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Common in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
Common in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

A foodie’s guide to Manchester

Manchester’s gastro scene continues to stride forth. These seven tips – from fanciful affairs to the best curry house and artisan bakery – will give you a feel for the city’s culinary vibe.

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Re-defining French

The French, which nestles within The Midland Hotel, may be Manchester’s finest heritage restaurant, but in the hands of celeb chef Adam Reid, it’s a refreshingly relaxed affair with a local feel. Ingredients, carefully sourced from UK suppliers and at Reid’s own rooftop allotment, come together in “honest, hearty and tasty” dishes, most of which are served as part of tasting menus. The presentation of these little plates is inspired but gimmick-free, and Reid has put his stamp on more than the delectable food – you’ll be listening to his personal playlist of modern Mancunian indie tunes while he and his team put the finishing touches to dishes such as fried courgette flower with shrimp sauce, Cumbrian lamb with peas and ramson capers, and his famed desert – Golden Empire.

Adam Reid at The French at The Midland Hotel

Peter Street, Manchester

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Open for lunch on Friday and Saturday; and dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

Bistro Brit

If you’re after contemporary British fare in a relaxed bistro-style environment, Hispi is a good a good bet. Located in Didsbury, a cozy suburb a hop and a skip (or a 15 minute tram ride) from central Manchester, the restaurant has achieved a loyal following since it opened last year with the help of crowd-funding. A few things you’ll find on the menu: chargrilled rump steak, steamed plaice fillet and roasted cauliflower. There’s also a good, varied kids’ menu.

Hispi

1C School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester

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Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Eat, drink, and make merry

Fun and happening, with a young clientele that could be described in the same terms, Luck Lust Liquor & Burn is sought out for its Californian style Mexican food and street-inspired interior. Located in “party central” Northern Quarter, the restaurant is equally popular as a nighttime spot, where colorful cocktails flow freely alongside the craft beer.

Luck Lust Liquor & Burn

100-102 High Street, Manchester

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Open daily for lunch and dinner. Bar open until late.

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Common cool

Something of a Manchester institution and a favorite for Mancunians of all ages (daytime, at least), Common is a bar, eatery, coffee spot and bakery rolled into one. Located in the midst of the Northern Quarters, the vibe is relaxed, with shots of color and quirky artwork giving character to the multi-room space. Food and sweet treats have a hearty feel, and the coffee is good enough to seek out in its own right. As dusk falls, the place transforms into a buzzy nightspot.

Common

39-41 Edge Street, Manchester

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Open daily from 10am until late.

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Smile on Curry Mile

Manchester’s Curry Mile is the answer to London’s Brick Lane, but you’ll also find plenty of Middle-Eastern options here. The quality of the curry houses tends to vary, but Mughli is a safe bet. The menu is diverse, with many options across meat, fish and greens. Even the drink list is bountiful – try an Indian-inspired cocktail or a house-infused gin & tonic before the fiery food lands on the table straight from the charcoal pit.

Mughli

30 Wilmslow Road (Curry Mile), Manchester

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Open daily for dinner until late.

A Spaniard in Manchester

Mancunians seem to have a thing for tapas and there are several spots in the city catering for their tastes, Ibérica being one of the best. The restaurant has a handful of branches dotted across Britain, each one with its own character and Spanish-inspired décor – this one has matador-jacket lanterns to set the mood. Signature Spanish-Asturian dishes include ham croquettes and fresh squid. Those with smaller appetites can nibble on pinchos (mini tapas) with a drink at the bar.

Ibérica

14-15 Hardman Street, Manchester

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Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Early bird gets the swirl

You hardly need directions to locate Pollen Bakery, the waft of fresh sourdough bread and pastries will lead you to its industrial railway-arch setting under Piccadilly Station. Opened in September 2016 by Hannah Calvert and Chris Kelly, a pair of baking enthusiasts and former bankers, this artisan contender has quickly garnered attention among Manchester’s culinary elite (Adam Reid at The French is a fan) and beyond. Get there early – we arrived at 9am to scoop up the very last cinnamon swirl.

Pollen

2 Sheffield Street

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Open Wednesday to Saturday from 8am – closes when baked goods have sold out.

Text: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

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