As many of you know, I was fortunate enough to spend a year in Manchester, England while earning my Master’s degree. When I first moved to Manchester in September 2015, I honestly was not a fan of the city. At first look, it seemed like a smaller, less interesting, and dirtier version of London. After living there for a year, I discovered the city had an endless number of hidden gems that made up its unique fabric.
Each sector of the city has its own personality, from the hipster tea shops and bars of the northern quarter and the student-filled streets of Fallowfield to the upscale restaurants in Spinningfields, the city feels more like a collection of small towns than one large city. The best part of the city has to be the amazing places you can eat throughout the city. I love food and a big part of how I settled into life in Manchester was by finding great places to eat when I didn’t feel like cooking again. So I decided to finally share my favorite places to eat in Manchester with you all!
Hidden Gem Restaurants
Hands down, my favorite part of the city was the amazing food available at every turn. I had visited England twice before moving there, but the food never really struck me as anything to write home about. Most importantly, I was worried about not being able to find good Mexican food, one of the staples of my diet. Luckily, within the first few weeks of moving to Manchester, I discovered Pancho’s Burritos. This place was better than almost every other Mexican restaurant I had been to AND it was also inexpensive. Manchester- 1; Debbie- 0. Pancho’s is a rather unassuming spot a bit outside the city center and off a main road and yet it draws a crowd of regulars every weekend. If you are passing through Manchester and want some quality Mexican food, I promise you that Pancho’s will not disappoint.
If you are craving something a little more quintessentially British, my favorite place to grab Fish and Chips in the city is Ra!n Bar. Its this fun little pub located on one of the small canals that go through the city. On one of the 4 sunny days all year, its nice to sit in their outside area and enjoy a pint and some food with friends. The Fish and Chips are amazing as are the Bangers and Mash and the drinks are strong and inexpensive (two of my favorite things). Keep in mind that if the weather is nice, the outdoor area will be packed so you may want to get there early to find seats, especially if you are in a bigger group.
The last restaurant I am going to mention is one of the most unique places I ate while in Manchester and if I had judged it by how it looked, I never would have gone in. Northern Soul Grilled Cheese looks like an absolute hole in the wall from the outside, especially since it is open on 2 of 4 sides. This place is in a tiny shop about a block from Piccadilly Gardens in the center of Manchester. There are about 15 total seats and it is always packed because the food is so delicious.
As you can probably tell from the name, Northern Soul Grilled Cheese specializes in, you guessed it, grilled cheese. But this isn’t just any grilled cheese. Its made on delicious sourdough bread with a blend of three cheeses and you can add everything from Macaroni and Cheese to amazing 9 hour pulled pork to your sandwich. It was one of my favorite spots to grab lunch if I was in the city center and there really is something for everyone on their unique menu. It was even featured on the Facebook page Love Food recently.
Best Tea in the City
In terms of food, there is another category that needs to be discussed: Tea. There is a bit of a debate about the best place to get proper tea in Manchester and I am here to say there is no right answer, because everywhere is rather amazing.
My favorite place to grab tea and a scone or a piece of cake the size of my face is Teacup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter. It is budget-friendly, has a great selection of teas and cakes and I am not joking when I say the slices of cake are the size of your face. Unless you have a hollow leg, you will likely have leftover cake for later, which is a wonderful thing. Teacup Kitchen has a very laid-back atmosphere and is a great place to hang out with friends and decompress from a long week. Also, don’t be completely distracted by the cakes as the scones are equally as amazing especially if you aren’t looking to eat as much.
Now if you are looking for something a bit fancier to celebrate a special occasion over tea, I recommend Cloud 23 at the Hilton Deansgate hotel. It gets its name because it is located on the 23rd floor and every table has an amazing view of the city below. If you are going here for tea, you might as well splurge on the champagne afternoon tea. With this you get an endless amount of tea, a glass of Champagne, and a tower of delicious treats. From the cakes to the scones and even the savories, every part of this tea service was worth the splurge. While not a good everyday tea spot, Cloud 23 is great for those occasions where you have something to celebrate and feel like being a bit fancy.
From this Misguided Millennial to you, I hope you have enjoyed my tips on places to eat in Manchester!