Manchester’s best pre-theatre dining menus

The best places to eat in Manchester before a theatre show
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An evening theatre booking often means an early dinner before the performance, and luckily that can mean taking advantage of some great early-bird offers.

These the best restaurants to visit before the theatre in Manchester – or at least the best places to eat pre-theatre that offer good value early evening dining options, from set meals to sharing plates.

Hawksmoor

Located in a late Victorian courthouse on Deansgate, classy steak restaurant Hawksmoor offers an express menu served until 6.30pm – perfect for pre theatre reservations near Manchester Opera House – offering two courses for £23 or three for £26.

Starters include potted beef and bacon with Yorkshires, or mackerel salad, followed by a 35-day aged rump steak, royal sea bream or ricotta dumplings.

Desserts include sticky toffee pudding sundae, peanut butter shortbread, or yoghurt and lemon cheesecake.

The set menu is available for reservations made Monday-Saturday until 6.30pm and all day Sunday.

Bundobust Brewery

Located in the Grade II-listed St James Building on Oxford Street, the second Manchester site from Indian street food and craft beer venue Bundobust is one best restaurants near Palace Theatre Manchester and comes in the form of a 150-seat taproom – within a fully-functioning brewery.

Diners can expect the familiar Bundobust vibe and menu, offering a wide range of meat-free and vegan Indian snacks and small dishes that are easy on the purse strings.

It’s open from midday, seven days a week.

Zouk

A beautiful, modern space with a huge open kitchen, Zouk has a well-deserved reputation as one of the city centre’s top Indian and Pakistani restaurants in town – and it’s across the road from the Palace Theatre and within walking distance of practically all Manchester’s major venues.

As well as appetisers and small plates, you can indulge in a range of curry, grill and biriyani dishes, with a wide range for vegetarians and vegans.

It’s open from 12pm daily – and even open until 12am if you wanted a post-theatre feast.

Annies

Situated on Old Bank Street, off St. Ann’s Square, Annies is the perfect place to eat great food and meet up with friends in comfort and style before a show at the nearby Royal Exchange Theatre.

Starters include breaded corned beef hash cake, hot and spicy vegetable dumplings or creamy homemade sweet potato and parsnip soup, while mains feature steaks and fish and chips as well as a traditional hotpot with succulent lamb and crispy potatoes.

Nostalgic desserts include jam roly poly, or strawberry Jammy Dodger sundae.

It’s open daily until 7pm.

Pier Eight at The Lowry

Photo: Percy Dean

If you’re seeing a show at The Lowry, you can’t get more a more convenient pre-theatre dining spot than their Pier Eight restaurant.

With two courses for £27 or three for £32, starters include the likes of smoked haddock tart with horseradish crème fraîche and herb salad, or cauliflower soup with confit garlic oil, farmhouse bread and whipped butter.

Mains might include salmon with sweet and sour cabbage, tender stem broccoli, onion croquette and spiced sauce, or chicken with charred leeks, squash purée, gratin potato and chicken sauce, with vegetarian and vegan options available.

Finish off with rich chocolate delice with chocolate crumb, salted caramel Chantilly and sour pears, or vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb and a honey tuille.

The restaurant opens a good two-and-a-half hours before the show starts, giving you plenty of time.

The Refuge

Near the Palace Theatre Manchester, The Refuge offers an all-day drinking and dining destination from DJs-turned-restaurateurs Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey.

Small plates, from £4.50 – £15, include the likes of lamb shawarma with roasted garlic toum, zhug, slaw and green chilli, vegan-friendly cauliflower with coconut yoghurt and harissa, or beer-braised mussels.

Desserts include malted treacle tart with coffee and chocolate, buttermilk panna cotta, or a chef’s cheeseboard.

Food is served Monday – Saturday from 5pm.

Gaucho

A majestic, multi-level restaurant and cocktail bar set inside an old Methodist church, Gaucho offers a pre theatre menu near Opera House exclusive to Manchester, at £24.50 for two courses, or three for £27.50.

Starters include beef carpaccio with juniper and mustard cure soaked in smoked in yerba mate tea and miso chimichurri; seabass aguachile with lime and toasted cancha; or watermelon panzanella salad.

As well as fish or pasta dishes, mains on this luxury pre-theatre menu generously include their famous Argentine beef, featuring a 250g churrasco cuadril rump steak marinated for 48 hours in garlic, parsley and olive oil; or a tender yet succulent 200g chorizo sirloin steak with a strip of juicy crackling, and both steaks are served with chips or seasonal salad and your choice of béarnaise or chimichurri sauce.

Desserts include a rich chocolate brownie served warm, with vegan white chocolate ice cream; or alfajores, an Argentine ice cream sandwich with coconut parfait and hot chocolate sauce.

The set menu is available Monday-Friday from 12pm–5.45pm.

Mowgli

A bustling space in the Corn Exchange, Mowgli boasts lots of options for gluten-free and vegan diners and a short but fun cocktail list, making it a good option for groups looking for fast, fresh Indian street food – ideal for pre-theatre sharing.

Crowd-pleasing dishes (around the £5 – £9 mark) such as Himalayan cheese toast spiked with hot green chilli, chicken wings sticky with spiced molasses, grilled lamb chops, and velvety smooth paneer cheese with spiced tomatoes and spinach, make an inexpensive and satisfying feast.

It’s open every day from 12pm.

Homage at Wood Manchester

A fine dining restaurant from former MasterChef winner Simon Wood in First Street, Wood Manchester is best known for its multi-course tasting menus – but a more informal option for HOME Mcr pre-theatre dining is their cheese and wine lounge, Homage.

The intimate lounge on the mezzanine level is dedicated to paired cheese, chutneys, wines and beers.

There’s an individual cheese menu, covering everything from soft cheeses and blue cheeses to sheep milk cheeses – or try the Taste of Homage mini tasting menu, which matches five cheeses, accompaniments and crisp fennel seed crackers made in-house with paired glasses of wine.

It’s open 5pm – 8.30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 12 – 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

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