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National Restaurant Awards reveal top UK 100 – how did Manchester do?

Three Manchester restaurants made the top 100 list and one mentioned as 'one to watch' at the National Restaurant Awards 2024

Launched in 2007, the Estrella Damm Natiolnal Restaurant Awards celebrate the brilliance of the UK’s hospitality scene, and reward the very best chefs, front of house staff and restaurants across the country.

The awards are the largest annual gathering of top chefs and restaurateurs in the UK and are voted for by a panel of more than 200 experts from across the industry, including chefs, restaurateurs and food writers.

Now, they have revealed what they consider the best 100 restaurants in the UK – and three in Manchester made the list.


Mana is the highest Manchester restaurant in the list, at number 14.

“Simon Martin’s high-reaching restaurant won Manchester its first Michelin star in 42 years, and with good reason,” says the panel.

The listing continues to glaze the Ancoats-based restaurant: “Before Simon Martin won a Michelin star for his Manchester restaurant Mana the city had gone almost half a century without being recognised by the red book. Many had tried – even vocally stating their intentions – but with Mana Martin achieved it by being notably taciturn.

“Like its chef-patron, Mana is an understated and confident restaurant with a muted, calm interior of different shades of creams and browns that instantly puts you at ease. Here is a restaurant happy to stand apart from many of Manchester’s more fancy dining rooms and let the food on the carefully chosen earthenware crockery do the wowing.

“The cooking at Mana is described as being highly technical and precise. There’s a Nordic feel to Mana’s culinary approach with Martin very respectful of his British and often wild and foraged ingredients and use of techniques designed to let the primary ingredients shine. Nowhere is this approach more apparent than his deliberately named ‘beef tartare that tastes of beef tartare’ dish made using 120-day dry-aged beef from 15-year-old ex-dairy cattle.

“A multi-course meal might start with a warm tea of saccharified biodynamic vegetables and feature just-shucked scallops, raw oysters, garlic cooked for two months, aged beef, and carefully fermented vegetables that bring a wonderful intensity of flavour. It’s stirring stuff.”

42 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6BF

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Higher Ground

Meanwhile, Simon’s good friends at Higher Ground make the list at number 16, for its “impeccable sourcing, creative cooking and low intervention wines come together at this modern and thoughtful Manchester bistro.”

The panel continues to describe the Michelin recommended Manchester restaurant as the “neo bistro located in Manchester’s Chinatown enclave is a permanent version of a pop-up of the same name that ran for four weeks in early 2020 before Covid reared its ugly head. Run by Joseph Otway, Richard Cossins and Daniel Craig Martin, who met at Dan Barber’s renowned New York restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Higher Ground shares much of the same ethos as Barber’s restaurant with a focus on regenerative farming and local produce, of which around 90% is sourced from Cinderwood, the trio’s partner farm in nearby Nantwich.

“Otway, who has previously led the kitchen at Stockport restaurant Where The Light Gets In and cooked at Copenhagen’s Relæ, creates thoughtful and experimental dishes that can include acorn-fed pig cooked in milk; pea fritters with Quicke’s cheddar; a superbly tart dish of thinly sliced celeriac with salted blackcurrants and bay leaf; house-smoked beetroot with brill roe; and fried pig’s head with lovage mayo.

“The wine list, meanwhile, is made up of small-scale, low-intervention European wines with a strong selection of grower champagnes as well as pet nat and crémant and a large range of skin contact varieties.

“Higher Ground is modern and minimalistic without being austere with a long island that runs along one side of the room that serves as an open kitchen, pass and bar, as well as a counter where people can sit and eat and drink. A proper neo bistro then.

Faulkner House, New York St, Manchester M1 4DY

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Another Ancoats-based establishment, Erst, comes in at number 50 praising Will Sutton and Patrick Withington’s low-key Ancoats restaurant as “worth raising a glass to.”

“Erst might just be the perfect neighbourhood spot. Set within a redeveloped warehouse building in Manchester’s buzzy Ancoats, the restaurant and wine bar offers a tiny but regularly-changing menu of Mediterranean dishes designed to share alongside an exclusively natural wine list.

“While that might not sound ground-breaking, co-founders Patrick Withington and Will Sutton possess an eye for detail that’s rare for a low-key ‘local’ place. Overseeing the kitchen and front of house respectively, the pair deliver a laid back yet grown-up experience that’s an antidote to the glitzier ‘going out out’ restaurant scene for which Manchester is traditionally known.

Erst’s down-to-earth, egalitarian approach is down in no small parts to its owners’ backgrounds. Neither have ever worked anywhere approaching fancy and freely admit they don’t feel particularly comfortable in tasting menu places. “We want it to be accessible. The food cultures that inspire our menu tend to be more democratic. In Spain, they have cafés that serve great local seafood that are frequented by painter and decorators. You don’t get that here,” says Withington, whose colourful dishes pop against Erst’s brutalist, polished-concrete interior.

“Sutton’s well-judged wine choices, meanwhile, also bring a welcome splash of sunshine to the proceedings.

9 Murray St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6HS

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Manchester’s dining scene has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years with restaurants that more than hold their own against those in the capital.

You can view the full list here.


Cumbrian chef Tom Barnes’ new restaurant Skof was named as ‘One to Watch’ by the panel, despite opening just a few weeks ago.

“What an evening at the National Restaurant Awards,” says chef Tom Barnes.

“We’re truly honoured for Skof to receive the ‘One to Watch’ award. A big thank you to our team and everyone who has supported us since our opening.”

3 Hanover St, Federation St, Manchester M4 4BF

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