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Best Manchester Restaurants

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If, like Orwell said, Manchester is the belly and guts of Britain, then eating here might be the most important thing you’ve ever done. You’ll find everything in Manchester restaurants, from gamey venison curries to simple sarnies and old-fashioned steak 'n’ kidney pie. There are more expensive restaurants in the city centre, typically northern fish-and-chip joints (serving wonderfully salty fries, drenched in vinegar), pub food like cold pork pies, apple crumble, toad in the hole and steak 'n’ kidney pie, and good old bangers and mash. But Manchester is also vehemently embracing tastes from further afield, and these days you can tuck into excellent Italian dishes, fine French food, Lebanese mezze dishes and even sensual delights if you make it to Lounge Ten. It’s true that Manchester used to be all about food to fill the stomach, British comfort food, but shrug off any misperceptions because this city has gone global.

Isinglass

Neighborhood: Urmston Price: Expensive

Isinglass: a transparent, almost pure gelatin prepared from the air bladder of the sturgeon and certain other fishes and used as an adhesive and a clarifying agent. Sound appetizing? Enter the cozy dining room (you’ll feel like you’re eating among a large family, the tables are so close together) chow down on the excellent beetroot-cured salmon, twice baked leg o’ lamb and homemade ice cream, and forget the dictionary definition. All ingredients are locally-sourced and quintessentially British—with a modern edge. Certainly worth the trek out to suburban Urmston.

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Isinglass  

Lounge 10

Neighborhood: Northern Quarter Price: Expensive

Push back the formal-looking door of this historic-listed building and you might as well be pushing back the curtains of a boudoir in Paris’ Pigalle district. As one of the best places to eat in Manchester, Lounge 10 is a haven for hedonists, with velvet drapes, suggestive artwork and a wine list to make your mouth water. The menu is rather sensual, too, featuring dishes like oven-baked lamb rump, roasted garlic butter lobster and an excellent Eton Mess (crushed meringue with raspberries, as invented at the school with the same name) for dessert. On the last Friday of the month there’s a supper club deal that includes cabaret and dinner (GBP30).

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Stock

Neighborhood: City Centre Price: Expensive

This restaurant clearly takes its name from the Edwardian stock exchange building it’s housed in because stock cubes in the kitchen would be an abomination. Instead this Italian restaurant plates up impressive creations in sumptuous settings; think rich, homemade meatballs, swordfish Carpaccio and squid ink pasta with crabmeat and sea bass. For dessert, don’t miss the excellent panna cotta, the fondete di cioccolato (“a sumptuous homemade chocolate fondant served with a rich white chocolate sauce”) or the crostata al’limone with homemade raspberry sorbet.

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Hunters BBQ

Neighborhood: Northern Quarter Price: Moderate

Ever had a hankering for a quail bhuna? No, neither had we…until we discovered Hunters, which turns the dependable Manchester curry into a thing of intrigue. Despite the average-looking façade and the fluro lighting, this is a curry house with a difference. Alongside more predictable curries such as chicken korma and ultra-hot vindaloos are British game options, such as venison, pheasant and partridge. Dishes are served late, after midnight in some cases. We don’t need to tell you that it’s in the Northern Quarter.

Moon

Neighborhood: Withington Price: Moderate

Everyone in Manchester has their favorite curry house, and while Moon doesn’t really look the part with its modern eating area (think long tables covered with white tablecloths and comfy chairs) and lack of curry-scented wallpaper, it does serve up a damn good balti. Cooked with ginger, garlic, fresh tomatoes and onions, this is the best place to eat in Manchester if comfort is what you seek. You’ll find everything on the menu, from chicken tikka masala to tomato-based karahi dishes, baltis, tandooris, samosas, onion bhajis and dals.

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Moon  

Manchester Fine Food Market

Neighborhood: City Centre Price: Moderate

Who needs tables and chairs when you have wooden benches and hundreds of stalls selling delicious artisanal foodie creations? Manchester Fine Food Market in St. Anne’s Square opens regularly on Saturdays and you can picnic your way through specialty Manchester cheeses, hams, specialist ales, olives, pies and some of the finest fudge known to man, created according to a secret recipe in nearby Burnley. Don’t miss the bakery stall named "The Dish Ran Away With the Spoon;" their chocolate brownies will win you over.

Sam's Chophouse

Neighborhood: City Centre
Price: Budget

Picture the scene…it’s 1942, war is raging in Europe and you’re in drizzly Manchester, having chicken pie and corned beef sarnies for lunch. Sam’s will take you right back to World War II cuisine, with its menu of salmon, Welsh rarebit, homemade pork pie and eccles cake for dessert. Of course, these are twists on the dishes of yesteryear; the salmon is served in a dill sauce and the pork pie is set with ham hock jelly. Unmissable.

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Soup Kitchen

Neighborhood: Northern Quarter
Price: Budget

No ordinary soup kitchen this, though it does have the requisite wooden dining tables and long benches. Somewhere between communal dining hall and stylish restaurant, Soup Kitchen is a student favorite. There are five or so soups on offer each day (think foodie varieties like potato and garlic rather than old-fashioned cans of oxtail), plus baked potatoes and warm bowls of chili, served against a backdrop of bookshelves and bar stools. The best part is that nothing will set you back more than a fiver.

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A Place Called Common

Neighborhood: Northern Quarter
Price: Budget

“You wanna live like the common people, you wanna do whatever common people do,” sang Jarvis Cocker of Britpop band Pulp back in the 1990s. Pulp hailed from Sheffield, not Manchester, but their lyrics were indicative of a northern resurgence, when working-class northerners were suddenly deemed cool by their southern counterparts. A Place Called Common, then, is that ethos in bar-resto form; a down-to-earth eating and drinking spot that brings glamour to shabby chic. The toasted sandwiches are perfect on a cold day, especially when combined with a steaming hot mug of Vimto.

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A Place Called Common  

The Battered Cod

Neighborhood: Withington Price: Budget

Even though it’s all the way out in Withington, The Battered Cod continues to top lists of Manchester’s finest fish 'n’ chips. The fish-to-batter ratio is spot on, the chips are plump but not soggy, and there’s enough salt and vinegar to create that mouthwatering feeling Mancunians love so much. And there are battered sausages and pies on the menu, too. But don’t come expecting a classy dining hall; this is simple northern fare at its best. There’s a second branch in Fallowfield. 

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