There are two types of people when it comes to Valentine’s dining celebrations. Those that have their restaurant booked months in advance, and those always scrambling for a table just a night or two before.
Having been both, we thought we’d lend a hand with a few suggestions for those of you who haven’t quite got yourselves organised yet.
Of course, not everyone’s idea of a romantic restaurant is the same. And not everyone likes the same cuisine. So below you’ll find a range of choices, from swanky fine dining spots to more relaxed bistros and tapas bars.
From Chinese to Italian, from steakhouse to sushi, there should be a little something for everyone.
Keep reading to find your perfect Valentine’s dinner.
Housed in the old Grade II-listed courthouse building on Deansgate, Hawksmoor has a refined aesthetic that perfectly complements its best of British menu offering. Widely regarded as the best steakhouse in the city, everything is a labour of love here – from the beef to the wine, to the cocktails and puddings. If you struggle to get a table, there’s sometimes room in the bar.
Pep Guardiola’s King Street restaurant promises diners the best of Catalonia right here in Manchester. Chef Paco Perez lays claim to five Michelin stars, and food here is served in a unique style. More complex than tapas but smaller than a plate, dining here is all about taste and presentation. For Valentine’s, the restaurant has a special menu priced at £52.
Bistrotheque at Cultureplex
A new favourite since its opening last year, Bistrotheque can be found inside Cultureplex within the newly redeveloped Ducie Street Warehouse. Cool but not intimidating, the menu focuses on tasty bistro classics like fish and chips and steak tartare. Here you also have everything you need for the ultimate date night under one roof: a mini cinema, a swanky bar and a gorgeous aparthotel to bed down at the end of the night.
Abeja might be new to Manchester’s dining scene but it’s already giving rival tapas bars a run for their money. All produce is painstakingly sourced by owner Ana Villegas from her hometown of Granada, even the whiskey. With room for just fifteen covers, it’s perfect for an intimate Valentine’s Day supper. Find it at Hatch under the Mancunian Way.
This cute little neighbourhood restaurant in Chorlton specialises in super-fresh seafood and are known for grilling whole fish in their charcoal oven. The wine list is also excellent. Menus change weekly depending on what is fresh and seasonal but you can view samples on their website to get an idea. For those who don’t like fish, they also serve steak and other non-fish dishes.
For the ultimate swanky experience, dine high in the sky serenaded by electric violinists at 20 Stories. The restaurant is serving a special four-course menu for the occasion featuring Aberdeen Angus beef wellington and lemon tart with raspberry sorbet followed by truffles and fudge (£70). A vegan menu is also available.
This stylish subterranean restaurant in Spinningfields has long been a mecca for Manchester’s elite. Known for its splendid cocktails and sushi plates, this Valentine’s the restaurant will also have a special sharing dessert Valentine’s Bento Box for couples to split between them.
Situated out in Didsbury Village, this award-winning neighbourhood bistro from Gary Usher can always be relied upon for its fine flavours. Worth going for the egg custard tart alone, if your significant other considers themselves a foodie you will earn some serious brownie points booking in here. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal.
The French at The Midland
As hotel restaurants go, it doesn’t get any better than this. Tipped for years as the city’s main contender for a Michelin star, The French may have missed out to Simon Martin‘s Mana but that doesn’t mean Adam Reid‘s food is anything less than top-notch.
Dakota Bar & Grill
With deep booths, low-lighting and its very own champagne snug, Dakota simply oozes elegance. Its refined menu boasts dishes such as short rib of beef with celeriac and salardaise potatoes, venison and kale with blackberry and black pudding, steak frites and chateaubriand – the ultimate Valentine’s sharer. Complete your night with a stay in one of the luxury suites.
Taking its inspiration from the old colonial Iranian cafes, Dishoom is set in the stunning old Freemasons building on Bridge Street. Let them carry you away with their Bombay-style sharing dishes, low lighting and perfumed incense, which wafts through the venue day and night.
Enjoy the tinkling sounds of a baby grand piano as you wine and dine in the breathtaking settings of what once was Manchester’s Old Reform club. Dishes blend flavours from exotic places with English classics as well as elegant cocktails.
Alston Bar & Beef
This Glaswegian steak house is sequestered beneath Manchester’s beautiful Corn Exchange and specialises in cold-compound gins and the finest Aberdeen Angus beef. Pop next door into their hidden gin bar afterwards for a cocktail to end the night on a high.
El Gato Negro
Simon Shaw’s King Street restaurant El Gato Negro, which has a Michelin Bib Gourmand, can always be relied on for punchy flavours. Must-try dishes here include the Scotch quails eggs, served with a mushroom duxelle and the shell-on tiger prawns. If you like to be at the heart of the action, make sure to request a seat at the chef’s table.
With its oak panelled walls, ornate plasterwork and polished parquet floors Masons manages to be both glamorous and laid back at the same time. A private members club where everyone is welcome, it boasts its own martini trolley and a vibrant menu celebrating fresh produce from across the UK.
TV chef James Martin is beloved by his fans, and for good reason. The man knows his food, as the menu attests. Think steamed wagyu ox cheek pudding, salt aged duck, Herdwick Hogget rump and white chocolate and whiskey croissant pudding. Are you drooling yet?
Cicchetti, Fumo and San Carlo itself are all wonderful choices for a special romantic evening. Cicchetti has a lovely marble bar that you can sit at whilst you nibble on small plates, whilst Fumo’s beautiful art deco interior is the perfect setting for a special date. And for lovers of traditional Italian food, you can’t go wrong at San Carlo.
As far as romantic settings go in Manchester, Tattu’s pink cherry blossom tree is up there. Love it or loathe it, it’s undeniably popular (and great for an Instagram picture) – but personally, we prefer the wood-panelled bar’s aesthetic downstairs. For modern Chinese dining with finesse, look no further.
This charming Oxford Road Italian is a popular choice for celebrations and has previously been awarded the gong for the most romantic Italian restaurant in the UK. With proposals happening here every weekend if you’re thinking to pop the question this Valentine’s, trust you’ll be in safe hands at Don Giovanni.
This swanky King Street Italian is well loved by Manchester’s glitterati and is quite the place to be seen. Owned by footballer Rio Ferdinand, find rare Italian wines behind the bar and freshly sourced produce in the kitchen.
Named after chef patron Simon Wood, 2015 winner of MasterChef, this First Street restaurant offers unintimidating high end dining in a relaxed setting. From truffled tortellini to tomahawk sharers, you won’t leave hungry.
For fine dining Indian style, Asha’s is a must. The only Indian restaurant in Manchester to be awarded a Michelin plate, it was founded by Bollywood legend Asha Bhosle and still uses recipes of her own creation to this day. Sink into the deep, royal purple booths and luxuriate in the restaurant’s opulent settings whilst enjoying dishes like monkfish tikka and lobster panchporan.
This independent tapas bar began its journey in Altrincham but now also boasts a second site here in Salford, pictured above. Focusing on homemade food and great ingredients, go for the relaxed atmosphere and stay for the food.
This gorgeous Northern Quarter restaurant is a long-standing favourite of the area. It’s seen many other restaurants come and go around it, but TNQ has stayed put. Find British classics served with a twist in a relaxed but formal setting.
If you’d rather head a bit further out of the city centre for your Valentine’s date, Baratxuri in Ramsbottom should be at the top of your list. Opt for sharing dishes from the grill like their whole fish or big cuts of meat, or perch at the bar and go for pintxos and sherry instead.
Peter Street Kitchen
Tucked underneath The Radisson Edwardian, Peter Street Kitchen offers effortless elegance with a mix of small plates hailing from Japan and Mexico respectively. Brought to Manchester by Amir Jati, who previously spent ten years at Nobu, it’s credentials are solid. This Valentine’s a 4-course menu is £85 per person and includes a glass of Moët &
Chandon Rosé Impérial NV.