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The 23 best restaurants in Manchester you need to try

From kebabs to tasting menus, curry cafés to all-vegan kitchens, here’s our pick of the best restaurants in Manchester

Rob Martin
Amy Houghton
Written by
Rob Martin
Amy Houghton

Manchester’s food scene is flourishing. Following Mana’s 2019 Michelin star – the first in the city for more than 40 years – it has since also become home to two Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants, recognised for their excellent value, and one recipient of the Michelin Green Star for sustainability. 

Of course, these awards aren’t the only measures of greatness, and Manchester has plenty of other fantastic restaurants to prove it. Among them are trailblazing indie restaurants, under-the-radar gems celebrated by national restaurant critics and affordable no-fuss local favourites. 

This city’s restaurants are not to be scoffed at and its place on the world food stage is only set to become bigger and better. From late-night kebabs to vegan delights, hidden curry cafés to mind-blowing tasting menus, here’s our round-up of the best restaurants in Manchester right now.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Manchester

Top restaurants in Manchester

What is it? A classy combination of flavours and style from Oslo and Manchester, where the founders come from.

Why go? You’d be hard-pressed to find better food anywhere in the city. The exquisite flavours in OSMA’s menu of seasonal, locally sourced produce are matched by the stunning presentation and a lovely, welcoming team. With its sumptuous small plates, delicious Sunday roasts and a fine daily lunch menu, OSMA is a fantastic addition to the increasingly impressive north Manchester restaurant scene.

Time Out tip: They serve the best roast potatoes in the city.

What is it? A cosy restaurant serving a variety of hand-made European dumpling and spätzle dishes.

Why go? Oh, so many reasons... The staff, who are lovely. The setting, which is warm. Oh, and then there’s the food. If you’re unfamiliar, spätzle is The Sparrow’s speciality: egg noodles that are common in South Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Alsace. Meanwhile, a more Eastern European flavour is brought in with the dumplings menu. Add to these the most delicious sauces, daily baked bread and a wine selection that’s full of surprises, and you can see why The Sparrows is a place to flock to.  

Time Out tip: Book and book early.

  • Restaurants

What is it? An eclectic range of small and large plates designed for sharing.

Why go? Manchester DJ duo Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford, aka Unabomber, have travelled the world playing music and have now turned their attention to creating dishes that are equal parts imaginative and delicious. What’s more, the setting is glorious: this must be one of the city’s most stunning interiors. It’s a relaxed vibe, much in keeping with the music the pair are known for.

Time Out tip: Go early and indulge in a cocktail before dinner.

What is it? Manchester’s very own Irani café.

Why go? Dishoom is winning hearts for homey dishes served in the eclectic splendour of the 1920s Grade II-listed Manchester Hall. The cocktails can hold their own, too, with original takes on classic mixes. Expect Indian street food and traditional dishes inspired by the old Irani cafés of Mumbai. Humble, hearty and spicy, this is comfort food at its best.


What is it? A relaxed, friendly restaurant inspired by a mix of Middle Eastern flavours.

Why go? Tucked away in Lincoln Square, Maray has now been going for almost a decade, with restaurants in Manchester and Liverpool. Not only is the Manchester space a classy, cool and comfortably unfussy venue, it’s rare to find food of such quality at such a reasonable price in an unfussy setting and with a lovely bunch of people waiting to guide you through it. 

Time Out tip. Have the Disco Cauliflower. You’ll dance yourself dizzy.

What is it? A gastro pub on the Salford/Manchester border.

Why go? Named after a Benedictine monk who promoted the healing power of people getting together for food and a drink, 
Salford’s Black Friar has had several incarnations. It’s been around for a while – it was rebuilt in 1986, and fire damage left it derelict for over a decade until it was refurbished and became a gastro pub. The mix of old and new – the old pub has been extended with a glassy modern restaurant – informs the menus, with traditional dishes with a twist being the order of the day.

Time Out tip: Treat yourself to a leisurely Sunday roast and you’ll be thanking Monk Benedict Farcire all the way home...


What is it? A backstreet Basque joint.

Why go? Having recently moved from Ramsbottom to join Osma and Onda at Exhibition on Peter Street, this kitchen has an ethos of simple dishes cooked to perfection. Its Rescoldo wood-fired grill plays a role in almost every dish, imparting a smoky, chargrilled flavour to huge cuts of meat and whole fish, theatrically carved at the table.

What is it? Avant-garde British fine dining. 

Why go? Slick and serious Mana – which in 2019 became the first restaurant in Manchester to receive a Michelin star since 1977 (that was The French at the Midland Hotel) – serves thoughtful dishes using under-celebrated British ingredients and produce. The open kitchen enjoys surprising guests with anything from reindeer moss to nixtamalised corn broth. The innovative menu won’t be everyone’s cup of corn, but any restaurant that makes moss taste utterly delicious deserves a place in this list.

Time Out tip: This place is reservation only and books out months in advance so plan well. 


What is it? A modern, airy dining room serving meat-focused small plates. 

Why go? Off the tourist track but well worth the pilgrimage, Where The Light Gets In has really earned its Michelin Green Star. The passionate team operates in the loft of a lovingly restored Victorian coffee warehouse in Stockport and many of the ingredients are sourced from their own nearby farm. There’s no denying you’ll spend some serious money here, but is it worth it? Yes, it is.

Time Out tip: Visit its pop-up bar and vinyl night for a more affordable taster; it’s hosted in their staff room – complete with ironing boards and coats – on select weekends. 

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian

What is it? The oldest and best vegetarian restaurant in the city, in West Didsbury.

Why go? It was set up by celebrity chef Simon Rimmer back when he was all chef, no celebrity. He and business partner Simon Connolly ensure that food is delicious and the atmosphere is relaxed. The decor is warm and welcoming, and so are the staff. It’s a fantastic restaurant, fully deserving of its many awards. 

  • Restaurants
  • British

What is it? Intricate, ingenious dishes assembled from the simplest of parts.

Why go? Despite its name, there’s a distinctly English twang to the menu and you’ll experience textural and sensory saturation as you make your way through the captivating courses. Now that The Midland has had a £14 million refurbishment, The French, which had a Michelin star back in the 1970s, is finally in a setting deserving of its reputation.

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  • Pan-Asian
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A stunningly beautiful, modern take on Chinese food.

Why go? Tattu excels at wowing you across the senses. The attention to detail in the restaurant’s design and visuals is second to none in the city – even the lighting on the staircase will make you smile – and that’s fine. But what of the food? It’s astonishingly good. From wild mushroom spring rolls like you’ve never tasted to succulent black cod in saffron and the opulent ‘Silk Road’ desert, the chefs creating these delights are truly inspiring. It won’t be the cheapest meal out you’ve ever had, but it may well be one of the most memorable.

Time Out tip: There’s a living pink blossom tree in the main restaurant area and sitting beneath it as you dine adds something magical to the experience. Ask if there’s space when you book.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian

What is it? Indian street food and craft beer: it doesn’t get much better than that. 

Why go? Bundobust started out in Leeds and chose Manchester for its second outpost – how lucky are we? Inside, it’s casual and hip with a smattering of retro Bollywood; long communal dining tables groan under the weight of dishes that fuse northern produce with Gujarati street food. The menu is vegetarian, but we reckon even the most hard-headed meat-eater wouldn’t have beef (sorry) with eating here.

  • Restaurants
  • Bistros

What is it? A neighbourhood bistro with an original menu and a la carte options.

Why go? There are few things more wonderful in life than a good neighbourhood bistro and Hispi is top of the pack in Manchester. Hidden away in the suburb of Didsbury, this is the kind of place you wish you had on your doorstep. Reliable, confident, classic cooking makes this relaxed spot many people’s go-to for special occasions.


What is it? A stylish natural wine bar and restaurant. 

Why go? This meticulously curated space looks like it’s come off the cover of a magazine, and equal attention goes into creating big flavours on the menu. At the heart of Erst’s kitchen, an open-flame grill kicks out dishes that vary according to the season. Think ice-cold oysters, flame-grilled pork collar with rosemary and plum and squidgy confit squash with curds and crunchy seeds.

Time Out tip: Trust the staff to recommend a bottle of natural wine and settle in for the evening. 

What is it? The chef behind neighbourhood favourite Hispi, Kala brings classic, down-to-earth dining to King Street, right in the middle of the city centre.

Why go? Everything here is cooked to a tee. Dive into ox heart kebab, crispy smoked haddock and perfectly cooked truffle and parmesan chips.

Time Out tip: The Sunday roast. Oh, the Sunday roast.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian

What is it? An unassuming restaurant serving, arguably, the finest vegetarian Indian food in the North West. 

Why go? There’s a well-trodden path to Lily’s from the nearby Ikea in Ashton, a handy parting gift for hungry shoppers who’ve finally escaped the Scandi maze. But even if you don’t need another Billy bookcase, this humble little Indian restaurant merits its own trip thanks to affordable prices, accomplished flavour combinations and an epic menu of more than 100 dishes.

Time Out tip: Headhunted chefs from Mumbai and Gujarat also expertly prepare a range of delicious sweets.

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  • Japanese

What is it? A great-value spot offering sophisticated Japanese tapas-style dishes in Chinatown.

Why go? In among the buzz of Chinatown lies a single Japanese restaurant, Yuzu. It’s refined and simple, in terms of both food and decor. It was once one of Manchester’s best-kept secrets before a glowing review from food critic Jay Rayner changed all that. Reservations are now harder to come by, but they’re so very worth the wait.

Time Out tip: The lunch deal is a proper steal. 


What is it? Not so much a restaurant as a market trader in the acclaimed food hall Mackie Mayor, Honest Crust still deserves a place on this list for knocking out the city’s best pizza.

Why go? The Neapolitan-style base is light, chewy and dotted with charred bubbles like a leopard’s spots. Toppings are always top quality – think San Marzano tomatoes and locally made fennel sausage. Ours is the classic margherita: scoff it while you marvel at the 1858 Grade II-listed building surrounding you.

  • Restaurants
  • Ethiopian

What is it? Traditional Ethiopian restaurant where a spongy pancake serves as your plate.

Why go? It might sound like an urban legend, but if you climb the dodgy-looking steps in the corner of one Manchester kebab shop, you’ll find Habesha, a hidden Ethiopian restaurant frequented by those in the know. Grab your mates and order a big injera flatbread to share, topped with a selection of punchy stews (doro wat is our favourite) and veg. Pair with an Ethiopian beer. 

Time Out tip: Finish with a potent in-house roasted coffee.

  • Restaurants
  • French

What is it? A family-run French restaurant that really knows its onions.

Why go? Amid the flurry of new restaurants in Manchester, old favourites sometimes don’t get as much press as they should; 63 Degrees is one of the most under-appreciated. Smack bang in the buzzy Northern Quarter, you’ll find a little slice of Paris in the shape of this family-run restaurant. The Moreaus left the glamour of their home city to bring a taste of the French capital to Manchester, and we forever thank them for it.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese

What is it? A cheerful Vietnamese with a great handle on the classics.

Why go? Descend the steps of this low-key basement in Chinatown to discover gigantic bowls of hearty pho, topped with your choice of raw beef, perfectly cooked prawns or tofu and mushrooms. Team with refreshing summer rolls or sticky BBQ pork skewers to share. This Vietnamese café is decidedly no-frills, but that doesn’t matter when you’ve got a full belly for a great price.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian

What is it? Canteen-style Indian restaurant serving rice ‘n’ curry combos for under a fiver. 

Why go? This & That has been serving rice ’n’ three to hungry Mancs since 1984 and it’s still going strong. The family-run restaurant was revamped a while back – a controversial move that made it fit in with the trendy cafés surrounding it – but this back-alley diner is still just as popular. Expect no-frills dining and big portions.

Time Out tip: Look out for the special Sunday nihari stew.

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