From bargain butties and hearty fry-ups to authentic tapas and traditional Cantonese roasts, we’ve whittled our way through some of Manchester’s best menus, picking out a single, must-try item from each as we go.

Mughli's lamb chops

Mughli Charcoal Pit is one of a seemingly endless string of highlights along Manchester’s famous curry mile, and their lamb chops in particular are a genuine otherworldly experience.

Emerging fresh from the tandoor oven, they look spectacular long before they reach your plate, tinged with this enticing orange glow that only builds anticipation, before striking that delicious sweet spot of crispy, smoky burned edges and tender meat that strips from the bone effortlessly.


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30 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M14 5TQ
Wah Ji Wah's Dal Makhani

Manchester boasts a dizzying array of choices for anyone looking for great Indian food, but Wah Ji Wah might well be the best ‘proper’ out-and-out curry house.

Nestled behind Bridge Street, Wah Ji Wah’s cosy little dining room probably still falls into the ‘hidden gem’ category, which is baffling considering the mesmerising quality of the food. In particular, the Dal Makhani — or Black Dal — really is majestic; rich, creamy and bursting with all the complex fragrant flavours that come about as a result of the hours it spends simmering away.

37 King St W, Manchester M3 2PW
A Koffee Pot fry-up

A Koffee Pot fry-up can cure the fiercest of hangovers. It’s scientifically proven, probably. Whether you opt for the English, Irish, Scottish, veggie or vegan version, the Koffee Pot has been doing the no-nonsense brekkie better than anyone since 1978.

Whether you turn up with a sore head, empty belly, or both, one whiff of that Littlewood’s cured bacon will have you floating through the air like an old-school cartoon towards a freshly baked pie.


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84-86 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
Miami Crispy's spicy chicken burger

An unassuming chicken shop in Burnage, Miami Crispy has garnered something of a cult following on the outskirts of town. These days, it seems that no matter what time you pull up there’s already at least a 20-strong crowd who have gotten there before you.

The hype is largely down to the takeaway’s spicy fried chicken sandwich, which has absolutely no business being as good as it is. There are no delivery options, so turn up and join the queue — it’ll be worth the wait.

17 Lane End Rd, Manchester M19 1WA
Rice & 3 from This & That

When you talk about Mancunian institutions, This & That will often be one of the first names to pop up, and with good reason. The family-run Indian cafe has been serving hungry locals since 1984, and its famous ever-changing Rice & 3 menu holds its own sizable corner in Mancunian folklore.

3 Soap St, Manchester M4 1EW
The club sandwich from Katsouris

From one institution to another, Katsouris Deli, which operates from both Bury Market and its gorgeous gothic home along Deansgate, could be featured for any number of its cross-cultural delicatessen offerings.

Keeping things simple though, the traditional club sandwich on ciabatta is the ultimate lunchtime treat. We strongly encourage opting for the whole ciabatta, it’s an absolute monster meaning you can save yourself a little treat to get you through the rest of the afternoon.

22-25 Market Square, Bury, BL9 0BD / 113 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BQ
The Red Cherry Massive Kebab

Levenshulme’s flourishing food scene has gone from strength to strength in recent years, but if you’re after what could well be the city’s best kebab, then it’s one of the area’s old guard that you turn to.

Red Cherry has been about for more than three decades now, and the Red Cherry Massive, which features a colossal mountain of sheikh and chicken kebab, chicken tikka and donner meat soaked in their secret signature sauce, is the holy grail for kebab fans of Manchester.

717 Stockport Rd, Levenshulme, Manchester M19 3AG
Sparrows' Spätzle

The Sparrows is a special, special place and the last twelve months in particular have seen the team truly get their flowers. Named in the Michelin Guide for 2023, with a Bib Gourmand thrown in for good measure, booking way ahead is now often a necessity.

Spätzle – bird-shaped noodle-like pasta topped with a sauce of your choice — is one of the restaurant’s main trademarks, so it only feels right to highlight this as the standout dish, a tough task among a whole menu of packed standout dishes.

16 Red Bank, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M4 4HF
Lamb shawarma samoon from Levenshulme Bakery

Another legendary stop on the South Manchester culinary circuit brings us to Levenshulme Bakery. Specialising in authentic Middle Eastern bakes, it’s the Samoon — a diamond-shaped flatbread originating from Iraq — that really stands out, a creation that can conveniently only get better when crammed full of piping hot lamb shawarma, salad and chilli sauce.

Nell's 22" Do You You 'Roni Honey?

Not many can come close to Nell’s rapid rise to prominence in Manchester over the last couple of years. The team’s excellent take on New York-style pizza proved a mammoth hit the moment it first hit the city, and the momentum hasn’t shown any signs of slowing since.

The restaurant’s ludicrously large, crowd-pleasing 22″ pies have a lot to answer for, as does Nell’s commitment to using only the best ingredients possible. The ‘Do You ‘Roni Honey?’, which is topped with n’duja, pepperoni, chilli honey, and house mozzarella blend, finished with chilli honey and parm, is obscenely good.


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Nell's Pizza, 20 Minshull St, Kampus M1 3EF / 456-458 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 0BQ / 39-41 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ
Chef Diao's pork and prawn sui mai

Just on the edge of the Northern Quarter, Chef Diao calls on 30 years’ worth of experience to expertly craft an incredible array of dim sum and other steamed delicacies.

While there is plenty to go at, with something to cater for any and all tastes, the staple pork and prawn sui mai are sublime and you’ll soon find yourself ordering another portion, and another, and another…


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92-94 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LJ
Double Zero's pizza Napoli

More slice options, this time heading to Naples via Double Zero, which has the art of Neopolitan pizza down to an absolute tee. All dough is made on-site daily using only flour, water, salt and yeast before being fermented for a minimum of 48 hours.

Pizzas are then stretched by hand, topped with authentic Italian ingredients and cooked for less than 90 seconds in the restaurant’s huge wood-fired over that’s been shipped over from Naples. Fittingly then, the Napoli pizza tops our list of must-tries — a celebration of mouthwatering simplicity, it comes with just fior di latte, tomato, anchovies, kalamata olives and capers.

368 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 8AZ
Peru Perdu's chorizo sirloin steak

Perfectly cooked steak takes some beating, and the flame-grilled sirloin from South American flavour connoisseurs Peru Perdu is as good a cut as you’ll find anywhere in Manchester. Pair it with a pot of Super Chimmi dip and a Pisco Sour and prepare to be blown away.


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74 Princess St, Manchester M1 6JD
The Milano sandwich from Rustica

Bloody hell, Rustica is just brilliant. The sandwiches, the wonderful folk making them, the fact it stands proudly next to an adult DVD shop, all brilliant. Northern Quarter’s most famous little hatch is just as iconic as any of the area’s storied bars and venues, and queuing for a Milano sandwich (chicken, bacon, pesto garlic and mayo) in the drizzly rain on a Friday lunchtime is a rite of passage.

1 Hilton St, Manchester M4 1LP
Bar San Juan's Saquito de Cordero

Chorlton’s Beech Road is a proper goldmine of great food and drink, and in the midst of it all, is the absurdly good Bar San Juan. Transporting you to some cosy little Spanish taberna the moment you step through its doors, the menu is filled with a dazzling list of authentic tapas dishes.

I’ve yet to try anything less than spectacular in any one of my numerous visits so far, but the one constant in any order is the Saquito de Cordero — roasted pulled lamb served in pastry parcels sat atop a base of reduced tempranillo wine. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds.


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56 Beech Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9EG
Happy Season's three roast meats

You’ll usually find the neon-clad front of Chinatown’s Happy Seasons illuminating a long line of people waiting to grab a spot in the small 60-seat canteen. Don’t be fooled by the no-frills interior, Happy Seasons has been dishing up monumentally good Cantonese on Faulkner Street food since the early 80s, and its signature trio of roast duck, crispy belly pork and barbecue char siu pork served on a bed of soft rice is good as it gets.


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59 Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FF
The tandoori barbecued monkfish from Oystercatcher

I’m a firm believer that nowhere tops Oystercatcher when it comes to seafood in Manchester. The relaxed, welcoming atmosphere across both its Sale and Chorlton spots, combined with premium-quality produce and exciting menus that are always executed to perfection has made sure of that. While the menu is constantly shifting with the seasons, if you happen to visit when the tandoori barbecued monkfish is available, then whatever you do, do not hesitate. Order it.

123 Manchester Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9PG / Unit 10 Stanley Square, Sale M33 7ZZ
Porta's Abanico Iberica

Described as ‘enthusiastically Iberian’, Porta has done a fine job of encapsulating the buzzy atmosphere synonymous with the lively tapas bars of Barcelona and Madrid, with a sumptuous menu of tapas bar classics delivering a culinary experience to match.

As you’d expect, the menus are always chopping and changing across both the Salford and Altrincham sites depending on what produce is available, though the Abanico Iberica – seared pork (served pink) with mojo verde is thankfully, touch wood, an ever-present.


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50 Greenwood St, Altrincham, WA14 1RZ / 216 Chapel Street, Salford, Manchester, M3 6BY
The Osma Sunday Roast

You didn’t think we were going to get through this list without including a roast, did you? A short trip out of the city centre, over to Prestwich, the celebrated Scandi-Manc hybrid team at OSMA has rightfully earned a reputation for serving one of Manchester’s most impressive takes on the Sunday staple.

Whether you opt for the grass-fed rump of beef, salt-aged Cumbrian Beef fillet, native-bred lamb rump, free-range herb-fed chicken breast or roast cauliflower, every element of the plate is prepared with equal care and attention, and the end result is nothing short of stunning.


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132 Bury New Rd, Prestwich, Manchester M25 0AA
Fish, chips and mushy peas from Wright's

Anyone who can walk past Wright’s chippy and not be coaxed in by that glorious scent of salt, vinegar and deep fat fryer is a stronger person than I’ll ever be, and a Friday night, post-work chippy tea from here is what pure, unadulterated joy looks like.

Fish, chips, mushy peas SWIMMING in vinegar. Yes, please.

86 Cross St, Greater, Manchester M2 4LA
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Mon 8 Apr 2024