It's pretty much a given that Manchester's best restaurants can rival even the hottest of culinary hotbeds. Even the breakfasts we offer are pretty darn good. But whilst we're very partial to dining out as much as our pockets allow, there's nothing quite like making a beeline for one of Manchester's best food markets or shops to pick up the makings of a very good dinner, made with one's own fair hand. The actual shopping can be a real pleasure too, thanks to the hard graft and specialist knowledge of Manchester's shopkeepers and stallholders. You’ll have to roam the city - especially if it’s markets you’re after - but you’ll definitely come home with the good stuff. Check out below for those we deem the best.
Manchester food markets and shops
Revamped in 2014, this historic market now has a refectory hub, Market House, plus stalls in the upper market hall and lower open market. Food shoppers head for Peake’s Cheese, Taylor’s Fish (open daily) and the veg stalls. On the second Sunday of the month farmers and food producers take over.
The city centre’s best bet for a one-stop food shop boasts Polish specialities, a microbrewery beer bar and international food alongside the old faithful meat, fish and veg vendors. Whales Fish offers everything from turbot to trevally, while the meat counter is a good bet too. Hit Strawberry Garden for fruit and veg and The Queen Brie for cheese.
The biggest market in the north has been garlanded with gongs for good reason. Set aside a good chunk of your Wednesday, Friday or Saturday (when the greatest number of stalls are open) to explore. Food shoppers with mouths to feed head straight for the fish and meat halls, where there’s enough shouting to make you feel you’re getting a bargain.
A supermarket, but not as we know it, Booths is far better and more ethical (and yes, more Northern) than any other chain grocer. It specialises in the best food and drink from Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Cumbria, supporting small producers and delighting residents who love good, soundly produced meat, fish and dairy, and local veg.
In a Stockport suburb that’s now home to a cluster of good restaurants, this community market runs from February to December on the first Sunday of the month. Producers include Meadow Farm Eggs, the fabulously named Marmalady, and Chorlton Cheese (made in Cheshire, not Chorlton). Fans of unusual street food should check The Moocher, who specialises in doing good things to game.
Minutes from Piccadilly by train, Levy market is the best-connected of Manchester’s suburban markets, and one of the most community-minded. Held every Saturday (March to December) in the car park by the station, there’s a café and bar and all the inspiring fresh produce a cook could want. The second Saturday of the month is all-food. Also good for street food.
A mozzarella bar and café that offers much more than cheese – although that’s pretty good. Trading from just outside its former Corn Exchange home until the complex reopens as a restaurant hub in summer 2015, Salvi’s stocks a decent range of Italian sausages, antipasti and tinned supplies, pasta, fregola and polenta, baked treats and coffee.
This Burton Road deli’s not just for lunch, though there’s often a queue at the counter for superior sandwiches and salads. Fresh Dough It Yourself pizza bases, a fridgeful of meats and cheeses and a smattering of fresh produce offer an obvious homemade Italian dinner solution, the Great North Pie Company’s wares another. The stock of dry rubs, hot sauces and curiosities are great, too.
Famed as much for its co-operative approach as its excellent organic seasonal vegetables, Unicorn is the ultimate wholesome superstore, where ‘veggie’, ‘vegan’ and ‘organic’ meets ‘foodie’, ‘quality’ and ‘hard-to-find’. If you can’t make dinner from here, you deserve to have your kitchen knives confiscated.