My quick review of the 10 best places to eat in Manchester, UK.
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Deciding on places to eat in Manchester was really hard. Not because the city lacks options, gosh no. In fact, the problem was quite the opposite: There was just so much to choose from. Every restaurant and bar we saw looked intriguing. They were all insta-worthy af and there were so many different concepts we wanted to explore. With only 5 days to spend in the lovely city we had to be efficient and I feel like we succeeded, as we got to check out a good handful of the ones I wanted to see. Want ideas on where to eat and drink? Keep on reading.
#1. Evelyn’s Café Bar
Evelyn’s was the first restaurant Lisa and I checked out once we landed in Manchester. It is such a cute spot to enjoy a meal, a cocktail or a cup of coffee. It has a calm and comfortable atmosphere and we were surrounded by green plants everywhere, which we loved. So much in fact, that we kept going back there and we ended up spending quite a few hours there in total on our Manchester trip (hello, unexpected British rain). Evelyn’s have loads of vegan and gluten free options on their menu, and I can recommend their avocado toast for breakfast, yuum.
Evelyn’s also has insaaane cocktails, which we quickly learned is practically the norm in Manchester. Bartenders in this city must be in the world class, cause they blew us away in every place we went to. How do they do it? Manchester must have a secret bartender school for unique bartending prodigies or something? Make sure to try the morning glory fizz, watermelon martini and their frozé (best one I’ve ever tried).
Our first dinner in Manchester was spent at Thaikhun and we had such a great time. Thaikhun is a restaurant stain that specializes in Thai street food and their interior made me feel like I was back in Asia. Everything we ordered tasted so good, and I really recommend the grilled chicken satay and the Panang Curry. For a passion fruit lover like myself, the cocktail Up Till Dawn was like pure heaven in a glass. The experience was even better due to the nicest waiters ever.
#3. Fig + Sparrow
20 OLDHAM STREET
Fig + Sparrow is a great coffee shop where you can enjoy delicious coffee and a quick snack in a cozy environment. The perfect spot for a break while vintage shopping in the Northern Quarter. This place has super cute decor and its interior reminds me a lot about cafés in Scandinavia these days. Fig + Sparrow also sell various design products so make sure you pay them a visit once in the area. Bonus points for being dog friendly & having outdoor seating.
#4. 20 Stories
When we wanted to enjoy some cocktails at a rooftop bar one night, some quick research had us landing on 20 Stories. It turned out to be a great decision – 20 Stories was a beautiful oasis of a restaurant, and its rooftop terrace had the greatest view of Manchester. The terrace was like lounge with heating lamps, a few bungalows and we had such a fun time sitting out there in the skies. We didn’t eat anything since we had reservations later elsewhere, but their cocktails were incredible. I really recommend the Manchester Tart Punch with fresh raspberries.
In case you’re traveling with kids: Keep in mind that children are not allowed at 20 Stories after 6 PM. On our way down we ran into a disappointed family who weren’t allowed to enter and enjoy the view due to the young age of their child. Just a heads up!
#5. Tattu Restaurant and Bar
Once we saw pictures from Tattu while researching places to eat in Manchester, we both knew we had to eat there. And boy am I glad we did. We had such a great experience at Tattu – their interior and decor was just gorgeous and the dark lighting made it all very intimate. The perfect spot for a date! Or dinner with your sister, that works great too, haha.
Tattu’s cuisine is contemporary Chinese and everything on their menu made my mouth drool. We tried the crispy baby chicken and crispy duck with a delicious hoisin sauce, and it was SO good I couldn’t stop eating. Lisa even went all out and ordered the chocolate dragon egg for dessert. I was far too busy daydreaming about my elastic sweatpants and condemning my ever-expanding hold-in tights to order any dessert, but I quickly regretted binge eating all that duck once Lisa’s dessert arrived. It seriously looked like something Daenerys Targaryen could have used as easter decor. And it tasted even better (yes, I had a bite, shut up). As far as cocktails go, you should try the Peep Show Bellini, Sake Sour and Skull Candy – which is Tattu’s famous smoking skull cocktail – so so good.
#6. The Refuge by Volta
The Refuge is the restaurant that caught my attention the most while researching places to eat in Manchester. It looks so elegant and fun at the same time, and nothing like any other restaurant out there. Once we finally had the chance to pay it a visit, the restaurant was even more breathtaking than I expected. With its 10,000 square feet, super high ceiling, natural lighting and beautiful furniture, the building was simply spectacular.
The Refuge takes great advantage of its large venue and is divided into five different spaces to eat and drink in, depending on what you’re in the mood for. They have a laid back vibe and anyone is welcome – they even have a huge sign that says so itself: “Come as you are”. I often get uncomfortable in typical “nice” restaurants while traveling, as I feel like I’m not fancy enough for them, but this was never an issue at The Refuge.
We got seated in the lovely Winter Garden and ordered a selection of various bar snacks, as we weren’t super hungry at the time. Our expectations of the food wasn’t through the roof, I guess I rarely expect much from bar snacks, but oh-ehm-gee you guys – it was all to die for. A restaurant that knocks my socks off with it’s bar snacks? Congratulations, The Refuge wins my eternal love and respect. Bonus points for delicious English beer and even more delicious drinks.
#7. Street Food Market at Piccadilly
Every Wednesday to Sunday (except from December 23 to January 14), you can enjoy a street food market in the heart of Manchester. The market consist of more than 18 stalls that all sell delicious food from all over the world. I’m a sucker for street food markets, so when we saw this one pop up right at Piccadilly Gardens it almost made me squeal. We had to try the Manchester Slut Tart – and it was well worth the calories.
CURIOUS ABOUT MY CAMERA?
All of these photos were taken with my new travel camera & lens. I actually sold my full frame camera equipment and replaced it with a mirrorless Sony a6500 and a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. I’m absolutely loving this combo for travel and I highly recommend it! The quality is amazing, you can shoot video in 4K, and the shallow depth of field (bokeh) you get with the 1.4 lens is to die for. And it is SO much lighter and smaller than my Canon 6D & all my 1.4 lenses, which often got left behind at the hotel, to be honest. This set can fit into my small purses! Check them out if you’re looking for a new travel camera equipment.
#8. Richmond Tea Rooms
Walking through the doors of Richmond Tea Rooms was just like entering the world of Alice in Wonderland. We’re talking magical chandeliers in the draped ceiling, a ton of flowers and adorable furniture. Even the entry was so cute we didn’t mind waiting 45 minutes there for a table. We hadn’t made reservations and it was suddenly pouring outside, so we were so thankful that they allowed us to wait there for our table. I do recommend you book a table if you’re planning on visiting, though!
Richmond Tea Rooms is flooded in cakes and sweets, but they also serve other meals than desserts. I tried the chicken sandwich with Spanish mayo (yum), before we ordered the carrot cake and chocolate cake with ice cream – and a pot of Earl Grey to share. The food and sweets were all amazing!
The waiters were super nice, but unfortunately they weren’t very attentive when we visited. They seemed more interested in each other than their guests at some point, were hard to get a hold of, and they forgot about our tea. But hey, anyone can have a bad day, right? Richmond Tea Rooms were all in all a super experience that I recommend to anyone visiting Manchester.
Side note: Richmond Tea Rooms moved to a larger venue shortly after our visit there, so it might look a bit different from my photos. According to pictures from Instagram the place still looks just as magical.
#9. One Plus Restaurant
42 CHARLES STREET
One Plus Chinese Restaurant is TripAdvisor’s number one of places to eat in Manchester, so of course we had to give it a go. The restaurant was not one of those instagram perfected spots we had seen all over Manchester, but their food? Amazing. The restaurant has three floors with different types of food to choose from, and their selection is one of the largest ones I’ve seen. The staff was very welcoming and helpful with any questions we had about the food, and we liked the laid back vibe in there. It is also super affordable and their portions were huge.
#10. The Old Wellington
4 CATHEDRAL GATES
The Old Wellington is a charming old pub located at Shambles Square right by Manchester Cathedral. This unique building was built in 1552 and is the oldest building of its kind in Manchester. It’s an absolute must see, and great location for a pint or a quick lunch break in-between shopping sessions. We tried the fish & chips and their seasonal chicken & avocado salad – both were really good.
Places We’re Saving For Next Time
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out all the amazing restaurants, cafés and bars we wanted to in our short stay in Manchester. There were just way too many! But as we both are 100% dedicated to revisit Manchester, we’ll just save those spots for next time. Here is a list in case anyone’s interested:
Enjoy Food Guides?
Make sure you check out my favorite restaurant experiences in New York City here.