Whether the object of your affection favours laid-back vibes, serious food or French fancies, Manchester's best date restaurants can provide. It’s a city that’s all about impact - and that’s reflected in its restaurants. Interiors are getting more ambitious, staff more switched-on and menus more wide-ranging, making it easy to impress your date at one of our chosen tables. And if you're still not wooing well? You could always give it one last go at a swanky cocktail bar, or simply drown your sorrows in one of Manchester's best pubs. Good luck.
The best restaurants for a date in Manchester
Independent of spirit and exceedingly French, family-run 63 Degrees conjures cosy romance even in a contemporary Northern Quarter space. Chef-proprietor Eric Moreau offers idiosyncratic takes on classic dishes; the restaurant name refers to his preferred cooking method for poultry.
The booths here are dark, grown-up and supplied with serious wine and British food that does not muck about, but retains some delicate touches. Local ingredients come into play in dishes like slow-cooked High Peak mutton, and puddings will warm your cockles even if your date decides not to.
Manchester’s best subterranean interior is reached via a glass entrance that puts you in mind of the Louvre. Once inside, Australasia is all bleached driftwood, balmy light and attractive people. If you want to keep things breezy, this is the spot: food is sushi, sashimi and Pacific Rim-style small plates of considerable charm, and there’s a lively bar.
With Ryan Giggs one of the backers, there’s a certain pedigree to this Worsley restaurant. The swanky Inka grill is put to good use on a menu peppered with meaty mains and grilled fish dishes, served in a setting that’s got rustic chic pretty much spot on. It’s out of town, but it’s a classy choice, so long as your date isn’t a City fan.
No-one knows if it’s the chance of seeing owner Simon Rimmer or his take on Lancashire cheese and basil sausages which is more compelling, but if you’re entertaining a veggie it has to be at Greens. The Burton Road tram stop makes the trip from the centre easy, and once you arrive, all is conviviality and modern meat-free cooking.
Gusto is a chain, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise. But if you’re going to go to one, make it Manchester’s grand flagship Gusto, with its mirrored panels, deco shapes and spectacular island bar. There’s no swankier place to eat pizza, though there’s more foodie interest among the specials, including steaks and great seafood.
Designed to wow, Manchester House boasts city-wide views from its twelfth-floor bar and an impressive kitchen vista in the restaurant. Aiden Byrne’s ambitious tasting menu, undoubtedly a commitment at £95, is served with a deliberate lack of formality. For dainty daytime romance, champagne afternoon tea is served upstairs.
The food may be fancier at Simon Rogan’s flagship Manchester restaurant The French, but there’s a more relaxed time to be had across the Midland’s lobby at Mr Cooper’s. Choose from the garden area or the clubby dark leather ‘house’ and enjoy Rogan’s experiments with international flavours.
The restaurant at Harvey Nichols retains much of its high-glamour appeal thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows and ever-present champagne trolley. Window seats allow a view over the streets as night falls, and the menu is big on local produce given an elegant, sometimes complex series of twists.
Got a yen for eating outside, perhaps sporting open-toed shoes and a beard? You could do a lot worse than at Volta, the laid-back West Didsbury hotspot owned by local DJ duo the Unabombers. Snag a table out the front for a view of the Burton Road passeggiata while you share grilled prawns, meatballs, excellent hanger steak and English charcuterie. Late-night opening is a bonus.