From Michelin star dining at Mana to backstreet curry cafes serving up rice and three, the choice of restaurants in Manchester has never been more vast and varied. Once derided as 'a city that drinks first and eats after, with its mouth open' by the late A.A. Gill, critics and guidebook inspectors now regularly heap praise on the many excellent places to eat in the city centre and the surrounding boroughs of Greater Manchester.

Of course we've always known how dynamic and diverse the dining scene here is, with the region's melting pot of cultures bringing a world of different cuisines to the table, from British bistros and French fine dining to Korean barbecue and Japanese small plates.

Here's our pick of the best restaurants in and around Manchester right now, in no particular order. Have we missed your favourite spot? Let us know in the comments.

1. Erst

Erst in Ancoats, Manchester

The sort of place you'll want to bring your friends from out of town to, this Scandinavian-esque wine bar and restaurant, from the people behind Trove bakery, is big on natural wines and stylish small plates. A stripped-back interior - think concrete floors, contemporary artwork and open kitchen - allows the dishes to do the talking. Whether it’s grilled flatbread beef, fat and chilli, or pork ragu with anchovy and cavatelli, everything has been carefully considered and goes down a treat with a glass of something chilled.

Sample dish: Pork ragu, anchovy and cavatelli

Address: 9 Murray St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6HS


2. Climat

Walk into this new, rooftop wine-led restaurant and it's quickly apparent that it boasts one of the best views in Greater Manchester. Perched on the Manc side of the Irwell, from its wrap-around terrace you can spot some of the city's most elegant buildings. But Climat isn't just about the knockout views - its menus are impressive too. Kicking off with its signature bar snack, a lamb keema vol-au-vent, and progressing to beef tartare covered in a hefty layer of sharp Berkswell cheese and perfectly cooked hake with barbecued leeks, this restaurant clearly means business.

Sample dish: Venison, red cabbage, celeriac, malt

Address: 8th Floor, Blackfriars House St Marys, Climat, Parsonage, Manchester M3 2JA


3. The Sparrows

Hidden under an archway in the Green Quarter, this modern, central European dining spot has bean heaped with praise from national critics, thanks in large part to its dumplings. Far from a one trick pony though, a visit to Sparrows isn't complete without sampling their spätzle - a form of fresh egg pasta spanning a vast geographical region - as well as the delicious Russian-style Pelmeni, Polish Pierogi and Italian ravioli, which can be washed back with organic wines, Italian coffee and Swiss craft beer.

Sample dish: Pierogi (Polish hand made dumplings) with sour cream

Address: 16 Red Bank, Green Quarter, Manchester, M44HF


4. Sud Pasta

The pasta kitchen formerly known as Sugo may have been forced to rebrand, but thankfully nothing else has changed at this note-perfect southern Italian restaurant. Founded in Ancoats, it also has sites in Altrincham and Sale, all serving a succinct menu of Pugliese pasta dishes that change with the seasons, alongside the staple ‘house sugo’ - a beef shin, pork shoulder and ‘nduja ragu tossed through orecchiette and topped with a flurry of parmesan.

Sample dish: Trofie allo Scoglio - Cornish brown crab, baby squid, cod cheeks, tiger prawns, Shetland mussels, datterini and ginger

Address: 46 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6BF


5. Kala

Tucked away at the top of King Street, chef, restaurateur, pub owner, caterer and all-round kitchen maven Gary Usher’s city centre bistro Kala is another example of a place quietly being excellent. It doesn’t shout about anything much, yet it has much to shout about, from the stylish room to the quality coming across the pass. If you’ve not been, go. If you have, go again.

Sample dish: Pan-roasted pork ribeye, with butterbean mash and cabbage

Address: 55 King St, Manchester M2 4LQ


6. Mana

Mana Restaurant in Ancoats

It's fair to say Simon Martin's fine-dining restaurant in Ancoats has been a gamechanger for Manchester's dining scene. In 2019 it became the first restaurant in the city to receive a Michelin star since 1977 - serving considered dishes using celebrated British ingredients. Keeping guests on the edge of their sleek armchair with dishes spanning Louet-Feisser oyster served with wasabi and dill to a divine matcha orb flavoured with rose and sorrel, the innovative menu here continues to raise the bar for fine dining in the metropolis.

Sample dish: Roe, smoked eel and mezcal

Address: 42 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6BF


7. Pho Cue

A relatively recent and very welcome addition to Chinatown, Vietnamese restaurant Pho Cue has won praise from critic Jay Rayner for its fresh and fragrant family recipes, passed down through generations and brought bang up to date by Insta-savvy owner Cue Tran. Expect Vietnamese rolls and tacos, rice and noodle dishes - and of course, steaming bowls of pho. And don’t miss its lobster specials, available on Sundays until they’re all snapped up.

Sample dish: Hai Phong Special Pho (beef, oxtail on the bone, chicken and king prawns)

Address: 52a Faulkner Street, Manchester, M1 4FH


8. Another Hand

Within a relatively short space of time, Another Hand, a New York-loft style eatery nestled within Deansgate Mews has impressed both at home and away - and scooped up a number of awards - thanks to its seasonal small plates and perfectly paired cocktails. Best described as a love letter to local suppliers, ingredients are sourced from local suppliers, including Cinderwood Market Garden and Littlewood Butchers, resulting in dishes that delight and surprise in equal measure.

Sample dish: Chalk stream trout with burnt apple dashi

Address: Unit F, 253 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN


9. Stretford Canteen

Clinging to the edge of the Stretford Mall is an oasis. Taking notes from owner Josephine Sandwith’s experience of growing up in a restaurant (Beaujolais on Portland Street), the Stretford Canteen mixes classic French with modern British vibes, all delivered in a lovely room and with a lovely soundtrack - seriously, search Spotify for the place’s first rate playlist. With an eye on local produce, what comes out of the kitchen is somehow simple and sumptuous at the same time. Oh, and those crispy new potatoes. Good heavens.

Sample dish: Pork chop, kale, capers and madeira

Address: 118 Chester Rd, Stretford, Manchester M32 9BH


10. Adam Reid at The French

Manchester's culinary scene continues to grow, but one restaurant's name is still on everyone's lips. Adam Reid took the reins of the Manchester institution from his mentor Simon Rogan in 2016, building on its reputation for modern, British dishes served within opulent surroundings. Reid's best dishes are those delivered with a strong Northern accent - think hunks of bread doused in broth, surf and turf sausage rolls and Cumbrian shorthorn loin cooked in its own fat.

Sample dish: Cumbrian shorthorn loin cooked in its own fat; swede, seaweed & fish eggs

Address: 16 Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS


11. El Gato Negro

Tapas restaurant El Gato Negro on King Street, Manchester

With its downstairs charcuteria bar, intimate first floor dining room with chef’s table, and top floor terrace with retractable roof, King Street tapas restaurant El Gato Negro lends itself perfectly to just about any occasion. Whether you’re planning a romantic date night, looking for somewhere smart for a business lunch or simply somewhere convenient for a shopping pit-stop, you’ll be happy you found it.

Chef Simon Shaw has earned a respected reputation for his Spanish-influenced cookery and a spot in just about every guidebook going, including a Michelin Bib Gourmand in recognition of its affordable, quality cuisine. His other restaurants, the Middle Eastern inspired Habas, just further up the road on Brown Street, and the Portuguese influenced Canto in Ancoats, are also worth checking out.

Sample dish: Salt cod croquetas, piquillo pepper purée and aioli

Address: 52 King Street, Manchester, M2 4LY


12. The Jane Eyre

First they conquered Ancoats, now its time to take on Chorlton's Beech Road - and by all accounts it's going very well. After starting out as a neighbourhood bar, the sleek cocktail spot on Cutting Room Square then made a name for itself with it's Sunday roasts and small plates. Its second home in Chorlton - on the former site of The Parlour - boasts a stylish fit out, redesigned bar and an outdoor terrace which is sure to become popular when summer rolls around.

Sample dish: Tempura monkfish, smoked chilli mayonnaise


60 Beech Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9EG

13. The Mekong Cat

Perched at the top of Lower Hillgate, and operated by the same people behind Marple gem Kambuja, The Mekong Cat is unapologetically authentic and all the better for it. As the name suggests, the relative newcomer to Stockport is inspired by the countries that the river runs through, cherry picking some of the best cuisine - from summer spring rolls, sandwiches and noodles to steaming bowls of noodles - with or without broth. Make sure to try the Cambodian beef stew if you're in need of something comforting.

Sample dish: Spicy Drunken noodles with garlic, chillies, eggs, greens, carrots and basil

Address: 47 Lower Hillgate, Stockport, SK1 1JQ


14. Ornella's Kitchen

Following in her father's footsteps, Sicilian-born Ornella Cancila -formerly a baker at Pollen - has penned a love letter to Italy in the form of her own deli and neighbourhood eatery in Denton. Looking for some of the very best pasta dishes in Greater Manchester? Then look no further than Ornella's, where she serves up her raved about lobster ravioli, generously portioned rigatoni amatriciana with crispy guanciale, and creamy sausage pappardelle topped with shallots. Space for afters? Check the counter for Sicilian cannoli or brioche buns, which go down a treat with pistachio gelato.

Sample dish: Rigatoni Amatriciana with crispy guanciale

Address: 10 Manchester Rd, Denton, M34 3LE


15. The Black Friar

The Black Friar burger (£17)
A burger at The Black Friar

The Salford boozer has risen from the ashes and been lovingly restored into a contemporary restaurant and pub, paying tribute to the building's original features through modern finishes and a menu you wouldn't expect on the edge of a dual carriageway. Now boasting a glass extension, gorgeous beer garden and outdoor bar, dishes here have been conjured up by former 20 Stories head chef Ben Chaplin and span elevated pub grub classics - from foraged mushrooms on toast to Cumbrian shredded lamb hot pot.

Sample dish: Scottish seared scallops with Fruit Pig's white pudding, pink lady apple puree

Address: 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford, M3 7DB


16. Flawd

Perched waterside at Islington Marina, this neighbourhood natural wine bar and bottle shop may only have a tiny kitchen space, but the small plates produced within it are some of the best in Manchester. Flawd is the first permanent space for the team behind Higher Ground. And, while there's a focus on natural and low-intervention wine here, its refined dishes - simply written up on a chalkboard behind the bar and using fresh, seasonal produce grown over at Cinderwood Market Garden in Cheshire - elevate everyday staples into something quite spectacular.

Sample dish: Yellow beans, garlic, breadcrumbs, crème fraiche

Address: 9 Keepers Quay, Manchester, M4 6GL


17. 10 Tib Lane

Whether it's classic cocktails, natural wine that doesn't scare you off or seasonal food created with the best produce going, 10 Tib Lane ticks every box. From the people behind Cocktail Beer Ramen + Bun in the Northern Quarter and Henry C in Chorlton, this Parisian-style restaurant - think distressed walls, blush pink banquettes and tiled nooks, continues to impress. Whether it's an elegant cocktail you're after, a platter of oysters or rump steak with sauce Diane, this date night favourite is sure to impress.

Sample dish: Steak Tartare, capers, egg yolk puree, sourdough toast

Address: 10 Tib Ln, Manchester M2 4JB


18. Happy Seasons

Known for its long and winding queues snaking around the block, this Chinatown institution is well worth standing in line for. The no-frills, family run Faulkner Street stalwart has been open for more than a quarter of a century thanks in large part for its no-nonsense roasting of meats - the holy trinity of crispy pork belly, Hong Kong-style roast duck and barbecue char sui always guaranteed to pull in the crowds. Make sure you leave space for a warming bowl of beef brisket and spicy chilli chicken with bones too.

Sample dish: Three roast meat on boiled rice

Address: 59 Faulkner Street, Manchester, M1 4FF


19. Hawksmoor

This London export is one of the first places Mancunians and visitors alike look to when in need of a impeccably cooked steak - and for good reason too. This upscale restaurant and bar with its frosted glass, mid-century lighting and dark-panelled walls, isn't just about its large cuts and steaks though, as proven by its herb-fed chicken, south coast monkfish and roasted scallops. Wash it back with a glass of red, show-stopping martini or Espresso Scorretto.

Sample dish: Rib-eye (350g) served with either Béarnaise, Peppercorn, bone marrow gravy and triple-cooked chips

Address: 184-186 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WB


20. 20 Stories

20 Stories in Spinningfields

Come for the views, stay for steaks, seafood and swish drinks at Spinningfields’ glamorous rooftop restaurant and bar. With a striking bar sandwiched between two dining rooms and a roof terrace looking out over the city below, the 19th floor venue caters to all occasions, from an al fresco aperitif to afternoon tea, a la carte dining and tasting menu experiences.

Sample dish: Marinated pork fillet, BBQ peach, Maitake mushroom, Tokyo turnip, smoked pork sauce

Address: 20 Stories, No. 1, 1 Hardman Square, Manchester, M3 3EB


21. Bundobust

Brought over from West Yorkshire in 2016 and now spanning two locations in Manchester - Piccadilly Gardens and an Oxford Road taproom - the Gujarati street food kitchen has become a go-to for many Mancs. Served in cute little tubs, dishes range from moreish okra fries and the 'Bundo chaat' to Mumbai-style burgers and warming lentil curry spiced with cumin, garlic and chilli. Wash it down with a beer and IPAs from local breweries or Bundobust's own brews.

Sample dish: Paneer Tikka

Address: 61 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AG, and St James's Building, 61-69 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6EQ


22. Yuzu

It's been around for years serving traditional Japanese small plates from scratch using only fresh ingredients and, while it might seem unassuming, its food is anything but. Whether it's carefully crafted tempura, tantalising sashimi, or glorious gyoza, nothing here is an afterthought. Don't forget the tempura udon, teriyaki salmon don and pan-fried chicken thighs seasoned with teriyaki sauce and Japanese herbal pepper too.

Sample dish: assorted sashimi of salmon, tuna, scallops and sweet prawns

Address: 39 Faulkner Street, Manchester, M1 4EE


23. This & That

Manchester's curry cafes deserve an article in their own right and, while there's some debate over the very best, we always find ourselves going back to This & That. Tucked away on Soap Street in the Northern Quarter, this family-run restaurant is beloved for its ‘rice and three’, which handily comes in for less than a tenner . Serving up a hungry lunch crowd seven days a week, curries here are constantly evolving, keeping customers, new and old, on their toes.

Sample dish: Lamb steak, chicken and minced lamb with rice

Address: 3 Soap Street, Manchester, M4 1EW


24. Bar San Juan

The Neapolitan pizza at Rudy's in Ancoats

The kind of place you might wander - or stagger - into after a night bar hopping in Madrid or Barcelona, this tiny spot is an absolute favourite among locals, so much so that you might be lucky to get a table at all. Packed every night of the week, and having extended into the alley next door, you’ll get authentic tapas plates and a glass of beer in noisy, buzzy surroundings. What more is there?

Sample dish: Slow-cooked beef cheeks, or chorizo toast with quail’s eggs

Address: 56 Beech Road, Chorlton, Manchester M21 9EG


25. MUSU

Translating as 'infinite possibilities' in Japanese, Musu, the Bridge Street newcomer with big ambitions, has quickly made a name for itself amongst Manchester's discerning foodies. Helmed by chef-patron Michael Shaw, menus here are split up into three categories from 'Sentaku', meaning to choose, 'Kaiseki', a set menu devised by Shaw, and 'Omakase', a first-of-its-kind, theatrical dining experience served at the sushi bar. For those with very little time on their hands, a express menu is also available.

Sample dish: Chawanmushi

Address: 64 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BN


26. OSMA

This Scandi-influenced, Michelin-rated restaurant in Prestwich is the creation of Sofie Stoermann-Nass and Danielle Heron - an amalgamation of the pair’s hometowns of Oslo and Manchester. Taking over a former kitchen showroom, OSMA launched in October 2020, and is heavily influenced by Danielle’s impressive culinary CV at Michelin-starred eateries. It's intelligent, unpretentious and bold cooking landed it a place in the Michelin Guide last year for dishes which celebrate ingredients from local, British farmers, while seeking inspiration far beyond Bury New Road.

Sample dish: Salt-aged duck breast with radicchio, beetroots and pickled walnut

Address: 132 Bury New Rd, Prestwich, Manchester M25 0AA


27. Maray

Nationally acclaimed, Liverpool-born restaurant Maray, opened its doors in Manchester last summer. Founded in 2014 by James Bates, Tom White and Dom Jones, the concept was originally inspired by their experience in the Le Marais district of Paris – a buzzing district touted as a culinary melting pot of Middle Eastern flavours and vibrant cocktail spots. Dishes span the much-loved disco cauliflower, served with chermoula, harissa, tahini and yoghurt, crispy buttermilk chicken and a diverse selection of mezze.

Sample dish: lamb shawarma with squash tershi, crispy pittas, sumac, onions

Address: 14 Brazennose Street, Manchester, M2 6LW


28. The Oystercatcher

Serving up fresh, seasonal fish and seafood in the heart of Chorlton, this intimate, neighbourhood spot is both an everyday hangout and place for special occasions. Its menus feature both well-loved British classics, chargrilled favourites and plates influenced by other seafood-loving nations. Whether it's chargrilled octopus, black sea bream or moules frites on the menu, we encourage you to dive right in.

Sample dish: Seafood Stew with prawns, octopus, baby squid and mussels in a san Manzano sauce

Address: 123 Manchester Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, M21 9PG


29. Dishoom

Dishes from Dishoom

Offering a taste of old Iranian cafes of Bombay, Dishoom is all about the experience. Climb the steps from Bridge Street and enter Manchester Hall - a former freemasons' lodge - where a thick incense wafts around the dark-panelled treasure chest rooms. Only the food can top the splendid décor, so make sure to begin your day with a bacon naan roll and a piping hot cup of chai, or wait until light goes down to try the house black daal and chicken berry biryani with ginger, garlic, mint, coriander and rice cooked together in the Kacchi style.

Sample dish: Spicy lamb chops with green chilli, coriander and cumin

Address: 32 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BT


30. Mi & Pho

It might seem homely and neighbourhood-ey, but the food at Mi & Pho is seriously good. Embracing all the vibrancy and life of Vietnamese cuisine, this corner of Northenden is consistently packed (seriously, book ahead) with those seeking the authentic flavours of past travels or hoping to be taken away to somewhere more exotic for an hour or two. It’s hard to balance the flavours used here - sweet, sour, spicy, salty - but they make it look easy, from its warming soups to its crisp/chewy VIetnamese pancakes.

Sample dish: Papaya salad

Address: 384 Palatine Road, Northenden, M22 4FZ


31. Firehouse

Not the kind of place for a quiet first date or meal out with grandparents (though depends on the grandparents, of course), the Firehouse, from the folk behind Ramona next door, has more akin with a nightclub than a restaurant. But not in that tedious way, where an embarrassed DJ is playing along to your starters. This is full-on, runway dancers, disco balls, thundering house and garage, all while you hurl down some of the best peri-peri in town and margs by the gallon.

Sample dish: The Firehouse chicken

Address: 40 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JG


32. 63 Degrees

This informal, Parisian-style brasserie can be found it the city's Northern Quarter cooking up a menu full of forward-thinking, modern French dishes. A taste of Paris is brought to diners by the Moreau family, with poultry dishes cooked at 63 degrees - chef and owner Eric's tried-and-tested cooking technique which he has perfected after many years of experimentation. menus span dishes such as lamb fondant with carrots and cumin to duck confit burger with mushroom to Dauphinoise potatoes and oysters from Brittany.

Sample dish: Chicken 63 degrees with truffle paste

Address: 104 High Street, Manchester, M4 1HQ


33. The Walled Gardens

There aren't many restaurants in the Manchester quite like Whalley Range's The Walled Gardens. It's vegetarian, run by just one member of staff - founder and chef Eddie Shepherd - and seats only eight people at a time inside Eddie's own home. It's also highly in demand, with people waiting upwards of six months to get a seat at this renowned table. The chef spent 15 years cooking in traditional restaurants before launching his own venture, using mesmerising techniques to draw out as much flavour from fresh ingredients as possible - the tasting menu spans 12 courses and begins with Dandelion Petal Fruit Pastels served with a welcome G&T and topped with lemon verbena, which Eddie grows in his garden.

Sample dish: Miso-marinated Tofu with Sour Cucumber and Honey Wildflower

Address: Alness Road, Whalley Range (full address disclosed on booking)


34. Tattu

This high-end, contemporary Chinese restaurant opened its doors in Spinningfields in 2015, and quickly became popular for its cherry blossom décor and experiential dining. Passionately designed to bring diners on a journey from East to West, the restaurant concept inspires everything from is colourful Chinese-inspired cuisine to its meticulously crafted cocktails, which often reflect the seasons and landscapes of China. Modern sharing menus here allow you to sample an array of dishes, from Szechuan rock shrimp and caramel soy aged beef to duck egg and sausage fried rice.

Sample dish: Black cod croquettes with ginger and garlic aioli.

Address: 3 Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB


35. Volta

With no shortage of places to eat on Burton Road, Volta still stands out there on its own, a pioneer of small plates with influences from Northern Spain to the Middle East. You can expect everything from spiced lentil dishes, bowls of warming, curried fish, iberico pork and exquisite dips served with warm flatbreads. Throw in some decent cocktails and it’s hard to stay away.

Sample dish: Lamb shawarma with yoghurt and harissa

Address: 167 Burton Rd, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 2LN


36. Lily's Indian Vegetarian Cuisine

Lily's signature chaat

It feels like Lily's has always been there, the mark of a great restaurant. But only since 2018 has this family run business been serving up faultless Gujarati food just by the Ikea in Ashton-under-Lyne (though the heritage comes from their grandparents' shop, established in 1972). The curries are homely and generous, as is the welcome, with deli outposts now in Chorlton and Ancoats too. Pop in for a chaat and a chai, or head to the Ashton branch on a Thursday for the thali spectacular.

Sample dish: Bhel puri or samosa chaat

Address: 85 Oldham Rd, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 7DF


37. Tast

Famously part-owned by City’s most eminent Pep Guardiola, Tast is a pristine corner of Catalonia on King Street. With a menu designed by Michelin-starred executive chef Paco Perez, this effortlessly handsome spot is perfect for an occasion dinner, or summer cocktails on the terrace out front. Snacks at the downstairs bar (from white anchovies to jamon) are almost as diverting as the mastery going on in the main kitchen.

Sample dish: Native Blue lobster rice with coral mayo

Address: 20-22 King Street, Manchester M2 6AG


38. Where The Light Gets In

Approaching via fire escape steps to a Victorian coffee warehouse, it feels like an unlikely place to find some of the best cooking in the country. But in this calming room, chef Sam Buckley and his team bring you stunning dishes cooked just metres away, inviting diners into the open kitchen. There’s no menu, you just have to trust that everyone knows what they’re doing (they do). A near-perfect place - and one of the first recipients of a Michelin Green Star commending its commitment to sustainability.

Sample dish: Slow-roasted pigeon breast and leg with sweet salt and morels

Address: 7 Rostron Brow, Stockport SK1 1JY


39. Evelyn’s

Understated, but very classy indeed, Evelyn’s can be overlooked, sitting as it does between the madness of Market Street and the nonchalance of the NQ. It should not be. The cooking here is not to be underestimated. Come for brunch - from shakshuka to steak and eggs - and then stay for dinner too - Szechuan lamb skewers, mussels in a Thai broth - all delivered in handsome surroundings.

Sample dish: A 6oz rib eye, with chimmi, mojo verde

Address: 44 Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1LA


40. Seoul Kimchi

Nearly always crammed with students, this family-run gem opposite the MRI (two uncles and a grandma in the kitchen) turns out wonderful Korean and Japanese - but mostly Korean - classics, like jeon (savoury pancakes stuffed with all kinds of joyousness) and generous bimibap (rice bowls). But it’s the glorious barbecue dishes which will have your eyes rolling over, particularly the squid and pork bulgogi.

Sample dish: Galbi (grilled short ribs)

Address: 275 Upper Brook Street, Manchester, M13 0H

Website: seoulkimchimanchester

41. Rudy’s

The Neapolitan pizza at Rudy's in Ancoats

When Rudy’s opened its first pizza spot in Ancoats, the queues out of the door on every night of the week became legendary. That people kept coming back, despite being turned away, is testament to the quality of the pizza coming from that furnace of an oven from Naples. Of course, it’s since become a country-spanning chain, with branches on Portland Street, Peter Street, Chorlton, Didsbury and beyond. But the Cutting Room Square site will always be home.

Sample dish: Margherita

Address: 9 Cotton Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5BF,


42. Peace Garden

Tucked in behind the universities, Peace Garden is a paean to classics of Chinese regional cooking, from homestyle dishes to the kind of thing they pull out only for visiting state dignitaries or national banquets. Everything is done to a truly exceptional standard. So while there are dishes you might know - belly pork, sweet and sour - you’ve never seen them done like this before. Exceptional. You can read our Peace Garden review here.

Sample dish: Mao’s braised pork

Address: 57 Booth Street West, Manchester, M15 6PQ


43. Cafe Marhaba

From the most modest of kitchens comes some of the very best Pakistani home-cooking to be found in the whole city. Marhaba, hidden down Back Piccadilly, has long been a spot for a speedy stolen lunch or early dinner, with its legendary curries the stuff of, well, legend. Changing daily, dishes include spectacular seekh kebabs, melting lamb niharis and vegetarian curries galore, with puffy pillows of bread cooked in the clay tandoor. You can read our Cafe Marhaba review here.

Sample dish: Chicken karahi

Address: 36 Back Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 1HP

44. Hispi

Gary Usher’s Hispi is an easy entry here, and not just ‘it’s good for a neighbourhood restaurant’. It’s deservedly one of the best restaurants in the city. Now settled into its stride, it simply gets things right, from the midweek supper to the Sunday roast. The service is impeccable, the cooking equally so, with great value set lunches through the week. Enough said.

Sample dish: Braised featherblade of beef

Address: 1C School Lane, Didsbury, M20 6RD


45. Porta

Tapas is a way of life in Spain. Here, it’s frequently done badly, though how it’s possible to mess up something so simple is a mystery. Porta does it right, from the basics like good quality gordal olives and simple pan con tomate, to stews with chicken thigh, proper lamb meatballs, broccoli with romesco sauce and plates of spectacular cured jamon and dried beef. There are outposts in Altrincham and Chester here.

Sample dish: Tomato Salad with Colono goats cheese, capers, white onion, oregano, sherry vinegar

Address: 216 Chapel Street, Salford, Manchester, M3 6BY and 50 Greenwood Street, Altrincham, WA14 1RZ


46. Greens

Chef Simon Rimmer and Simon Connolly's pioneering vegetarian restaurant has been held in high-esteem since it opened its doors more than 20 years ago, in 1990 in fact, when getting a plant-based dinner was considerably more complicated than it is now. But it has maintained its impressive stature, even opening a second location in the transformed shopping district in Sale. Long may it reign.

Sample dish: Deep-fried oyster mushrooms, pancakes, spring onion, cucumber, plum sauce

Address: 41-43 Lapwing Ln, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2NT


47. The Lead Station

The Lead Station in Chorlton

The Lead Station has long been serving Chorlton's discerning Beech Road clientele with bistro classics, and long may it continue to do so. Comfortable, stylish - that blue ceramic bar - and reliable (there’s so much to be said for that particular attribute), it’s a place to return to while things change all around it. It even has its own cookbook. An institution.

Sample dish: Hake fillet, new potato crush, samphire, burnt hazelnut and shrimp butter

Address: 99 Beech Rd, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9EQ


48. The Perfect Match

Locals rave - and really, they do - about this absolute gem hanging on for dear life to the side of the A56. It looks out of place between the firework shops and the Irish bar next door, but inside it’s a picture of calm and quiet professionalism. It has an excellent and enviable bistro menu courtesy of chef Jacinda, and spectacular wines to match courtesy of sommelier Andrea, who met while working for Gordon Ramsay at The Savoy. Fine credentials, and fine food.

Sample dish: Roasted guinea fowl breast, pumpkin, chestnuts, black cabbage, chicken jus

Address: 103 Cross Street, Sale, M33 7JN


49. Yadgar Cafe

Another classic 'rice and three' haunt, Yadgar is among the finest of the homestyle cafes in the Northern Quarter, serving up brilliantly fresh curries and cushion-ey naans all day long. The cafe surroundings belie the complexity of the cooking here though- it’s not easy to balance the flavours going on. The evening specials might be on, if you’re lucky, dishes like fried cod, caked in spices, a classic lamb nihari or paya - made from either lamb or beef trotters.

Sample dish: Karahi lamb, on or off the bone

Address: 71 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1LQ

50. Ban Di Bul

While folk queue to get into Wagamama on St Peter’s Square, there are literally better options in your sightline. Though it’s perhaps not much easier to get in. Korean barbecue and hot pot spot Ban Di Bul combines eating out with cooking dinner, and it’s great fun because of it. Sticky, sizzling meats and bubbling pots of soup all add to the theatre and - top tip - it does a very reasonable lunch menu too.

Sample dish - Bul Gar Bi (seasoned and marinated boneless ribs)

Address: 77 Princess Street, Manchester, M2 4EG


51. Choupan

This Afghan-Iranian restaurant on Cheetham Hill Road turns out some of the softest, homemade flatbreads in the city. That should be reason enough to go on its own, but luckily, the rest of the menu is fabulous too. The mantoo dumplings, stuffed with spiced lamb, are a revelation, as is the khoresht-e-gheimeh, lamb stew with dried limes and waxy french fries on top. There is no dish that cannot be slightly improved by adding chips.

Sample dish: Zereshk polo (chicken with barberries)

Address: 414 Cheetham Hill Rd, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, M8 9LE


53. Street Urchin

This family-run 'English market diner' on the Ancoats/Northern Quarter border is the seafood restaurant Manchester has been crying out for. With a fisherman's son in the kitchen, you're guaranteed to land a good catch, whatever you choose from the daily-changing chalkboard menu. You can read our Street Urchin review here.

Sample dish: Roast monkfish, shell-on king prawn, fennel, confit tomato, chilli and fish broth with homemade herb gnocchi, almond and preserved lemon pesto

Address: 72 Great Ancoats Street. Manchester, M4 5BG


53. Habesha

There are now a few spots in the city to enjoy Ethiopian and Eritrean food, but Habesha was the first to blaze the trail, and for a long time one of the city's best-kept secrets. That’s until the national newspaper reviews started turning up. The menu is brief, and all the better for it, a collection of homestyle classics, heavily spiced and served with injera, the delicious sour pancakes. Seek it out.

Sample dish: Yebeg wot - slow cooked lamb with onion, ginger, garlic, hot pepper (berbere) and herb butter

Address: 29-31 Sackville Street, Manchester, M1 3LZ