen, bar and club all in one, serving up funky food cooked fresh. Soup may be their signature dish but it’s certainly not the only option with a number of vegetarian and vegan choices available daily. It’s far from bland. Expect traditional flavours such as tomato and squash transformed through combinations of coconut, spices and much more. It’s an ever-changing selection, and some of my favourites have included the Curried Vegetable Broth and Green Bean Minestrone along with fresh baked bread you can help yourself to. There is an interesting African influence in a number of dishes, too, stretching way beyond soup. Their salads are bursting with brightness and a range of grains, whilst they offer enormous vegetable patties which taste like onion bhajis – only better! When you can lunch here for as little as £3, what’s not to love?
31-33 Spear St, Manchester M1 1DF
Fine British Fare – Pie and Ale
Proof that traditional grub can be positively meat-free! Joined on to Bakerie, this quirky eatery is tucked away on Lever Street– serving up the ultimate Northern nosh – pie, mash and all the trimmings. Vegetarians can tuck into the three cheese and ale pie, whilst there is an interesting white bean, kale and butternut squash option for vegans. Pair it up with their potato and rosemary wedges for a truly filling meal. There’s even a choice if you want to steer clear of pastry – a lentil shepherd’s pie – celery, parsnip and green lentils all topped off with sweet potato and chive mash. Delicious!
Unit 1 & 2, The Hive, 47 Lever St, Manchester M1 1FN
Catch a Curry or Three? This & That
There’s a little corner of the Northern Quarter with no-frills places where you can get a Rice &Three – flavour-packed curry and rice at amazing prices.Many people consider this the best of the bunch. Pick three curries along with rice for under a fiver if you are vegetarian or vegan. It’s tucked away on Soap Street which takes a bit of finding but the amazing aromas are likely to lead you there. A number of meat-free options are incorporated into their changing daily menus, including dall, chana and mixed vegetable curries. With three veggie mains and a portion of rice (plus you can help yourself to onions and chillies to taste as well as water, to keep you cool!) for £3.90, what’s not to love?
3, Soap St, The Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1EW
Eating Green? Eighth Day
Plenty of variety, ethically-sourced ingredients, properly paid staff – all of which make it a place worth visiting. Go down the stairs inside to discover a canteen brimming with freshly-prepared food served to you directly meaning it is ideal for a healthy working lunch. Soups, stews, sandwiches and even proper pudding and custard are made every day and it’s all vegetarian or vegan. They also offer organic and raw options with their smoothies (available with supercharge shots such as rice protein) seriously packing a punch. There is plenty to indulge yourself with, too! The shop upstairs sells an amazing range of vegan and vegetarian products including chocolate and cheese. If you manage to get out without sampling the take away counter, you’re a better person than me!
Eighth Day Co-operative, 111 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7DU
A Change of Scenery? Trof
They describe their food options are ‘well tasty’ and this popular NQ bar and eatery may well be right. They have a massive menu which shows traditional vegetarian options taken to the next level. A veggie burger is replaced by a Halloumi Shroomi whilst falafel gains new flavours with the addition of sweet potato. Plus you’ll never have to put up with ‘mixed leaves’ again as their Superfood Salad is a big hit. It’s also great to see that you can choose to ‘add in’ options for vegetarians, such as butternut squash, to certain dishes. Trof make a real effort to prove that meat-free can be manged masterfully – whatever time of the day or week! There are number of meat-free breakfast options, too, including a brilliant combination of avocado and eggs and a veggie-friendly Sunday lunch, too. One to watch out for.
8 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU
Sample Some Street food? Mowgli
This relatively new addition to the Corn Exchange serves up authentic Indian street food in style with a significant proportion of the menu either vegetarian or vegan. Prepare yourself for the flavour explosion of Yoghurt Chat Bombs, a signature dish of bread puffs stuffed with chickpeas and spiced yogurt. It’s here that authentic Indian seems to fuse with Northern tradition, too. Check out the Bombay Chip Butty (a ‘flavour grenade’ of turmeric and fenugreek fries, chillies and pickles in a beautiful roti wrap) and Himalayan Cheese on Toast. Tiffin options are also available for vegetarians and vegans, offering a full food roulette for one. And that’s not all. You can take your chances with the Hindu Kitchen menu, too, which offers exciting animal-free flavour combinations including tea-steeped chickpeas, green ginger & rhubarb dahl and picnic potato curry.
Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, Manchester M4 3TR
Clean Eating? Earth Café
An organic and ethical basement café with a relaxed feel and a real array of choice. A majority vegan menu proves that meat-free doesn’t have to mean monotony. They make a real effort to cook healthy, wholesome food here, avoiding additives and maximising on flavour. Canteen style self-service service means you won’t have to wait long to get your meal plus you can pick from a well-stocked salad bar, a hot selection, soup and much more. The menu changes daily to reflect the best seasonal produce, freshly prepared and packed into dishes like Caribbean curry, Thai-style plantain pie and a real-good roulade. You can turn your food into a fusion experience, too – Earth Café offers two mains and two sides for as little as £6. Finish it all off with a vegan hot chocolate and one of their amazing cakes (completely free from animal products and often gluten-free, too) such as double choc cake with soy cream or the beetroot, orange and walnut option, and you’re certainly sorted.
16-20 Turner St, Manchester M4 1DZ
Special Occasion? Rosso
This beautiful restaurant has a Grade II listed dining room so expect a dining experience in elegant surroundings as well as stunning food including a number of luxurious vegetarian dishes. The gnocchi and dumpling options show a determination to take vegetarian-friendly Italian food far beyond simple carb combinations of pizza and pasta plus they serve up lots of interesting dishes such as Malfatti, an authentic pairing of spinach and ricotta dumplings served with tomato and basil, whilst the Gnocchi con Funghi Selvatici is a particular favourite – a light potato dish served with wild mushroom cream. It’s refreshing to see that the calzone option is vegetarian too (stuffed with a winning combination of grilled aubergine and fresh mint for a delicious difference) as well as a number of starters, salads (ideal for a light lunch) and side dishes.
43 Spring Gardens, Manchester M2 2BG
Exciting Food to Feed a Crowd? Cabana
This Brazilian barbeque in the Corn Exchange ensures that vegetarians and vegans have just as much to celebrate as the meat-eaters. It’s a colourful and communal restaurant and bar, packing food and service with Latin American style. The menu makes the vegetarian and vegan options clear to see, and while you wait you can get stuck into their Guaca-molho – homemade guacamole with limitless corn chips. And don’t assume that the barbeque style limits the meat-free options to plain old patties either! Their signature veggie burger brings together halloumi and portobello served on brioche, whilst the Super Salad is particularly impressive. Take the authenticity up another level (and it’s completely vegan, too!) in the form of their SantaTeresa-inspired Vegoada – a Brazilian stew of black beans, plantains, aubergines and peppers with biro-biro rice. This colourful cuisine makes a great meal option when out with friends.
Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, Manchester M4 3TR
Classical Cuisine? King Street Tavern
Located inside the luxurious King Street Townhouse, this bar and restaurant brings beautiful British favourites along with well-matched flavour combinations from all over the world. The vegetarian options available are just as carefully executed as the rest with a starter of creamed mushrooms and chervil on sourdough toast just an example. If you’re looking for a lighter bite during the day, their range of tartines (French-style open sandwiches) include salt baked beetroot and poached egg fillings – ideal for a vegetarian taste sensation. Salads also unlock flavour combinations such as the Tavern Superfood which include roasted butternut squash with feta, and there are a number of evening meals, too, such as their own green Thai curry served with snow peas.
King Street Tavern, 10 Booth St, Manchester M2 4AW
Fast food? V Revolution
This Northern Quarter favourite serves up seriously exciting fast food which is completely vegan. Whether it’s a weekend treat or something to curb the lunch munchies, you won’t be disappointed with their range of sandwiches, nachos, burgers and cakes. The daily specials get bigger, better and even more amazingly named by the day, with recent options including the Car-Rot in Hell burger – a vegan fillet topped with sesame carrot slaw, sweet chilli sauce and spring onion. Expect inventive combinations and a range of treats with chocolate, cheeses, chips, mayos, slaws and sauces galore – and so much better for you than the greasy meat options typically brought home from takeaways! Who says vegan is boring? This is big food with attitude.
V Revolution, 88 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LF