If we had £1 for every time we’ve been asked which are the best restaurants in Manchester, we’d all have our own private yachts, holiday homes in the Caribbean, top of the range Mercs, and still have a few bob left in the bank.
So to save you the trouble of asking us – and us the trouble of answering – we decided to put our heads together and publish our choice of the 50 best restaurants in Greater Manchester. There’s no charge.
Here they are, in no particular order. And they’re all in Greater Manchester.
Please feel free to disagree. Remember, in the immortal words of the poet, opinions are like ****holes. Everybody’s got one. This is ours.
Adam Reid at The French
Regularly lauded as a potential Michelin star winner, The French is a destination restaurant for all. Adam’s Great British Menu-winning dessert Golden Empire is a must-try, alongside four, six or nine course tasting menus. A treat for any fine dining enthusiasts, The French showcases everything that is great about northern produce and cooking.
One of the most elegant restaurants in the city, with chic decor and food to match, Asha’s Indian cuisine brings exotic flavours and ingredients to beautifully crafted signature dishes. With a menu boasting local ingredients as well as dishes with a British flavour and influence, Asha’s is a culinary adventure across continents.
Once home to Aiden Byrne, Living Ventures’ restaurant is still providing fantastic service and exceptional dishes from head chef Nat Tofan and unbeatable views of Manchester. A set lunch is excellent value, or try the tasting menu of eight or 12 courses – a vegetarian version is available, too.
The first branch of this modern British steakhouse to open outside the capital, Hawksmoor offers simply superb steaks from dry-aged British rump and rib-eye to porterhouse and chateaubriand alongside classy cocktails and a winning wine list. Leave room for the heavenly sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream.
The Rabbit in the Moon
Michael O’Hare may have departed earlier this year, but The Rabbit is still a sought-after destination for experiential diners. Technically adept and playfully presented, the ‘space-age’ Asian tasting menu is for anyone who wants a different kind of meal.
Where The Light Gets In
Tucked away in Stockport’s Rostron Brow (once infamous for its ale houses of ill-repute), ex-L’Enclume chef Sam Buckley’s restaurant is a bright, loft-style space with views across the rooftops towards Robinsons Brewery. There’s no menu, rather a procession of small plates inspired by the day’s catch, harvest and slaughter, with virtually nothing going to waste.
Albert Square Chop House
This renowned British chop house celebrates classic dishes from crispy pig fritters to a hearty steak and ale pudding with gravy. Their famous corned beef hash is 10 days in the making, served with sautéed potatoes and creamed onions, topped with a soft-poached egg and crispy dry-cured bacon.
‘Passionate about Catalan and Spanish cuisine’ is how Peter and Elaine Kinsella describe themselves and you can see this in their restaurant and food. Spread across two floors of the beautiful Barton Arcade, Lunya has an extensive range of menus with dishes for all tastes and quality ingredients beautifully crafted into authentic tapas dishes. The on site shop means you can take their great produce home.
This crowdfunded bistro in Didsbury was the third opening from barnstorming chef Gary Usher, following on from his critically acclaimed Burnt Truffle in Merseyside and Sticky Walnut in Chester. Must-try dishes include braised featherblade of beef with truffle and parmesan chips, and the ultimate custard tart.
The region’s first authentic southern Italian pasta kitchen, with a new branch in Ancoats following the success of the Altrincham original, Sugo offers a succinct menu focusing predominantly on pasta slow-dried in Bari. The signature orecchiette is made with meltingly tender slow-cooked beef shin, pork shoulder and spicy ‘nduja ragù.
Tucked away under the arches, Umezushi’s menu features sashimi, nigiri, hosomaki and more, with a specials board containing seasonal treats. Hot dishes might include wagyu beef or Taiwanese pork rice. The drinks list has a selection of sake and wines including Japanese koshu wines.
Paco Perez has arrived in Manchester with Michelin stars to spare, giving Tast the potential to be the best dining experience in the city. Try a selection of ‘tastets’ – a word of Catalan origin meaning ‘a small taste of food’, larger than a starter and smaller than a main – such as roasted chicken croquettes, or octopus with romesco, potato and oloroso wine.
White Hart at Lydgate
Built in 1788, the White Hart at Lydgate offers charming, expansive views from its hilltop location on the outskirts of Oldham. An upscale inn-with-rooms, it promises several dining options: the informal brasserie majors on crowd-pleasing dishes produced with quality ingredients, while the dining room showcases head chef Mike Shaw’s refined multi-course tasting menus. Well worth the trip.
The Allotment’s Matt Nutter won the title of Chef of the Year at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards 2017 for his sophisticated take on vegan cooking at this simple Stockport bistro. The ten-course tasting menu is packed with creative dishes, including signature shiitake mushroom parfait and a hibiscus, fennel and beetroot dessert.
This friendly Basque-style pintxo bar and dining room in Ramsbottom offers dishes like cuttlefish braised in squid ink sauce, whole Argentine red prawns, suckling pig from Segovia, and txuletón aged Galician dairy steak. There’s also hand-sliced, acorn-fed 100% pure bred jamon Iberico from Maldonado. This is the real deal.
Masterchef champion Simon Wood’s first restaurant is a relaxed venue with a wide range of choices to dine from. An a la carte menu featuring dishes that led Simon to his Masterchef title, and a seven-course tasting menu with exceptional wines to match. The open kitchen means you’ll spend every dining experience watching Simon create the dishes that brought him to the fore in 2015.
As we said earlier this year, Grafene and chef Ben Mounsey are up there challenging for the title of best in the city. With a 5 or 7 course tasting menu plus a la carte offerings, this take on British fine dining is certainly worth a visit.
A new kid on the block, Aiden Byrne’s menu is a modern British affair with ingredients either locally sourced or from the restaurant’s own farm in Cheshire. And as you might expect, Manchester’s highest restaurant offers stunning views over the city to complement the food and service.
This neighbourhood bar and kitchen in Ancoats makes the most of local produce. From Manchester charcuterie, locally-smoked salmon, regional cheeses and the Manchester egg to pig head croquettes, homemade Earl Grey ice cream and Manchester Pale Ale braised ox cheek, the menu is always interesting.
This Bavarian bier palace offers a hearty brunch menu as well as all-day favourites such as steak, schnitzel, currywurst or bratwurst, with fresh unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell served straight from the tank. Breads, pretzels, cruffins and kronuts are baked daily in the in-house bakery.
This laid-back Piccadilly street food favourite has canteen and booth-style seating, and bespoke artwork nodding to Manchester’s industrial heritage. The informal menu is entirely vegetarian: think spiced okra fries, or bundo chaat, a delightful mixture of crunchy samosa pastry, chickpeas, tamarind chutney and turmeric noodles. An excellent beer list showcases local breweries.
Now open two years, the Unabombers-curated Refuge in The Principal Hotel is one of the coolest go-to dining and drinking spots in the city. With a beautifully refurbished interior, tapas-style menu and a Sunday roast banquet to revere, The Refuge goes from strength to strength with regular events and constantly changing dishes.
El Gato Negro
El Gato Negro has built on the excellent reputation it gained in Ripponden since moving into the city centre two years ago, offering a modern take on tapas using traditional flavours and the best ingredients Manchester can offer. Chef patron Simon Shaw believes in the ‘local’ atmosphere of the restaurant and it comes across in its service and aesthetic.
This grand neo-gothic manor in Rochdale run by larger-than-life TV chef Andrew Nutter offers a modern British menu and an impressive wine list. Menus change with the seasons, with Sunday lunch and afternoon tea options, but be sure to try the signature crispy Bury black pudding wontons.
This relaxed tapas bar in Altrincham is inspired by the tiniest independent tapas bars of Barcelona and Madrid. Lots of bar stools and casual tables create a busy, buzzing atmosphere and everything on the enthusiastically Iberian menu is handmade in-house.
The Beastro team continue to delight their ever-growing customer base with their own takes on classic British dining with a funky twist. Hearty breakfasts and lunches are served every day, dinner Thursday to Saturday evenings.
A 10-minute walk from Deansgate is this no-frills Italian restaurant serving food like your grandma used to make – if your grandma was Italian and a fantastic cook. Not to be missed if you’re a fan of Italian food.
This authentic tapas joint in Ramsbottom offers a laid-back, leisurely experience and serves dishes like seafood and saffron stew with king prawns, smoked haddock, mussels and clams, ox tail braised in Rioja, and Galician beef meatballs.
The only Cambodian restaurant in the north of England, with a new branch in Altrincham joining the Marple original, Angkor Soul’s menu is based around key ingredients including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, coconut milk and fresh herbs. Dishes include north Cambodian braised beef and peanut curry, cooked for 3 hours with potatoes and carrots in a curry paste with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, garlic and lemongrass.
Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza
Rudy’s 14-inch pizzas – made from dough prepared on site daily – are cooked for just 60 seconds in the wood-fired oven, resulting in a light, chewy, base. Several choices on the concise menu are available either ‘white’ or with a San Marzano tomato sauce.
The menu features favourite dishes which have become familiar since Thai food deservedly became popular in the UK. Starters like chicken satay and fish cakes. Mains like chicken green curry and prawn red curry. But Chaophraya’s offerings demonstrate a much wider choice with elaborate and exotic salads, stir-fries and dishes from the grill and steamer.
Partner restaurant and bar to The French in The Midland Hotel, Mr Cooper’s is a casual destination for hotel guests and visitors alike. A classic menu consisting of small plates, grills and salads all in a contemporary style you’d expect across at The French. A more relaxed environment, with pre-theatre dining as well as a long cocktail list worthy of working its way through.
Modern Australian food with Indonesian and Japanese influences, served in a glamorous subterranean venue in Spinningfields. Pacific Rim flavours are underpinned by classic European cooking techniques in a menu that spans sushi and sashimi to robata grilled meat and fish. Don’t miss the signature black cod.
Samsi has been wowing critics for 25 years, bringing some of the best Japanese food to Manchester, and featuring in countless reviews and recommendations over that time. A fine dining Japanese experience that delivers the best ingredients in a refreshing authentic manner.
Expect authentic Indian street food dishes alongside curry house classics at this Curry Mile restaurant. Mimicking the style of the ‘dhabba’ cafes in India, snacks, small plates and charcoal pit dishes are served to the centre of your table as and when they are ready. Don’t miss the charred lamb chops.
James Martin Manchester
Offering modern British cuisine, James Martin Manchester serves up classic, seasonally changing à la carte and special menus. Dishes could include Cumbrian rabbit ravioli, Yorkshire wagyu steaks, and white chocolate and whiskey croissant butter pudding with single malt ice cream and honeycomb.
San Carlo Cicchetti
Serving from breakfast through to dinner, dishes at this chic Italian are cooked at the point of order using only the finest seasonal Italian produce, with menus changing to embrace and celebrate the seasons. Dishes include crispy gnocchi with black truffle, octopus and tuna carpaccio, and tagiolini pasta with lobster and brandy.
Expect South Indian street food and home-style cooking, freshly prepared from scratch at this colourful neighbourhood restaurant in Marple. Dishes include chilled picked crab with tumeric and ginger, Keralan fried chicken with kaffir mayo, and kale and onion bhajis with mango sriracha.
Serving some of the best Japanese food in town, Yuzu’s menu features sashimi, fresh gyoza to dip into soy sauce and chilli oil, fried chicken karaage, and prawn or chicken katsu. There’s also tempura, udon noodles and good-value lunch sets, with sakes and Japanese beers on the drinks list.
Located in the refurbished Manchester Hall, you can stay for a long, fine-dining boozy treat or a quick lunch in the Grade-II listed building. British produce is served without fuss in a quality environment, and the martini trolley is a must-try.
Tattu delivers modern Chinese cuisine in a fabulously decorated venue. Cherry blossom trees fill the restaurant whilst traditional Chinese decor accentuate the walls. Small sharing plates as well as banquet-style set menus are available celebrating contemporary Chinese flavours.
TNQ Restaurant & Bar
This simple, intimate dining room in the Northern Quarter is relaxed and friendly, with exposed wooden floors and grand windows showcasing the famous Smithfield fish markets. An accomplished modern British menu focuses on local seasonal ingredients such as slow-cooked pork belly with pork cheek bon bon, and market fish stew.
Gaucho has survived its parent group’s financial difficulties and continues to serve some of the best steaks and wines in the city. A popular haunt for many over the years, the recently refurbished restaurant is one of the best destinations for a romantic, meat-fuelled meal.
Manchester’s oldest teppanyaki restaurant, cooking quality ingredients in a no-fuss style in Chinatown. You will be seated at a large table surrounding an iron plate cooking surface where the chef will prepare your meals using the freshest ingredients.
Alston Bar & Beef
This handsome restaurant in the Corn Exchange is the first English branch of Alston’s award-winning Glaswegian restaurant. It specialises in gin and steak, with each cut selected from the top one per cent of Scottish beef and dry hung for 35 days for optimum flavour before being cooked in specialist Montague ovens.
You’ll find small plates, deli boards and charcuterie in this intimate Didsbury bistro bar, as well as weekend brunch and sharing Sunday roast platters. Dishes include smoked feta with beetroot, Lebanese lamb chops and seabass with cabbage, chilli and lime.
Harvey Nichols Second Floor
A modern, all-day menu offering a contemporary, premium dining experience in the Brasserie, with interesting cocktails at the bar. The menu includes burrata with grilled peach, radicchio and honey dressing, 28-day-aged steaks from John Holcroft’s Farm in Cheshire, and a bleeding meat-free burger.
Mi & Pho
This family run restaurant in Northenden serves authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Signature pho dishes are made from chicken and beef bones left to simmer for hours for rich, deep flavour, and the menu also includes Vietnamese curry with Jasmine rice and north Vietnamese style char-grilled marinated meats.
A glamorous restaurant in a beautiful historic building, Grand Pacific is located in the former Manchester Reform Club on King Street. Exotically furnished to bring back an aura of Raffles with food and drink to match, it’s a fabulous place to watch the world go by from up on high.
Lily’s Vegetarian Indian Cuisine
Putting Ashton firmly on the foodie map, Lily’s specialises in vegetarian Indian cooking. From sizzling platters to crispy dosa and puffed up puris, there’s plenty to please even the most hardened carnivore at this little gem of a joint.